Scott Pioli: “This thing is a process. It’s a matter of finding the right players for the coach and the system.”October 2, 2009 – 10:45 am by timgunter
Scott Pioli enjoyed the last 9 seasons in New England working along side Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick. Pioli and Coach Belichick instilled a football philosophy in New England that was designed to create a consistent championship contender and that is exactly what transpired. In fact they appeared in 4 Super Bowls and won 3 of them. That is an impressive run as a GM for any sports franchise let alone the NFL. The NFL is great because there is parity in the league and any team can win on any given Sunday. That can’t be necessarily said as of late to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Kansas City Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game in 14 years. That is the sole reason that Scott Pioli was hired was to turn the franchise around and have them compete for a title each year. He inherits a young team coming off a 2-14 season but is stepping into a situation that seems ripe for a quick turnaround. After his hire in Kansas City, he fired Herm Edwards and brought in the former offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals, Todd Haley. Scott Pioli has a strong understanding of players and the type of players that create championship football teams. With a little patience and hard work, Scott will have this thing turned around in a few seasons.
Pioli joined WFAN in NY to talk about Kansas City being a great football town, how hard it is coming from a team with success to try and rebuild the Chiefs, what he remembers about the conversation where he was told to draft Tom Brady and how close he was to not drafting Brady, and whether he must have seen some things in Matt Cassel to bring him to Kansas City.
On Kansas City being a great football town:
“It’s a super football town. It is funny when I came in here for the initial press conference I was with the owner and several hours after the press conference around 9 o’clock at night, he put on the one of the two sports talk radio stations and all they were talking about was the Chiefs. I grew up in a town where we had the major sports teams…It was the middle of January and all they could talk about was the Chiefs and he reminded me that the only thing they have out there is the Chiefs, they’ve got the Royals and KU basketball.”
On how hard it is coming from a team with success to try and rebuild the Chiefs:
“You know it is tough but it is part of the process. People tend to forget that our first year in New England we were 5-11 up there. We took over a franchise that was in transition. There were some good core players there. We had the Tedy Bruschi’s, we had the Ty Law’s, we had Lawyer Milloy, we had Drew Bledsoe…A number of solid, core players and even with that group in the transition the first year, we were 5-11. The next year we had things go the right way and you know we had a few bounces go the right way and we were fortunate to win a lot that year. The next year it was more reality when we were only 9-7. And going back 3 years when I was with the Jets with Coach Parcells and that whole crew, that first year we were about a .500 team. It wsan’t until the 2nd year that we won 12 games. My time in Cleveland it took us a couple of years to get things turned around too. The losing part is difficult there is no doubt about that. This thing is a process. It’s a matter of finding the right players for the coach and the system that you are trying to run. There is usually some shots that you take along the way.”
On what he remembers about the conversation where he was told to draft Tom Brady and how close he was to not drafting Brady:
“The truth be told, we drafted Tommy in the 6th round. The 199th overall and anyone who was in that room and a part of that process that thinks or says now in retrospect that we knew what Tommy was going to be isn’t telling the truth. We thought a lot of Tommy. The late Dick Brawn who was the quarterbacks coach and also coached at the Giants years ago had gone out to work out Tommy. We sent Dick out to see 5 or 6 quarterbacks. Dick came back from the time he spent with him and really liked him. Charlie Weis liked him. There were a group of people that liked him and as we went through the draft process we had so many other needs that year. We entered that offseason as a team where we had 38 players that were on the roster and when we started there were 42 players and $10.5 million over the cap and the one position where we had players was quarterback. We had 3 quarterbacks on the roster. The thing that we liked about Tommy was that he wasn’t a full-time starter but it just seemed that every time Tommy played they won. Michigan was a very successful program. They had another quarterback there that as another high profile guy and Tommy didn’t get to start full-time. So we saw some things in Tommy that we liked. We started talking about him seriously in the 3rd and 4th round. Well we started talking about him in the 3rd round. We started talking about him more seriously in the 4th round. As each round went by we were drafting more on need, a position of need at the time. And when we got to the 6th round he was staring at us on the board all the way over to the left and we said that: We’ve got to pull this guy’s name and we did. The other thing is I’ll say is that the truth of the success of Tom Brady doesn’t have anything to do with the people who picked him or coached him. It is a testament to Tommy’s hard work. Without a doubt, he is one of the hardest workers and smartest players that I have been around. He is special.”
On whether he must have seen some things in Matt Cassel to bring him to Kansas City:
“Yeah Matt is a really talented quarterback. He is a good athlete. He has got a good arm and throws an accurate ball. One of the things that I liked about Matt and still like about Matt, here is a guy who went to USC and he sits the bench for 4 years behind 2 Heisman Trophy winners: Carson Palmer and then Matt Leinart. The truth is when he was behind Matt Leinart, it was neck and neck until he hurt his shoulder in spring ball. Leinart got the nod, they started winning so there was no reason for Matt to ever get a shot. Then he comes into the NFL, we draft him in the 7th round up in New England and he sits the bench behind Tommy Brady, another pretty good player. What gets me about that is the thing you tell role players and backup players when you try to have a really good team is: Hey, this is your role now and when you do your job and when your opportunity comes, you better be ready. Here is a guy who had the mental and emotional endurance over 7 years of sitting the bench and when his opportunity came, he seized it. Yes he had some really good players around him in Wes Welker and Randy Moss, a solid offensive line, and a good defense. The bottom line is that he could have screwed the thing up and he didn’t. He still went on to win 11 games. He played in 16 and won 11. I think that there is something about his emotional makeup and his mental ability that I really like as well.”