|Things have been better for Chiefs GM Scott Pioli (right). (US Presswire)|
Todd Haley's week got off to a great start. The Steelers' offensive coordinator saw his team impose its will on the Jets on Sunday. Then on Monday morning, the Kansas City Star unloaded on Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, the man who fired Haley midway through the 2011 season. (And it wasn't your garden-variety canning; there were also Nixonian accusations of wire-tapping and paranoia.)
But after the Chiefs' latest humiliating loss, this time at the hands of a Bills team that gave up 48 points to the Jets in Week 1, both the Star's Kent Babb and Sam Mellinger spent many words destroying Pioli.
Babb's criticisms were the harshest: "Pioli is now in his fourth year of trying to justify the hype that earned him accolades in New England, respect within the NFL, and a multi-million-dollar job as a GM. Expectations were unreachable, maybe, but Pioli has done himself no favors by obsessing over trivial details, spending too much time trying to feed his addiction to his own reputation, and engineering a team using the 'discount football' philosophy that has made the Hunt family richer but has gotten the Chiefs only marginally closer to a Super Bowl."
With the Patriots, Pioli enjoyed great success working with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. He's also the son-in-law of former coach Bill Parcells, so it's not like this whole football thing is new. The man has been around the game his entire adult life. And that's part of the issue: there are no excuses for why the Chiefs aren't better.
More from Babb: "He whines to outsiders that the Chiefs' salary-cap shortcomings are misunderstood? Well, spend more money, as team chairman Clark Hunt has said Pioli is authorized to do. Pioli excuses himself for his biggest mistakes, such as saying he just didn't do his homework before hiring former coach Todd Haley? Well, why not? And he says privately that drafting a quarterback in the early rounds isn't the point; it's about drafting the right one. Well, Scott, then draft the right one. These things are big parts of Pioli's job, but instead of acknowledging that, he chooses to tell himself — and, through back channels, you — that things are just fine. In Scott We Trust? Not anymore."
Mellinger, meanwhile, takes a slightly more nuanced approach: "Four years is enough time to fairly judge an NFL GM, and so far Pioli looks like a substitute teacher. He is failing -- badly -- and to save his football reputation, and shelve serious questions about his job, he needs the kind of turnaround over the next 14 games that is quite unfathomable at the moment."
That's worth remembering: There's plenty of time to salvage the season though the first two games offer little hope. The Chiefs have been outscored 75-41 by a good Falcons team and mediocre-at-best Bills outfit.
Complicating matters: Kansas City's schedule. The Chiefs will travel to New Orleans on Sunday before facing San Diego, Baltimore and Tampa Bay before the bye week. Conceivably, the Chiefs could be 0-6. Then again, this is the same group that stumbled to an 0-3 start a year ago only to reel off four in a row.
Anything can happen. In a sense, that uncertainty is a big part of the problem.