Taking your time with coaching decision is OK if the result is right
By JASON WHITLOCK
The Kansas City Star
For now, we will fondly and respectfully call him “Slow Po.”
Kansas City’s new football czar, Scott Pioli, moves deliberately. It took him close to 10 days to do what we wanted done on Day One – the removal of Herm Edwards as head coach of the Chiefs.
There’s nothing wrong with a cautious pace as long as little is lost and the end result is appropriate.
It appears that respecting Clark Hunt’s wishes for Edwards to be a serious candidate to coach the Chiefs in 2009 took precedent over scoring a quick public-relations victory with Chiefs fans and impatient sports writers.
It also appears that “Slow Po” was determined to acquire as much information from Edwards and his coaching staff as possible before giving them their walking papers. Pioli apparently spent the past week debriefing Edwards, Gunther Cunningham and Chan Gailey about what transpired this past season.
It was a smart move. Had Pioli canned Edwards right away, a lot of valuable information would’ve walked out the door with Edwards and his assistants.
Instead, Pioli kept his promise to Hunt and acquired intelligence about the players on the current roster.
Pioli’s integrity might also explain why there has been virtually no information about Kansas City’s coaching search. Pioli’s relationship with Hunt is in its infancy. Hunt wanted Edwards thoroughly vetted before the Chiefs began a full-blown coaching search. It seems Pioli kept his word and probably scored huge points with Hunt for doing it.
In the minutes after Edwards’ dismissal was announced, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Chiefs were nearing a deal with former Denver coach Mike Shanahan. The NFL Network’s Adam Schefter, who has close ties to Shanahan, totally contradicted Mortensen’s report. Schefter stated unequivocally that Shanahan would not be the Chiefs coach in 2009. ESPN reacted by backing off its story, first saying the Chiefs were targeting Shanahan and then settled on saying a deal with Shanahan and the Chiefs could happen.
Mortensen and Schefter are both impeccable reporters. Schefter, the former Broncos beat writer for the Denver Post, has an advantage over Mortensen in regard to this story. Schefter still owns the Broncos/Shanahan beat. I trust Schefter on this particular story.
But here’s what makes this tricky: Pioli and Hunt’s relationship and the points Pioli scored by strongly considering Edwards.
If the Chiefs are “nearing” a deal with Shanahan before Edwards’ body turns cold, then that would severely undermine the perception that Pioli was serious about retaining Edwards. The rumor about Shanahan and the Chiefs actually started almost a week ago. A Denver radio station put it out there.
In order to save the deal, would Shanahan’s agent lie to Schefter so that Pioli could pretend there was no backroom deal cut with Shanahan?
We will soon find out. Schefter couldn’t have been more adamant that Shanahan would not be Kansas City’s coach.
Let me add that I’m rooting for Schefter to be right on this. I’m suspicious of the post-John Elway Mike Shanahan. Also, a Pioli-Shanahan team is much too similar to Carl Peterson-Marty Schottenheimer. Think about it. A 40-something GM getting his shop to run hires a proven AFC coach who struggles in the postseason because of Elway-related problems.
I’m not looking for a repeat of history.
So if not Shanahan, then who?
I don’t have anything all that new to add. My preference would be: 1. Todd Haley, offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals. He’s a young Bill Parcells; 2. Parcells, czar of the Miami Dolphins. He’s an old Bill Parcells; 3. Russ Grimm, assistant head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. He’s a middle-aged Bill Parcells; 4. Chan Gailey, offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. He might be a poor man’s Bill Belichick, a failure his first time as an NFL head coach.
Now, of course, I’d love for Bill Cowher to leave the TV studio and lead the Chiefs.
Well, we will see what “Slow Po” comes up with in a week or so. Let’s do our best to remain calm while we wait for Pioli to go over every detail before making a decision. He’ll probably get it right.
I think Whitlock might have a pretty valid point... for once.