Blaming The Clarks: A Fan Post

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A Fan Post By stjoechief

There are a lot of questions about Brett Veach’s performance as general manager for our beloved Kansas City Chiefs.  His claim to fame is, of course, his widely reported advocacy for Patrick Mahomes leading up to the 2017 draft. We’ve all read Terez Paylor’s  article and Mr. Paylor has a reputation for solid, factual reporting. But, see, Veach wasn’t actually the one to draft Mahomes. That would be former GM John Dorsey.  Veach’s personnel decisions and drafting have been, charitably speaking, a mixed bag since taking over as GM. It’s too early to pass judgement on his lone NFL draft, but the crop of defensive players he collected looked at the time to be more suited to a 4-3 scheme than Bob Sutton’s 3-4.  The same can be said of the signing of Anthony Hitchens, whose contract appears to have been based on $1 per rushing yard allowed. And don’t even get me started on his failure to sign any of the incredibly cheap starting caliber safeties available in free agency last year. With the scheme change on defense some of these moves may look brilliant a year from now, but at the moment a lot of us are left scratching our heads.  In the grand scheme of things, why are we even asking these questions? Oh, yeah, because John Dorsey was fired.

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I’m not going to argue that Dorsey’s firing was unjustified, or that it was a mistake.  The man is an amazing evaluator of talent, but his contract negotiating skills were nonexistent.  We have Dorsey to thank for both the Houston and Berry contracts, both of which were done a year later than they should have been and therefore cost significantly more than they should have been.  I love Mahomes as much as anyone but can you imagine Dorsey trying to get a second contract done for him? Franchise him twice, then pay $1 billion over 8 years guaranteed is my nightmare scenario. So I’m not crying over Dorsey’s departure.  But the timing was absolutely atrocious.

Dorsey was fired by the Chiefs on June 23, 2017.  Everyone, including Clark Hunt, admitted that it was a strange time to fire a GM.  We’ll never know exactly what prompted the move at that time, but if it was going to happen it should have happened much sooner.  Like, in early January. Why? Two words: Chris Ballard. Ballard had been Director of Player Personnel and later Director of Football Operations for the Chiefs since his hiring in 2013. He was hired by the Indianapolis Colts as GM in January, 2017. Let’s just say no one in Indianapolis is complaining about his performance so far. Ballard would have been the logical successor to Dorsey if he had still been part of the Chiefs’ front office when the position became available.  But Ballard left in January and Dorsey wasn’t fired until June, which left Brett Veach as the next best internal candidate. So whose decision was it to fire Dorsey? Since Scott Pioli was fired (more on him shortly) both the GM and the head coach report directly to…Clark Hunt. Now none of us know what triggered Clark to fire Dorsey exactly when he did.  And if Dorsey had been fired earlier the Chiefs might not have been able to draft Mahomes, either through unwillingness or inability to disguise their intentions. But Clark has a history of taking just a bit too long on major moves in the front office. And that has come back to bite us all in the ass. To wit:

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Return with me if you will to the dark days of 2008.  Herm Edwards was the head coach. Tyler Thigpen was the quarterback.  Airplanes were flying over Arrowhead demanding the head of Carl Peterson on a silver platter. Lamar Hunt had died, leaving Clark Hunt as the new Guy Who Runs the Team (majority owner, managing partner, whatever the official title is). And Clark made the move we all wanted. He accepted Carl Peterson’s resignation on December 15, 2008. He then hired the most sought after GM candidate in the NFL, one Scott Pioli.  And there was great rejoicing.

The fly in the ointment was that Pioli wasn’t officially hired until January 13, 2009.  Now in those days the organizational chart went from owner to GM to Head Coach, so the decision on whether to retain Herm Edwards or bring in new blood was up to the new GM.  But. There. Was. No. Time. Pioli fired Herm Edwards on January 23, 10 days after his own hiring. That isn’t a horrible amount of time for an executive new to the organization to spend assessing the existing coaching staff.  It was just more time than he had. Here is a list of NFL head coaches hired prior to Herm Edwards being fired:

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Eric Mangini—Cleveland Browns

Jim Schwartz—Detroit Lions

Steve Spagnuolo—St. Louis Rams

Rex Ryan—New York Jets

Raheem Morris—Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Josh McDaniels—Denver Broncos

