Yardbarker Horiz

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bucs vs Chiefs is Dominik vs Pioli . . . Philosophically

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers square off against the Kansas City Chiefs in a game where the score does not matter this Saturday night, there will be more than players competing on the field.  The philosophies of the General Managers, Mark Dominik of the Buccaneers and Scott Pioli of the Chiefs, will also be on display.

Mark Dominik and Scott Pioli are members of the NFL General Manager class of 2009.  Both men inherited teams struggling with identity, direction, and results.  They have both turned over their rosters and are now one year down the road of rebuilding their respective franchises in their own images.  Saturday will be a chance to watch these rebuilding projects in action.

A comparison shows the two men have made some different choices but have also had some common experiences in their first seasons at the top of their personnel departments:


3-13 record4-12 record

Drafted quarterback Josh Freeman with his first ever draft pick (first round of his first draft)Traded for then-Patriot Matt Cassel, who was coming off his first full season as a starting quarterback.

Freeman did not start until 2009 Week 9Cassel has started since 2009 Week 1

Traded 2010 2nd round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns for TE Kellen Winslow (lead team in receptions in 2009)Traded away TE Tony Gonzalez (led team in receptions in 2008) to the Atlanta Falcons for a 2010 2nd round draft pick

The Browns used the Winslow 2nd Round Pick to trade downThe Chiefs used the Gonzalez 2nd Round Pick to get CB Javier Arenas

Fired their offensive coordinator the week before the start of the 2009 seasonFired their offensive coordinator the week before the start of the 2009 season

Fired their defensive coordinator during the season with head coach Raheem Morris taking over defensive coordinator dutiesFired their wide receivers coach during the 2009 season and their defensive coordinator after the 2009 season

No coordinators changed during 2010 offseasonTwo new coordinators for 2010: Romeo Crenell on defense and Charlie Weiss on offense

Has drafted 9 defensive players, 5 offensive players, and 1 specialist since becoming GMHas drafted 7 defensive players, 7 offensive players, and one specialist since becoming GM

Has retained 4 of 5 offensive lines starters from prior GMHas retained 3 of 5 offensive line starters from prior GM

Has retained none of the starting defensive linemen left by the prior GM (selected a defensive tackle with his first pick in 2010)Has retained neither of the starting safeties left by the prior GM (selected a safety with his first pick in 2010)

Dominik finished 2009 with a player he inherited at tailback:  Cadillac Williams, who rushed 211 times for 823 yards and 4 tds.Pioli finished 2010 with a player he inherited at tailback:  Jamaal Charles, who rushed 190 times for 1120 yards and 7 tds.

Continue to run the Tampa-2 version of the 4-3 on defenseHave converted from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense

Had only one rookie starter by the end of 2009 (QB Josh Freeman)Had only one rookie starter by the end of 2009 (DE Tyson Jackson)

Has two players with more than 10 years NFL experience on his roster:  CB Ronde Barber and OG Keydrick Vincent.Has six players with more than 10 years NFL experience on his roster:  LB Mike Vrabel, C Casey Wiegmann, RB Thomas Jones, G Brian Waters, WR Chris Chambers, and DT Ron Edwards.

Seems both men have had their share of difficult decisions to make since taking on their new role and responsibilities.

Clearly both men have not had much time to make grand changes to the personnel on their squads. It appears this is by design, as both men are dedicated to building through the draft with all 2009 (and 2010) draft picks still on their respective rosters. The build-through-youth philosophy also shows in the 80-man camp rosters for both clubs: the Chiefs have 41 players on their 80-man camp roster with 2 or fewer years of NFL experience (i.e. youth added by Pioli) while the Buccaneers have 43 players with two or fewer years of experience (i.e., youth added by Dominik).   Clearly both teams will have a significant number of young players on the opening day 53-man roster.

But the last point of comparison in the chart above shows a significant, early difference in philosophy of the two men:  Dominik quickly purged a group of 5 veterans from the roster he inherited from former Tampa Bay GM Bruce Allen (now with the Redskins) and Dominik has clearly "gone young".  Pioli, however, has added more veterans (Vrabel, Jones, Chambers) to the roster he inherited from former Chiefs GM Carl Petersen and Pioli has "gone to free agency".  Neither of these teams saw these moves pay off in their first season but both have high hopes to see their teams make solid progress in 2010.

Which brings us to this weekend and why fans of both teams should be very interested in this game from start to finish.  In the first half, it's the "Upstarts (young Bucs) versus the Old Farts (veteran Chiefs)" in a battle of who-can-win-and-win-now philosophies.  Will one approach clearly show benefits over the other on Saturday night? In the second half, it's the "Clash of the Kids" -- which team has the better young talent, which players make for a bright future? Will the decisions made by the assembled, disassembled, then reassembled coaching staffs create success through relentless preparation?   

I believe this game will feel like two different preseason games separated by a three year halftime time warp.  And I plan to enjoy every minute of it!

And did someone say the score won't matter?  I have a strong feeling the score will matter to both Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik as they watch their philosophies play out.  And that makes the game all the more interesting to watch.

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