Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, left, and head coach Mike Smith hold an end of season news conference on Dec. 30, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)
MOBILE, Ala. — The Atlanta Falcons hired Scott Pioli, formerly the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, as their assistant general manager on Wednesday, the team announced.
Dimitroff was introducing Pioli to members of the scouting department this morning at a downtown hotel before heading over to Ladd-Peebles Stadium for the North team’s practice.
He will be available later today for comment on the new hire.
Pioli, a close personal and professional friend of general manager Thomas Dimitroff, previously worked in the front offices of the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets and the New England Patriots.
He was released by the Chiefs on Jan. 4, 2013, Pioli and Dimitroff worked together with the New England Patriots, when he was the director and last the vice president of player personnel from 2001-2008. He was with the Patriots during their three Super Bowl titles.
As the Falcons were crumbling last season, Pioli, who was serving as an analyst at NBC Sports, gave his view of the team’s decline as they were 4-10 and improving their draft position.
“I’ve never thought that way in my life,” Pioli said to Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jeff Schultz in December. “It’s so contrary to everything you’ve done in your life to get into the position of being a decision maker. You want to win every game. You’re such a competitor. Winning is a way of life. It’s a culture. You don’t even consider the benefit of losing. People say, ‘But losing is a business strategy,’ I say to them, ‘You’ve never been in this business. You’ve never been this emotionally invested. You’ve never seen or felt the pain of the people involved after a loss.’” Pioli, while he had success at New England, had a 2-14 season with Kansas City. He missed on solving their quarterback situation and the lead to the demise of the team.
While out of football, he was able to monitor the Falcons from afar.
“They lost some of their best players and that impacted (other) players,” Pioli said. “Sometimes you can lose key guys and make it through. Other times it can have a really bad effect. It happened to us in Kansas City. When there are adverse conditions, it puts pressure on people who maybe had gotten comfortable.
“Adverse situations reveal what people really are. Not just players but coaches and trainers. People act a certain way. But when there’s adversity, they react. It’s interesting for the Falcons right now to watch how people react.” Pioli said a general manager’s job is about watching film, holding draft meetings and dealing with salary issues.
“When we went to three Super Bowls in four years in New England, I had greater anxiety as we went deeper in the playoffs because there were things we had to deal with after the season,” he said. “After we won our first Super Bowl in New Orleans, I remember Bill (Belichick) and I sitting on the plane on the way home working on our expansion list because that’s the year the (Houston) Texans were coming into the league. We felt anxiety because we were five weeks behind everybody else for the draft.” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said that the talent evaluators would receive the same scrutiny that the coaching staff received after the missed assessments of the offensive and defensive lines.
“We are applying the same scrutiny of the evaluators and (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) is doing that within his department as well,” Blank said.
The evaluation of the coaching staff led to the release of offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn and defensive line coach Ray Hamilton. Mike Tice has been hired to coach the offensive line and Bryan Cox to coach the defensive line.
Until Pioli’s hire, nothing has happened in the scouting department. There could be some re-assignments.
“We’ve been doing that (scrutinizing over) the last three months,” Dimitroff said before the Senior Bowl. “We continue to do that along the lines of looking at are our coaching staff with coach (Mike) Smith. We’ve highly scrutinized where we are with our approach to certain things from a personnel standpoint as well as our scouts and our directors.
“Again, I continue to stress, me from the top (on down), looking at what we’ve done and what I’ve done, how we’re going to address and change is going to be a part of re-defining where we are as an organization.”
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