Nick Athan: At the moment, there does not appear to be a coach out there that wants to come to Kansas City and work with Todd Haley. It's very problematic for this team to find a great offensive mind like that of Charlie Weis, when reports at this weeks Senior Bowl indicate to me that could candidates believe that Haley is entering a lame duck season in Kansas City.
If that's the case, it's quite likely that Haley might end up calling the plays in 2011. And that's not a good thing for Kansas City. Granted he still has Rome Crennel to run the defense so he won't have to worry about that side of the ball. Still it's going to be a hard sell to get a qualified candidate to run KC's offense.
Conor Crawford: I think the Chiefs will try and go after an assistant from one of the remaining teams in the playoffs, but in case things don't work out, expect Todd Haley to call plays again. In 2009 when Haley called plays, things weren't exactly spectacular, but remember that he made the decision to dump Chan Gailey in August. I think with a full offseason and now a noticeably different offense, Haley should have more success than we would expect.
C.E. Wendler: Last report, Haley was actually conducting an interview, so we could assume from that at this point that he's actually interested in finding a legitimate coordinator, and doesn't plan to call plays himself. Of course, it's still possible all he wants is a figurehead OC, and he'll be the real power behind the throne.
We can't really say where Haley's intentions lie until we hear some of the names he's considering. If it's a veteran coaching presence with a history of being in control, it will be safe to say Haley doesn't necessarily want to call plays. If it's someone like Nick Sirianni, it's safe to assume Haley will be pursuing a larger role. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing can't be answered until the games start. Just because Haley struggled in 2009 with dual roles doesn't mean he'd continue to do so in 2011.
Josh Scotten: I believe the offensive coordinator position will be filled in the coming weeks by one of the coaches still currently in the playoffs. With the organization's insistence on being tight-lipped, your guess is as good as mine in regards to who that person is, but it would not shock me in the slightest if it's a name that you haven't heard yet.
It's a little disappointing to say the least that teams around the NFL have made some impressive additions to their respective coaching staffs and the Chiefs have been sitting on the sidelines remaining mum. Tom Cable, Josh McDaniels, and Dave Wannstedt are all coaches that could have helped to improve this team whether it was as a coordinator or position coach.
I can't say for certain but the impression I am getting is that Pioli would like to hire a name with some clout similar to Weis, but nobody is willing to deal with Haley's abrasive communication skills. I'm not knocking Haley here; obviously he has a way that works. But as we go forward, if Haley can not find a way to more productively deal with his staff, at some point Pioli will have to step in and force Haley to adjust. If he can't find coaches willing to work with him, regardless of the win-loss record, Pioli will have no choice but to let Haley go.
Michael Ash: In theory, there's nothing wrong with Haley calling the plays, if that's what ends up happening. Mike McCarthy calls the plays for Green Bay and they're in the Super Bowl. Sean Payton calls the plays for the Saints and they won the title a year ago.
But Haley has made it clear that he recognizes his job is to oversee the entire team, not just one side of the ball, so it's important that he doesn't get stuck focusing solely on the offense. If he does call the plays in 2011, the key is that he hires a coordinator who can do a lot of the preparation during the week, and who can ideally be groomed to take over as the play caller in a year or so. That's what happened with Haley himself in Arizona.
And that may be what happens again here, because there just aren't any obvious candidates who could step in and take over the offense. For a new coordinator to walk right in and start calling the plays, I'd expect him to have a familiarity with the Chiefs' offensive system, plus some sort of background with Haley in which both guys know what the other expects. Haley has to feel comfortable handing over the keys, after all.
Some candidates might fit one of those criteria, but finding one who satisfies both is a challenge. It's only complicated by a rumor mill that seems to randomly spit out a new candidate with each passing day. And 95% of the names being thrown around don't fit either qualification, let alone both of them.
Ultimately, I don't think Haley wants to be like McCarthy or Payton and call all the plays himself. But he's probably willing to do it for a year, if that's what's needed to get a new coordinator up to speed.
