Pioli Unplugged at Combine … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From Indianapolis, Indiana

For just a shade under two hours, Chiefs GM Scott Pioli was a media darling here at the NFL Combine.

Pioli spoke in a press conference setting. He spoke standing in the middle of a circle of reporters. He spoke one-on-one with several scribblers and TV types.

It was a media relations tour de force from a guy who despite the fact he handles the duties very well, does not like the whole process of the media prying into his business.

That’s why at the end of those two hours was left a pile of words that when sifted and sorted, produced little in the way of news about the Chiefs and only an occasional insight into what’s happening with the team.

Here are the news nuggets:

– An ESPN rumor about the Chiefs having a draft interest in one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s class – Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen – was met with a look of disgust and easy to understand words. “We have a quarterback,” said Pioli.

– The additions of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel to the Chiefs coaching staff have created better chemistry within the organization that is already apparent as the team prepared for the Combine.

– Crennel is known as RAC to those who have worked with him before.

– Pioli doesn’t like the players who are healthy and don’t participate in the drills at the Combine. In fact, Pioli admitted he marks that against a player in the evaluation process. “If you are a competitor, come out and compete,” Pioli said.

– The lack of a salary cap is not going to do much to change the Chiefs activity in free agency starting next week. They will sign some of their own, they will sign others, but it figures to fall much like it did last year, without big names and thus big-money contracts.

– The increased work load of leading the entire football operation was the hardest thing for Pioli to adjust to in his first season as GM. That and learning how to delegate some of those duties. “I’ve found out that’s not one of my strengths,” Pioli said.

Maybe the most interesting nugget was what he had to say involving chemistry and what a different situation the Chiefs are in at this time than they were last year. When Pioli and Todd Haley landed in Indianapolis for the 2009 Combine, they were both juggling more balls than simply meeting with prospective draft choices and watching them workout. Pioli was trying to get his arms around the franchise he had been leading for six weeks. Haley was still trying to find bodies to fill out his coaching staff, just three weeks after taking the job.

A year later Pioli has been in the job for over a year and has his own personnel staff in place and Haley has finally put together the type of coaching staff he was trying to find last season, especially with the additions of Weis and Crennel. The process, the implantation, everything feels familiar again for Pioli.

“I feel a lot more comfortable, a lot more energized,” allowed Pioli. “It feels like there’s more stability. A lot of people are focusing on Charlie and RAC, but there are now a number of coaches here that we’ve gone through a whole cycle with. At this time of year we were interviewing people and getting our staff set up.

“To be able to bounce things off people with experience is tremendous, and not just for Todd, but for me as well. They are people that we know and trust. People talk about locker room chemistry, but chemistry within any close knit unit, where you are going to have good times and bad times, ups and downs and knowing those people and having an idea of how they are going to react in certain situations is really helpful.”

Reading between the lines of what Pioli had to say, it’s apparent that he and Haley think they didn’t have enough people willing to push back on them last year. Or maybe those people were there and willing to argue, but there simply wasn’t the familiarity and/or respect for what they might have heard or who they heard it from.

“That’s something Todd and I talked about wanting to have more of,” said Pioli. “(LB coach) Gary Gibbs is great at it and he’s professional about it. Charlie disagrees with everyone. Romeo does too. That’s OK because we all know each other. We want different ideas. We want to hear no. There needs to be no; it helps for growth.

“A lot of people say they want that, but they don’t really want that. Todd and I really want it. And we need it. We all need to have pushback. None of us has all the answers.”

That comment alone may surprise some people, but Pioli made it plain several times during his comments that it wasn’t only the players that had to improve off a 4-12 season.

“When you go 4-12 nobody had a good season and everybody has to get better,” said Pioli. “I have to be better, Todd has to be better and our coaching staff has to be better. It’s not just the players.”

But the subject for the next few days here in Indy is players, potential players. Pioli allowed that it the class of 2010 had the makings of a strong draft. Of course, other than dismissing the quarterback question, he did not tip his hand as to where or who the Chiefs may be focusing on this week.

However, he did reiterate what the Chiefs are looking for what it comes to character and personality in their players.

“We want smart guys, and we want people who are professionals and people who are going to put football among the three most important things in their life,” Pioli said. “We want people who are going to be absolute, consummate professionals.”


By the end of business on Friday, nine of the 11 groups of players will have their bunks in Indy. The first workouts will go down in the afternoon with special teamers taking the field inside Lucas Oil Stadium. That’s just 10 players, with three kickers, five punters, a long snapper and one returner, LSU’s Trindon Holliday.

The special teamers, offensive line and tight ends will meet with the NFL Players Association, and undergo psychological testing.

The quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs will spend Friday going through medical exams, measurements and psych stuff. Arriving on Friday will be the defensive line and linebackers.


