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View Full Version : Pat Kirwan's take on the 2001 Chiefs


Hoover
08-07-2001, 11:27 AM
Chiefs need to win on road to crawl back to .500
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Posted: Monday August 06, 2001 5:20 PM
Updated: Tuesday August 07, 2001 3:05 AM



As I walked around River Falls, Wis., the fans and the media gave off the impression that this was a lost year for the Kansas City Chiefs. The fan attendance was low for the team that averages over 76,000 at home games in Kansas City, and the media people covering the team didn't exude any confidence about the team's chances in a division with the Broncos and Raiders.

But no one told Dick Vermeil and the outstanding staff he has assembled to fold up the tent and go home. In fact, the year Vermeil's Rams won the Super Bowl the same sentiment was in the air. Vermeil was on everyone's hot seat list and the Rams weren't expected to do anything as usual. Don't get me wrong, turning around the 7-9 Chiefs will not be easy, but I saw some things that led me to believe they won't finish last in the AFC West like most so-called experts have predicted.

If you are waiting for offensive coordinator Al Saunders to roll out a duplicate of the Rams' high-speed, four wide receiver offensive attack, forget about it for this season. Sure, the Chiefs traded a first-round pick for quarterback Trent Green partially because he knew the Rams' system, but the problem is the Chiefs don't have the other components of St. Louis' offense. There is no one in a Chiefs uniform that can duplicate the Marshall Faulk component of Vermeil's St. Louis-style attack. With Sylvester Morris out for the year, there's no way Kansas City has enough fire power at the wide receiver position to duplicate Issac Bruce, Torry Holt and Az-zahir Hakim.

Keep up with your favorite NFL team with CNNSI.com's training camps coverage, including Postcards from Training Camp by SI's Peter King, Burning Questions from SI's Don Banks and expert analysis from SI's Dr. Z and CNNSI.com's Pat Kirwan.

Complete coverage, click here.


In fact, when I was at practice they didn't even have three healthy, legitimate receivers on the field. But all is not lost, and if you remember back to the early days of the 49ers' success in the West Coast offense, it was achieved with regular personnel in the game. Bill Walsh created a high-scoring offense with Tom Rathman and Roger Craig in the backfield, Brent Jones at tight end, and just two wide receivers on the field -- Jerry Rice and John Taylor. After watching practice I am convinced the Chiefs will play to their strengths by developing the same package. Recently acquired running back Priest Holmes will team up with underrated Tony Richardson in the backfield. Both Holmes and Richardson can run with the football and both have good hands. Look for the two backs to catch 80 passes between them and combine for 1,200 yards rushing.

The best player on the Chiefs is tight end Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez caught 93 balls last season and brings a very dynamic dimension to the attack that the Rams never had. A Jerry Rice clone isn't going to happen among the Chiefs' wide receivers, but Derrick Alexander caught 78 passes for 1,391 yards and scored 10 times last year and his 17.8 yards per catch was best in the AFC among the top 30 receivers. As for the other wide receiver spot, it's a toss-up. Some people feel third-round pick Marvin Minnis should get the nod, while others feel more comfortable with veteran Derrick Mayes.

Personally, I don't feel the 170-pound Minnis will be ready for prime time and all the problems press coverage will present him. Mayes doesn't have much speed and will struggle against man coverage schemes. I expect Kansas City to either trade for another wide receiver or sign a speedy veteran off the last cut in August. Fortunately for the Chiefs, there usually are a few decent wide receivers that will be available and with Morris due back next year at 100 percent they can think short term and not be concerned about age or long term contract.

On the defensive side of the ball, coordinator Greg Robinson is overhauling a Chiefs philosophy that was more conservative in nature. Robinson is a master of pressure packages, and if the practices I witnessed are any indication, the Chiefs will be coming after teams and forcing turnovers.

The defensive linemen must have excellent quickness and Eric Hicks should flourish in this system. Hicks had 14 sacks last year in just 13 games and he could come closer to 18 this season, which would catapult him into the elite class of the NFL. The top Chiefs draft pick last April was third-round pick defensive tackle Eric Downing from Syracuse. Downing got lots of reps with the first unit but he is a work in progress at this point. He is not ready to play fast and still struggles to disengage from blockers, but Robinson will blend him in to his defensive line rotation on a limited basis until he develops all of his skills.

Robinson loves to play linebackers who can run and he likes what he sees from his linebackers. Donnie Edwards, Marcus Patton and Glenn Cadrez all showed the ability to blitz and cover running backs in the man coverage schemes. As for the secondary, safeties Jerome Woods and Greg Wesley are big and tough. I have questions at the cornerback position. Veteran Ray Crockett has lost a step and is only adequate at this point in his career. On the other side, William Bartee looks like the best of an untested group. Bartee is big and probably needs to line up and learn from his mistakes. The team could still consider picking up a veteran in late August if one came available.

