Good afternoon Chiefs Nation. I hope you all had a wonderful and safe New Years Eve and we want to wish you a Happy New Year from all of us at Chiefs360.com. 2013 has arrived, thus ending (in NFL terms) the disastrous 2012 season for the Kansas City Chiefs. What a year huh? Arguably the worst season in franchise history was capped off by a horrendous loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday with a score of 38-3.
The Chiefs finished the season with a 2-14 record, apathy coursing through the fanbase and silence from chairman and CEO Clark Hunt.
Black Monday then arrived. The day everyone was sure Scott Pioli -the Chiefs General Manager-would be fired. The day that was going to signify a change for the better for our beloved franchise.
First Head Coach Romeo Crennel was fired. It had to be done. I wouldn’t have had an issue had he been kept on as defensive coordinator, but the head coaching position had to be fixed. Thus, Romeo fell first. I will always respect the man for his hard work, leadership ability and I will argue he has so much class its hard to compare. He just does not and could not make a good head coach. I wish him the best.
Clark Hunt then took his turn in the media to outline his plans for the next month or so. Scott Pioli was not fired but he isn’t necessarily guaranteed to stay either. Before I lay my opinion out there on the subject(s), I will post Clark’s responses to NFL.com‘s Albert Breer on Monday who had the chance to sit down with the Chiefs CEO for a one-on-one interview. (Full story: here) See below:
Breer: Based on everything, football and otherwise, what do you take away from this year?
Clark Hunt: “It was a very difficult year for us, both on the field and off. And I know everyone associated with the team is disappointed, and I’m personally disappointed for the fans. Frankly, we just didn’t put a very good product on the field this year.”
Breer: What was your thinking in why it was necessary to get rid of Romeo and not Scott?
Clark Hunt: “Well, at this point, we have dismissed Romeo, and the rest of the football operation is continuing to be under review. We may have more changes down the road. It’s hard to put your finger on one thing. Usually when you have a difficult year like we did it’s more than just one thing. Clearly, coaching I felt was part of it. But also we need to be better from a player personnel standpoint. We have a lot of talent on the team — five of them made the Pro Bowl, a couple first alternates — but we also have some holes to fill.”
Breer: OK, so, just so we’re clear here, there is a scenario out there where Scott wouldn’t be with the team in 2013? How could that arise?
Clark Hunt: “Yes. Just to go back to my statement this morning about the football operation being under review, when you have a year like we did, no one gets a passing grade. I’m going to focus on the head-coaching search here in the next two to three weeks, it’s important from a timing standpoint to do that. And then I’m going to circle back to the rest of the football operation and make those decisions at that time.”
Breer: Will the coach have a say in whether or not Scott stays?
Clark Hunt: “I wouldn’t say that he’ll have a say. But obviously, chemistry is very important. When you’re talking about a team, chemistry is always important. And among your general manager and head football coach, that’s important as well.”
Breer: So if a head coach you want is here and says I want my own personnel guy, is it realistic to think that might trigger a move?
Clark Hunt: “Well, we have a very open mind heading into the coaching search. I don’t want to rule out anything. We’re going to talk to coaches who have NFL coaching candidates, some who are coordinators, some who are involved at the college level. We’re going to talk to a wide spectrum. And really, anything is possible at this point.”
Breer: I know, traditionally, the GM has reported to you. Have you decided how the structure of the football operation is going to work going forward?
Clark Hunt: “Yes. We are going to change the structure. Historically, the head coach has reported to the general manager. I think that’s true going back to the early days of the franchise. And I’m changing it today. Going forward, the head coach will report directly to me. The GM will report to me as well.”
Breer: What’s your goal in changing the structure?
Clark Hunt: “I think it gives us the best chance of hiring the best candidate. You mentioned a while ago that some of the coaches want more control. I think that’s right, and if we find the right coach, I certainly want to have a structure that’s acceptable to him.”