NFL teams had until Thursday afternoon to use their franchise player and transition player tags on soon to be free agents. With no salary cap in 2010 it comes as a bit of a surprise that only a half-dozen teams used the franchise designation. That’s 32 teams, times two tags each or 64 possible and only six are chosen. They were:

  1. GREEN BAY – DT Ryan Pickett
  2. NEW ENGLAND – DT Vince Wilfork.
  3. OAKLAND – DE Richard Seymour.
  4. PITTSBURGH – K Jeff Reed.
  5. SAN FRANCISCO – DT Aubrayo Franklin.
  6. SEATTLE – K Olinda Mare.

All but Seymour still have the ability to negotiate with other teams, although the compensation in return for signing them makes a contract agreement highly unlikely.


  • BUCCANEERS –have decided not to re-sign soon to be UFA WR Antonio Bryant.
  • CARDINALS – signed head coach Ken Whisenhunt to a four-year contract extension.
  • STEELERS – signed NT Casey Hampton to a new three-year, $21 million deal with $11 million in guaranteed money.

25 Responses to “Pioli Unplugged at Combine … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • February 26, 2010  - JohnNdallas says:

    Rac? Hmmm…

    Any one have any guesses on why Parcels would be so protective over info on the trade the Chiefs made with Miami last season? Maybe I’m missing something, not understanding how that info could give someone else a competitive advantage.

  • February 26, 2010  - ThunderChief says:

    Excellent coverage and behind the scenes access/coverage, Bob. Well done and thank you.

  • February 26, 2010  - Randy says:

    JohnNdallas…Parcells didn’t want the league to know what a deal he gave his son in law.

  • February 26, 2010  - JohnNdallas says:

    err how much he’s willing to take advantage of a family member :P …. either way it’s not something that can remain a secret forever.

  • February 26, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    I just think all these guys (Parcells, Pioli, Belichick, etc.) don’t believe in discussing their business beyond what they have to. It’s different for the Chiefs, definitely. But…I kinda’ liking it, actually.

    Way too much is being made of the Alleman and Ndukwe trade. We were desperate for O-linemen, mostly for some depth. We got two guys who had NFL experience for what is likely a sixth round pick. I guess everybody expected Pioli to get a couple of Pro-Bowlers for next-to-nothing?

    Excellent stuff, Bob. Thanks.

  • February 26, 2010  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Mad chief if thats what he supposedly did in NE, now you accept subpar that he’s a chief? Unless you don’t believe that he was the man who made it happen in New England??

    And um, yea, I dont think that the tuna gave his son-in-law a great deal, i think it was more the other way around like JohnNdallas said…

  • February 26, 2010  - JohnNdallas says:

    My comment was made with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Thus the :P

  • February 26, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    No, I do not believe that Pioli was “the man who made it happen in New England”. Nor do I think Belichick was. The have/had a talented organization there. It’s not one person. Now, a year into his job…Pioli is still working on surrounding himself with talented people. So, we’ll see.

    But, I just don’t understand why so many people get their undies in a bunch because these guys don’t explain every detail of their business to everyone.

    Besides, whenever a trade is made…you just never know how it will work for either side. What if one (or both) of those guys had kicked ass last year? What if one of them does this year? Then the same people griping about how Pioli got F’ed on this trade would be calling him a freakin’ genius. You have to take some chances. Sometimes it works out…sometimes it doesn’t. But, if he had done nothing (to add depth to the line) last year…people would have been bitching about that, too.

  • February 26, 2010  - jimbo says:

    “Speculate” is defined: To think or wonder about a subject. and/or To take a business risk in hope of gain.
    I have been speculating about the Chiefs since 1967. I still don’t have a clue, from year to year as to who we should draft, trade, release, sign or pray for.
    I do know this. We have a GM & a Loyal coaching staff that understands “getting better is a team effort”.
    I’m also going to speculate:

    1. We will draft a quality #1 pick & there is a 50/50 chance that that choice will genuinely disappoint alot of fans.
    2. We will acquire a quality free agent & there is a 50/50 chance that that choice will genuinely disappoint alot of fans.
    3. The Chiefs have a 50/50 chance that they will have a pleasantly surprising good year or yet another disappointing one.
    With that being said, I will support my Chiefs for yet another emotional year & for the first time in many years, I can sincerely & realistically sense that we are about to go for a long & glorious ride.
    Go Chiefs.

  • February 26, 2010  - colby says:

    Great comments here guys! Not quantity but quality. As far as free agency goes, I expect another year of quantity while hoping for quality. Last year, Pioli did what he did so many times in NE, he signed a lot of veterans for very little money to come in and play a role. He missed on a lot of them. Guys like Bobby Engram, Ashley Lelie, Amani Toomer, Zach Thomas, Monty Beisel and Eric Ghiachic did almost nothing for our team. Mike Goff was a disappointment. If two or three of those guys were solid, it would have made Pioli look better. Really Terrance Copper was the gem free agent of the off season while the best moves were made in season with Leonard Pope, Chris Chambers, Ryan O’Callaghan, and Bobby Wade, who all were starters at some point or another. I just hope this year Pioli finds better players before the season starts!

