Jan 052013
 

not-the-droidsI’m sorry to rain on the parade of Kansas City Chiefs’ fans who think that the hiring of Andy Reid means that the team is about to experience a significant turnaround. The more likely outcome is more of the same in Western Missouri.

It’s not to say that Andy Reid isn’t a successful head coach. His resume with the Eagles is impressive… a 130-93-1 regular reason record in 14 seasons in Philadelphia, along with seven division championships, four appearances in the NFC Championship, and one appearance in the Super Bow, where the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots. If we were buying a new car and looking at the 54-year old Reid’s resume as a spec sheet, this would seem like a pretty flashy vehicle.

The trouble is that in the NFL there is no equivalent of a test drive; it’s buy or pass. And only after driving off the lot will Chiefs’ fans likely discover that the engine isn’t as powerful as hoped for, the tires leak, and the odometer has been set back so that the 100,005 miles on the vehicle now reads 000,005. This is not an experiment that is going to turn out well.

Without trying to “hate” on Reid, there were plenty of warning signs that should have made Clark Hunt pause before hiring his new head coach. His history with the Eagles’ carries a great deal of success, but also held warning signs that seem to have been ignored. Let’s start with Reid’s inconceivable decision to move offensive line coach Juan Castillo into the role of defensive coordinator in 2011, a move that improved neither the defense nor the offense. Reid then maintained Castillo in that role for 2012 despite the obvious evidence of a failed experiment the year before. Reid finally let Castillo go in October, but the damage had already been done for the 2012 season. There was also the matter of not reigning in defensive line coach Jim Washburn, whose stubbornly adhered to a defensive scheme that did not match the strengths of his players while also sowing seeds of discontent. Washburn was eventually fired as well, but the damage had already been done.

Then there is the matter of Reid’s actual coaching skills. Former Eagles’ linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who played for Reid for seven seasons, was openly critical of Reid’s coaching skills this week. “If it come down to both teams were even, talent-wise,” Trotter stated. “I think the opponent’s team would win if it came down to coaching, Andy Reid got outcoached in a lot of games man, a lot of big games.”

Proof of Trotter’s complaint? Eagles’ fans know full well that there were countless occasions where Reid mismanaged the game clock, wasted time outs, and struggled with miscommunication on the sidelines.  Philly fans have also watched as talented running backs like Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, and more recently LeSean McCoy went under-utilized because Reid was too much in love with a gimmicky passing game. As they sometimes say in Philly, Reid loved to throw in order to set up the pass. And of course there was the poor offensive play calling in the 2004 Super Bowl, made worse by the slow march drive that squandered the Eagles’ chance to pull off the upset win. Reid is a brilliant football thinker, but he is also a slow football thinker.

Finally, Reid has final say over personnel in Kansas City. Yet his track record does not suggest that giving him this type of authority will serve the franchise well. Reid managed to turn a quarterback duo of Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb into Michael Vick. The team gave up on Kolb far too soon simply because Reid was in love with a player who has missed 17 games in four seasons due to injury, often related to Vick’s reckless playing style. But even when Vick was on the filed, the results were far from spectacular. His touchdown to interception ration of 52 to 30 while with the Eagles was offset by his 13 lost fumbles as a quarterback and another 6 lost fumbles as a runner. While I understand the chance that Reid wanted to take on giving Vick a second chance, particularly in the wake of his own problems with his sons, but was this a player really worthy of a $100 million commitment? Reid then pieced together the infamous “Dream Team” of 2011, but was unable to successfully manage personalities, or instill the discipline needed for the team (particularly the defense) to success as a unit. His 12-20 record over the last two seasons is an accurate depiction of the situation that he himself has created in Philadelphia. In 2012 Reid failed to address depth problems on the offensive line, then continued relying on the passing game with the porous line, adding to Vick’s injury woes. Only when Nick Foles took over did the team begin running the ball more consistently and utilizing screen passes to open up the passing game.

