Plenty Of Blame To Share … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

In this throwaway society it came as no surprise in the moments, hours and days after the Chiefs became the worst team in the NFL after two games that there would be the call for “off with their heads” from fans and media concerning head coach Todd Haley and to a lesser extent GM Scott Pioli.

In the last two months – training camp, pre-season and two weeks of the regular season – I must admit that I have observed some dubious decisions on every level of the franchise, and I’m not leaving Clark Hunt out of this equation. Let’s make this very clear from the start – in this corner of observing the Chiefs, Hunt/Pioli/Haley are all linked to each other. Whatever is happening behind the scenes and who might be knifing who in the back because of the horrible start doesn’t matter in this case. They are all responsible for what’s happened.

Of course, Haley is the guy who has the bull’s eye on his chest and who will take the brunt of the criticism and demands for his departure. It’s been set up that way by Hunt and Pioli, who seldom if ever surface in front of the media for regular sessions of questions and answers. That’s OK, because when they talk they tend to babble in circles that provides little or no insight. They prefer the behind the closed doors, off the record way of passing on information. That’s too bad because if there is an opinion that’s going to be shared, then it should come with a name attached.

The owner and GM hide behind the coach and he’s the guy who stands in front of the media and that’s who the fans think of when it comes to the Chiefs. So at 0-2 and losing 89-10 after a season in the playoffs, Haley must be an idiot.

Let me assure you of this: he’s anything but an idiot. Pioli isn’t an idiot. Clark Hunt isn’t an idiot.

But they are not nearly as smart as they think they are.

In February 2009 when Haley was the last of the three added, much was made about how these three guys were all young (early 40s), smart, driven and enthusiastic. They were going to bring new blood and energy to the organization.

One key aspect was missing – experience. Clark Hunt had never been the man in charge of the entire organization until he asked Carl Peterson to retire early. Pioli had never been a general manager before; with the Patriots he was not the final word on personnel. Haley had never been a head coach before at any level of football, so he had never been the man in charge of everything beyond the offense.

Mistakes have been made by Hunt, Pioli and Haley. There have been a lot of mistakes, many of them the product of their inexperience in their new roles. Many of the missteps of Hunt and Pioli are hidden behind closed doors; that’s another reason that the Chiefs organization has done its best to provide as little information as possible, and why when info does come out in public, it’s planted with media types away from Kansas City and filters its way back.

The guy who has made his mistakes in public is Haley and that’s another reason he’s now the whipping boy for this incredibly bad start. But let’s remember a season is 16 games, not two. To pull the plug on Haley at this point would not only be wrong, it would be stupid. Only an outrageous amount of ignorance and arrogance would create incompetence of that magnitude.

That doesn’t mean it may not happen. There are four reasons that Haley may lose his job any day or week:

It’s happened before in this organization – 1977, when Lamar Hunt fired Paul Wiggin at mid-season.

Clark Hunt has said he does not have the patience of his father.

It was Clark Hunt who told Herm Edwards he supported the coach’s desires to go young in 2008 and it was Hunt who ended up pulling the rug out from under Edwards with the change in upper management.

If fans stop buying tickets and stop showing up, it becomes in their view an economic issue. That’s enough to push the panic button.

This is not a good situation. I was asked the other day if Hunt, Pioli and Haley are on the same page. I don’t think they are reading the same book. There is a dysfunction here that may or may not be the cause of the horrible start.

The Chiefs are 0-2 because they don’t have enough talent on the roster. They have been blown out 89-10 because the coaches and players have not performed to a winning level. One of those reasons belongs to Pioli. The other belongs to Haley. It all belongs to Hunt.

Mistakes are only good for one thing – education. If this trio doesn’t learn from what’s happened here, then my dear Chiefs fan, the future is truly bleak. They have another chance to fix it this Sunday.

