Monday, December 12, 2011

The circus is gone, but the cycle goes on

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt is thanking fans for their patience and support. GM Scott Pioli is vowing to do a better job.

Todd Haley is thanking almost everyone for the opportunity and is wishing his players and coaching staff good luck.

By now, the fans have had the chance to come to terms with what this all means. Another losing season upon us, and another head coach, deservedly or not, forced to take the brunt of the blame.

It should all sound familiar, because it's the same cycle we experienced just three years ago when Hunt first brought this circus to town.

The similarities are glaring from then to now. Then, it was Herm Edwards making a commitment to building the roster through the draft. The former head coach would qualify for the playoffs just once out of his three seasons in charge, and ultimately was a victim of his inability to pinpoint a top-tier franchise quarterback.

All of the above qualities could be truthfully accredited to Haley, with the main difference being the relationship between the head coach and GM.

The point is less of a defense of Haley than it is evidence of a telling reality: The Chiefs have made little progress since Pioli arrived.

A compelling argument could be made that the GM is to blame solely here, that Haley was given little depth, and that's a tough point to counter when you consider the head coach found a way to win five games with Tyler Palko, Barry Richardson, Jackie Battle, and Sabby Piscitelli receiving substantial playing time.

In three years, Pioli's most impressive talent acquisitions have been Matt Cassel and Eric Berry, and there's an endless list of could-of, should-of, and would-ofs that have left the Chiefs with as many playoff victories in that span as there were in the previous 16 years before his arrival.

But that isn't exactly fair, either. Haley deserved this ousting if for nothing more than for letting things go this far.

Regardless of his performance, the head coach was doomed early on in this relationship because of he and the GM's contrasting styles. Pioli preached it'd be a strength, that the Chiefs' collective brain-trust would be better suited for success because of it.

Eventually, the two collided, with Pioli stepping on toes (Charlie Weis), and Haley rebelling at the point of no return (the beard).

Somewhere in-between there was a never-ending spat involving the quarterback, a complete waste of at least one training camp, and an unprecedented unsportsmanlike penalty that would prove to be the last straw.

It had become a circus, bad enough to where the head coach was privately considering resigning earier this year so he could properly tell his side of the story.

With Haley now gone, the pressure turns to the culprits who remain. Breaking that old, familiar cycle should be priority-one.

Season-ticket renewals are about a month away, so that gives Pioli little time to reflect on the mistakes made the past three years and make what could be, for better or worse, his last head coaching hire as the organization's decision-maker.

A fragile fan base awaits, desperately hoping he gets it right.

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