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 Babb takes his shot

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PostSubject: Babb takes his shot   Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:04 pm

Chiefs will never win big with Pioli in charge

By KENT BABB

The Kansas City Star

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Scott Pioli pushed his way through a doorway, into the Ralph Wilson Stadium tunnel and then, alone, disappeared into the Chiefs’ locker room.

As the team he built was enduring the final minutes of death-by-Ryan Fitzpatrick, an embarrassing 35-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs’ general manager walked toward a few minutes of solitude. Days like this are lonely when you’re the king, and maybe he embraced what is obvious to so many others who saw Sunday’s loss: that another team he constructed looks lost and unprepared. No injuries and no excuses, no former head coach to blame, and no safety net below the Chiefs’ most powerful football man.

The Chiefs’ problems are with their coaches and players, but the bigger issue is about the man who brought in those coaches and players. Yes, this game and this season are on Pioli, and there’s no denying that anymore. And there’s no more denying another truth, whether you’re ready to read it or not: The Chiefs will never win big while Pioli is this team’s boss. His priorities are too misguided, his insecurities and denial too immense to allow Kansas City’s favorite team to win the Super Bowl that he was brought here to claim.

Pioli is now in his fourth year of trying to justify the hype that earned him accolades in New England, respect within the NFL, and a multi-million-dollar job as a GM. Expectations were unreachable, maybe, but Pioli has done himself no favors by obsessing over trivial details, spending too much time trying to feed his addition to his own reputation, and engineering a team using the “discount football” philosophy that has made the Hunt family richer but has gotten the Chiefs only marginally closer to a Super Bowl.

Days like Sunday should be behind the Chiefs. This roster is so much better than the one Pioli inherited in January 2009. He’s responsible for that, too. But how much better could it be if Pioli weren’t so consumed by off-the-field nonsense? He arrived nearly five years ago and promised to curb a culture of losing. Instead, Pioli now oversees an organization shadowed in a culture of misplaced priorities and anxiety — and, yes, more losing.

Now in his fourth season as GM, Pioli has spent too much time trying to justify his decisions, rather than trying to improve them.

He whines to outsiders that the Chiefs’ salary-cap shortcomings are misunderstood? Well, spend more money, as team chairman Clark Hunt has said Pioli is authorized to do. Pioli excuses himself for his biggest mistakes, such as saying he just didn’t do his homework before hiring former coach Todd Haley? Well, why not? And he says privately that drafting a quarterback in the early rounds isn’t the point; it’s about drafting the right one. Well, Scott, then draft the right one. These things are big parts of Pioli’s job, but instead of acknowledging that, he chooses to tell himself — and, through back channels, you — that things are just fine.

In Scott We Trust? Not anymore.

Pioli cares more than you can imagine about what others think; about how his gilded reputation still shines nearly five years after it landed him this job.

He calls opinion-makers in Kansas City to plead with them to share his side of the story in exchange for a nibble of access, and he spends his own time compiling ultimately meaningless statistics in an attempt to spin unpopular draft choices and questionable spending habits into a more favorable light. He hints to anyone who’ll listen — in exchange for agreeing that you didn’t hear it from him — that the Chiefs’ playoff run in 2010 and a brief winning streak last season weren’t a result of Haley’s coaching. Those, he is convinced, were results of the magic of former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis two seasons ago and, last year, the motivating skills of Romeo Crennel. He obsesses over public relations, attempting to manipulate the message large and small. Pioli is as responsible as anyone for the misconception that Haley ruined the Chiefs and that, by firing him last December, Pioli helped to save it. How does that narrative look after the Chiefs’ second consecutive blowout loss?

Pioli craves credit and validation on good days, and he wants to hide and blame others after days like Sunday.

He worries so much about trivial matters that it’s impossible to think that such an emphasis hasn’t been an obstacle to the Chiefs’ success. He was concerned enough about what cornerback Brandon Flowers might’ve thought if Pioli had signed Brandon Carr to a richer contract that this factored into his decision to let Carr leave Kansas City and sign with the Dallas Cowboys.

Win, and nobody cares about how many dollars the Chiefs are under the salary cap, or which coach was responsible for past success, or why a free agent was allowed to walk. Lose, and all anyone wants to talk about is going to war with your first head coach, a new and considerably less shiny reputation built on micromanagement and insecurity, and stubbornly sticking with quarterback Matt Cassel just because you drafted him in New England, traded for him in Kansas City, and signed him to an extension.