Pretend you're Scott Pioli. Without pulling off any blockbuster trades (i.e. Larry Fitzgerald), what are three things you would do this offseason to improve the team?
Nick Athan: I can't see any scenario at the moment that would get Fitzgerald to the Chiefs. I've heard rumblings that once the new CBA is completed that the Arizona Cardinals are going to make him the highest paid wide receiver in the game. If my sources are accurate, the deal could include guarantees in the $65 million range.
Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has to be aggressive in Free Agency.
Scott Pioli has yet to make a blockbuster trade in Kansas City. So that means to me, he's likely going to spend some money in free agency. In the days after the Super Bowl, we're going to find out which players will likely hit the open market in March. So for me he needs to get a stud defensive tackle, a wide receiver that can compliment Dwayne Bowe and an inside linebacker that can make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Conor Crawford: The team definitely needs a solid nose tackle and another threat at wide receiver. Ron Edwards and Chris Chambers are more than likely gone and the team will need to look to younger players to fill these important roles. I'm expecting the team's first round draft pick to be a wide receiver and then maybe the team can pick up an affordable nose tackle in free agency or gamble on one in a later round in the draft.
The third thing that Pioli needs to do is replace Barry Richardson on the offensive line. He was penalized far too many times this season and definitely doesn't rank up there with the best right tackles in the game.
C.E. Wendler: This is the simplest equation in the book. The Chiefs need upgrades at nose tackle, wide receiver and pass rusher before they spend valuable resources on any other positions. It's incredibly difficult to find pass rushers in free agency, so you'd like to see Pioli draft an outside linebacker in the first three rounds in April. Then you'd like to see nose tackle or wide receiver be one of the other two early picks. The other position can likely be filled via free agency.
Without a trade, however, it seems far fetched that the Chiefs could find an impact wide receiver and pass rusher in one offseason. That means Pioli has to step up to the plate and do something that justifies the reputation he's apparently earned.
Josh Scotten: If I were Pioli, judging by what I saw after the Chiefs loss to the Ravens, it appears my top priority will be finding someone to replace center Casey Wiegmann in the offseason. In the locker room after the game, Wiegmann looked like a guy that had just played his last game.
Wiegmann would be entering next season at the unheard-of age of 38 and whether the veteran wants to return or not, the Chiefs need a long-term plan at that position. I think they may look to the draft to fill this hole, or possibly move Asamoah over to center and plug in Rudy Niswanger at guard.
To me, the next priority would be to give Matt Cassell another legitimate threat at wide receiver. We all saw what happened to the offense when Dwayne Bowe is taken out of a game and TE Tony Moeaki is just not enough to carry the slack of a #2.
Malcolm Floyd, Steve Breaston, Santonio Holmes, and even Randy Moss are all guys that I could see landing in K.C. The draft will be another route K.C. could go, but I get the impression a veteran WR is the route that the Chiefs want to go.
The next pressing need is up for debate. The Chiefs need a legitimate pass rusher or at the very least an imposing force in the middle of the defensive line. A linebacker or nose tackle would definitely help to improve this defense. The free agent market has a long list of names at linebacker, but I doubt many of them actually hit the open market. Again, I look to the draft to fill either position.
Michael Ash: It's hard to be too specific, since we don't know which potential free agents will actually hit the market, or what currently signed players will end up being free agents. We don't even know if there will be free agency, with all the CBA and lockout stuff still looming.
But to start things off, the Chiefs have to make some changes on the offensive line. In the latter stages of the season, the line got absolutely manhandled by the Chargers, Raiders, and Ravens, two of whom are in the AFC West. With a harder schedule in 2011, division wins will be critical, and the Chiefs simply can't allow teams in their own division to dominate them up front like that.
If we're lucky, solving the problem will be as easy as getting a capable new center. If the guy in the middle is carrying his weight, then the two guards won't have to compensate for it, which should raise their level of play. In turn, that could help the tackles. Sadly, though, I'm not sure it'll be that simple.
Just as importantly, the Chiefs have to improve their pass rush. Good pass rushers don't hit the open market anymore, so the draft will have to solve this problem, probably as early as the first round.
