The Patriot Waste II


Following is Part II of a two-part post. Part I: The Patriot Way Or The Patriot Waste and
Part II: The Effects The Patriot Waste Has Had On The Kansas City Chiefs. Read Part I here.

Part II: The Effects The Patriot Waste Has Had On The Kansas City Chiefs

What effect has the Patriot Waste had on the Kansas City Chiefs?

Scott Pioli, Joel Collier, Matt Cassel, Mike Vrabel, Ryan O’Callaghan, Steve Maneri, Matt Gutierrez and Darrell Robertson. They’re all ex-Patriots who came to the Chiefs in the past three years. Have they made the Chiefs better or not? And, at what cost?

Vrabel had one good year. Cassel is still too inconsistent to evaluate, or the offensive line hasn’t been good enough yet to fairly evaluate him. Two schools of thought and school’s still out on that one. However, no one else has made a noticeable difference. Ask yourself, have these Patriots wasted the Chiefs’ time… or have the Chiefs invested wisely?

The Chiefs’ GM, Scott Pioli, talks a lot about principles and finding the right kind of guys. Pioli’s own interpretation or rendition of the Patriot Way comes through specifically when he’s drafting and signing players who are passionate about the game, but it doesn’t hold much significance; it’s mostly verbiage. Drew Magary, in his article called, “The Patriot Way is Now a Load of $hit” says,

"“When Sports Illustrated takes a poll and finds that 97 percent of retired players or whatever have no regret about their playing days despite missing three functional limbs and half a brain, that should be a signal to you that most players in the league are just as passionate about football as supposedly MEGA-PASSIONATE players like Tim Tebow (drafted by Josh McDaniels)… In fact, McDaniels and Pioli took the Patriot Way and distorted it into something far more ineffective and idiotic. ”"

There never was a blueprint to the Patriot Way; Scott Pioli may have just concocted one. That could also explain Pioli’s need for secrecy, because there’s really nothing in the vault. It’s empty.

Now, the Chiefs have hired Ted Crews to be their vice president of communications. Clearly, the Chiefs, and Scott Pioli, need someone to reshape a dwindling perception of the organization because right now, it’s not good. Not good at all. While the hiring of Crews may be helpful in the long run — to assist the Chiefs in repairing a damaged external view of the Chiefs — it won’t necessarily help to repair their internal woes.

Trusting his staff members to do their job is another of the challenges facing Scott Pioli and those who work for him. It’s been recognized as one of those football truths for decades, that a head coach’s destiny is hitched to his quarterback’s wagon. In Scott Pioli’s case, he’s hitched his wagon to Matt Cassel’s. From an organizational flow-chart perspective, there’s a functional flaw with that. The head coach should be the one making the decision about who his quarterback will be, not the general manager. If the GM won’t allow his head coach to determine who the best quarterback is going to be, then there will continue to be problems that no public relations expert can fix.

Not allowing employees to do their own job could be even more worrisome than first thought because the problem might also be systemic. Todd Haley wouldn’t let anyone be his OC and now Romeo Crennel won’t let anyone be his DC.

Phil Crosby, author of “Reflections On Quality,” once stated, “Selecting the right person for the right job is the largest part of coaching.” The Chiefs’ current leadership may be missing opportunities to entrust, empower and innervate. That’s called being a leader and it’s nearly impossible to lead when you’re doing your followers’ job for them.

One head coach who did a great job of leading by delegating authority was Bill Walsh.

Bill Walsh popularized the “West Coast” offense. After he had success with that offense, placing Joe Montana at the helm, dozens of teams experimented with their own West Coast recipe as if they were hoping another Joe Montana would surface at some point.

The West Coast 49ers offense of the ’80s and ’90s would never have become the success it became unless Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice were running it.

Special players make coaches special.

This is not to discount coaching, but this is not a chicken and the egg debate. The special player always comes first. No amount of great coaching was going to change the fact that Jeff George was a head case. Although he had a great arm, coaching couldn’t help him overcome his personal deficiencies. So, Jeff George never became a special player. Organizations recognize that special players almost always come first, and it’s the reason teams make trades for players every year, but rarely, if ever, make trades for coaches.

As it was with the West Coast offense, so it is with the Patriot Way. Success leaves a trail of coaches moving on to other organizations and creates a coaching tree.

Bill Walsh spawned a host of successful coaches because he was excellent at delegating. They include: Andy Reid, Mike McCarthy, Gary Kubiak, Jeff Fisher, Jack Del Rio, Mike Shanahan, Lovie Smith, Brian Billick, Steve Mariucci, Mike Sherman, Mike Tice, Rod Marinelli, Brad Childress, John Harbaugh, Paul Hackett, Bruce Coslet, Mike Mularkey, Bill Callahan, Jim Fassel, Mike Holmgren, Dennis Green, Jim Harbaugh, John Fox, Sam Wyche, George Seifert, Jon Gruden, Mike Tomlin and Tony Dungy. All coaches in bold have made it to the Super Bowl.

The Bill Walsh coaching tree is a who’s who of the NFL and NFL history. No one needs to see the winning percentages of these coaches to understand their level of success.

