WPI Roundtable - Week 13

This week we discuss firing Todd Haley, turning the Chiefs around, Herm Edwards and quarterbacks.

Will Scott Pioli actually fire Todd Haley after one season?? If he does, is it safe to make the assumption that a veteran head coach is next?

Nick Athan: It's possible, because as Fox Sports Insider Jay Glazer recently reported, Pioli and Haley have not spoken much in the last several weeks. Pioli is nowhere to be found. He does not talk to the media, nor does he publicly support his head coach in any forum outside of an interview he did six weeks ago. The Chiefs need Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher, Brian Billick, Mike Holmgren or Jon Gruden.

I actually like Haley, even though many of you think otherwise, but he's getting a raw deal. He's being shoved in front of the media every day and he has too many roles on this team. Nobody in the front office is really assisting him in any meaningful way, as far as we can tell. It's going to be expensive to hire a veteran head coach but it's the right move to make. Haley is in over his head. He tried to do too much, just like Gunther Cunningham did when he coached the Chiefs for two seasons.

Michael Ash: I don't think for a second that Pioli will fire Haley after one year and frankly, it amazes me that this topic continues to surface. With four games still left on the schedule, the Chiefs have already surpassed their win total from 2008. One more victory will tie their win total from 2007.

With two home games left to play, the Chiefs have a legitimate chance at posting their best record since 2006, and people are wondering whether or not the first-year head coach that got them there could be fired? The last two weeks have been disappointing, but some people out there need to come in off the ledge.

C.E. Wendler: As Michael said, wouldn't it be ludicrous for such a thing to happen? Winning programs in the NFL are all about stability and an established system. How can the Chiefs hope to have a winning program if they won't even give a coach a chance to establish his system? It would seem counterproductive.

It's true that Haley hasn't done much with his first season, and has made plenty of questionable decisions during games. But he's a rookie head coach just as much as some of his players are rookies. Firing him without giving him a chance to grow would seem unfair. His first year has been disappointing, but everyone deserves a second chance. If the Chiefs are this bad at the end of next season it may be time to think about a veteran head coach.

Would Herm Edwards have been a better option at coach for the Chiefs this season? Would Chan Gailey have been a better option at coach for the Chiefs this season? If it was either of those two, would the Chiefs still be an embarrassing team or would they have improved?

Nick Athan: There's no question the Chiefs would have been a better team with Edwards. His team was only blown out at home once last year. They led nine times in the second half last season and were far more competitive than this year's team. Edwards had the respect of the players but not enough playmakers to win games in crunch time. If he had, he'd still be the head coach.

The Chiefs have already been blown out four times this year and might see at least one or two more blowouts in the closing weeks, when they travel to Cincinnati and Denver. Haley is not the motivator Edwards was and that's a problem, especially because he's been working with a more talented roster. Chan Gailey probably wouldn't have been the best option.

Would Herm Edwards have improved?
Charlie Riedel - AP

Michael Ash: Since Gailey hasn't been an NFL head coach in about 10 years, it's hard to say how the Chiefs would have played under him. But there's no reason to think the team would have been significantly improved under his leadership. He was a mediocre college coach, so it's unlikely he'd make the Chiefs better after one season.

As for Edwards, if there was even the slightest indication he was on the right track, maybe he would still have a job. Let's think about the last game of the 2008 season and how the Chiefs got pushed around by Cincinnati's backups. Did anything about that performance suggest a light at the end of the tunnel? Or that Edwards had things headed in the right direction?

Ultimately, there's no coach on the planet that would have taken this roster and suddenly made the Chiefs respectable in one season. If Vince Lombardi had returned to coach the Chiefs, people would be calling him a bust and talking about how the game has passed him by.

C.E. Wendler: As badly as some wanted Herm Edwards (including me) out of Kansas City, you can't deny that the Chiefs made progress on offense last season. Whether that offense was going to get them to a Super Bowl is another question entirely, but KC's spread was definitely something to build on. Tony Gonzalez saw it, Tyler Thigpen saw it, Brian Waters saw it, and Edwards surely saw it.

If the Chiefs had stuck with Edwards and the spread offense, featuring Thigpen and Gonzalez, they would have entered 2009 with a stable offensive attack, with continuity. Had they acquired a couple of pieces for the defense in the offseason, it's obvious they would have been an improved team. Perhaps it wouldn't have resulted in anything in the long haul. But the improvement was there at the end of last season. Just not enough of it for a coach in his third year.

