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Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Chiefs make spectacular hire with Pioli


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.