The news that the Carolina Panthers turned to former general manager Marty Hurney to replace the recently fired Dave Gettleman got me to thinking about the Kansas City Chiefs, who, until last week, had a GM vacancy of their own. What if instead of hiring Brett Veach to replace John Dorsey, the Chiefs had emulated the Panthers and gone the interim route, hiring their former general manager Scott Pioli?
The Chiefs would likely have a fan revolt on their hands if that had happened. Pioli -- who had a record of 23-41 as Kansas City’s general manager from 2009-12 -- was unpopular with the fans back then, and would undoubtedly be so today. And that would remain true despite the fact that two of the Chiefs’ best players -- Justin Houston and Eric Berry -- were drafted by Pioli.
Here are some of the changes that Pioli, now the assistant general manager for the Atlanta Falcons, might make if he returned to the Chiefs:
Charlie Weis as head coach. Pioli didn’t trust people he didn’t know, and it’s no coincidence that he had a history with both of the head coaches he hired while with the Chiefs: Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel. While current Chiefs coach Andy Reid doesn’t fit the profile, Weis -- who worked alongside Pioli with the New York Jets and New England Patriots, as well as the Chiefs -- does. Weis doesn’t have a coaching job currently, and would undoubtedly jump at the chance.
Matt Schaub as starting quarterback. Following the theme of not trusting people he didn’t know, one of Pioli’s first moves after joining the Chiefs was to trade for the backup quarterback of his previous team: the Patriots. The Chiefs not only installed Matt Cassel as their starting quarterback, but gave him a long-term contract before he had ever taken a snap in Kansas City. So it makes sense that under Pioli, the Chiefs would ditch Alex Smith and acquire Schaub, the Falcons’ backup to Matt Ryan.
Tyson Jackson as defensive end. Jackson owed his NFL career to Pioli. He joined the Chiefs when Pioli was in Kansas City, then jumped to the Falcons when Pioli moved to Atlanta. Of all Pioli’s draft picks during his tenure with the Chiefs, this was the most difficult to understand. The Chiefs used the third overall pick in the 2009 draft on Jackson because they needed an end for their new 3-4 defensive system. With the Chiefs, Jackson was barely adequate as a starter, much less worthy of being the third pick in a draft. Still, the Falcons invested heavily on Jackson when he became a free agent, and saw little return over three seasons. Jackson isn’t currently on an NFL roster and would, like Weis, be happy to return to Kansas City.
All of these moves would be huge backward steps for the Chiefs. On the bright side, they would have the cleanest office building in the NFL.