I’ve searched for the best way to explain why a bunch of talented people were shown the door on Monday at the Chiefs offices.
There was no public announcement but new GM Scott Pioli has begun the process of purging the team’s personnel department. Now that the ’09 NFL Draft is over, Pioli is going to hire his own people to handle the scouting process.
None of this comes as a surprise to any of those people who lost their jobs on Monday. As I said, there’s no official announcement, but the word inside the building was that all but two of the team’s seven scouts had been fired. Also left go was long-time director of college scouting Chuck Cook. He’s the guy in the white hat, far left in the photo. Chuck has been part of the Chiefs organization for 25 years. The guy next to him, holding up a yellow stopwatch is scouting coordinator Bruce Lemmerman, who was one of the scouts released.
Eventually, if it hasn’t happened already, that group of dismissed employees will include V.P. of Player Personnel Bill Kuharich.
Only a handful of people in the personnel department will survive and it’s unlikely any of them will be in a position of power or leadership once the dust settles.
How best to explain what’s going on inside the Chiefs? That’s what I’ve struggled with trying to explain. Here goes.
If you’ve ever had a loved one go through chemotherapy it provides a pathway to understanding what’s happening with the team. When Mom went head-to-head against the Big C, the doctors dosed her up for chemo and the treatment about killed her. Sitting in that hospital room one night back in the ‘Burgh I thought we had lost her. But she’s a tough Irish broad and eventually she kicked the Big C’s ass and today is well over five years cancer free. Love you Mom.
Here’s the thing about chemo: it’s like shooting an army of medical soldiers into the body that seeks out the bad cells and kills them. With any army there come problems, things like friendly fire, unintended casualties, a bomb misses the military installation and lands on the library. The treatment kills good cells along with the bad ones; that’s what makes people so sick when they go through chemo or radiation treatments.
In a football sense, Pioli inherited an operation in the Chiefs that he judged was very sick and needed radical treatment. There have been a host of changes around the team’s operation, many of which have not and will never become public. It’s a very different manner of operation than any way the Chiefs have been run before, going back to their first days as a football team and a business.
But this is what Clark Hunt hired Pioli to do. Not surprisingly, Pioli wants his own people, so he must scuttle employees he inherited. Many of them are talented and gifted in what they do, and in no sense were they part of the problem that made the football team 6-26 over the last two seasons. They would provide good work and good information for Pioli.
Doesn’t matter. They are the collateral damage that comes with the emphasis on change. It came to the front office, to the coaching staff, to the locker room and now to the personnel department.
Here’s a salute to those who lost their jobs and what they tried to get done over the years with the Chiefs. They will not be unemployed long, because the NFL is always on the lookout for good and talented people.
A bunch of them are now available.
A SECOND LOOK AT MR. IRRELEVANT
Some readers thought I was a little harsh with my assessment after the draft of the Chiefs pick at No. 256: South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop.
Understand I’ve got nothing against the young man. I don’t even have anything against kickers per se. I always enjoy the chance to visit with the greatest kicker in Chiefs history any time Jan Stenerud comes around. I just don’t view a draft choice as something that should be used on a position where the initial failure rate is so high.
It’s especially surprising given the presence of special teams coach Steve Hoffman on Todd Haley’s staff. During his time with the Cowboys, Hoffman had a good track record of finding kickers without the team using a draft choice. It was guys like Chris Boniol, who went 27 of 28 in the 1995 season or Richie Cunningham, who went 34 of 37 in 1997.
If a team is going to draft a kicker, I guess the seventh round is a good a place as any. Succop’s resume is interesting. First, he’s no little guy at 6-3, 225 pounds. For awhile he was the kicker, punter and kickoff man for the Gamecocks:
- Field Goals – he made 49 of 69 over his career, 71 percent. Inside the 40-yard line, he was 26 of 31, 83.9 percent. Past the 40-yard line, Succop was 23 of 38, 60.5 percent. He made punts of 53, 54 and 55 yards. He also had three FGs blocked.
- Punting – in 85 punts over two seasons (2006-07), he averaged 42.3 yards per punt. He had three touchbacks, 17 punts that returners fair caught, 22 punts were inside the 20-yard line and three punts were blocked.
- Kickoffs – in four seasons he had 253 kickoffs and 94 were touchbacks, an average of 37.2 percent.
To survive as a FG kicker in the league, Succop will need to add about 15 percentage points to his total; 71 percent will not make it, he needs to be around 85 percent.
If he can get to that level, and keep up the long kickoffs, he will no longer be Mr. Irrelevant.
ON THE COLLEGE FREE-AGENT TRAIL
As soon as the draft was over, the Chiefs and other NFL teams started signing from the pool of players who were not drafted. The Chiefs have not released any names officially, but thanks to family members and colleges looking to let everyone know, word leaks out.
Again, we don’t know for sure the status of these players, whether they have signed free agent contracts or simply have been offered a chance to attend the team’s rookie mini-camp on May 8-9-10 on a tryout basis:
LB Bobby Abare, 6-2, 220 pounds, Yale – He played four seasons and had 279 total tackles, 10 interceptions and four sacks. He was named All-Ivy League three times and was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the best defensive player on the 1-AA level. Reported by the Torrington Register-Citizen in Connecticut.