23 Responses to “Plenty Of Blame To Share … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • September 21, 2011  - Warner says:

    Good stuff, Bob. Appreciate the insight. Warner

  • September 21, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    I agree with your premise wholeheartedly and we can certainly improve performance now but I’m unsure of how it can be turned around in the short term. I think the biggest issue we face is that we had a great season last year with an infusion of some young talent at key positions and a mix of over the hill veterans and overachieving lower tier players. We had great luck with regard to serious injuries and played smart, team oriented football with a strong rushing attack and limited mistakes leading to a successful outcome (until the playoffs exposed the weaknesses). It was a good start. However, the veneer came off this season with the combined lack of an off season and being too smart by half (the scenario you describe regarding experience) that allowed some of the veteran leadership being let go without replacement (most likely for monetary reasons) and some very bad luck with injuries to our brightest young players. This seems to be resulting in a big step backwards to this point. It will be interesting to see how it’s handled and if there isn’t a knee jerk reaction by management to fan anger/apathy may be the catalyst to address some of the mistakes and take a bigger step forward again, albeit sometime down the road. Hopefully they stay the course and don’t immediately overreact and start over again and again as you and other football lifers know all too well what happens when franchises take that route.

  • September 21, 2011  - Josh says:

    Bob, in your words, “Only an outrageous amount of ignorance and arrogance would create incompetence of that magnitude[...]” to pull the plug on Haley after just two losses. This is a fine line, though, no? At what point is it outrageous ignorance and arrogance to suffer 10 straight losses, 12, 16? I understand staying the course is the best thing for the team with the coach, given that an interim change makes cohesion and the playbook difficult. But do you throw away a season, or willingly accept a 5 and 11 season, because cohesion and adversity to change is less ignorant/arrogant? When this team gets beat 890-100 in the first ten games, has one touchdown every two games, loses a franchise or future franchise player each week, and then props a nice guy with a five-year-old’s vocabulary up at the press conference to say “we could do better”, will we have been better off keeping the status quo?

    Bob, I’m really curious. What is the magic number of defeat where you, personally, feel that a change is warranted? I would agree with you that two data points don’t make a trend, but this isn’t MLB or NBA. Each game counts, and right now, we can’t get out of the gate, while the rest of the horses are rounding the first turn.

  • September 21, 2011  - RW says:

    Good column Bob and a needed one at this dark time for Chiefs fans as we attempt to sort out the reasons why and options for the near and longterm future of the franchise. Let me start by stating a basic axiom:

    The fans are part of the business plan and if they’re seen by the team leadership as only a profit center and not a minority partner we get what we get:

    Hunt: A guy who earned his money the real old fashioned way—He INHERITED it. Born into the $$ and the attendant since of entitlement, he has no connection with innovation, creativity or connection with his minority partners (fans) so he drops a veil of secrecy, hires a like minded GM and can remain high above the fray and not be bothered by the masses.

    Pioli: Uneven evaluator of talent, full of hubris, shuns scrutiny and adept at pulling the wool over Hunt’s eyes which isn’t that difficult to do. Rides into town clutching to the coattails of the Patriot way/Belichick while justifying his actions with the Patties’ past and current success.

    Haley: The ultimate pawn in our disturbing trifecta of tedium. Channels his inner Parcells, dances on the stings for his Pioli puppet master, takes out his angst against his players/coaches and acts the part of the jerk most of time without needing any audition or practice at same.

    This is a perfect storm of how not to build a winning franchise. I’d like to say we’ll see it get worse before it gets better but given the players in the current leadership this has become an ongoing train wreck.

  • September 21, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    I really do think Haley deserves one more year 2012 before we jump the gun and give him his last paycheck as a Chief, but I don’t think that will happen. It’s really highly unlikely that we win many games this season. Before all of the injuries I thought we’d do well to be 8-8, but now I’m leaning more towards 5-11, which will be hard to watch, but I will watch.

