Archive for Thursday, January 15, 2009

The wild card

January 15, 2009

The NFL playoffs are in full swing, but it was anything but home field advantage during the NFL playoffs last weekend.

The Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers and New York Giants all lost at home. The only team that won at home was the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans and Giants both had the No. 1 seeds in their respective divisions and were knocked out early. The same thing happened to the Kansas City Chiefs in both the 1995 and 1997 seasons.

Fans who still remember those games might still recall the sad feelings after each defeat. But as the Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and Steelers will play this weekend to see which teams will go to the Super Bowl, the Chiefs made a move Tuesday that could get the franchise back in the playoffs before long.

The Chiefs named Scott Pioli as its new general manager. Pioli had spent the last nine seasons as vice president for player personnel with the New England Patriots. While in New England, Pioli helped the team win six AFC East division titles, four AFC championships and three Super Bowl trophies.

Meanwhile, since 2000, the Chiefs have been to the playoffs twice and lost in their first round game – both times to the Indianapolis Colts, including one of those loses at home when neither team punted and the Chiefs lost in a shootout.

The addition of Pioli brings instant credibility back to general manger’s desk. Not that Carl Peterson wasn’t a credible GM because he was. But over the years, Peterson had burned so many bridges with players, coaches and fans in a variety of ways, the Chiefs’ image had been dulled throughout the NFL.

Pioli is basically the new sheriff in town and will surely bring a new way of doing business to Arrowhead Stadium. His first big task is doing something that Peterson didn’t mind doing at all during his 20 years with the Chiefs and that was what to do with the current coach?

Peterson went through four head coaches in his last 10 years on the job. It’s fair to say that Pioli probably won’t be quite that trigger happy, but he could well be looking to replace Herm Edwards sooner rather than later. In fact, the whole Chiefs coaching staff could see sweeping changes in the next few days. In short, no one’s job at Arrowhead Stadium is safe if you coach there.

Gunther Cunningham, who was head coach of the Chiefs in 1999 and 2000 before Dick Vermeil replaced him, could be out as well. The Chiefs defense has been bad for years now but nonetheless Cunningham is still a fan favorite to many because he is mostly remembered as the Chiefs defensive coordinator in the mid 90s. Cunningham’s defenses swarmed opponents and they were one of the top defense in the NFL. But those days are long gone. The Chiefs have a new owner and now a new GM. With that combination it’s not uncommon for a team to get a new head coach.

Two years ago, the Chiefs made the decision to rebuild through the draft. There are bumps in the road when teams do that. But with Pioli at the helm, whether Edwards remains the coach or not, the bumps might not be quite so rough the next couple years.

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