From there, the focus shifts to either receiver or nose tackle. Whichever way we go there, once we hit our three moves, there will still be a major area left to address. It just illustrates the tough task on Pioli's plate this offseason.
Our three key offensive players – Cassel, Charles, and Bowe – are in the Pro Bowl. Pioli is winning more Executive of the Year awards. If the Chiefs try to reel in a big fish this offseason, do things like this make K.C. a more attractive destination? Or are they canceled out by the beating we took in the playoffs?
Nick Athan: The awards and accolades are nice. But what matters most for any prospective free agent for the Chiefs will boil down to money and cohesiveness with the coaching staff. If a player has a relationship with either Pioli or any of the Chiefs coaches, that's a bonus for the team to land a big time free agent.
Chiefs need to find a free agent inside linebacker to play opposite Derrick Johnson.
Though money is a factor players want to win. I don't think prospective free agents are all that consumed with the final dollars. They know their legacy will be determined not on how much money they make but what they accomplish in January and February.
To me that means the Chiefs are going to have a tough sell. It's unlikely that the Chiefs are going to be able to repeat as division champs in 2011. So they're still going to have to sell the high ceiling of the future. And if that's something they can't do, then Pioli will have to outbid other teams for the impact players he wants for the Chiefs.
Conor Crawford: I think all the awards are enticing, but the stuff that impresses the most are wins in the playoffs and/or playoff experience. Thankfully, this team experienced the latter. At least getting to the playoffs and winning the division outright can impress players on the outside looking in.
For instance, when the New York Jets advanced to the AFC Championship in 2009, that may very well have impressed guys like LaDanian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor to board the ship. Veteran players are more interested in what the team does as a whole in the playoffs, not individual awards and achievements. Everybody gets to share the Lombardi Trophy, not a Pro Bowl selection.
C.E. Wendler: Sadly, I don't believe Kansas City will ever be a big-time destination for free agents. There just isn't enough limelight or money when compared to places like New York and Dallas. There are other small market teams that are more attractive, too.
This might change if the Chiefs show they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders with a franchise quarterback. Free agents might then see the Chiefs as a path to a ring. Until Kansas City reaches that threshold, though, I think free agency will continue to be a wing and a prayer.
Josh Scotten: I think that as long as Pioli is the man in charge, Kansas City is a very attractive destination for any free agent prospect. Pioli has built a reputation based on success, and the longer this team continues to improve, the more of a hotspot Kansas City becomes.
Honestly, the only problem I see at this point is that Haley is quickly building a reputation as a hard guy to work for/with. It may or may not be warranted, but social perception goes a long way in the court of public opinion, and if free agents believe Haley is a jerk to work for than the damage has already been done.
There is no question at this point Haley has some work to do to change the building perception of himself, but it's not too late. Just look at what Tom Coughlin has accomplished in New York. Before adding a ring to his finger, Coughlin was nearly run out of the league by his own player viewing him tyrant. But Coughlin softened his stance on some issues and his players responded. Haley did a little of this in 2010, but he needs to take a few more step forward in 2011.
Michael Ash: The Pro Bowls and the front office awards are nice for the people here, but that sort of thing isn't going to draw anyone to Kansas City. And if the Chiefs become a regular contender that goes deep into the playoffs each year, they'll probably have players looking to board the ship. But in most cases those players tend to be veterans looking for their one chance at a ring before they hang it up.
When it comes to luring in players, the thing that talks the loudest is money. At the end of the day, it's all about the dollar amount on the contract. Look at teams like the Patriots and the Steelers, who have won multiple championships over the last decade. Have there been any cases of top free agents signing with them at below market value because their desire to win trumped their desire for money? I can't think of any.
If the Chiefs want to sign supremely talented players who are still in their prime, they either have to find them in the draft or open up their wallets and make the best offer. And since paying top dollar for free agents doesn't seem to be Pioli's style, that pretty much narrows it down to drafting.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
How successful do you think Haley will be running the offense next year?