In retrospect, this isn’t a murderers’ row of head coaches.  Only Rex Ryan had any real success. But it’s highly likely that Pioli would have preferred any of them (except Raheem Morris, God bless the Bucs) to his eventual choice, Todd Hailey.  Hailey was hired on February 6 and was the last NFL head coach hired that offseason. The domino effect of the delay was that the available pool of assistant coaches was pretty awful by the time Hailey started assembling his staff.  So Clark Hunt taking almost a month to hire his top GM choice hamstrung Pioli in his choice of a head coach, which is turn hamstrung Hailey in his options for assistant coaches. And thus, in my humble opinion, was the Pioli era doomed from the start.  I can’t say that the combination of Pioli and McDaniels would have done any better, but it couldn’t have been much worse. And it comes back to Clark Hunt’s bad timing.

Now sandwiched between these two situations is Clark’s hiring of Andy Reid.  At that point Clark moved quickly and decisively to get his guy. He even made Pioli go along on the interview, but kept him waiting outside while Clark talked to Andy.  Talk about stone cold. And I’m convinced the change in command structure to having both the coach and the GM report to the owner was specifically intended to get Andy Reid on board.  So Clark’s timing hasn’t been all bad.

But every time Brett Veach makes a questionable move, or Chris Ballard makes a shrewd one, or John Dorsey picks up a gem from the waiver wire, just remember whose decisions put each of them in their current positions. The buck stops with Clark Hunt, who has a habit of arriving fashionably late to the party.

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dablueguy
dablueguy

The whole Dorsey cap mismanagement stuff is overrated, IMO. When you have lots of good to great young players, you’re going to run into cap problems(Except NE, they’re not of this earth). The big ticket contracts Dorsey signed that he gets blasted for are homegrown guys. That’s the way you’re supposed to do it. The lone exceptions I can find are Maclin, the only Big ticket Free agent signing, and Alex Smith, which was a trade. If you examine Maclin, that was an Andy Reid deal. That’s why he took a big fall for tampering, bigger than the GM. That tells you who was responsible. Alex, I disagreed with the extension at the time, but it wasn’t an egregious overpay for where the QB position has gone. There were some mid level Free agent signings (Fanaika) and extensions(Sorenson) that I gave Dorsey grief for, and he deserves it. But overall, he was an excellent GM for the Chiefs, turned us around quickly, and kept us good for his entire tenure. Someday the truth will come out about why he was fired, but it hasn’t yet. And to prove what he did in KC was no fluke, he’s done the same thing in Cleveland, a very quick turnaround from patheticness, and he’s set up that team with great young talent to be a good team for a pretty long time. And he’ll eventually run into cap problems there because of all the good young talent. That’s a good problem to have.… Read more »

StramtoReid
StramtoReid

Since there is no new Chiefs news I decided to read this post. I’m a Clark Hunt fan, so I didn’t want to read a post blaming Chiefs problems on Clark. Hern Edward’s downfall was at picking a good QB, he didn’t get you need a franchise QB, I love Herm, and his passion for football and his players. Pioli’s downfall was Haley and Matt Cassel. Dorsey downfall was EB and J.H. injury, I don’t think he was a great evaluator like everybody else, the defense is a mess, and if he was a great evaluator; he would have signed E.B.and J.H. a year earlier, if we kept M.P., and J H., and EB was healthy last year, we would have won a Super Bowl last year, I can’t be to disappointed in Dorsey You have to say Brett Veach first year was a failure; the Hitchens trade was bad, worst of all, Ragland’s production went down . The M.P. trade didn’t work out because Fuller didn’t do good as an outside corner. We overpaid Watkins, we drafted for position not BPA. Mahomes was an upgrade over Alex, and is the reason we almost went to the Super Bowl. Veach’s poor decisions cost us a Super Bowl last year. I love K C. Football and I love that Carl Peterson brought football back to K.C., there are people who believe if we kept Rich Gannon; we would have won a Super Bowl . I believe coaches and GM’s legacy’s are… Read more »

stjoechief
stjoechief

Just to clarify, I’m not “blaming” Clark Hunt for the Chiefs’ current situation. Overall they’re in a really good position for the next decade or so and Hunt’s decisions to bring in Reid and Dorsey are a big part of that. For me the jury is still out on Brett Veach, but there are plenty of people out there saying he’s making one bad decision after another. And if Veach is bad–or at least worse than Dorsey or Ballard–then some of the responsibility for that has to go to the guy who put him there.