Some might be tempted to argue that Andy Reid is simply tired out in Philadelphia, and needs a change of venue, a new project to work on. And that’s where Kansas City looks like the answer. They have a talented roster that includes five Pro Bowlers in 2012, including Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, Dustin Colquitt, Tamba Hali, and Derrick Johnson. All the team needs it seems to get them closer to the playoffs is a quarterback, and Reid has had success with McNabb and Jeff Garcia, had brief success with AJ Feeley and Kevin Kolb, and rescued Michael Vick’s career from the (ahem) doghouse. So, just looking at the spec sheet again, Reid looks like a reasonable answer, offering respite from the frustrating failure of Scott Pioli’s reign in the City of Fountains. Reid’s history suggests that the Chiefs will experience some success, and the talent is in place to do so. With the addition (or improvement) of a quarterback, the pieces are in place for the Chiefs to contend for a playoff spot in the nest two to three seasons. But just as I always said that Andy Reid would never win the Super Bowl coaching the Eagles, I am equally confident in saying that Reid will also never win the Lombardi Trophy as the coach of the Chiefs. While it might be enough for fans of long-suffering franchises such as the Chiefs, Browns, Cardinals and others to simply make the playoffs, winning the Super Bowl is the true measure of success in the NFL.

What Chiefs’ fans are about to discover is what Eagles’ fans already know; having a team with potential doesn’t ease the pain when that potential goes unfulfilled.

Jan 042013
 

Scott PioliThe Scott Pioli era is over in Kansas City as the Chiefs are set to announce a deal with Andy Reid as their new Head Coach.

Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt issued the standard termination statement regarding Pioli. “After several productive conversations, we made the difficult decision to part ways with Scott Pioli and allow him to pursue other opportunities. Scott has been an invaluable member of the Chiefs family since joining us in 2009, and we sincerely appreciate his tremendous contributions over the last four years.”

Pioli, who took over the Chiefs’ front office in 2009 but was unable to come close to making the Chiefs a contender, released a statement as well.

“I would like to thank Norma, Clark and the Hunt Family for the opportunity that they gave me four years ago. I’d also like to thank the players, coaches, scouts and countless other employees, throughout the organization and at Arrowhead Stadium that have worked so hard during my time here. I would also like to genuinely thank Chiefs fans. The bottom line is that I did not accomplish all of what I set out to do. To the Hunt family – to the great fans of the Kansas City Chiefs – to the players, all employees and alumni, I truly apologize for not getting the job done,” Pioli said.

Jan 022013
 

Broncos-PatriotsThe regular season is over and the NFL post-season is finally here. These will be our final power rankings until after the Super Bowl. This week’s list includes five word or less reactions, which we may keep as our format for all of next season. Enjoy!

 

Week 17 Power Rankings

1. Denver Broncos (13-3, W11, U) – Enjoy the bye week!

2. New England Patriots (12-4, W2, +1) – Defense better than last year

3. Seattle Seahawks (11-5, W5, -1) – No home field hurts

4. Atlanta Falcons (13-3, L1, U) – Are they all that?

5. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1, W1, U) – Kicking woes are a problem

6. Green Bay Packers (11-5, L1, U) – Need to shore up defense

7. Indianapolis Colts (11-5, W2, +1) – Bright future for Indy

8. Houston Texans (12-4, L2, -1) – Tailspinning into playoffs

9. Washington Redskins (10-6, W7, U) – Character building win over Cowboys

10. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, W3, U) – Better than advertised this season

11. Baltimore Ravens (10-6, L1, U) – Running on fumes

12. Minnesota Vikings (10-6, W4, U) – Is AP enough?

13. Chicago Bears (10-6, W2, +2) – No love for Lovie

14. New York Giants (9-7, W1, U) – Same record as last year

15. Dallas Cowboys (8-8, L2, U) – Will not win with Romo

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8, W1, +1) – Big questions to answer

