View Full Version : RAND: Chiefs Crave Bell's Pop in Middle

03-10-2005, 12:17 PM
Hope its not a repost......


RAND: Chiefs Crave Bell's Pop in Middle
Mar 10, 2005, 3:49:45 AM by Jonathan Rand
Their free-agent signing of linebacker Kendrell Bell made me try to recall how long it’s been since the Chiefs had a Pro Bowl linebacker whose name wasn’t Derrick Thomas. Considering that the Chiefs have had some pretty stubborn defenses, I didn’t think I’d have to reach back too far.

It’s been farther back than you might think. You have to go back to Dino Hackett, an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, in the 1988 season. And the Chiefs haven’t had a Pro Bowl middle linebacker since Willie Lanier, a Hall of Famer, in 1975.

Bell is also a potential all-star for the Chiefs if he can recapture his Pro Bowl form of 2001, his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played inside for the Steelers and for the Chiefs appears a natural fit in the middle.

Middle linebacker hasn’t been an especially high-profile spot for the Chiefs in recent years, though Donnie Edwards was solid there for two years before moving outside in 1999. Middle linebacker, in fact, no longer is an especially high-profile spot in the NFL. It once was pro football’s most glamorous defensive position.

The old-fashioned bulldog in the middle who crushed ball carriers is just a two-down player in today’s pass-happy NFL. The renewed popularity of the 3-4 defense has turned such stars as Pittsburgh’s James Farrior and Baltimore’s Ray Lewis into inside linebackers and they’re not quite as recognizable as they would be in the middle.

Bell played along side Farrior at Pittsburgh and could be the horse in the middle of the Chiefs’ 4-3. He’s a 6-1, 257-pounder who, when healthy, is explosive off the ball and a terrific tackler.

Bell can do a lot more than hit. In his last healthy season, 2003, he totaled 108 tackles, five sacks and a forced fumble. He also defensed three passes and returned an interception 42 yards. You can see why the Chiefs might be tempted to put him outside, where he’d have a clearer path to the quarterback and more pass coverage opportunities.

Still, the Chiefs need him most in the middle. Their past few seasons have been marred by shoddy tackling and a parade of running backs tearing through the heart of the Chiefs’ defense. Bell could help that defense get back to basics.

The Chiefs have been sorely missing a middle linebacker who can rock running backs, give the defense a toughness and identity and elevate the players around him.

“You want the defense to take on the personality of its leader, and that should be the middle linebacker,” said Hall of Fame middle linebacker Mike Singletary. “He’s the signal caller and he takes the heart and soul of the defense and pins it on himself.

“Every (middle) linebacker has to know: I’m not playing at this level just for me; I’m playing at this level for everybody. If I do my job first, it creates something special. It creates the spirit and confidence of the defense.”

Bell’s lone negative involves injuries that limited him to three games last season. If he’s durable, the Chiefs will have a standout player in his prime. Bell, 26, has become an unrestricted free agent for the first time, which makes him far more appealing than an over-30 star who’s perhaps on the decline and hoping for his last big contract.

Bell makes the Chiefs’ defense better but still not good enough. They finished last season with glaring defensive weaknesses everywhere except on the line.

Now their front seven should be no worse than respectable. If the Chiefs can upgrade their secondary, especially at right cornerback, they would not have any one defensive area that an opposing offense could hammer.

Granted, that’s not the same as boasting a top 10 defense. Yet signing Bell at least gets the Chiefs headed in the right direction. It isn’t mere coincidence that their defense has been easy pickings since they had a linebacker or two with whom nobody wanted to mess.

03-10-2005, 12:19 PM
Oh it is a repost.

03-10-2005, 12:33 PM
Oh it is a repost.

I looked....I really did.
My repostaphobia is flaring again
:mad: :banghead:

03-10-2005, 02:22 PM
Oh it is a repost.

It's only a repost because I've been saying this same thing since the Indianapolis playoff loss...

OUR LINEBACKERS SUCK ASS! Yes, that's including Fujita! They all suck, except Barber, and he got himself hurt. Our defense has sucked since our last true middle linebacker (Marvcus Patton) left. No coincidence is the exact phrase I've used probably 20 times... Now it's in print from a Star reporter, and everybody is like "Ohhhh..."