    DE Jarvis Green, WR/RS Michael Spurlock, and OG Spencer Neal are three predictions I have for free agent acquisitions. Also, I really do think that this is the year we trade for Anquan Boldin. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we talked Joey Porter into coming here. Especially if Vrabel doesn’t want to come back.

  • February 26, 2010  - SG says:

    “Also, I really do think that this is the year we trade for Anquan Boldin.”

    What do you think market value in trade should be for this guy (e.g. if you were Don Pioli, what would be your proposed trade deal to get Boldin in the fold)?

  • February 26, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    I might offer a 3rd round pick for Boldin. And probably next years 3rd round pick, at that. That’s us, anyway. I’d be surprised if he comes here. I think somebody else will offer a better deal-a team in a better position to win right now…that can afford to give up a better draft pick/player. We’re not really in that position.

    But…Boldin will be a FA after next year, so the Cardinals should be fairly motivated to trade him. Because if they don’t, he’ll be gone for nothing next year.

  • February 26, 2010  - jimbo says:

    Although I’m not a big Boldin fan, I would welcome him as a Chief.
    I would rather swap Derrick Johnson & a 3rd or 4th round pick in 2011. They will need a linebacker who will fit into their system & we all know we could use a quality WR. In turn we could scratch WR off our draft list.

  • February 26, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Personally, I’d rather draft Golden Tate…if he falls to us in the 2nd round.

  • February 26, 2010  - SG says:

    Another question to sling at y’all:

    If the following players are available for our 1st pick in the 2nd round – who would you prefer that the Chiefs select from: Golden Tate (WR – ND), Terrence Cody (DT – AL), Maurkice Pouncey (C – FLA), M. Iupati (G – Idaho)?

  • February 26, 2010  - SG says:

    “I would rather swap Derrick Johnson & a 3rd or 4th round pick in 2011.”

    Have we heard what is the estimate of trade value for Boldin in AZ’s eyes?

  • February 26, 2010  - Mad Chief says:


    Who did we pick in the first round? That would sway my decision some. But, I’d be happy to have any of the guys you mentioned on our team. It’s hard to say right now, really. Free Agency will change our needs. Hopefully, a lot.

    Rumor is, we’re working on locking Chambers up…so that would probably mean we wouldn’t be looking at selecting a WR in the early rounds. Also, if we pick up a NT in FA…that would likey mean we wouldn’t draft one high, or even at all.

    I’m looking forward to the next few months, to see how our team is going to change. I don’t want to see a repeat of last year…where we’re having to bring in a bunch of guys that nobody else wants. Plus, I’d like to see at least one player we draft come in and make an IMMEDIATE impact.

  • February 26, 2010  - el cid says:

    Mad Chief,from you mouth to god’s ear. Immediate impact player, Pioli could not find one last year but maybe this year.

  • February 27, 2010  - RatsoReily says:

    Trading for Bouldin would be a mistake. His history of injuries vs. our need for players who will play every down rule it out. We need someone like Mardy Gilyard who’ll contribute as a receiver AND kick returner. Also, if Pouncey is available we’d be crazy not to take him in the 2nd rnd. We upgrade our O-line with a quality tackle and center we have the makings of a great young line. Then we’ll really see what Charles and Cassel can do!

  • February 27, 2010  - SG says:

    “Who did we pick in the first round?”

    Let’s go this route – let’s say we get the guy everyone seems so high on – Eric Berry – Safety from Tennessee Vols. Who would you want…in what order? I think if we go Okung or another OT at #5 overall (or trade down to #9 and go OT), the need for Iupati drops some.

    It’s going to be a very dangerous game we play in my judgment – because if we go defense in Round 1, I believe we absolutely MUST at least get Iupati or Pouncey to upgrade that interior line…missing out on those two guys would be painful. I don’t know that Iupati will even be there for them to get at #36. If we miss him then wait to go O-Line with hopes of getting Pouncey and then he’s gone by the time our 2nd pick in that round gets to occur, that appears to be a very negative scenario.

  • February 27, 2010  - SG says:

    “…need for players who will play every down rule it out.”

    What if you only have to pony up a 3rd round pick to get the guy? That’s what the apparent cost is based on gossip heard elsewhere.

    “We upgrade our O-line with a quality tackle and center…”

    So you think we do need both of these guys…like an Okung-type guy at #5 overall AND Pouncey either at #36 or our Gonzo-traded pick later in the round?

  • February 27, 2010  - SG says:

    “Immediate impact player,”

    And hopefully that impact is not a negative impact! :-)

  • February 27, 2010  - True Red & Gold says:

    It is hard to listen to Pioli talk for two hours. One thing he is good at for sure and that is talk for hours without saying a thing. A requirement to be a successful GM I guess.

    Bob thanks for your coverage of the Combine, it is much appreciated. I also appreciate that you don’t pretend to have a crystal ball in your possession.

  • March 16, 2010  - The Morning Fix: Combine Edition | Arrowhead Addict | A Kansas City Chiefs blog says:

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