Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Updated: August 12, 6:01 AM ET
Scott Pioli, Todd Haley pour foundation
By Chris Mortensen
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Look, it's just the way it is with the Kansas City Chiefs. You might be a player. You might be a coach or a scout. You might be a media member.
The culture change being orchestrated by general manager Scott Pioli, along with head coach Todd Haley, can be downright uncomfortable or akin to labor pains, which is what the Chiefs experienced in 2009.
"Pain and suffering," Haley said. "Last year was a difficult, painful, uncomfortable year for everybody involved, and it had to be done. But I think in that process, along with this past offseason, we've been able to lay a foundation."
Haley, a father of five children, describes the foundation as doing things "on a consistent unwavering basis."
The concrete of this foundation and roots of this tree are so deep for Haley and Pioli, it would take a book to tell a complete story.
Pioli doesn't just mouth the obvious when he speaks about the influences of Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. Before those names are even mentioned, it's like listening to a Hall of Fame speech: He cites the names of coaches who shaped him and his team-only philosophy when he played at Washingtonville High School in New York before he gets to the NFL big fishes.
Parcells just happens to be Pioli's father-in-law and mentor. His 16 years with Belichick eventually produced three Super Bowl titles. Thus, it is not a surprise that the two biggest offseason changes for the Chiefs were the additions of Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator and Romeo Crennel as defensive coordinator. All roads seemingly go through Parcells and Belichick, just as Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren produced their own coaching trees.
The marriage of Haley and Weis has raised eyebrows because even though they once shared a small office under Parcells with the New York Jets, both have a reputation for being strong-willed. Weis is replacing Haley as the play-caller. Haley embraced the hire.
Then also consider that there are a total of 10 coaches on staff who have either coached or played for Parcells and Belichick. That's an interesting cocktail, for lack of a better phrase.
"Even though this is our first year together as a staff in this place, this has created continuity in an abstract way," Pioli said. "There's this group of guys who know and believe similarly and philosophically a lot of the same things. The other good part is because there is that history together there's good energy when there's agreement and there's great energy when there is disagreement, because they even know how to argue with one another."
For Pioli, the architect, he is consistent that he not only wants to win Super Bowls in Kansas City but win them with the right kinds of players -- selfless, intelligent, passionate, mentally and physically tough, to name some of the traits.
"The goal is to win the right way with the right kind people," Pioli said. "Football is the ultimate team sport. It's less 'I' and more 'we,' and I know it sounds very corny but that the end of the day, that's what we're trying to accomplish.
"I've said many times my goal isn't to send players to the Pro Bowl, it's to build a championship team."
More observations from Chiefs camp:
• The key to the development of quarterback Matt Cassel is anchored on an improved offensive line and the running back tandem of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. Jones comes off a season in which he rushed for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns. Even though Jones turns 32 on Aug. 19, the Chiefs believe his skill, power and leadership is a perfect complement to Charles, who became the first rusher in NFL history to gain 1,000 yards with fewer than 200 carries.
• Yes, rookie safety Eric Berry, the No. 5 overall pick in the NFL draft, looks like the real deal. Offensive utility-man Dexter McCluster, a second-round selection, has generated a buzz with his quickness as a receiver, runner and returner.
• Haley was quick to reiterate that past first-round picks OT Branden Albert and DE Glenn Dorsey are much improved because they were so "out of shape" a year ago and "now can just concentrate or being stronger, sounder football players."
• There seems to be no question about the feeling around the NFL that Brandon Flowers is developing into one of the league's best corners as he enters his third year.
• The Chiefs are holding their first training camp at Missouri Western State University after 19 years in Rivers Falls, Wis. Thanks to a $10 million donation from the Chiefs and another $5 million raised through public and private gifts, Missouri Western's Division II football program has a Division I facility, including a full-sized, air-conditioned indoor field that would be the envy of many elite colleges.
ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen will file reports from all the training camps and send updates on the road via Twitter (@mortreport).