Pioli has, for years now, learned from far too many mistakes. Haley. Sticking with Cassel. Thinking he can control every ounce of information. A growing number of unimpressive draft classes. The way front-office employees are treated and how bizarrely secretive everyone is expected to be. Pioli wasn’t brought to Kansas City to learn from trial and error; he was hired because he was advertised as being smart enough to avoid learning things the hard way.

Crennel is now the Chiefs’ head coach, and few people inside or outside the organization after last season would’ve suggested that elevating Crennel would be a mistake. But after an 0-2 start in which the Chiefs’ defense — Crennel’s baby — has allowed 68 points and has no idea why, that hire now looks like another blunder.

Fair or not, Pioli’s job is to anticipate days like this, put aside emotion and past allegiance in New England and with the New York Giants, and hire a coach who can take on one of the NFL’s most talented rosters and avoid this kind of start. This is the tradeoff of cashing those big paychecks, of sitting in that sprawling office, and taking on the role of one of sports’ most powerful men.

Pioli is a very bright man. He has made the Hunts a mountain of money and built the Chiefs into a team that should begin each season as a trendy playoff choice, and those things are enough to keep him employed for the foreseeable future. He has a cushion of otherwise undeserved job security because of this and because the Chiefs believe you’ll keep filling Arrowhead Stadium, keep tuning in to disasters like the one broadcast in Kansas City on Sunday, and keep believing that better days are ahead.

Maybe they are, but assembling a team at a discount and prioritizing things that don’t really matter only builds a team with a limited ceiling. As long as Pioli is in that office, your expectations should have a low ceiling, too.

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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:09 pm

Hunt needs to make major changes to fix this Chiefs mess

By SAM MELLINGER

The Kansas City Star

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The last drops of reasonable belief that the Chiefs aren’t wasting their fans’ time and money are now dead, kaput, ashes from a fire of fail burning so white-hot it needed just two games to turn a hopeful season into a lost one.

This is a level of ineptitude beyond even what Kansas City has sadly become accustomed to, and because owner Clark Hunt is not his father, a shameful, 35-17 loss to a bad Bills team here on Sunday should be remembered as the tipping point of general manager Scott Pioli’s job security.

Last week, you heard talk about the Falcons being good and the Chiefs being injured. What’s the excuse now?

Football is the most team of our sports, and top-to-bottom incompetence like this doesn’t happen without every coach and player doing their fair share. So blame whomever you want. The offense is terrible, the defense is worse, and the special teams have given up touchdowns in both games.

For a symbol of the Chiefs’ problems, start with their knuckleheaded star receiver pointing to the name on the back of his jersey after scoring an irrelevant fourth-quarter touchdown. Romeo Crennel is in charge of what might become the most talented 3-13 team in recent league history.

Pioli, of course, oversees it all with a misplaced faith in Matt Cassel and an overly conservative and think-too-much style that’s four years into trying to replicate what Bill Belichick and Tom Brady created in New England.

Four years is enough time to fairly judge an NFL GM, and so far Pioli looks like a substitute teacher. He is failing — badly — and to save his football reputation, and shelve serious questions about his job, he needs the kind of turnaround over the next 14 games that is quite unfathomable at the moment.

Pioli wants time, patience and understanding but hasn’t earned any of it. The first year was for building. The second year was promising.

The third year was a drama-filled mess. The fourth year has the look of something even worse, because the Chiefs don’t have injuries or former coach Todd Haley to blame.

Only one man has the power to make the necessary changes now, and Hunt isn’t doing his job if he’s not brainstorming who his next general manager should be. Let’s hope the list includes men willing to be bold, comfortable in their own skin and able to properly position the Chiefs in what is firmly an elite quarterback’s league.

Because this isn’t working, and Hunt doesn’t have his father’s patience and blind faith. The Chiefs are broken, from top to bottom, and the solution has to stand up to the grand scale of these problems.

Last year, it took an embarrassing loss and childish sideline display against the Jets for Haley to lose his job.

This year, the focus turns to Pioli, and it’s on Hunt to make it clear this isn’t good enough.

Last year, Pioli and the Chiefs dumped as much blame as they could shovel onto Haley.

This year, Hunt has to see the same problems.

Pioli came to Kansas City promising multiple championships and a consistent approach focused on building “The Right 53,” not necessarily “the best 53.”

Instead, he’s on his second head coach and fifth offensive coordinator, and his four years in Kansas City are known much more for middle-school-type drama than consistency. He came here talking about modeling after the Steelers but created something closer to The Real Housewives of the NFL.