As I go around to all the NFL camps, I like to pick out some long-shot candidates who have a chance to make the team. Look for 5-foot-6 free-agent wide receiver JJ Moses from Iowa State to make this team. Vermeil likes him and he didn't drop a pass while I watched practice. Another free-agent wide receiver, Dave Klemic from Northeastern, is creating opportunity for himself. After the morning practice in front of the whole team, Klemic beat Dante Hall in a 40-yard dash to settle who was faster. Then in the afternoon practice, Klemic reminded me of a young Ricky Proehl running precise routes and never dropping a ball.

The Chiefs got off to an 0-2 start last year and finished up the season with a disappointing loss to the 4-12 Falcons to go 7-9. That record cost Gunther Cunningham his job. Vermeil won't lose his job if the same things occur this season, but there is a good chance this team will battle to be a .500 team. To improve from last season, Vermeil must get his team to continue winning at home in front of the most loyal fans in the NFL and fix the road woes where the Chiefs went only 2-6 last year.

Pat Kirwan, who spent 12 years as a pro football coach, scout and personnel administrator, is an NFL analyst for CNN/Sports Illustrated and is a regular contributor to CNNSI.com.


I think this is a pretty good take on the Chiefs. What are your thoughts?


Hoover

Mark M
08-07-2001, 11:35 AM
Good to see a realistic take from someone in the national media. The Chiefs aren't as bad as they say and not as good as we all hope ... they are somewhere in the middle. In a few years this team will be very, very, very good.

Vermeil must get his team to continue winning at home in front of the most loyal fans in the NFL

I wonder what Packfan will have to type about that ... :rolleyes:

MM
~~Glad to see not all is doom and gloom.

htismaqe
08-07-2001, 11:38 AM
After the morning practice in front of the whole team, Klemic beat Dante Hall in a 40-yard dash to settle who was faster.

That pretty much seals Dante Hall's fate. His only chance was that he was fast.

Bob Dole
08-07-2001, 11:41 AM
After the first paragraph that pointed out poor TC fan attendance (like all 76,000 fans who attend the games have the time and $$ to drive to Wisconsin...), Bob Dole felt the rest of the article was fair.

Bob Dole
08-07-2001, 11:42 AM
Odd that Kirwan says Hall lost, but the players and coaches didn't declare a winner and called it a dead heat.

htismaqe
08-07-2001, 11:48 AM
Even then, Senator, it's a "win" for Klemic. If Dante blows him away, Dante wins. Anything less is a loss for Hall because he's just too much shorter than Klemic...

Logical
08-07-2001, 11:56 AM
Pat Kirwan just fell off Packfan's Christmas card list with that statement about most loyal fans in the NFL

Betting that any media guide that uses Pat Kirwan will not be found on Packfan's coffee table.

KCJohnny
08-07-2001, 01:12 PM
That's the best take on the 2001 Chiefs I've read so far.
I just hope he's right about using a two-wide, FB/HB/TE set and not all that 4 WR stuff.

KCJ

Packfan
08-07-2001, 01:15 PM
Logical,

You are absolutely right. "most loyal...." Talk about credibility! This guy has none. The Chief fans are the loudest, not the most loyal. We all know what happens when the Chiefs start losing.

Even Chief fans agree with me on this.

Tribal Warfare
08-07-2001, 01:18 PM
I love it . Ken is stopped dead in his tracks. :D

htismaqe
08-07-2001, 01:23 PM
Proctor,

Worry not. There's no way DV and Al are stupid enough to try running a Rams offense with our personnel.

You'll see plenty of power running and use of the TE. We'll be more like when Dallas or San Diego ran this offense...

alanm
08-07-2001, 01:26 PM
Hey! Who says were gonna start losing? :cool:

Logical
08-07-2001, 01:35 PM
Hey KCJ,

I have been telling you we would be running basically the San Diego version of this type of offense since at least March and would you listen to me or have some hope.

Now one sportswriter says it and you have hope? I am soooo hurt, LOL. :D

Told ya so ;)

Mark M
08-07-2001, 01:57 PM
Hey guys ... better not believe a word this guy wrote: Packfan disagreed with him! :eek:

His balanced approach to the article, his bringing up the good and bad in a realistic way without hype or doom is the exact opposite of good journalism.

Afterall, Pack is the essence of credibility. :rolleyes:

MM
~~Not surprised.

milkman
08-07-2001, 06:31 PM
Originally posted by Logical
Hey KCJ,

I have been telling you we would be running basically the San Diego version of this type of offense since at least March and would you listen to me or have some hope.

Now one sportswriter says it and you have hope? I am soooo hurt, LOL. :D

Told ya so ;)

He was to busy crying over the loss of Gunther to read your comments then.

Saggysack
08-08-2001, 12:14 AM
I have been saying this since KC signed Klemic....until now no one has listened


Klemic reminded me of a young Ricky Proehl running precise routes and never dropping a ball.

keg in kc
08-08-2001, 12:16 AM
I've been a big Klemic fan, too, Cooter. It looks like he's going to be delegated to the practice squad though, because he's coming along slowly on his route running.

Having JJ Moses doing so well on punt returns is probably costing him a roster spot - I hope nobody else snags him (player on the PS are unprotected as I recall).