17. New Orleans Saints (7-9, L1, -1) – The year they deserved

18. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1, L1, U) – Good foundation for Fisher

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9, W1, +1) – Overachievers crashed and burned

20. Miami Dolphins (7-9, L1, -1) – Big cap room for 2013

21. San Diego Chargers (7-9, W2, +1) – Norv’s right; they’re not close

22. Cleveland Browns (5-11, L3, -1) – Fat Jesus was right!

23. Carolina Panthers (7-9, W4, U) – Good ending to bad season

24. Buffalo Bills (6-10, W1, +1) – Canada called; they’re not interested

25. Detroit Lions (4-12, L8, U) – Abysmal defense and inconsistent offense

26. New York Jets (6-10, L3, U) – Start from scratch

27. Arizona Cardinals (5-11, L2, U) – Weren’t they 4-0?

28. Tennessee Titans (6-10, W1, +1) – Chris Who?

29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12, L3, -1) – Chip Kelly?

30. Oakland Raiders (4-12, L2, +1) – Poor Reggie McKenzie

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14, L5, -1) – Better off in SEC

32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14, L4, U) – They kept Pioli?

Dec 312012
 

Romeo CrennelHead Coach Romeo Crennel has been fired by the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City went 2-14 this season, earning the first overall draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The 65 year old Crennel built his career as a defensive genius, winning three Super Bowls in New England as the defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick, but has struggled as an NFL head coach, going just 28-55. Crennel was 4-15 in Kansas City, coaching the Chiefs to a 2-1 record in the final three weeks of the 2011 season.

The Chiefs appear to be leaning towards keeping GM Scott Pioli, but no final decision has been communicated yet. Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt may be inclined to give the 47 year old Pioli a chance to turn the situation around with the top draft pick in hand.

 

Dec 012012
 

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend this morning before going to Arrowhead Stadium and fatally shooting himself as team personnel tried to stop him, police said.

Police Capt. David Lindaman said Belcher, 25, and his girlfriend, 22, got into an argument around 7 a.m. at their home in Kansas City. Around 7:50 a.m., Belcher shot his girlfriend multiple times. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Following the shooting, Belcher to the Chiefs practice facility at Arrowhead. Police were called to the stadium around 8:10 a.m. When Belcher arrived there he encountered General Manager Scott Pioli, Coach Romeo Crennel and other team personnel. Police said Chiefs staff attempted to keep Belcher from committing additional acts of violence. When police arrived, they heard a gunshot and found that Belcher had shot himself in the head.

The Chiefs released the following statement: “We can confirm that there was an incident at Arrowhead earlier this morning. We are cooperating with authorites in their investigation.”

Belcher, originally from Long Island, N.Y., had been with the Chiefs for four years. He joined the team as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine. Belcher and his girlfriend had a three month old daughter.

Nov 282012
 

There’s a shake up at the top of the Power Rankings this week, as our contributors seem to have had enough of the narrow victories coming from both the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans. Yes, they keep winning, but the victories themselves raise questions as to whether either team will survive the divisional round of the playoffs.

Our new Number One? It’s the New England Patriots, who have now won five straight and seem to be pulling away from the pack as we hit the home stretch of the regular season. The Patriots’ consecutive beat downs of both the Colts and Jets (teams that they should beat down), have us believing that the team is starting to peak at exactly the right time. The bigger question is whether the Patriots can sustain that into February, and tough home tests against both the Texans and the 49ers in the next three weeks will help us gauge whether or not they really deserve the top spot. The 49ers come in second this week, and might have come in first, save for the uncertainty surrounding Jim Harbaugh’s creation of a quarterback controversy in the City by the Bay. We like Colin Kaepernick and think the offense is more dynamic with him on the field, but Alex Smith has done nothing but win in his last 26 contests (20-5-1). So exactly why is Kaepernick starting? Having him start in the post-season would be an invitation to destruction as top teams begin to scheme on how to beat the developing star. The team’s consistency has improved of late, but playing quarterback games doesn’t seem like a recipe for success.