Bill Walsh’s coaching tree began 33 years ago. He was a head coach for 10 years. Bill Belichick’s coaching tree goes back 21 years and he’s been a head coach for 17. Although it may not be exactly fair to compare the two, it should be noted that in the first 21 years, the Walsh coaching tree produced seven Super Bowl head coaches, pointing to a remarkable difference.

Head coaches in the Bill Belichick coaching tree haven’t taken anyone to the promised land. Yes, they’re all good people and good coaches, but none of them have achieved anything in terms of NFL championships.

What the Patriot Way has actually been is… a collection of good ideas (like any team has) that were executed well, with some very good coaches (like many teams have), a wonderful owner (like some teams have), and an all-time great Hall of Fame quarterback (which next to no teams have, even in the history of the game). It’s the right combination of people and elements.

If there was a more definable something about the Patriot Way, then Belichick’s coaches would have moved on to other organizations and been able to replicate it. But, they haven’t.

Which current coach, from the Belichick coaching tree, would project to have the greatest chance of reaching a Super Bowl next? Jim Schwartz (Belichick tree) seems less likely to reach a Super Bowl than Gary Kubiak (Walsh tree) in the near future.

Why is it important? Isn’t that what every owner is paying their GM to do? Find a coach who can get them to the Super Bowl, to at least have a chance to win the big one? You can’t win it unless you’re in it.

This past Monday, of Super Bowl week, Eric Mangini was asked to describe “The Patriot Way.” Mangini said it has three parts. 1) Be ego-less. Place the team goals ahead of your personal goals. 2) Have focus. You just do what’s best at the moment. That’s all you need to worry about. 3) Be consistent. You have to come in and be the same guy every day.

Does any of that sound familiar? How about all of it!

Sounds like the last three years of redundancy at a Haley-Pioli presser. I can’t think of one player on the Chiefs roster who would put their own numbers in front of a team victory. Todd Haley’s next-practice-next-game mantra was tiresome. It’s always been “what’s next.” And consistency? You’ve all heard the story about Casey Wiegmann being the same guy day in and day out, right? Ad nauseam.

In a 50 second sound bite, Professor Mangenius took a decade of Patriot’s successes and, condensed them to some piddling fundamentals. ESPN asked him to do it so he “just made it up” like Scott Pioli. People have to have something to listen to… or I should say, ESPN has to have something to talk about. Mangini’s description of the “Patriot Way” is tantamount to defining the West Coast offense in the one phrase: They pass the ball a lot.

It’s a bit ironic, too. We’re supposed to listen to Mr. Eric “.413 winning percentage” Mangini expose the secret of how to be successful using the Patriot Way? Now that is entertainment. ESPN? Come On, Man!”

Bill Belichick is a very, very good coach. He’s dedicated and hard working. He tells his players the truth and does a great job preparing for an opponent. However, you can say those same things about many coaches. The most unique and distinguishing characteristic about his coaching is that he is adaptable. If he is someday called great, it will be because he changed the game on an ongoing basis. Reinventing yourself every year, is a problematic skill set to duplicate and perhaps this is why his coaches haven’t been able to be successful — winning a Super Bowl — elsewhere.

The problem for a developing organization like the Kansas City Chiefs is that their general manager overestimated his worth in the Patriots organization and now he’s inordinately challenged to produce the successes in New England of which he was only a small element.

Drew Magary suggests that Scott Pioli is naive to think he can “just make it all up.”

"“Pioli, on the other hand, is making those bull$hit “intangibles” the centerpiece of his drafting strategy which is the precise opposite of how a pro sports team should be run in the 21st century.“"

In his recent article called, Intangibles Randy Murawski said, “I do not think the Kansas City Chiefs are a team that many consider to score high on the intangible rating.” This points out that even though Scott Pioli has portended to make “intangibles” a focus of his drafting and signing players, he hasn’t found the players who have it. At least not enough players.

It’s hard to believe that Scott Pioli ever thought that Alex Magee, Bobby Engram, Rudy Niswanger, Sabby Piscitelli, Chris Chambers, Tyler Palko, Donald Washington, Quinten Lawrence, Ikechuku Ndukwe, Javarius Williams or Barry Richardson had any of these intangibles, to which he so fondly refers.

The point is not that Pioli has missed the mark completely on his picks or signings, but that he hasn’t hit the mark enough times to make a significant difference in the Chiefs’ performance and, bottom line, the Chiefs’ record.

Great teams are remembered for their great players and great coaches. Scott Pioli gives off the impression that he would like that to include, great general managers, but for the life of me I don’t think I can remember, or maybe I never have known, who the general manager was that drafted Todd Blackledge. Meaning, do any of us ever recall anything a GM has done decades later?

The answer is Jim Schaaf, but I had to look it up.

And should it matter? Most kids don’t grow up dreaming about becoming a GM.

It may not sound like it, but I am a New England Patriots fan, just not the same way I’m a Kansas City Chiefs fanatic, but I would like to see the Pats win the Super Bowl more than I want to see the New York Giants win it.

So, this is not about bashing the Patriots, it’s about clearing up a myth, one that’s been misconstrued. And… this is also about exposing some toxic waste that’s having a noxious effect on my favorite team, the Chiefs, who are left with their own personal memento of Patriot Waste.

On a positive note, the Patriots recently rehired Josh McDaniels.

Recycling rocks!

Remember, “The waste is a terrible thing to mind.”