Now that the 2010 NFL season is over we're seeing some awards coming in announcing so-and-so as the best quarterback in the league and so-and-so as the best offensive player. There are lots and lots of awards floating around. Some are very small while others, like NFL Executive of the Year, are very big.
Scott Pioli has a reason to smile today as Pro Football Weekly has named the Kansas City Chiefs general manager as its NFL Executive of the Year. The Chiefs made an incredible (and franchise record breaking) turnaround this year and many of the reasons for the Chiefs success can be pointed directly at Pioli.
Here are a few of Pioli's best moves that helped him take this award home.
Signing Thomas Jones. Jones wasn't quite as productive late in the year as he was early but it's clear Jones came in with an attitude that's helped the Chiefs. Even if you forget Jones' stats for a minute, he helped the Chiefs. He's taken over a mentor role with Jamaal Charles which, with a new five-year contract, is very important to the Chiefs. He set an example of how to be a professional and how to establish a work ethic. He's a smart dude that his teammates liked being around. The credit goes to Pioli for signing him although I imagine Todd Haley had something to say about Thomas Jones, who he likes very much.
Revamping the offensive line. This may be, in my mind, Pioli's greatest feat. The Chiefs offensive line was a major part of the team's struggles in 2009 and several years prior. They couldn't stop very many people, they were undisciplined and generally seemed like they didn't know what was going on. The (re-)addition of Casey Wiegmann and then signing Ryan Lilja made this line much stronger and the results were there. The offensive line was not a liability in 2010 and that can be traced back to signing those two guys.
Bringing in the safeties. Maybe the only position group worse than the offensive line in 2009 was the safeties. Mike Brown and Jarrad Page were out there to start the season and Page eventually went down while Brown struggled consistently all year. The Chiefs went out and got two rookie safeties -- first round (Eric Berry) and fifth round (Kendrick Lewis) -- who appear to be the future at safety all ready. Give Haley and his coaching staff credit for developing them but also give Pioli credit for identifying a major problem and fixing it quickly.
Some of the moves he made were plainly obvious (Ryan Lilja) while others were solid moves that didn't receive much fan fare at first (Shaun Smith). The Chiefs are building a team to last which is the hardest thing to do in the NFL and they can thank Pioli for much of their success.