OLB Jovan Belcher, 6-2, 240 pounds, Maine – A defensive end for the Black Bears, he was second in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award and was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s defensive player of the year. Out of West Babylon, New York, he finished last year with 98 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 recovered fumble and 2 forced fumbles. Reported by the Banger Daily News.
CB Londen Fryar (right), 5-11, 192 pounds, Western Michigan – The son of long-time NFL receiver Irving Fryar, he became his career with the Broncos as a wide receiver but they switched to cornerback. He had 170 career tackles and seven interceptions. Reported by the Kalamazoo Gazette.
DT Dion Gales, 6-6, 290 pounds, Troy State – A junior college transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Gales finished his two-year career at Troy with 93 total tackles, 8.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss. Reported by the Dothan Eagle in Alabama.Â
OT Cameron Goldberg, 6-6, 280 pounds, Duke – A three-year starter for the Blue Devils at left tackle, the Maryland native kept his job despite a spring suspension from the program last year. Reported by the Durham Herald-Sun.
DE Bobby Greenwood, 6-5, 278 pounds, Alabama – In four years on the field with the Crimson Tide, he played I n 51 games with 22 starts. Greenwood had 102 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovered. Out of Prattville, Alabama. Reported by the Birmingham News.
WR Taurus Johnson (left), 6-0, 206 pounds, South Florida – The Florida native played in 49 games for the Bulls, starting 13 times. He caught 112 passes for 1,434 yards and 12 TDs over his career and he returned 39 kickoffs for 784 yards. Reported by the Tampa Tribune.
(tryout) S Ricky Price, 6-1, 195 pounds, Oklahoma State – Four-year player for the Cowboys, who spent two years as wide receiver and then last two as a safety. In 26 games in the secondary, he had 159 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles and 1 recovered fumble. Reported by the Associated Press.
DE Pierre Walters, 6-4, 269 pounds, Eastern Illinois – He played defensive end but will be an outside linebacker in his attempt to make the Chiefs roster. Walters had 48 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last year. Reported by the Charleston Times-Courier in Illinois.
THE HAMMER FALLS ON HERM
I shouldn’t do this because all it does is bring more attention to idiocy. But I can’t help myself.
Kansas City’s biggest sports columnist came out of the second-day of the NFL Draft with a piece that rips Herm Edwards for being Herm Edwards.
Jason Whitlock’s Monday column eviscerating Edwards’ performance in ESPN’s draft coverage falls into an already bulging file I would call literary larceny, i.e. the Kansas City Star should file a police report saying somebody took their money under the false pretense of actually doing work and writing a column on a timely topic.
So much to write about over the weekend, just with the Chiefs alone, and this guy smashes the former coach who is no longer part of the equation. Understand that he’s still trying to curry favor with the new regime so there was no critique of the first Pioli/Haley draft. He had to bash somebody because that’s what big, bad columnist do, so he picked a talking head on TV.
Listen, I watched and heard Herm over the weekend. I was a bit busy with the site and stuff, so I didn’t sit down and sternly evaluate his performance. But what I saw is what I expected: it was Herm being Herm. He took issues and questions and tried to explain them in his own way. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not. Anybody that expected him to rip apart a draft pick, a team or a player doesn’t know Herm. That’s why they had Mel Kiper on the broadcast. Actually, I enjoyed most of what I saw from the former coach. Considering he’s never been in that forum before, he actually seemed quite comfortable during the Sunday broadcast.
Here’s the problem that Whitlock and his ilk have right now: they have no villain in the Chiefs story. For years Carl Peterson was the bad guy they got all the written darts and verbal bombs. He’s not there anymore. In the last three years, they enjoyed throwing heat at Edwards, but now he’s no longer part of the Chiefs equation. Larry Johnson is keeping his mouth shut and showing up for workouts, so it’s hard to fire one across his bow.
They just can’t let Peterson and Edwards go, so Whitlock steals another day’s pay at his inflated rate while dozens of his former Star co-workers continueÂ trying toÂ survive on unemployment. That’s a greater crime against journalism than anything Herm Edwards did on TV over the weekend.
SIGNINGS AND MOVEMENT IN THE NFL
BENGALS – released WR Chris Perry.
DOLPINS – released QB John Beck.
PACKERS - released C Brennan Carvalho.
SEAHAWKS – signed CB Ken Lucas and FB Justin Griffith.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on April 28, 1979 in Ventura, California was LB Scott Fujita (left). Drafted by the Chiefs in the fifth-round of the 2002 NFL Draft out of the University of California, Fujita spent three years with the team (2002-04), playing in 48 games with 41 starts and contributing 326 total tackles with 9.5 sacks, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. He spent the ’05 season with Dallas and the last three years with New Orleans.
Born on April 28, 1967 in Dearborn Heights, Michigan was K Pete Stoyanovich. He was acquired in a trade in the 1996 pre-season from Miami. He kicked in 69 games in five different seasons (1996-2000) as part of his 12-year NFL career. Stoyanovich made 93 of 125 FG attempts with the Chiefs, including five of six from 50 yards or more. He made all but one of his 164 PAT kicks.