Saggysack
08-08-2001, 12:24 AM
Yes PS players are unprotected, that is why i think Klemic has a better chance of making the roster than Moses when it comes down to final cuts. Not many teams are going to be willing to p/u a speedy 5'6 reciever on the PS as opposed to a speedy 5'10 WR that has deep route running ability.

keg in kc
08-08-2001, 12:31 AM
There's an outside shot they could both make it, but I really think that Moses is going to be on the team if he looks good in the preseason running back kicks, and with Chris Thomas apparently burning up camp, that really only leaves room for 1 more guy:

Alexander, Mayes, Minnis, Horne, Thomas...???

And Larry Parker is still in the equation as well...

I'm still not sure they're planning on keeping Klemic. There's been virtually no mention of him with regards to special teams, and I don't think they'll be keeping a URFA at WR unless he has some specific skills pertaining to the special teams, and right now it looks like Moses has the advantage on that. Since Horne doesn't return punts, we need a punt returner...

Saggysack
08-08-2001, 12:47 AM
I agree that the Chiefs need a PR, but I feel that duty will eventually lead its way to D.Blaylock with his wiggle and speed. IMHO Moses is to much of a gamble come game time. Opposing CB's are going to take 1 look at the guy and simply smother him, but if his only use will be on special teams it will be hard to justify going into the season with 5 WR to an already depth challenged corps.

keg in kc
08-08-2001, 12:49 AM
I could be wrong, but I don't believe Blaylock has been fielding punts in practice. Just Hall, Parker and Moses.

Rausch
08-08-2001, 12:52 AM
Remind me why Horne can do kick returns but NOT punt returns???

:confused:

Saggysack
08-08-2001, 12:54 AM
If I am not mistaken Blaylock was fielding punts for the first few days of TC.

Saggysack
08-08-2001, 01:10 AM
Yes he has been fielding punts

This is from 7/28 (morning practice)

In the early morning special teams practice Virginia Tech alum Ricky Hall, second-year Chief Dante Hall, draft pick Derrick Blaylock, rookie J.J. Moses, and third-year receiver Larry Parker all took punt return practice from 12-year veteran Dan Stryzinski.

Again on 7/30 (afternoon practice)

During punt return drills rookie running back Derrick Blaylock had a muffed punt.

On 8/2, returned KO

Derrick Blaylock, Mike Cloud, Larry Parker, and Dante Hall all returned kickoffs this morning.

That was from the first week of TC

keg in kc
08-08-2001, 01:12 AM
Brad, I have no idea why, but he doesn't...

Cooter, he may have been doing punt returns all camp, and it might just be a matter of us getting scant info on the special teams. All I know is that I haven't heard Blaylock mentioned as a returner since he muffed a punt on the third day of camp or when he ran back kickoffs on the 6th day. But he may well be getting reps, the UWRF site doesn't seem to pay a lot of attention to the special teams except for the Tynes/Peterson battle.

Rausch
08-08-2001, 01:21 AM
Come to think of it, I haven't seen Horne's name on ANY article, or even mentioned returning Kickoffs or ANYTHING since his trade.....


Nothing......


I'm starting to wonder what we gained by even getting the guy...I have heard NO interview or article where DV even mentions the guy..

keg in kc
08-08-2001, 01:24 AM
He was a FA acquisition Brad, not a trade.

He's had a hamstring injury since early in camp. Nothing serious, but he's not playing because they don't want it to become something serious...

I think today was the first day he's suited up in at least a week.

I'm not too worried, the guy's been the best kick returner in the NFL for 2 years, and I think we're lucky to have him

Rausch
08-08-2001, 01:27 AM
My bad, his "rights" were traded and he was then allowed to sign as a free agent...


He was traded..:o



Still, no word on ANYTHING this guy has done, as a wr or kick/punt returner...

keg in kc
08-08-2001, 01:39 AM
I haven't seen much either:

Monday - The Chiefs' injury list was reduced by six as wide receivers Derrick Alexander, "Snoop" Minnis, and Tony Horne as well as defensive linemen Steve Martin and John Browning and tight end Jason Dunn all returned to practice. However, Alexander, who was out with a sore Achilles' tendon tweaked an ankle during seven-on-seven drills this morning.

Receiver Tony Horne who has been injured the past few days due to a hamstring strain was doing some light jogging during practice

Wide receiver Tony Horne (hamstring) did some work in the morning but sat out in the afternoon


He didn't practice Tuesday though.

I'm fine with that, you don't push a hammy.

mcan
08-08-2001, 05:20 AM
He was a *restricted* free agent. Which means that the Rams could have matche any offer out there. It appeared they would, but after the 1st round trade, the Rams agreed that they would let the Chiefs sign him as a free agent without any interferance.

htismaqe
08-08-2001, 08:58 AM
Don't dismiss JJ Moses, especially if you've never seen him play.

He played quite well against some real good defenses. It's hard for a corner to smother him if they can't get ahold of him.

Hoover
08-08-2001, 09:07 AM
Plus he seems like a good kid. Living in Iowa I have heard him on the radio talking about drug prevention and stuff, I like what a hear.

Hoover