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Scouting Coaches … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

There’s an old saying in football – a game that has a lot of old sayings – that goes something like this:

Coaches coach and scouts should scout.

Meaning? In the process of preparing an NFL roster, the scouts should do the work of finding talent, and the coaches should do the work of developing that talent. Coaches shouldn’t be scouting and scouts shouldn’t be coaching.

There are very few teams that draw the duty lines so firmly in the dirt, however. At this time of the year, the NFL coaches are very busy scouting possible draft choices at the position they coach. They come back to the team’s facility and provide their two cents worth on the players.

On some teams, the analysis by the coaches is given great credence by the decision makers. An unusual example is the Cincinnati Bengals where the assistant coaches are essentially the team’s scouting department. Either the Brown family is incredibly cheap or they know something nobody else in the NFL understands, but the Bengals have a senior VP of player personnel, a director of player personnel, one scout and two scouting consultants.

That’s it – three full-time people and two consultants. Compare that to the Chiefs, who are not unusual in having a dozen full-time people and heaven knows how many part-timers in their personnel department.

Still, GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley have the coaching staff involved. That’s the biggest reason behind what Pioli described as “arguing” and “discussions” in draft meetings over the last two weeks.

“This is the time where coaches are coming in off the road and we’ve worked out a lot of players,” Pioli said. “We’ve spent time with a lot of players individually, getting more insight, more work done on the players. We get to spend more personal, up close time with them and finalize some of the thoughts that we believe we have on the players.”

The top players in the draft pool are so very talented that everybody can evaluate their strengths. The rest of the group isn’t so clear, and a team can send two or three football people to scout a player and there’s a very good chance they’ll come back with at least two, maybe three different opinions.

“What happens is different people see things different ways, they see players different ways,” Pioli explained. “Different people sit down with the individual players who are answering the same questions or hearing the same questions and just have a different perception of where the player may be coming from or what they’re saying or how they’re saying it.

“The discussions range from agreements and disagreements on the players’ ability, their athleticism, their production, because believe it or not, you can disagree when it comes to production when you’re talking about things that aren’t on paper, whether the block was a good block or whether a player played off a block well enough.”

It was the Godfather of the Chiefs football operation Bill Parcells who essentially talked his way out of a head coaching job in New England when he complained that he was frozen out of the personnel process. “They want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries,” Parcells famously said a few years back. At that time, the Patriots ran their draft preparation to the mantra of scouts scout and coaches coach.

There is a fine line that the decision makers must walk when it comes to coaches scouting and their opinions. The coaches haven’t spent months looking at these players. It’s more like days, sometimes maybe a week. They can’t have the depth of knowledge that an area scout or regional scout has about a college player.

And where the coaches’ opinions get filed in the draft process depends on their track record. Can the decision makers trust their judgment and adjust the value of a player based on what they said? Or, does it get thrown in the circular file and forgotten?

There are a lot of examples in every city where coaches jumped into the personnel process with opinion and analysis that proved to be dead wrong. With the Chiefs there are at least two examples from the 1990s

In the 1993 Draft, the Chiefs did not have a choice until the third round. In the run up to the draft and on selection day, offensive line coach Alex Gibbs did not feel Nebraska guard Will Shields was worth drafting using a high or middle-round choice. Gibbs doubted the ability of all Cornhuskers blockers to handle pass protection at an NFL level and felt Shields was no different.

Needless to say, Carl Peterson and Marty Schottenheimer ignored Gibbs opinion and selected Shields, who would play for 14 years, never miss a game and make a dozen Pro Bowls.

Another example came two years later, when RB Curtis Martin was coming out of the University of Pittsburgh. Then Chiefs offensive coordinator Paul Hackett had been the head coach at Pitt, most recently in the 1992 season, when Martin was a sophomore. In discussing the running back, Hackett was very negative in his evaluation of whether he was durable enough or mature enough to handle playing in the NFL.

The Chiefs weren’t in the market for a RB at that time, but history shows maybe they should have been. Martin played for 12 seasons and went to five Pro Bowls. He finished his career as the fourth leading rusher in NFL history, running for more than 14,000 yards.

In his third year in charge of the Chiefs drafting process, Pioli is still analyzing the analyzers, whether they are scouts or assistant coaches.

“I know when I first got into the league teams would evaluate the jobs that their scouts did based on where a player was drafted,” Pioli said. “I personally believe that’s flawed, because what we need here and what our specific needs are in terms of a player making it with the Kansas City Chiefs, there will be certain players who can make it here, perform well in our system and not perform well in another system.

“Then there are others players, whether it’s a physical capability, or trait, or their makeup, players who can be successful in other programs but not be successful here. When you set up a certain environment and how things are going to be done, we talk about the culture that’s here, there are certain demands on people that players can handle, and other players can’t.

“That doesn’t mean that they’re not a good player, that doesn’t mean that their not a good person, it just means that the fit isn’t right. In order for anyone to grow or develop within this league there needs to a compatibility of the environment and what people can tolerate and what they can’t tolerate.

“This program and the way we’ve set things up, it’s not for everyone. That doesn’t mean the people who don’t remain here and develop aren’t good or aren’t good people, it’s just the way it is.”


5 Responses to “Scouting Coaches … Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 18, 2011  - RW says:

    Interesting comment from Pioli on the concept of finding a fit between the player & Chief’s system as opposed to the more talented player who doesn’t fit. Is this working the team around the player or the other way around?

    It must have to do with the player’s attitude and his liklihood to buy into what the coaches want out of him. If so, then a Larry Johnson would have never been considered in the first place. Is that good or bad?

    LJ certainly had and displayed the talent for a short time but ultimately caused a rift between himself and the team. We all know where that headed. So, I guess I get Pioli’s point about wanting the ‘right’ kind of player which is more of a longterm success strategy than the instant fix talent only mindset.


  • April 18, 2011  - ChiefsFan says:

    Gretz you are a worthless slob whi knows little about football. You trash Whitlock by saying Rick Gosselin knows ten times as much as Whitlock but not adding that the “goose” NEVER had any repect for you. Is it true that Peterson funds your website you irrelevant moron?


  • April 18, 2011  - el cid says:

    So much if our are because Pioli and staff do not open any windows in to how they operate. We have to hope Clark Hunt is watching the team develope and Haley and coaches (and scouts) are being allowed adequate participation in the process. That will go a long way into the success. At least that is what I am hoping for.

    Chiefsfan, if you paid for this site, you wasted your money. Might try the Chiefs site, no requirement there except for ending all posts, “go chiefs” or “in pioli we trust”. Bob, if you opened this site up to non paying posters, shame on you. To many cannot think independently, it gives them headaches.


  • April 18, 2011  - Justin says:

    ChiefsFan,

    Why waste your time with a post like that? You add nothing and show that you can’t think for yourself and must follow Fatlock’s idiocy. LAME


  • April 18, 2011  - Fleaflicker34 says:

    Bob, looks like Fatlock is posting here. I’ve never met ONE knowledgeable fan that thinks Fatlock is anything more than a hack, and a bad one at that.

    Hey, D-bag, did you pay for Bobs site just to post crap like that?




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