The Chiefs have to start focusing on one aspect to start getting better. Which aspect of the team do you feel is the closest to being competitive the quickest? Do you feel this need should be addressed through free agency or the draft for the quickest turn around?

Nick Athan: The front seven needs to be the focus. Glenn Dorsey has adjusted to his new role as a defensive end and if he can learn a first step to get inside or around an opposing tackle, the Chiefs can go to war with him. But they need a power player in the middle of the defense that can penetrate the backfield and occupy centers and guards. Throw in linebacker Tamba Hali and that's something to build upon.

If you believe the old Chiefs' veteran I ran into last weekend, who told me Tyson Jackson will be a player in this league, really what Kansas City needs now is more production at linebacker. They have to find another Jared Allen-type presence, and that comes through the draft.

Michael Ash: The offense is the closest to being competitive. The defense badly needs a nose tackle, better linebackers, better safeties - it will take a few years to get all those pieces assembled.

While adding another quality receiver and running back certainly wouldn't hurt, KC's offense could be markedly improved with a few upgrades on the offensive line. Even further, having a better offensive line will put a spotlight on the other areas that need to be addressed, be it quarterback, receiver or running back.

A combination of free agency and the draft is always the way to go. But this last offseason was the perfect chance to sign a lineman in free agency and find some via a draft that was heavy with offensive line talent, and the Chiefs hardly did anything. So how they'll try to attack it this coming offseason is anyone's guess.

C.E. Wendler: If you're optimistic about certain players, the Chiefs appear to have five pieces on offense – Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers and Branden Albert. They might have something in Lance Long and Leonard Pope, but that's really reaching it. If you believe there are five pieces in place, though, the offense is the closest to being a competitive unit.

Clearly that means upgrading the offensive line and adding one more running back and receiver is the priority, if you're focusing strictly on offense. The problem for the Chiefs is that with an uncapped year ahead, free agency will bear little fruit. They need to make a couple of trades and hit on two more offensive starters in the draft to really make progress, while hoping Cassel gets better next season. If all that works out, Kansas City could have a markedly improved offense that gives them a chance most weeks.

Do you see Pioli drafting a quarterback in April as a safety net in case Cassel doesn't materialize or do you feel there are too many other needs at this time to be afforded the luxury of drafting a quarterback at this time?

Nick Athan: The more I watch Colt McCoy the more I like him. He'd be hard to pass up for any team that needs a quarterback. He just wins and with Sam Bradford expected to go near the top of the draft, McCoy could fall into the Chiefs' laps.

I say take him because he would be a great fallback option if Cassel does not cut it in the next two years in Kansas City. Sure, they need a pass rusher, a safety, a defensive tackle and a stud offensive lineman, not to mention a wide receiver, but McCoy is no more a risk than giving Cassel all that money after 15 games.

Could the Chiefs use Colt McCoy?
Jed Jacobsohn - Getty

Michael Ash: As we discussed in last week's roundtable, I could see Pioli taking a quarterback in the later rounds of the draft. It's not necessary as long as Brodie Croyle is retained, but it's certainly possible.

However, the idea of a "safety net" would seem to suggest drafting a quarterback in the early rounds, and I don't see that happening at all. For one thing, taking a safety net is exactly what the Chiefs were in a position to do with their most recent draft and they didn't do it. Mainly, though, I don't think they're going to publicly undermine Cassel like that.

C.E. Wendler: With Cassel's huge contract, picking a quarterback early in the draft and handing out another huge contract would seem to be highly counterproductive towards fielding a winning team. But last year the Chiefs picked a five-technique defensive end and gave him a huge contract, knowing they already had another highly-paid end on the roster in Glenn Dorsey. So, knowing how unpredictable "The Patriot Way" can be at times, maybe it's possible Pioli would go after a quarterback.

On the other hand, Pioli is clearly in Cassel's corner and taking a quarterback high in the draft would undermine that position. Logic dictates that there's no way the Chiefs draft McCoy, Bradford or any other passer in the first round next April. Of course, there's a laundry list of illogical things the Chiefs have done this year, so, it's difficult to really come to a conclusion.

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