John Smallwood: Chiefs blind to Reid's shortcomings with Eagles

GM Scott Pioli apparently became expendable to the Chiefs in order for them to hire Andy Reid as their new coach. ASSOCIATED PRESS
GM Scott Pioli apparently became expendable to the Chiefs in order for them to hire Andy Reid as their new coach. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted: January 06, 2013

Clearly, the Kansas City Chiefs have not paid attention to the fine details of Andy Reid's tenure as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Otherwise, there is no way they would have let general manager Scott Pioli walk out the door moments before Reid walked in as the new head coach on Friday.

I'm not saying Reid was a bad hire. Despite the way things ended, his resumé over 14 years as the Eagles coach is impressive. He didn't win a Super Bowl, but he won more games than any coach in Eagles history, made the playoffs nine times, reached five NFC Championship Games and made it to a Super Bowl.

The Chiefs could have done a lot worse than hire a guy with that amount of success.

And honestly, I don't know enough about the job that Pioli did in 4 four years running the Chiefs to say whether he earned his "mutually agreed" parting papers.

I do know that Pioli, who was a five-time winner of the NFL Executive of the Year when he was vice president/player personnel with the New England Patriots, had only a 23-41 record in four seasons, with 10 coming in the 2010 season, when the Chiefs had their only winning season in his tenure and took the AFC West.

Pioli also had to fire the two coaches he hired - Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel - so perhaps, the NFL worst 2-14 record in 2012 was the final straw.

"After several productive conversations, we made the difficult decision to part ways with Scott Pioli and allow him to pursue other opportunities," Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement released by the team.

It could simply be that, but the nearly simultaneous timing of these moves sure looks more as if Chiefs ownership capitulated to whatever Reid wanted to get him to come to Kansas City than simply wanting to get rid of Pioli.

If Pioli was the problem, why didn't Kansas City fire him at the same time it fired Crennel on Monday?

The only thing that's changed since then is that Reid, who also was fired on Monday, talked to the Chiefs for 9 hours on Wednesday and then began negotiating the terms of his hiring.

It sure appears as Pioli read the tea leaves that this was going to be Reid's show and decided it was best to move on.

Now Reid can hire a de facto general manager - one former yes men, Tom Heckert, just got fired as GM in Cleveland - and go about his business the way he did for the most of his time with the Eagles.

The Eagles always had a general manager, but everyone knew that once Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie fired GM Tom Modrak in 2001 and made Reid the vice president of football operations, Reid called the final shots on player decisions.

It's hard to believe that Reid would have not asked for the same thing from Kansas City. With Pioli leaving, the Chiefs apparently said OK.

The Chiefs will hire a general manager, but with Reid in place first, there will be little debate about who will have the ultimate say in picking players and assistant coaches.

Way to snooker them, Big Red.

Kansas City didn't do its homework well enough.

Reid was a good coach, but he also was a horrible evaluator of talent. Andy Reid the player personnel manager was the worst enemy of Andy Reid the head coach.

The current sorry state of the Eagles is the direct result of the player and coaching evaluation blunders Reid has made over the past three seasons.

It started when Reid had to scrap a well-developed plan to transition the quarterback position from Donovan McNabb to Kevin Kolb after Kolb got a concussion in the first half of the first game in 2010 season.

Naming Michael Vick as the starting quarterback and then signing him to a huge extension based on eight successful games in 2010 set the Birds on a collision course with disaster.

Each subsequent move seemed to multiply itself in inefficiency.

There was the disastrous 2011 hiring of offensive-line coach Howard Mudd and wide-nine architect Jim Washburn as defensive-line coach.

After those moves, Reid topped himself with the coup de grace of bad moves by promoting longtime offensive-line coach Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator.

Did the Chiefs not notice this?

Then there are the numerous high-draft-pick busts: wide receiver Freddie Mitchell, offensive lineman Shawn Andrews, defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley, offensive lineman Danny Watkins, safeties Nate Allen and Jaiquan Jarrett, offensive tackle Winston Justice, and others.

The failure to get quality players in the draft led to Reid down the mercenary road of trying to build and win through free agency. Did Kansas City not see Stacey Andrews, Jason Babin, Nnamdi Asomugha and Demetress Bell?

Just a surface analysis of the Eagles football operations of the past four seasons would reveal the numerous blunders that caused this team to go from one that was one win away from advancing to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season to flaming out at 4-12 in 2012?

That falls almost exclusively on decisions made by Reid.

The truth is that most of Reid's success came with players he inherited when he was hired in 1999, such as Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent, Hugh Douglas, Jeremiah Totter, Duce Staley and Tra Thomas, or players acquired when he and Modrak shared power, including McNabb, Corey Simon and Jon Runyan.

As those players aged, few of draft picks or free agents that came in after Reid wrested power were able to adequately replace them.

The end for Reid with the Eagles finally came on the last day of 2012, but it really was the culmination of a slow burn starting in 2001, when he won a power struggle in South Philly with Modrak.

By giving Reid as much power as it looks they have, the Kansas City Chiefs chose to overlook Eagles history. Ultimately, that will prove to be a big mistake.


Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Columns: philly.com/Smallwood

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