  • September 21, 2011  - Chuck says:

    Well here’s an observation that no one ever mentions. The Management really blew the 2009 draft BIG TIME; 1ST Round= Tyson Jackson, no second rounder=Matt Cassel trade, 3rd round=Alex Magee, 4th round=Donald Washington (work still in progress), 5th round=Colin Brown, then we follow up with Quintin Lawrence, Javarris Williams, and Jake O’Connell. To be FAIR we did also draft Ryan Succup that year so I guess ONE OUT OF 8. That has to go down as one of our WORST DRAFTS EVER.

  • September 21, 2011  - Thomas Salmon says:

    I’m still wondering what all of these “mistakes” are. Here and on other football sites, everyone refers to the Chiefs’ “many mistakes,” but no one provides any specifics. I think hiring Haley was the biggest mistake, because he has shown that he is basically incompetent. However, I don’t actually know how many takers there were for the job in 2009.

    There have certainly been some players drafted that did not work out, but not all of them ever do. As well, some of those supposed “draft busts” were actually drafted before Pioli and Haley arrived in KC. But who are those players that “should have been drafted” instead. There were certainly some great players available in the past few drafts, but the Chiefs were not necessarily in position to pick them, or they may have not fit the offensive or defensive systems that the coaches were trying to set up.

    There have been many critical about “not spending enough” on free agents this offseason, but no one has provided a list of the top tier NTs, QBs, WRs ILBs and OTs that were really available. I believe those who complain that the organisation is “cheap,” would also be the ones complaining that the Chiefs organization was “stupid” for overpaying guaranteed free agent contracts.

    I’m first in line calling for Haley’s head. It’s not just the two blowout losses to start the season, it is his demonstration that he cannot properly motivate players or develop a game plan. I don’t think the results would be much better if Moeaki, Berry and Charles were all healthy. It is time for Pioli and Hunt to find a pair and get a coach who can develop a successful program.

  • September 21, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Great article, Bob. Outstanding.

  • September 21, 2011  - Tim says:

    Good article, Bob. In my mind however, this debacle of a start is due to 4 things:
    1. The decision to not acquire more talent when there was the opportunity & keep “pets” on the roster.
    2. The structure of training camp as a glorified summer camp for kids.
    3. Significant injuries.
    4. Lack of continuity in the offensive coaching staff.
    While this season may go down as a disaster, clearly 3 of the 4 can be recitfied – but not this year.

  • September 21, 2011  - Chuck says:

    I just want to mention one other thing that really frustrates me about our beloved Chiefs. Obviously we will be picking in the top 4 or 5 next spring in the draft. Just watch Pioli try desperately to trade down and not take a stud that is available because of the $$$ involved. Then is free agency once again he will try to get guys on the cheap. There are “countless examples” of this: Kelly Gregg(well past his prime), Thomas Jones at the tail end of his career, the old WR we got from SD (his name is escaping me), he seems to “gravitate” towards older guys in free agency. But to his credit I will say I did like the pickup of Breaston, McClain, & Lilja. But Hunt and Pioli to have a great tendenacy to do things on the CHEAP. And one last time I will say after watching Cassel against the Raiders and Ravens last years last 2 games and the 2 fiascos this year I will say that Cassel will never lead this team to a Super Bowl. JUST NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

  • September 21, 2011  - Randy says:

    I say ride this thing out. Play your young players the rest of the way. With the Chiefs schedule this season they were not going to make the playoffs anyway. I know it would be really tough on this fanbase but if Andrew Luck is the light at the end of the tunnel then we might finally have something to be excited about with this team. Teams that do not have elite quarterbacks do not stay on top for long in this league. This football team needs an elite QB. Cassel is not a playmaker….he is a game manager. Time to change the direction of this franchise starting at the QB position.

  • September 21, 2011  - ED J says:

    Bob I know you’re upset they don’t let information out but neither does New England and they won 3 Super Bowls in the Bellichick era. But you’re right all 3 guys are to blame. Hunt is to blame because to me he needs to do a better job in marketing the team. He needs to learn how to endear himself and the team to the fans. If he did that he would have more support in the tough times.

