Re: Pioli Fired!
posted at 1/4/2013 4:49 PM EST
The Kansas City Star doesn't seem to think Pioli did such a great job bringing in players...
But Pioli’s performance in the draft and in acquiring players through trades and free agency was as poor as it was in hiring head coaches.
Pioli’s first major transactions backfired horribly. He traded tight end and Chiefs icon Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta for a second-round draft pick, and Gonzalez has added to his Hall of Fame resume by helping Atlanta to three playoff berths in four years, while the player taken with that pick, cornerback Javier Arenas has made no impact.
Before his first draft with the Chiefs, Pioli traded a second-round choice to New England for Patriots veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel and backup quarterback Matt Cassel, who received a $63 million contract.
Vrabel retired after two seasons, and Cassel, who was a Pro Bowl injury replacement in 2010, was benched as the starter last October. With the Chiefs, Cassel is 19-21 with 59 touchdown passes, 44 interceptions and a mediocre 77.5 passer rating.
While always speaking of bringing in competition at all positions, Pioli never backed up those words at quarterback, the most important position on the field. The Chiefs claimed Kyle Orton on waivers after Cassel suffered a season-ending injury in 2011, and Orton helped Crennel get the head-coaching job by leading the Chiefs to wins over Green Bay and Denver in the last three games of the season.
But Orton, a free agent at the end of the season, opted to sign as a backup with Dallas rather than return to the Chiefs where he would get little chance to compete with Cassel. Pioli, Crennel and Hunt all paid lip service in saying they would pursue Peyton Manning in free agency last winter, but Manning never considered Kansas City and signed with AFC West rival Denver, which won the AFC West this year.
Instead, the Chiefs signed Brady Quinn, who hadn’t appeared in a game in two seasons for Denver, and performed no better, if not worse, than Cassel, in his eight starts this season.
Except for center Casey Wiegmann and guard Ryan Lilja, who were signed in 2010 and helped the Chiefs go 10-6 that season; and offensive tackle Eric Winston, who helped the Chiefs rank fifth in the NFL in rushing this season, Pioli had little but embarrassment to show for his dealings in free agency.
Just as Pioli traded Gonzalez as way to divest the team of players from the Peterson era, he ran off five-time Pro Bowl guard and team leader Brian Waters after the 2010 season. Waters signed with New England as a free agent and helped the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 2011.
Pioli also failed to retain cornerback Brandon Carr, who signed a five-year, $50 million contract with Dallas during the off-season and had a brilliant season with the Cowboys. Meanwhile, Stanford Routt, whom Pioli signed to a three-year, $31.5 million contract last spring, was released at mid-season. And the major free-agent signing of 2011, wide receiver Steve Breaston -- who signed for five years at $22.5 million -- has been healthy but inactive for several games, even though the Chiefs were thin at the position.
The four draft classes under Pioli’s watch failed to produce consistent playmakers. It took four years for the Chiefs to realize defensive end Tyson Jackson, the third overall pick in 2009, could be a three- down player, and he’ll likely be a free agent in 2013.
While a two-time Pro Bowl pick, Eric Berry has proven that taking a safety with the fifth overall pick in 2010 was a reach. And the biggest bust of all was wide receiver Jon Baldwin, taken in the first round in 2011 despite all kinds of red flags. Baldwin has caught two touchdown passes in two years.
Pioli’s tenure ended with tragedy. On Dec. 1, he was called from his office at the Chiefs training complex to the parking lot and encountered linebacker Jovan Belcher, who had just killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and was brandishing a Beretta .40-caliber handgun. Pleas from Pioli, Crennel and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs failed to prevent Belcher from taking his own life right in front of them.
More off-field headaches would follow when Adam Zimmer, an assistant coach, was arrested on a DUI charge on Dec. 23, the night of the final home game of the season, a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
I forgot about Gonzalez...who in their right mind trades that guy away? Or lets Waters walk before the start of the regular season?