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.Embed from Getty Images
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:Embed from Getty Images
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:Embed from Getty Images
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.Embed from Getty Images