    Pioli mistake was trying fool everyone into thinking you can win games in this league with a QB who doesn’t make mistakes and occassionlly can make a play here and there. He should’ve took Mark Sanchez or Josh Freeman in the draft in 2009 instead wasting that pick on Tyson Jackson. Everyone knew this was a reach pick. He did better trading the pick away getting more pick and getting Josh Freeman. It wasn’t a very good draft but the team wasted 2nd rd pick on backup. Also both him and Hunt should’ve been more aggressive that offseason in getting free agent in here. 2010 they did ok in getting free agents in here.

    Haley is to blame only for taking preseason likely with a young team. With a veteran team its ok, but with a young inexperience team they need confidence and to feel good about themselves. He made calculated mistake and its costing him now. Other than that he is doing the best he can with what he’s got to work with. At some point your game plan can’t be play it safe and run ball try play mistake free football and hope special teams make a big play in return game. But with his QB situation he can’t be aggressive and be an uptempo offense either. So you just got to gameplan around your strengths.

  • September 21, 2011  - tuan says:

    yea they can go ahead blaming todd haley for the prblem and fire him, but if they dont know how to draft,don’t spend money on FA to get talent in here then it doesn’t matter who’s they got at head coach, how about daft or sign a good QB (stater)
    and that a good start.

  • September 21, 2011  - leonard says:

    I love the way you geniuses come out of the woodwork with your hindsight observations. Funny, when we drafted Jackson, the NFL was abuzz with us haveing the best draft that year. Now you same bozos come out and say what a reach etc. Bob, you are sounding more like Whitlock every day. Keep it up, and the Chiefs will ignore you totally. Insulting Piloi, Hunt, and Haley. I thought you were better than that.The key thing that everyone ignores is that Haley’s program consisted of a year round philosophy of conditioning, OTA’s and constant communication with players. This did not happen because of the lockout. As far as the summer camp enviromnmet that was stupidly mentioned had more to do with the new practice rules, which are totally rediculous and not in the best interest of the plaers, coaches, and teams. Just look at all the season ending injuries, not just on the Chiefs. This took Haly out of his zone that he wanted to have in place. Blame Hunt, Blame the Owners, blame the players. They all are guilty. Last year worked because of the preparation, and work the entire off season.
    Now listen up whiners, a big problem this year is obviously Cassel. 5 INT’s 3 fumbles, in 2 games. You can’t win like that. Is it time to yank him? I say yes. Make him sit and contemplate his future. The big money will not bet there next contract unless he gets his act together. Can He?
    Well I don’t think so, but he can surprise you.
    He did it last year. Sitting on the bench may get his attention, if not, it is time to say Adios. Remember, Pioli wasn’t the only one that wanted him. 2 games is not a season, and we will see how Haley handles all this adversity, but your insults are childish, and short sighted. Remeber where Green Bay was last year at this time, and the talking heads all questioned the futuer of McCarthy. Look how that played out.
    Chiefs win in San Diego. You heard it first here.

  • September 21, 2011  - Chuck says:

    Leonard; YOU obviously know nothing of the Chiefs history of playing in S.D. It is a very “rare” day that we have ever won in S.D. And with the Chargers coming off of a stinging defeat in New England that will make Rivers and Company just that much more hungry and dangerous. That is a game I can SAFELY say we will not win.

  • September 21, 2011  - leonard says:

    You have to be positive, in order for positive things to happen. This site and too many of the other sires are full of negative whining fans. Remember, Minnesota should have won in San Diego, but McNabb only had 38 yards of passing.
    The Chiefs are desparate for a win, and I think they can pull this one out. We are not as bad as we have played, and I believe that pride will carry this team through. San Diego is not the team that they used to be, and we are a team that needs a win. Like most the San Diego games, it will be close. 3 points or less.

  • September 21, 2011  - Niblick says:

    Leonard- I don’t think any of the so called experts really liked our 2009 draft. Jackson was a big reach at three. Most liked giving up a 2nd round pick for Cassell and Vrabel. I thought it was a good trade at the time as did the so called experts. In hindsight perhaps he should not have made that trade and drafted Sanchez three. I’m a great Monday morning QB. It now looks like the 2009 draft turned out terrible. All the experts liked our 2010 draft. Time will tell on that draft.

