AFC West: Pioli to KC

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Scott Pioli's first order of business when it comes to his new roster in Kansas City will be on the offensive side of the ball.

Two major issues need to be cleared on offense and Pioli, whether he keeps head coach Herm Edwards or not, needs to tackle them. Pioli needs to clear up the Tony Gonzalez situation and he needs to figure out if Tyler Thigpen will be the team's quarterback in 2009 or if a franchise quarterback will be pursued.

Gonzalez could ask to be traded and he did in October. He said last month that he'd want to return to the Chiefs if they were committed to winning in 2009. The Pioli hiring has to impress Gonzalez.

Pioli needs Gonzalez. He is coming off one of his best NFL seasons. At 32, Gonzalez can still play. Pioli needs to convince him the Chiefs can win soon.

The Thigpen situation will be interesting. Because he is a no-huddle, spread offense player, Thigpen's style is an acquired taste. Pioli may not want to continue with Thigpen and may want to start the future now.

The Chiefs have the No. 3 pick in the draft so the team could go get a franchise quarterback such as Sam Bradford or Matthew Stafford. It would make sense if Pioli's first move in Kansas City was to try to answer the quarterback issue. His former colleague in New England, Thomas Dimitroff, did just that in his first year in Atlanta last year when he drafted Matt Ryan with the No. 3 pick. That move worked out fairly well, didn't it?

There isn't much deliberation time needed on the Kansas City defense. The questions on defense are simple. It needs a whole lot of help, particularly on the defensive front seven. The Chiefs' concentration in free agency and the draft will likely be on improving the defense.

Pioli has a lot on his personnel plate, but it starts with the Gonzalez and Thigpen questions.

Edwards' fate still up in the air

January, 13, 2009
1/13/09
6:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Herm Edwards deserves better.

The Chiefs' season ended 16 days ago. Edwards has been in a holding pattern since then. Those close to him say Edwards had been hearing totally different stories and rumors in the interim. He didn't know what to believe.

When the Chiefs opened the general manager's job 29 days ago, Edwards was told the new general manager would make the decision on his fate. It's doubtful Edwards thought nearly a month would pass with his situation still unclear.

Meanwhile, he showed up to work every day since the end of the season as defensive coordinator jobs started to fill.

If Edwards is fired and he wants to work in 2009, he needs to know his future as soon as possible. It could be a few days before Edwards' situation is clear.

Same goes for the Chiefs' assistants. Some are already making plans elsewhere. Don't be surprised if highly touted secondary coach David Gibbs ends up elsewhere, perhaps Houston.

Edwards has been unable to tell his assistants what to do because he doesn't know. The Chiefs' ownership is said to be big fans of Edwards. But he needed to be communicated with better during this time of flux.

While the last couple of years have been poor on the field, Edwards has represented the Chiefs and the NFL well. He is a good man and he is good for the league.

Yes, we believe the Chiefs' decision to hire Scott Pioli was the right one. And it is prudent for Pioli to make his own hire in Kansas City as he moves forward. It is unlikely an executive as sought after as Pioli was would agree to go to a team in a rebuilding phase without the opportunity to hire his own coach.

If the Chiefs do fire Edwards it is totally understandable, but is also several days too late.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Chiefs just announced the hiring of Scott Pioli as general manager in a release.

The Patriots also just released statements on the Chiefs' hire of the New England executive:

Statement from Patriots owner Robert Kraft

Scott Pioli was an integral part of the many championships the New England Patriots have celebrated this decade and I would like to thank him for his countless contributions throughout the past nine seasons. Scott is a great evaluator of talent. He is thorough in his evaluations, extremely organized and has done a tremendous job mining all possible resources to help Coach Belichick and his staff field the players needed to win consistently. He has played an important role in building a championship tradition with players that I am proud to call Patriots. On behalf of the entire Patriots organization, I wish Scott continued success in his new role and offer best wishes to his wonderful wife Dallas, and their beautiful daughter Mia. I think Clark Hunt and the Kansas City Chiefs have made a very wise hire.

Statement from Bill Belichick

To sum up in words everything Scott Pioli has meant to this organization and to me personally would be difficult, if not impossible. From the day I met him, he has demonstrated a passion for football and respect for the game that is second to none. It has been extremely gratifying for me to follow Scott's career ascension from the bottom of the totem pole in Cleveland to his place as a pillar of championship teams in New England. Now with the opportunity to steer his own ship and a vision of building a winner, there is no more capable, hardworking, loyal, team-oriented person than Scott Pioli.

On a personal level, the Belichick-Pioli bond runs far deeper than our workplace, as we and our families have shared countless memories away from football. Working side by side with one of my best friends for almost two decades is special enough in itself. But to help each other achieve success beyond our dreams is a blessing and something I will always remember and appreciate.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The hiring of Scott Pioli as head of football operations is a monster move for the organization.

 
  AP Photo/Robert E. Klein
  Scott Pioli's first priority will likely be deciding whether to retain coach Herm Edwards.

A strong general manager is as important as having a strong coach. Judging from his work in New England, Pioli could be a franchise-changing GM.

Give the Chiefs a lot of credit for making this happen. When the team announced on Dec. 15 that it was parting ways with Carl Peterson after 20 years, I said that Pioli had to be the target. He was the general manager prize. There were some rumblings around the NFL that the Chiefs could blow it because they were taking their time.

Now that they have secured Pioli, the Chiefs should be recognized.

The GM opening in Kansas City could have been considered the best available in the NFL for several reasons, including a young ownership in place, a good football market, a rich history and a young roster. The Chiefs managed to marry the best opening with the best GM candidate.

Kansas City looks to be on the way up. Yes, there is still a long way to go for a team that went just 2-14 and lost the trust of season-ticket holders. Yes, the Chiefs have many holes and they need another strong draft. But the building blocks have been in place for a year. It is not a total disaster. The rebuilding phase has already begun. Now it is time for Pioli to move forward with the reconstruction of the team.

His first step, of course, is to figure out what to do with the coaching staff. It's very likely that coach Herm Edwards will be replaced. It's been reported that New York Giants coach Steve Spagnuolo could be Pioli's choice. It makes sense, especially now that former New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is in Denver.

Pioli saw the importance of a defensive coach firsthand in Bill Belichick. Spagnuolo is widely considered the best defensive coach available and the job his Giants did on Pioli's Patriots in last year's Super Bowl will not be lost on Pioli as he prepares to hire his first coach in Kansas City.

If there is a coaching change, there will be other candidates, but Spagnuolo and the Chiefs will likely be mutually interested.

Once the coaching staff is addressed, the attention will turn to players. If Matt Cassel isn't given the franchise tag by the Patriots, he'd likely be very attractive to Pioli.

Many dominoes are going to fall in Kansas City. But, in the end, the first domino may be remembered as the most important as the Chiefs begin an exciting new era.

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