hmills110
hmills110

At least SOME of the overspending by Dorsey was aimed at giving Reid what he wanted or thought he needed at the WR position and a couple other spots. When you agree with your coach to go after a guy and secure his services, at (almost) any cost, those key guys will be overpaid. And that might be OK.

hmills110
hmills110

Aw I said with Dorsey, the $$$ on key FAs is less important than getting the right guy AND drafting well. When you draft well, you’re not as dependent on FA to round out your ballclub and the price tag for any one or two or three FAs isn’t as important. It’s like me and my lifestyle. Not much restaurant food (midlevel Free Agents), because I learned as a poor college student that even McDonalds is a budget buster on a low income, if you’re eating McDonalds every day, every other day or even once a week. When I finally got out of school (Don’t ask), my ENORMOUS $30,000 salary was plenty to cover a nice (REAL NICE) steak dinner (Cajun steak and shrimp with garlic potatoes!) at the Oasis, in Gunnison, Colorado. Expensive meal. Big tip. Totally affordable, because it was the ONLY restaurant food all week, and I still lived (and live to this day) like a college student on everything else. I’m still in the habit of rustlin’ up my own food at home, including the rib-eyes and tenderloins. I can go out any time I want because I generally don’t go out (plus I make more than enough $$$ to go out every night, but I just… dont.). I notice guys who eat out all the time calculating the tip to the penny, and deducting from that amount, based on the service. 15% is the ceiling. I generally start at 20% and go UP, based on… Read more »

Tyrone
Tyrone

Really enjoyed reading this, especially since I’m a Dorsey fanboi.

TNCHIEFS
TNCHIEFS

Excellent analysis! Spot on. The thing that hurts most is missing out on Ballard. But Veach may yet prove himself most capable. If so, it’s incredible for him to have been thinking beyond the days of Bob Sutton.

stjoechief
stjoechief

Thanks for the kind words. Veach may prove to be utterly brilliant, but at the moment I wish we had Ballard instead. Of course, Ballard might not have drafted Mahomes, so who knows? It’s the offseason so playing what-if passes the time.

oof46
oof46

Blame the bossanova.

Cheat Code
Cheat Code

I’m still kinda sore about the Dorsey firing. If it was for contract and cap management issues, it reeks of missing the big picture. If it was for “communication” issues, it reeks of elevating things that matter little over things that matter a lot – namely talent acquisition.

Dorsey was good at identifying and bringing in talent. That’s the #1 job of any GM and a non-negotiable prerequisite to sit in GM chair. Dorsey had warts, but they were minor when held up to his success in his main capacity of talent acquisition and I’d argue that our new GM has displayed many of the same warts with free agency contracts thus far, so it isn’t as if we’ve improved in that aspect.

It sucks that we took the unnecessary gamble right before the ascension of Mahomes. I’d have a lot more faith in Dorsey nailing the draft than Veach right now.

alsi2
alsi2

Not sure how to correctly assimilate this into the discussion, but Dorsey didn’t fire Sutton.

What’s your thinking on who gets the credit or blame for Sutton’s release? Did Clark or Veach or Reid fire him or was it a consensus move? Is it possible to even know?

It seemed overdue by maybe 2 or even 3 years. Is it possible Veach drafted defenders better suited for the 4-3 thinking Sutton was already heading out the door last season or that Sutton would switch to the 4-3 and somehow neither of those things happened? Something just seems odd about all that like there was perhaps some sort of internal disagreement about the future of the DC and/or scheme and thus the disconnect between the draft and signings and what we got on the field last season.

Anything of merit to this conspiracy theory?

Just curious. I don’t know or understand enough of this to debate it and not really enough to even throw this out there, but hey, it is off-season and what I see in the headlines about the Chiefs from some of the notable sources don’t seem much more knowledgeable than my clueless mutterings.

stjoechief
stjoechief

I would assume that since Andy answers directly to Clark Hunt that he has full control over his coaching staff. Veach’s task would be to acquire players that fit the schemes the coaches want to implement. There are certainly a lot of questions about the defensive talent brought in last year and how they fit best. We’ll never really know what the plan was, which makes it hard to judge Veach’s performance so far. If he drafted Speaks and DOD and signed Hitchens thinking they were going to be in Sutton’s scheme forever then I would be worried about having him as GM. If he brought in those players in anticipation of switching to a 4-3 then why wasn’t the switch made last year? From the outside it looks like either Veach is a bad evaluator of defensive talent or there was serious miscommunication between Veach and Reid about what the scheme was going to be. But there may have been internal discussions that made it all part of a reasonable plan that just didn’t work out last year.