  • September 21, 2011  - Steve says:

    Bob – great analysis. As you commented, the fact that none of the top 3 – Haley, Pioli, Hunt – having prior experience at the level at which they now operate is critical to understanding what is going on. Clark Hunt inherited money and brains from his dad but his experience as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and then as head of his own investment company didn’t prepare him to lead people, especially in a public, emotional business.

    Pioli and Hunt have forced Haley to run out in front of the public with a bullseye on his chest when the lack of depth caused by the poor 2009 draft and a timid, miserly approach to free agency since Pioli’s arrival limits options for any coach. With the lack of off-season activities, injuries are spreading throughout the NFL which a bright guy like Pioli should have seen coming and been even more motivated to improve the talent level of the non-starters. Letting Haley absorb the arrows on behalf of all the sins of the franchise reflects on the character of Pioli and Hunt and, combined with Bob’s observation about Clark Hunt not backing up his commitment to Herm Edwards, is two strikes in that area for the young owner.

  • September 21, 2011  - jim says:

    Iagree that Hunt, Pioli and Haley are not stewpit! They are very bright men, in their own right. BUT, this is a case where the sum is LESSER than the parts.It seems that Pioli tries to draft the ‘leeper’ in the draft to make himself look brilliant, rather than an OBVIOUS pick. At least obvious by all of us geniuses. There is an arrogance about Haley which is good, but can be a detractor, at the same time. Anybody that was ever good at anything always seemd to have more than a little ego. This is a case where his intelligence is simply not getting to the ones who need it most—the players. Then there’s the players, who at the final bell are the ones not performing. It is easy to blame it on coaching, and shortly that will be implied by the players as their excuse. But ultimately it is their responsibility to get it done.

    My problem is that I don’t really see the energy, dogged determination, and people flying to the ball like is necessary to be succesful. It’s as though it is all about technical’hand position’, ‘hip placement’,'pad level’, etc., etc, intead of just kicking the livin dog crap out of somebody with an attitude, and then see if the hands, hips, and other sundry techniques were in place.

  • September 21, 2011  - Jimbo says:

    I am having a hard time reading the majority of these comments. Yes, the dark days are prevailing over Arrowhead and the casual fans are amassing and falling off the cliff like frightened sheep.
    All I have to say… Bye,See Ya.
    I love my Chiefs and yes we have had a couple of WTF games. That is no reason to give up on our team and feeling sorry for yourself. We should just go ahead and fire or replace the 3 wise men Bob & his followers so eloquently blames.
    I’m still looking forward to our game in San Diego & I am confident we will see improvement.
    Go Chiefs.

  • September 21, 2011  - Justin says:

    I am with you Jimbo – reading the pessimism on here day after day is hard to take. I understand their frustration – I am frustrated myself – but the hyperbole that goes on here makes you think the Chiefs somehow started a pandemic and killed everyone on entire planet.

    A little perspective please.

  • September 21, 2011  - ED J says:

    Guys just buckle up this is going to be 2-3 win season except it embrace it at least we’ll hopefully get #1 pick and Andrew Luck. We get Luck this organization will finally be able to compete with the good to elite teams in the league. So guys embrace the losses darkness comes right before sunshine. So just throw it in this season and look forward to getting Luck this yr.

  • September 21, 2011  - Craig says:

    Great Article as always Bob! I like the analysis. It makes some sense of the fiasco of this football season. This may be a learning process for all three, but the fall guy will be Haley regardless. Remember Belechick(sp) got fired from the Cleveland Browns in his first HC job. I for one would not be opposed to the idea of trading the first pick for several other first rounders and others, if the Chiefs get the top pick. We need depth. However, with that said who were the Colts until Manning appeared on their roster. And how well are they doing without him. Is Luck the second coming of Elway, Manning,Farve who knows? Go Chiefs! It will be a long, painful year for chief fans.

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