We knew Scott Pioli wasn't going to lose this battle.
There have been rumblings of a major rift between Pioli, the Chiefs' GM, and Kansas City coach Todd Haley since shortly after the Chiefs were bounced in the first round of the playoffs last season. The talk continued through the offseason and into training camp. Reports of problems between Pioli and Haley churned nearly on a weekly basis during this season of disappointment for the Chiefs.
It reached a head Monday morning when Haley was fired after posting a 19-27 record in Kansas City. His four-year contract expires after next season. The Chiefs clearly didn’t feel that they could move on with Haley after they were blown out 37-10 by the New York Jets on Sunday. It was the Chiefs’ fifth loss of 27 points or more this season. They are 5-8 and have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL, starting with a home game Sunday against 13-0 Green Bay.
Now that the Chiefs are moving on without Haley, the focus is solely on Pioli. He needs to get the next move right to keep this program on the right track. Despite the team’s poor record and its inability to compete in many games, I believe the Kansas City program is heading the right direction in the big picture. I realize the NFL has become a microwave league where fast success is now expected. But Pioli has built a good core group that has a chance to compete for several years.
I pin this poor season on injuries that decimated this team. You can’t expect to compete when youngsters Tony Moeaki, Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles were all lost for the season with knee injuries before October. Plus, quarterback Matt Cassel is out for the season.
So, the Chiefs have a chance to get better quickly when these players return. It’s all on Pioli.
He has to ensure that the Chiefs rebound in 2012. If not, he could soon be on the hot seat.
He was the one who hired Haley, so he must take responsibility for it. Hiring Haley -- an old colleague from their shared Bill Parcells days -- was Pioli’s first move in Kansas City after being hired in January 2009.
If they couldn’t get along, it is partly Pioli’s fault. He must be able to get along with his head coach. That’s why it is so important that he makes the right call with his next hire. If the next coach is a failure or if Pioli butts heads with him, it probably will be Pioli’s turn to pay the price.
We will hear plenty of names connected to this job, including former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and former NFL coach Eric Mangini. Expect Pioli to take his time as he tries to get his second coaching hire right.
Pioli has to know his long-term future in Kansas City is reliant on him making the right call.