Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli spoke with The Star’s Adam Teicher at the NFL Meetings and echoed the franchise message of competition. Specifically, he doesn’t consider Jamaal Charles the Chiefs starting running back after bringing in Thomas Jones off of a 1,400 yard season.
The message, Pioli said, was not aimed at Charles so much as everyone. That message: No matter what you’ve accomplished, don’t get too comfortable.
“I can’t tell you whether Jamaal will play more or Thomas Jones will play more,” Pioli said. “The roles will figure themselves out. The best players will play. The players will sort that out themselves. We’re trying to do this at every position. Look at the offensive line now. There are a number of players there that can start.
“Everyone is competing for jobs. That’s how teams get better.”
Pioli spent nine seasons as personnel director for the Patriots before he joined the Chiefs last year. Together with coach Bill Belichick, Pioli was charged with changing a similar culture in New England.
He told a story about New England signing a free agent to compete with an established starter in one of his first seasons with the Patriots. The incumbent publicly complained about the lack of respect his employers were showing.
“It uncovered a reality of the culture there that was very unhealthy,” Pioli said. “That was something we weren’t going to tolerate.”
Pioli said he has no concrete examples of Chiefs players feeling the same sense of entitlement but has no doubt it’s there.
“In the last 14 months, it’s been palpable,” Pioli said. “You can sense certain people seem or appear to have a degree of entitlement. The reality is that none of us are entitled to anything. We have to go out and prove ourselves every day in our jobs, all of us.”
It’s nothing new to hear work from Arrowhead that every player will be forced to earn their spot, but it’s quite different with Charles-Jones than it was with Cassel-Croyle last season when the starting quarterback position was never in question.
There was no doubt some entitlement last year, but if there was any player that was the opposite of that it was Jamaal Charles. He went from potent backup to deactivated to one of the best in the league. Charles earned his spot last year more than anyone and not that I think he’s incapable of doing it again, but at the same time it would be a helluva boost if he went into offseason workouts as the focus of the offense.