Breer: Do you feel like Scott Pioli can still be the right man to right the ship here?
Clark Hunt: “I have not ruled that out. We’re still evaluating that. But the priority here over the next few weeks is going to be the head coach.”
Breer: How hard personally was this year on you, having a team that some picked to win the division and be a dangerous team in the playoffs? How disappointed are you?
Clark Hunt: “Extremely disappointed. We did have very high expectations for the team this year. We were coming off a year last year that was a little bit chaotic, we’d made the change to Coach Crennel, had some success in midseason and frankly added a lot of pieces we thought were important to winning this year. And unfortunately, just from almost the very get-go, we were not competitive, and in that, it was very disappointing. And for me, frankly it was most disappointed for our fans.”
Breer: I know the two primary problems since Scott’s been here have been finding the right coach, having gone through two, and finding the right quarterback. For whoever’s running the show in 2013, how big a deal does finding the right quarterback from the outside and bringing him in have to be?
Clark Hunt: “Clearly a position we have to be better at is quarterback. That’s not a not a knock on the guys that were here this year, there were a lot things that went into poor play at the quarterback position, other than just the individuals. But we have to be better at that position if we want to compete.”
Breer: When you say the coach and GM will report to you, does that mean you’ll be taking a more hands-on role in football?
Clark Hunt: “I think it’ll be a different role. I do spend a lot of time already on the football side. Most of that interaction in the past has been with the GM, as opposed to the head coach. On a going-forward basis, I anticipate spending a lot of time with both.”
Breer: Last thing, what’s the one thing that needs to be fixed here?
Clark Hunt: “The priority, as we’ve outlined today, is finding the right head coach. Head coaches can make a very big difference in team performance. And I do believe we have some talent on the team. So the head coach is the priority right now.”
Now for those uninterested in my opinion, feel free to skip this part. Otherwise, here is what I believe.
Scott Pioli is powerless. I believe he did sign that contract exention that was reported several weeks back and now Clark is in damage control mode. Why Clark would sign him to an extension is beyond my understanding but I do believe it was signed. (I am NOT confirming a contract extention was signed, it is only my opinion) I think since then, Clark and Pioli have butted heads a couple of times and now Clark stands to lose quite a bit of money if he fires him. Whereas, if he hangs on to Pioli while he searches for his new Head Coach, it gives other teams time to contact the Chiefs who may be interested in interviewing Scott. If another team picks him up, they will take over Pioli’s current contract situation (whatever that may be). Which stands to reason why he hasn’t been fired yet.
Now Clark could be just holding out until Scott resigns, therefore forfeiting his contract. I believe Clark will get rid of Pioli as soon as he makes his big name hire for the head coaching job. It is important to remember, that when an organization like the Chiefs changes its philosophy and the owner says he will now be calling the shots instead of the GM, something big is planned. An owner doesn’t just strip his General Manager of his powers and duties (yet retains him) and takes an even more hands-on approach himself without having a big name hire in mind for the job. Clark Hunt is not going to hire a first year head coach. He would not change the philosophy of his entire organization just to land a first time head coach. No way. Not happening. I firmly believe he has an idea of who he wants his next head coach to be, but is conducting interviews to facilitate the hiring process.
Clark Hunt is not stupid. Clark Hunt cares about this franchise. If, after seeing his interviews and hearing his tone of voice and the displeasure he shows at the current state of his team, you still think he doesn’t care, then I say you have lost touch with reality. Re-read this interview again, and tell me the man doesn’t care. He will get this franchise turned around, I firmly believe that. Pioli will be gone within a month, our new shiny Head Coach will be in town, and from there, our new quarterback will be brought to town in April and the 2012 season will be but a distant memory to all of us drinking in the brightness of the future.
(Clark Hunt also makes a few interesting comments in his interview with ESPN. It is worth a read for sure, I will not try to summarize it, but I do encourage you to follow the link here and read for yourself).
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