KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli took responsibility for the Chiefs’ disappointing 1-5 start in question-and-answer session with the Kansas City Star on Wednesday morning. Pioli also discussed the state of the Chiefs during their bye week and reports about his contract status.
Here are some highlights of the interview:
How surprised are you at 1-5?
“Surprised … or disappointed. That’s where we are. This is certainly not what the expectation was. But it’s where we are. You can’t wallow in it. You work hard and you figure it out. That’s what we’re going to do.”
What’s been the biggest disappointment?
“The record, the overall performance, the performance by everybody … We all have a hand in this thing, starting with me. Ultimately I’m responsible for the football operation, and we’re 1-5. We all need to do our jobs better, starting with me.”
Have you discussed a contract extension with Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt as reported by CBS? (Note: The Star reported Sunday, citing a source close to the situation, that the Chiefs have not offered Pioli a contract extension nor have discussed an extension. Hunt told The Star that the Chiefs do not discuss contracts publicly.)
“Clark spoke to The Star last week, and that’s our organizational philosophy. We don’t talk about players’ contracts, we don’t talk about coaches’ contracts, anybody who has a contract, we don’t talk about those things. It’s an organizational philosophy that I believe in as well. That’s where it’s at.”
So where do you think this (CBS’ report) originated, if you nor Clark talk about contracts?
“I don’t waste energy on that stuff. You know what I’ve got to do? I’ve got to get this thing fixed. That’s where I need to spend my time, energy and emotion on is getting this football team fixed. Not chasing rumors because those are the things that are offshoots of what the real problem is. It becomes a rumor, it becomes a story because we’re not winning.
“This isn’t about me and my contractual situation. This is about getting the team right.”
But if your contract is through 2013, you’d have one year left, and (coach) Romeo Crennel will have two years left because he’s through 2014; what kind of confidence can fans or free agents have that there will not be a lame-duck situation here next year?
“I’m not going to talk about the contract, and I’m not going to worry about the contract.”
What’s your feeling on the job Romeo Crennel has done? Should he hand over the defensive coordinator job to someone else and just concentrate on being the head coach?
“I don’t believe his plate is too full. I’ve watched, whether perception or reality, every head coach has a greater input into one side of the ball or the other, or even some times special teams. Romeo has a couple of experienced coaches on the defensive staff that have a lot to do with game-planning, with figuring things out, and (linebackers coach) Gary Gibbs and (secondary coach) Emmitt Thomas along with some other coaches … this is an experienced staff on defense. Romeo is the coordinator, but I’ve seen this before, and it’s worked, and it can continue to work. There are times we are playing very well on defense.”
What kind of grade would you give Romeo at this point?
“I think he’s doing a good job of handling this football team in a tough set of circumstances right now.”
During training camp, you were confident quarterback Matt Cassel could lead this team to a championship. What’s happened to him?
“He wishes he performed better, I think this whole team wishes they played better.”
Don’t you need an elite quarterback to win in this league?
“You need a good football team to win in this league. You need a good football team that is going to do all the things the right way. Heck yes, you need a quarterback to play well, and you need a team to play well.”
So what is the hope for this team?
“The hope is we stop doing some of the things we’re undoing ourselves. A big part of our problem is we are undoing things ourselves and we are making mistakes … we’re having penalties at critical times. We’re having turnovers at critical parts of the field. We’re making mistakes on defense and giving up big plays that are critical. We’re having penalties on special teams at critical moments. … The mistakes we’re making, based on the timing of those mistakes are making those mistakes exponentially worse.”
Is that coaching?
“It’s everything. It’s everything, including me, because I’m the ones bringing players in. And if players are making those mistakes, ultimately, it’s me.”
So do you not have the “Right 53” you’re always talking about?
“You’re always trying to figure out who the Right 53 are. I’m always trying to figure out who the Right 53 are. Ultimately that stops here.”
You’ve had four years of drafts? Shouldn’t there be some impact players?
“I think Tyson Jackson is playing well. I think Eric Berry has made an impact. I think Tony Moeaki has made an impact. Right now, there’s clearly not enough players making an impact. You can’t be 1-5 and say players are making an impact. When we won in 2010, a number of those drafted players were making an impact.”
Do you feel the angst the community feels about how this season has gone?
“I interact just being out and about and traveling and being at the airport, being at restaurants … I’ve seen all the emotions. And what I’ve seen is a lot of support as well. Are people happy about the record? Do I understand? Heck, yeah. This is the Chiefs’ town. The Chiefs are Kansas City, and I don’t say that disrespectfully to the other organization (Royals). I know how passionate how this fan base is.
“I also know there are a lot of reasonable and thoughtful and supportive people out there. Do I also feel and hear the frustration? Absolutely. But I’ll guarantee this … I know how I feel about this. And I understand we’re 1-5, too.”
Is this still an attractive place for free agents to come?
“Absolutely. The history of the organization, the fan base, the stadium, the culture that is here. There are a number of players who chose to come here this off-season. There were a number of places players had choices, and there are players who have chosen to stay here. So clearly this is an attractive place.”