Diagnosis: Change

Matt Cassel

I wrote an article a few years ago on the arrival of Scott Pioli and what this meant for Kansas City and the Chiefs organization. It was called "The Change We Asked For". I revisited that theme last December on the heels of the demise of the Haley era.

Here we are again. This article should be titled "The Change We Need"… I'm going to approach this concept from the standpoint of a doctor diagnosing an illness. While at first glance this illness doesn't appear fatal, but the signs and symptoms point to a profound sickness that can only be cured by a surgeon.

The surgeon of choice who will need to excise the diseased portion of the body will be Clark Hunt. As both the life giver of the Hunt family ownership group, he becomes the wielder of the knife. The procedure I'm going to recommend will be based on the track record of the existing organization. I'm going to identify what I believe to be the biggest issues and what the eventual appearance should resemble.

Let's start with determining the problems that will lead to the diagnosis:

The first issue is one of execution. Play execution (or lack thereof) has been plaguing the Chiefs since the first game. The Chiefs have scored a combined 94 points with Ryan Succop being the leading scorer with 38 points. This sign is telling from the standpoint of offensive play execution. The offense can get down the field but can't close the deal. Another sign is red zone touchdown percentage. According to teamrankings.com, the Chiefs have only scored touchdowns on 30.77% of the time they reach the red zone. The only team worse than Chiefs in that category are the Seattle Seahawks.

By comparison, the Green Bay Packers have a 73.33% red zone percentage. The biggest and most glaring reason is they have the incumbent league MVP as a signal caller. Having the correct player at quarterback can and does make all the difference. Aaron Rodgers was a first round pick for a reason just as Matt Cassel was a seventh round pick.

Matt Cassel may well have played his last game as a Chief barring a ridiculous decision by a stubborn and reluctant general manager unwilling to admit he made a $63 million dollar mistake. You notice I didn't say the head coach. I think Romeo Crennel will be a good soldier and do as his boss says AND be willing to fall on the sword for him. That's loyalty engendered from years under the tutelage of his supreme coachness, Bill Belichick.

Cassel and the offense are directly responsible for an unbelievable turnover differential of -15 through 5 games -15! They are on pace to shatter the all-time record for turnover differential with -48. The record is -30 set by the 1965 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Unfortunately it took an injury to push the issue of a quarterback change but that may well be a band aid and not a surgical repair. The next sign is the issue of play calling:

This one is a head-scratcher. The choice of Brian Daboll was a question from the beginning. A former defensive player now calling offensive plays without ever having played on the offensive side of the ball?

I have to remember that it's not what but who you know in the NFL. A former member of the Belichick cabal must always be a better choice than someone who actually knows what an NFL offense is about. Daboll only had one season of moderate success calling the plays for the Miami Dolphins so I guess that makes as much sense as hiring Todd Haley (who never played a down but was a heckuva a ball boy as a kid and watched a lot of game film) as a head coach after one successful season of play calling.

Are you starting to see the trend? Let's get into the defense a little. Why on earth would Crennel feel it was the best decision to remain the defensive play caller? Who's steering the ship? Even the great and powerful Oz (I really mean the great hooded one) delegates his play calling. This thing is flying off the tracks at record speed.

Some wise philosopher said history is a funny thing in that if you don't pay attention to it you're doomed to repeat it. When Haley fired Chan Gailey and took over offensive play calling, the Chiefs went 4-12. Pioli told Haley to hire a coordinator and Charlie Weis was brought in. Even with Cassel as quarterback, Weis got the offense going and the record goes 10-6 with a division title and a first round playoff game. The Chiefs were ranked in the top half of the NFL and life was good. What happened?

Weis understood where he was standing in the organization and he looked for greener pastures. Only history will determine whether or not his choice of KU as a landing spot was a good decision. By promoting the old man of the sea (Bill Muir) to seat warmer and basically calling the plays himself, Haley screwed the Chiefs royally and his demise was all but assured.

Time to get back to the patient…Let's review our findings so far:

The quarterback position is the first diseased part to go. Cassel is gone and Brady Quinn could end up being an interesting choice and he will get the opportunity in short order. Big picture…the next chapter of the Kansas City Chiefs needs to include the drafting of a stud first round quarterback. If they have to trade up to go get him, then they do it. It is a necessity borne out by every successful team with the anomaly being the Patriots and Tom Brady.

The next diseased part is coaching. I have to advocate a full, radical removal of the entire coaching staff. The problem here is ideology and philosophy. The Patriot way has not been a successful transplant. The body is rejecting it on virtually all levels.

Last but not least the football operations. This is the realm of Mr. Scott Pioli. As we all know, the buck stops in the GM's office. Always has, always will. Decision making at the management level is never easy and fraught with many pitfalls. It seems like Pioli has dropped into every one of them. No one is perfect but when you are the highest paid GM in the league there a certain expectations that come along with that.

One of the biggest is building a winning organization…strike that…a championship organization. Clark Hunt should not lower his expectations after paying Pioli what he does. There comes a point when the excuses are no longer valid. They are in year four of the rebuild. By now, there should be results.

Mr. Hunt, it's time for another change. You need to find that one, reliable figure that can galvanize this organization like no one else. You need to find a charismatic leader who can inspire through words and actions. You need to find inspiration in your choice and that choice needs to be inspirational.

Only then will this great city and its great fans stand lockstep behind you as they did your father.

Will we see Part Two of the post Carl Peterson re-building era in Kansas City?

For all the news, notes and quotes on the Chiefs, visit WarpaintIllustrated.com

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