Now that Andy Reid has traded out all his green and silver for red and gold, it’s time for him to roll up his sleeves and get to the business of fixing your Kansas City Chiefs. Scott Pioli left the team in tatters. Talent wasted. Poor morale. An alienated fan base. It won’t be easy, but all the ingredients are there for a quick turnaround. Here is what Reid needs to do to get this team to the playoffs as early as next season.
1) Hire good people
This might be a no brainer, but look at how Pioli’s hires worked out. Todd Haley struggled under to put a consistent winner on the field. Romeo Crennel, too. Know what these coaches had in common? Both of them wanted to be a coordinator, offensive and defensive respectively, instead of focusing on being a head coach, and Pioli let them! When they did give up their dual roles, it was too late. Haley did a great job hiring Crennel to run his defense, but keeping Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator proved to be Crennel’s undoing. If I had a dollar for every series that went run-run-pass-punt, I would be a rich man right now. Daboll brought very little imagination to his game plans, and opposing defenses had no problem keeping us off the scoreboard. At least Reid wants to be a head coach and not split his duties as a coordinator. Hopefully Reid’s new offensive coordinator, Doug Pederson, will bring excitement to the offensive game plan. Since Pederson comes from Philly, he at least knows what Reid expects. And hopefully new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will squeeze every ounce of talent from our promising defenders. But Clark Hunt will still need to bring in a great GM who can identify talent on the free agent market and a GM who can recognize which college players in the draft will make the biggest splash next season. Out with the old, in with the new.
2) Improve team morale
Reports out of Arrowhead detailed workers afraid for their jobs as Pioli micromanaged every aspect of the franchise. I can’t help but shake my head at the story published last year in the Kansas City Star, detailing how Pioli saw a candy wrapper in the stairwell and waited to see who would pick it up. When no one did after a week, he ripped into the staff at how it was up to each of them to take personal responsibility in every aspect of the job. Really? Didn’t realize that icking up a random candy wrapper was a part of the job. Why didn’t Pioli just pick it up when he saw it the first time? Or the report of how staff needed to keep their shades down during practice because what if one of them videotaped it and gave it to another team? The culture of paranoia, misdirected anger and fear created a very unhealthy work environment. How can your staff do their jobs to the best of their ability when they are constantly looking over their shoulders, thinking they’re going to get thrown under the bus? I understand a certain amount of pressure to make sure your staff performs, but there needs to be a level of trust to allow your employees to thrive. Hopefully Reid will change that culture for the better.
3) Spend money
The NFL is a multi-billion dollar business and Kansas Citians hate to think our sports owners are cheap. In baseball, the Yankees and Red Sox buy championships while the Royals flounder with one of the lowest payrolls in MLB. In football, Kansas City is a mid-sized market and fans get the impression that Clark Hunt would rather make money than spend it. We get this impression because Pioli was always secretive about how much money the team was spending. The media would then guess, making it appear the Chiefs had a bunch of money to burn. When we started losing, fans got angry. Spend the money, then tell us how you spent it. I understand that giving an athlete millions of dollars doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be an All-Pro, but at least give money to the players the fans enjoy watching. Give money to some big name free agents. Spend so fans feel like you are serious about winning,.
4) Score in the draft
Everyone knows the Chiefs have a pressing need at quarterback, but this draft does not have a sure-fire pick. Geno Smith? Great numbers but he seemed to wilt in big games. Matt Barkley? He hurt his shoulder and could be damaged goods. Tyler Wilson? Arkansas struggled to win games with him under center. With a lackluster class of QB’s coming out, the Chiefs need to either trade their first pick or else hit a homerun at another position. The draft gurus think that Jarvis Jones, a linebacker from Georgia who led the nation in sacks and tackles for a loss, is the best prospect in this year’s draft. Great! We could use him! Imagine having Jones, Houston and Hali rushing the passer while Derrick Johnson cleans up from his linebacker spot. Our defense would be much better able to keep points off the board. They always say defense wins championships, so I believe that would be the best pick. Then get a QB in the second round. Who knows, though, which direction the Chiefs will go. The draft isn’t until April.
5) Bring in some big name free agents
Andy Reid said he doesn’t think you can build a great team out of free agents, that you do it through the draft, but you still need to fill some holes this coming year. There are no great wide receivers in this draft, so bring back Dwayne Bowe. If Jonathan Baldwin is too slow to run outside routes, bring him to the inside and let Dexter McCluster run go routes. I know he’s small, but he has the speed to stretch the field, loosen up the defense and give Charles the holes to run. Bring in another wide receiver and a free agent cornerback to work the field opposite Brandon Flowers. Bring in a few more offensive linemen to give us depth. And most importantly, bring in a free agent quarterback. Someone to your liking. We trust you know how to develop a great quarterback for your particular West Coast offense, so bring in your guy to fill the gap before you can draft and develop the quarterback of the future.
So there it is. We are all optimistic that better days lay before us, and as long as Reid respects the media and the fan base here in Kansas City, brings in good people both on the field and in his coaching ranks, and creates a competitive team week in and week out, then the Andy Reid era will be an amazing success. It’s going to be fun to watch!
You can reach Matt Stewart at email@example.com