Here are our Week 12 rankings:

1. New England Patriots (8-3, +3, W5) – The Patriots are still fighting for a first round bye, but seem poised to make another of their late season runs; will it net Super Bowl success this time around?

2. San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1, U, W2) – Kaepernick is the future, but why isn’t Smith the present?

3. Houston Texans (10-1, -2, W5) – Will Gary Kubiak be sending Jim Schwartz a pack of red hankies for Christmas?

4. Atlanta Falcons (10-1, -1, W2) – OK, we’re pretty sure they’ll score more than two points in the playoffs, but why are they feeling like a one and done team?

5. New York Giants (7-4, +3, W1) – Is it that time of the year again?

6. Baltimore Ravens (9-2, -1, W4) – Will gifts like last Sunday keep happening, or is this team’s luck about to run out?

7. Denver Broncos (8-3, U, W6) – Is Peyton Manning simply changing where he has great regular seasons, only to flame out in the playoffs?

8. Chicago Bears (8-3, +1, W1) – Nice win against the Vikings, but are we the only ones waiting for this team to collapse?

9. Green Bay Packers (7-4, -3, L1) – And if the Bears collapse, can the Packers catch them?

10. Indianapolis Colts (7-4, +5, W1) – They responded well to a blowout loss, now can they take control of a playoff spot?

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5, +1, L1) – With a tough loss out of the way, can they bounce back like Indy and nudge the Seahawks out of the way for a playoff spot?

12. Cincinnati Bengals (6-5, +4, W3) – They are making noise now, but can they beat the Steelers and Ravens in Weeks 16 and 17, when things really matter?

13. Seattle Seahakws (6-5, -2, L1) – Are they ever going to win again outside of Seattle?

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5, -4, L2) – Do they really have any chance without a healthy Ben?

15. New Orleans Saints (5-6, -2, L1) – Is the offensive line really as bad as the defense, or did it just look that way?

16. Minnesota Vikings (6-5, -2, L1) – They really were just pretending this year, weren’t they?

17. Washington Redskins (5-6, +3, W2) – Have the Redskins finally left the NFC East basement for good?

18. Dallas Cowboys (5-6, -1, L1) – If the Cowboys got diagnosed for collective Schizophrenia, would the medication get the team in trouble for using performance enhancing drugs?

19. Detroit Lions (4-7, -1, L3) – Are the Lions victims of bad luck, or are they their own worst enemies?

20. St. Louis Rams (4-6-1, +4, W1) – Will that tie cost the Rams a shot at a wildcard?

21. Buffalo Bills (4-7, +1, L1) – Is Chan Gailey preventing the offense from performing better?

22. Miami Dolphins (5-6, +3, W1) – Will the Patriots crush the Fins wildcard hopes this weekend?

23. Arizona Cardinals (4-7, -4, L7) – Is this team only a quarterback away, or do seven straight losses signify a much deeper problem?

24. Cleveland Browns (3-8, +3, W1) – Did the Browns just cost themselves a top five draft pick?

25. Tennessee Titans (4-7, -2, L1) – Do you think Peyton knew this was coming when he decided to play in Denver?

26. San Diego Chargers (4-7, -5, L3) – 4th and 29? Seriously? Exactly why does Norv Turner still have a job?

27. New York Jets (4-7, -1, L1) – Between the “butt fumble” and refusal to make personnel changes, why do Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez still have jobs?

28. Carolina Panthers (3-8, +1, W1) – Is Cam Newton really handling adversity well, or do things just always look better after a win?

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9, +1, W1) – How eager do you think Shahid Khan is to start cleaning house?

30. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8, -2, L7) – Exactly why does Andy Reid still have a job?

31. Oakland Raiders (3-8, U, L4) – Did Al Davis’ will require that the Raiders keep playing the way they did when he was alive?

32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10, U, L8) – Exactly why do Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli still have jobs?