Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Tale of 3 Cities

Dallas , San Diego, and Kansas City all couldn't be more different in terms of culture and weather. Though the cities are uniquely different, they all share one common theme. Their professional football franchises are ran by egotistical General Managers who stand in the way of their own football teams' success. Today I am going to give an depth look at each city's professional football franchise and why each hasn't been successful.

Lets start in the lone star state. The current GM/owner is Jerry Jones. He makes all the final decisions with this organization. No players are signed or released without Jones's approval. The last time this organization enjoyed success was in the 90's when  Jimmy Johnson was the head coach. He also handled the  football operations while Jerry Jones ran the business side. Somewhere along the way Jerry realized you don't get as much limelight by simply making money for the team.You have to appear like the guy making all the decisions for the team. In the film "A Football Life-Jimmy Johnson" he referenced Jerry Jones feelings of inadequacy demonstrated by the comment "no one cares about me making this team 10 million dollars, but everyone cares about who signs the backup guard."This was the start of the deterioration of the relationship between Jones and Johnson. Eventually, Johnson was shown the door and since then Jerry has anointed himself President, GM, and Owner. The Cowboys won their last Super Bowl in 1996. Since then the team has only has one playoff win on their resume in the last 16 years. That is grounds for termination for any GM, but as Jerry Jones puts  it   "You basically have to straighten that guy out in the mirror when you work for yourself. But certainly, If I'd had the discretion, I've done it with coaches and I would have certainly changed a general manager." So as you can see Jerry Jones isn't going anywhere. In his comments, he acknowledges his time as GM is unacceptable but refuses to relinquish his power as GM.  

Now as we head out west to the warm weather of San Diego where General Manager AJ Smith resides. In  San Diego Smith runs the Chargers franchise. During the Schottenheimer/Smith era, they enjoyed a 14-2 season which was the best regular season record in franchise history. Also during that time they drafted big names like Tomlinson, Phillips, Sproles, Turner, and most notably Rivers. This was a team built to win a Super Bowl, but unfortunately it was cut short due to Smith's unwillingness to allow Schottenheimer to choose his own coaching staff. The rumor was because Schottenheimer's top two assistants were allowed to pursue head coaching opportunities, this led to his time in San Diego ending  prematurely. I'm sure there is more to this story. Nevertheless, you don't fire a head coach after a 14-2 season. Since then the Chargers franchise has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons and has also declined in terms of wins and talent. There draft picks over the last few years include names like Larry English, Ryan Matthews, Vaughn Martin, Gartrell Johnson, Marcus Gilcrest, and Shareece Wright.  None of their draft picks since the Schottenheimer era have lived up to expectations. And to add insult to injury his retention of valued players has been less than optimal. Under Smith's reign, the organization has foolishly relinquished talented players such as Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Michael Turner, and Antonio Cromartie without adequate compensation. Many of the core players (Rivers, Phillips, Jammer, and Gates) on the Chargers current roster are products from the Schottenheimer era. Despite a lack of success with drafting, retaining, or gaining compensation for players, A.J. Smith still remains the General Manager.

Finally lets travel to the Midwest where we have the underachieving Kansas City Chiefs team. Since 2009 this organization has been run by Scott Pioli. Prior to his arrival in Kansas City, Pioli was regarded as one of the bright minds that help build a dynasty in New England. When Scott Pioli came to Kansas City, he brought in the" Patriot Way" which meant getting rid of mostly anyone who was a part of the previous regime. He swept a lot of front office personnel and long term employees out the door citing in the book "War Room" that he felt most old employees how gotten too laid back. From 2009 till now the Chiefs have only had one playoff appearance. When Pioli took over the team, it had a record of 2-14 from the previous yr. Four years in his tenure as GM, the Chiefs are on the verge of having an identical record. Most of the core  players of the team came from the previous regime ran by Peterson and Edwards. Three years into his tenure, Pioli fired his first head coach in Todd Haley who had led the previous year's team to its first division title since 2003. Since that time the team has regressed. Through 8 games of the 2012 season, the Chiefs have yet to have a lead for a single second in a game. They currently lead the league in turnovers after having the best giveaway/takeaway ratio in 2010. The biggest failures in Pioli's reign as General Manager have been the two areas a GM is expected to succeed in . The first would be identifying a franchise quarterback. In Pioli's four seasons as GM he has failed to bring in adequate competition at the quarterback position. In 2009 he chose Matt Cassel as his starting quarterback who has failed to live up to expectation of the 60 million dollar contract he signed. Over the last four years the Chiefs offense has ranked in the bottom of the league in both scoring and passing yardage in a league where the rules favor teams scoring more points and throwing for more passing yards. Pioli's second failure as General Manager has been his inability to identify a head coach. His first hire in Todd Haley failed despite having success on the field because neither guy could settle there differences off the field.  Pioli created an environment so toxic that an article written in the KC Star titled "Arrowhead Anxiety" referenced Haley's fear of privacy invasion. Whether true or not, you certainly do not want to have your head coach worried about issues not related to football. Haley was later fired and duties as head coach were given to Romeo Crennel.  Crennel had worked with Pioli in New England so he was familiar with the "Patriot Way". Since Crennel's promotion to head coach this season, the team has regressed. Its current record sits at 1-8 and is on the verge of going down as the worst Chiefs team in franchise history. A team that is undisciplined, heavily penalized, and on the verge of shattering a franchise record in turnovers is a reflection of the head coach who was chosen by the current GM.  As of today Pioli still reigns as GM in the heartland despite having epic failures in his selection of the two most vital positions( Head Coach and Quarterback) of an NFL team.

So as you can see all 3 cities have one common theme: ego driven GMs who are their own worst enemy. All 3 cities continue to hire either young inexperienced coordinators or former head coaches who should have remained coordinators instead of trying to be a head coach. As long as all three men remain as General Manager of their respective organizations, they will never hire a head strong coach talented enough to help turn the franchise around. In Dallas, the last 5 years Jerry Jones has hired Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett as the head coach. In San Diego Smith has hired Norv Turner. In Kansas City Pioli has hired Todd Haley and then Romeo Crennel. See the common theme between all cities. Neither GM is willing to hire a successful veteran head coach. Jones tried back in 2003 with the hire of Bill Parcells. It lasted for about 4 seasons before he had enough of Jones control driven ownership. 

The moral of the story here is hire a GM without the ego. You don't need a GM who is too afraid to hire big name head coaches like a Jeff Fisher or Bill Parcells because they're worried about lost of  personnel decision making or who gets credit for the team's success. A good General Manager has to swallow his pride and hire a head coach he can work alongside and share responsibilites regarding personnel. He must be able to hire a head coach that can rival his own knowledge of the the game of football. 

 The thing about the Chiefs and Chargers is that they have an opportunity to correct their mistakes. Both organizations can start fresh at the end of the season and get a GM without an ego. As for the Cowboys, its unfortunate Jerry Jones is the owner and GM. I don't see Cowboys enjoying ultimate success similar to what they had in the 90s until Jones falls under same fate as the late Al Davis. Its a shame, but its the truth.

Jones (Jail), Smith (Solitary), and Pioli (Prison) have all put their organization in a state of incarceration and now their fans are dying to be free. 

Hit me up on twitter @pulseofdachiefs let me know your thoughts.

No comments:

Post a Comment