Chiefs' Search For New Head Coach Continues

Ever since word leaked out of Kansas City that former Patriots VP of Player Personnel Scott Pioli might leave New England for the Midwest, information coming from KC has slowed to a crawl. That sounds about right for an organization under the influence of the "Patriot way."

Certainly Pioli would want things kept quiet during his possible hiring, while Chiefs owner Clark Hunt – looking for a new leader for his football operations – would have no issues complying.

Now the focus in Kansas City is to assemble a coaching staff. After watching Pioli work in New England, it's safe to assume he wants control over his own destiny, and that involves choosing the right coach.

One of the biggest draws for Pioli to Kansas City over other suitors – namely the Cleveland Browns – is that he would have final say over personnel decisions. Unlike Cleveland, the Chiefs wanted a GM before a coach. By giving Pioli the right amount of power to get the job done, the Chiefs opted to build an organization rather than build a team. Now the question is whether Pioli can build a team – a winning one – like he did in New England.

With Pioli officially head of football operations, one of the first orders of business was to decide upon the future of Herm Edwards. As the Chiefs saw, Edwards struggled at building a winning team under the direction of former Chiefs GM Carl Peterson. Now, under Pioli, he won't have that chance.

Any time an organization develops a history of losing (Edwards went 9-7, 4-12 and 2-14 in three seasons) change isn't just a luxury, it's a necessity. And that's exactly why Pioli needed to send Edwards on his way.

Pioli now has to find a new head coach. That search has taken some curious twists and turns from possibly hiring former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (now the Broncos head coach) to wooing former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan (who claims not to be interested in the job) back from the golf course. Pioli was even tied to Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz – which is one more reason why Cleveland reportedly didn't want to hire Pioli.

One thing is certain - Pioli is a creature of habit and familiarity. He is a private person and prefers to remain out of the limelight. He's not known for making friends in wide circles, which is why any head coach he hires will either come from a system similar to the one the Patriots run (3-4 defense), or will be someone Pioli has a connection to. It's virtually certain Pioli will not hire someone he's never spoken to, or worked with in the past.

This leads us to the wide speculation of who Pioli is set to hire. Shanahan, Bill Cowher, Leslie Frazier (Vikings DC) and Todd Haley (Cardinals OC) are all in the mix, apparently. Steve Spagnuolo was reportedly a candidate before he accepted the job in St. Louis.

Looking back at Pioli's history, Fresno State's Pat Hill and Virginia's Al Groh are more likely to become the next head coach of the Chiefs than the four listed previously – none of whom have a history with Pioli.

A curiosity is that while the Chiefs' defensive coaching staff has left, most of the offensive staff remains in place. This could be an indication that whomever Pioli hires is coming with defensive expertise, possibly even 3-4 experience.

Whomever Pioli hires, it will be important to rebuild the Chiefs the same way the Patriots were built – slowly and with deliberate purpose. One philosophy must remain a constant, the one which has been successful in New England – the defense. Considering Pioli was the man responsible for finding players to fit that scheme, it's a good bet the Chiefs next head coach will be one who can benefit from the knowledge Pioli has built over time.

Longtime NFL Scout Gil Brandt said on Sirius NFL radio earlier this week that the coaching search in Kansas City will take some time. But he also hinted the search might end soon. However, he claimed he didn't know anything specific, only that that the coach wouldn't be hired before the Super Bowl.

With the big game set for Sunday, it's a good bet Brandt's prediction will come true. For Chiefs fans, Monday can't come soon enough.

Jon Scott is the editor of Patriots Insider

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