After four offseasons and four drafts, it remains true that most of this team’s best players were here before Pioli: Tamba Hali, Jamaal Charles, Derrick Johnson, Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Flowers, among them.

I don’t know how much Pioli’s obsession over every detail is to blame here, but I do know he spends far too much time worrying about the wrong things: negative media attention, how one player’s contract might feed another player’s jealousy, and inner-office minutiae that should be handled by middle managers.

The previous GM essentially served a 17-year appointment of near-complete control under Lamar Hunt but lasted just two years under Clark, who then made sure to split football and business decision-making.

Clark Hunt headed an Arrowhead Stadium renovation that drove increased profits to the club, and then played a key role in the NFL’s avoiding a work stoppage last year. He and Pioli have overseen a massive turnover in the work force, transcending what used to be an organization driven largely by loyalty into one obsessed with the bottom line.

Four years into what was supposed to be a different era for the Chiefs, they are instead a bumbling mess.

Pioli is believed to have one more year on his contract, and Hunt hasn’t shown himself to have the tethered loyalty of his father.

A defensive coordinator hired to be head coach won’t give up his old job, and the defense has given up eight touchdowns in two games. An offensive coordinator plucked from Pioli’s past can’t figure out how to use a loaded group of skill players.

It’s not just that the Chiefs have loads of problems, it’s that they appear so completely out of solutions. Things move fast in the NFL, and Pioli hasn’t shown himself able to keep up.

This is an awful look for the GM in a season we’ve said will ultimately define how he’s remembered in Kansas City.

We are only two games into the season, so the ultimate narrative is yet to be written.

But if the results don’t drastically change, then the general manager should.

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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:09 pm

Has the KC media ever come down hard like this before?

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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:31 pm

No but they should. Pioli is a damn joke. His QB is a joke. His very 1st draft pick here is a joke. his coaching staff is a joke. his reaching in the 1st 3 rnds this year are a joke. If Hunt doesnt fire him after this year it will prove the joke goes even higher than Pioli
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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:33 pm

The Chiefs are one of the most talented rosters in the NFL and Pioli played a role in that as it was not good in any form when he took over. Just like the 49ers were one of the most talented teams in the NFL two years ago, and it took a coaching change(a HC who makes QB's look good) to get them playing to their talent level.

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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:40 pm

Talented? What talent is Piolis? Berry,?, ?, ?.................. I just hope Hunt doesnt put the same stupid blind faith in him that some of you do. Pioli is clueless when it comes to identifying talent. I love the point about him worrying about upsetting Flowers as being the reason he let Carr walk. Stupid ass reasoning on Piolis part.
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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:47 pm

I'm fed up with getting blown out..If we were being somewhat competitive, I would be content...At least give me something to watch...

I was willing to give Pioli a chance after last season because of the injuries, but no more..We haven't progressed at all, and after getting the tar beaten out of us by another average football team, I'm already counting down the days when Pioli and Cassel are no longer a Chief..

I am a huge hockey fan and with them getting locked out and the Chiefs shitting the bed, its gonna be a long year for me..

(sigh)
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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:06 pm

KCJay you need to be careful what you say on here. If you say bad things about Pioli that means you hate the Chiefs. At least thats what a few think on here. I think it just means you want more from the Chiefs. KC has the 2 worst owners and GMs in 2 of the major sports... in the same parking lot. but I still hope one day it gets fixed. Fans need to start showing up at games with the paper bags on their heads before the black outs start.
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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:56 pm

Last time there was a backlash like this, Carl Peterson stepped down the next day.

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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:40 pm

I think if this team went 0-16 Clark would keep Pioli.
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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:23 pm

Something has to be done. And something big. This team is playing awful. Something has to change. And it has to start at the top.
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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:27 pm

KC media needs to keep bringing the hammer down hard. Fans need to get real vocal about thier problems, not show up to games, and the ones who do wear paper sacks over their heads. Hunt needs to pressure Pioli, money needs to be spent. Crennel needs to pull the chain on Piolis Cassel project. Time for fucking results!
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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:34 pm

This organisation is just a mess right now. I still think Cassel has to be the starter right now though. But until we get a better QB there are a few things that our front office and coaches can do to make this team as good as they can without a franchise QB.

Offensively, I think its time to go ahead and start the bigger, younger, and stronger player in Jeff Allen at LG. Lilja just gets murdered against bigger, stronger DTs. Thats about all they can do offensively.

