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Dolphins GM search: Why not Scott Pioli?

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With the Miami Dolphins searching for a new General Manager, a lot of people have commented, tweeted, and emailed that the team is wrong for not approaching Scott Pioli. To get a better idea of the former Kansas City Chiefs GM, I turned to Arrowhead Pride.


Several names of potential candidates for the Miami Dolphins' vacant General Manager position have leaked into the media over the past couple of days, but one big name has been noticably missing. There has yet to be a mention of former Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli. But, should the Dolphins actually want to interview Pioli? Would he be the right man for the job?

To answer some of those questions, I asked for some insight into Pioli's time with the Chiefs from Joel Thorman at SB Nation's Arrowhead Pride. Here is his reply:

To understand Scott Pioli's time in Kansas City, you must understand the expectations that were created when he first came to town. Back in 2009, he was the big fish in the GM market, having been apart of one of the most successful runs in NFL history with the Patriots and turned down multiple GM interview requests in the past. So when he got here, the expectations were elevated immediately. That should help explain some of the anger and the reactions from Chiefs fans when he left -- we thought hiring Pioli meant it was our time. Obviously, it wasn't.

Where he excelled:

The Chiefs were consistently in a good spot with their contracts. They didn't have many bad ones. You could certainly argue Pioli didn't spend enough money, which was a big topic of conversation in Kansas City over the years and something that would probably come up with Dolphins fans. But he did ink several key players to team-friendly contracts while he was here, including Jamaal Charles, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson. I would guess you probably wouldn't be in salary cap hell with Pioli running your team.

He picked a number of very good players with the Chiefs. From Eric Berry to Dontari Poe to Donald Stephenson to Justin Houston, Pioli did bring in some talent. Obviously he wasn't good enough in the draft -- 23-41 over his four years proves that -- but the Chiefs weren't completely devoid of all talent in his time here.

Where he struggled:

Quarterback. This is why he is no longer the GM. Pioli identified his quarterback of the future in Matt Cassel, which was fine. He also signed him to a six-year, $63 million deal which, again, I didn't have a big problem with that because it's simply the cost of trying to find your franchise guy. You swing and sometimes you miss. Where Pioli got it wrong was that he did not provide any legitimate competition for Cassel. Brady Quinn was the best back-up quarterback in Kansas City over four years. So with the Chiefs struggling in 2012, they had no quarterback of the future they could sell to the fans. All the eggs were in Cassel's basket (which he later fumbled, probably). Pioli bet on his guy and he lost.

Pioli did not demonstrate an ability to identify with the fan base. He was seen as a corporate suit while current GM John Dorsey comes off as "one of us". The leash is much shorter when fans view you as a suit instead of a normal person.

Pioli was unable to create an environment where players could thrive. Read Arrowhead Anxiety for an explanation there. Basically, drama always seemed to follow, even when the Chiefs were winning.


Overall, I could see how Pioli could help an organization in their scouting and drafting efforts. But I do not think he has effectively demonstrated an ability to lead an NFL team. The Chiefs got worse in Pioli's third and fourth year, which shouldn't happen.

A huge thank you to Joel for taking the time to get a better look at Pioli. I agree with his assesment, Pioli is not a guy we should want leading the team. He seems to have a good eye for talent, but can't get that talent to come together with the on-field plans of the coaching staff. The concern of not being able to find a quarterback should be lifted if Ryan Tannehill is to be the Dolphins' franchise quarterback, but would that be the answer to solve all the other issues Pioli demonstrated in his time with the Chiefs?

The Arrowhead Anxiety article mentioned by Joel above, written by Kansas City Star reporter Kent Babb, includes a passage that explains the constant fear and paranoia surround Chiefs employees while Pioli was their GM. Along with discussions of rumors of the team's facilities and phones being bugged so executives could monitor conversations and culture of secrecy and ensuring non-football employees' windows were covered during practices to ensure they could not see the team, there was this excerpt that tells a lot of what Pioli could mean to the Dolphins:

Since Scott Pioli was hired as general manager in January 2009, life for many inside the Chiefs’ front office has been marked by massive staff turnover, fear and insecurity about how closely they are watched. Numerous current and former staffers paint a picture of constant worry — and, in a few cases, of alleged age discrimination. Three former department heads sued the Chiefs in 2011, though the team has denied wrongdoing.

The second article Joel mentions above explains how, it appears Pioli is so concerned about everything in the organization that he undermined the Chiefs head coach, Todd Haley, in the middle of a game, forcing him to make adjustments to his coaching staff while the team was in a playoff game.

Of course, a man can learn from his past mistakes, and Pioli could come in with a different plan for the Dolphins. He may be able to find the same level of talent that he found in Kansas City, bringing several Pro Bowl players to the club and positioning them for success. But, based on his track record, the talent could be on the roster, but never find success. And, is that really the direction the team, and the fanbase, wants to go?