The Chiefs are consistent at one thing – disappointing us.
Pioli's football team has lost back to back football games. It would appear the road ahead, now undoubtedly paved with a lack of confidence, will find the Chiefs absorbing a few more blows against the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the next two weeks. The Chiefs could sink further into the AFC West basement.
That more than anything else, has be of paramount concern to Pioli. His football team went from first place to last place with Sunday's loss.
Pioli does deserve some of the blame for this turn of events. He had a direct hand in the construction of this team. Despite rumblings of a conflict with his head coach, Pioli put Todd Haley in charge of coaching his team out of an 0-3 start.
What's not acceptable is that a team that Pioli – the highest paid GM in the league - is in charge of has lost back to back home games against a pair of teams with losing records. If you want to build a Super Bowl contending team, that can't happen.
True, on any given Sunday one team can beat another. But what we've seen out of this team on both sides of the ball the last two weeks is distressing.
Thus, going forward, some drastic measures need to be on Pioli's plate as he begins to assemble what could be a solid 2012 Chiefs team. The madness of 2011 isn't all Pioli's fault, but at some point he has to find the consistency that made his stay in New England one that produced championships.
That might mean making a change at the head coach position, and it might also mean Pioli has to change his stance on acquiring impact free agents come March. This year's class, thus far, has been average. Wide receiver Steve Breaston, fullback Le'Ron McClain and defensive tackle Kelly Gregg have all had mixed results.
The Chiefs need playmakers on both sides of the ball and backups who can stand in for a starter for a game or even an entire season. It's not like the Chiefs don't have enough cap space to be real players come March. At the moment, they have a war chest of nearly $40 million in cap space to spend before the market opens this offseason.
Before he starts spending, though, Pioli has to decide which players he intends to keep, including some players he's drafted in recent years. But let's get back to how he's going to address the head coaching situation.
Right now, either Haley can't coach this group of 53, or he isn't getting the players motivated enough to win games against bad football teams. Haley is on the hottest seat in this organization, but Pioli's chair is beginning to simmer. He and Chairman of the Board Clark Hunt can advertise their loyalty to Haley, but someone has to take the fall for this season.
Likely, it will be Haley. Is that fair? Not really. He deserves more time, but I can't see how Pioli can give it to him.
I don't think Pioli will do anything until the end of the year but for all practical purposes, the Chiefs aren't going to challenge for a division title. They had their chance when they stood 4-3 in first place in the AFC West, but one could see this coming.
After their big win over the San Diego Chargers, Haley should have been more forceful in pushing his men to the brink of excellence. Instead, he set this team up to fail. He forgot what it took to get this team back to the top of the division and reverted back to his old self in recent weeks by not demanding more out of his players.
It's a shame, because ultimately the Chiefs suffered for Haley's inexperience as a head coach. And even worse, in a season when the AFC West is as bad as it's ever been the last two decades, Haley could have solidified his future had he been able to claim a second straight division title.
The decision to fire Haley at some point falls squarely on Pioli, who has to ultimately pay the price for the team's failures this season. However, he's not going anywhere.
I, along with the rest of Chiefs Kingdom, can only wonder what might have been had the Chiefs not flopped the last two games in front of a full Arrowhead Stadium. Against a pair of teams who were a combined 3-12 before they entered Kansas City, the Chiefs were outscored 48-13.
Change is inevitable in the NFL and in Kansas City, fair or not, right or wrong, it's eventually going to come. Haley will find his footing on shaky ground if the losses keep mounting.
And that's not good for anyone in the organization, or a loyal Chiefs fan base that kept the house full until Denver's final touchdown.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
What should Pioli do?
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