Defensively, where do I begin? We have to go out and sign some players I think. I wouldnt be opposed to bringing back both Smith and Gillberry on the D-line to get some pass rush and penetration. Then we need some kind of depth at LB and CB. I still think Jalil Brown can be a good CB though. He is always in good position, just never turns his head on the ball. Crennell needs to give him as much one on one time as possible til that is fixed. I also think we need to go get a Defensive Coordinator or Crennell has to be more creative with his play calling cause he is just not getting it done being the DC and HC.

I still believe that Clark will bring Pioli back for another shot at redemption. But if Cassel is our starter week one it is his won death wish. He needs to start putting in a lot of extra hours in watching film on college QBs, cause if we draft a QB with our first pick (hopefully we do) it HAS GOT to be the GUY!

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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:51 pm

I think drafting a QB in the first round is his best shot of sticking around a little longer.

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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:01 pm

Definately. If he doesnt at least try to go get a young franchise QB, then IMO he has got to go.

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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:08 pm


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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:03 am

Has anyone connected to the Chiefs responded yet? And LMAO to that audio clip!
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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:49 am

Sam Mellinger | Disastrous start exposes disconnect between Chiefs leaders, fans
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
The Chiefs Kingdom Apocalypse is in its third day now, and the takeaway isn’t that there are so many fans screaming their panic and anger — it’s that there are so few fans preaching hope and patience.

It’s not that so many fans are frustrated with their team — it’s that seemingly so few are giving that team the benefit of the doubt.

In this, the Chiefs must face something much worse than losing two football games. They must confront the question of whether they’ve lost their fans’ trust.

That’s a remarkable thing for Kansas City’s most important institution besides barbecue — the only thing in town that can unite black and white, rich and poor, Mizzou and Kansas.

The Chiefs have every conceivable advantage to build a consensus of unanimous support in this region, and they’ve blown it with a series of image and football blunders that turned the franchise into something unworthy of its fans’ confidence.

Think about it. How many of your friends believe the Chiefs will turn it around? How many trust the organization will put in the work and write the checks and make the sacrifices to hold off what feels like a disastrous season? How many outside the Chiefs’ offices are saying the current alarm is misplaced or premature?

In the 24 hours or so after the Chiefs embarrassed themselves in Buffalo, and colleague Kent Babb and I each wrote scathing takedowns in return, I heard exactly one fan stand up for the team. Kent says he heard from two. That’s out of hundreds of emails and Tweets we received from people who love the Chiefs and no longer feel the love back.

Unless we’re only hearing from a (very) vocal minority, this is a problem bigger than a shoddy defense and limp offense, worse than bad draft picks and Jamaal Charles’ knee and even Matt Cassel’s passing.

This is about the fundamental relationship between fan and team, where fans give their unwavering time, money and hope in exchange for the team not taking advantage of them.

In many real ways, that relationship is now broken in Kansas City, and the Chiefs are closer than they should be to what started happening with the Royals in the mid- to late-1990s.

Let’s pause for some context, and the obvious counterpoint that the story would be completely different if the Chiefs were 2-0 or even 1-1 or perhaps even 0-2 with competitive losses.

Winning makes everything better, losing makes everything worse, and being blown out makes everything worst of all. The Chiefs can “fix” a chunk of their image problem by winning next week in New Orleans; do that, and the conversation around town changes.

All of those things are true.

So is this: this season’s losses are exposing underlying issues that have been cooking for years.

There is a disconnect between fan and team that just shouldn’t exist in this market and this sport. The NFL makes sure every franchise has enough money to compete, and fans here don’t believe the Chiefs are using it. The NFL makes sure every team has hope, and fans here are remarkably quick to lose theirs.

Some of that is football, and fans cheering for a team with a bottom-half quarterback in a league dominated by elite ones.

But some of it is emotional, too: fans cheering for a team they’re no longer convinced has their best interests in mind. Clark Hunt doesn’t have his father’s charisma or everyman appeal, and has come to be known more for his salary-cap space than anything else.

The fact that Hunt doesn’t live in town is largely irrelevant for a lot of reasons — he has a place here; his father never lived in KC, either; and in 2012, we have access to things like cellphones, email, video conferencing and a private jet – tools that connect him to this market in ways his dad could only dream of.

But perception has a way of becoming reality. In other words, fans have never felt that Clark is one of them.

As the losses pile up, you could say essentially the same thing about the Chiefs. There is an eroding bond here, not in terms of how much fans love their team, but how much love they feel in return.

Losing two games is bad.

Losing that trust is much worse.

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PostSubject: Re: Babb takes his shot   Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:43 pm

As much as I really dont care for Bob Fescoe since he's a KU fan and was a huge ass Cassel fan in training camp and preseason...That was well said.

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