Texas Chief
Texas Chief

Spags took a year off.
It’s possible the reason we didn’t fire Sutton is that Reid or Veech had already targeted Spags a year before, but Spags decided to take the year off.
I’m not saying that happened. I don’t have any inside information or anything, but it is possible that they drafted thinking that they might be switching coordinators before Spags informed them he wanted a year off to recharge the batteries. And then we were stuck with Sutton for another season.

Then again, maybe none of that happened, and it just makes me feel better to thing about Sutton as a guy that was a dead man walking for all of the 2018 season.

alsi2
alsi2

the same thought occurred to me…we’ll probably never know until Reid writes his post-career biography…and then we’ll still probably never know

SmokyMtnChief
SmokyMtnChief

When the postseason of 2017 ended, Andy knew Spags was coming and drafted 3 pics for the new 4-3.

Nasrani
Nasrani

Guy Who Runs the Team (majority owner, managing partner, whatever the official title is)

In the military we call that either the MFIC or the BAMFIC.

wustl_chiefs_fan

Clark has done a good job as far as I’m concerned. He took over after 2006, which although it was a winning season was a really tough situation. The team Vermeil built was aging without much young talent to replace them. He allowed Herm Edwards to tank, but he didn’t turn it around fast enough, so he brought in the top GM candidate at the time in Pioli and let him build his team.

We went 17-15 in 2010 and 2011, but there was a lot of optimism going into 2012. It’s hard to imagine now, but the 2012 team had high expectations. Bleacher Report predicted us to go 12-4. When that didn’t happen, Clark had no problem cleaning house.

Then in the 2013 offseason Clark again went out and got the top candidate available in Andy Reid, and let him build the team. This time it worked, not only have we had the 2nd best record in the NFL in that time, we’re going into 2019 as Super Bowl favorites and have a guy who could be the best QB in the NFL for the next 15 years.

In short, you want an owner who goes out and gets the best guy to run the team, then stands back and let’s them do their job. Clark has shown that he’s willing to do that.

stjoechief
stjoechief

I think Clark is well above average as NFL owners go, and when he has fired someone I can generally see legitimate reasons for it. There have been times, though, when the timing of his moves has resulted in limiting the team’s options. Brett Veach was likely the best available candidate at the time he was hired. Whether he is as good or better than other options that would have been available earlier is still an open question.

probablyamistake
probablyamistake

It’s never too early….off with his head!!!! 🙂

CHIEFSandSABRES

I blame Clark Hunt for us getting to the AFC Championship game. This franchise could have spiraled out of control for years, and while it might have been somewhat “late” with firings and hiring tendencies, we are a franchise on the rise.

backbone313
backbone313

Clark > Snyder

That is all

KC_SunDevil
KC_SunDevil

I agree we don’t know the trigger event on canning Dorsey. But at the time it seemed pretty apparent he went rogue in the draft.

Chiefsfan115
Chiefsfan115

So in the fall of 2016 i worked at the Applebee’s closest to Arrowhead. I waited separately on Mitch Holthus, Ron Parker, and Brett Veach in the time i was there. Brett Veach came in at lunch with a group of about 10-12. I didn’t know who any of them were, i just saw the CHIEFS badges and lanyards on all of them. Veach was talking about Mahomes at that lunch. Nobody else seemed to have anything to say on it. Veach also seemed like he either was, or wanted to be in charge. I think he picked up tge tab of a few people, which i normally interpret as an asserting power move. The only reason i remembered him was because he reminds me of the cop on Prison Break, William Fichtner.

Just saying i believe he pushed for Mahomes, because it felt like he was pushing Mahomes at that lunch table.

Nasrani
Nasrani

I have always wondered how Mitch Holthus is in person. Seems like a pretty salt-of-the-earth dude.

KC_SunDevil
KC_SunDevil

Very. His main occupation in the offseason is building a museum of the original “home on the range” although I have no idea how he will convince the deer and the antelope to play.