View Full Version : Chiefs USA Today: Papa Herm may have to bounce rookies on his leg.

05-26-2008, 05:14 PM
Standard fare.


Chiefs have youthful energy, but QB question lingers
By Scott Zucker, USA TODAY

He spent 10 years as an NFL player, 17 years as an NFL coach including the last seven as a head man. But the experience that might serve Herm Edwards best this coming season is the time he's spent taking care of his children.

Edwards, entering his third season with the Kansas City Chiefs, will field one of the youngest rosters in the league. As part of a continuing youth movement, the Chiefs parted ways with several key veterans following last season's 4-12 disappointment. Defensive end Jared Allen, cornerback Ty Law and wide receiver Eddie Kennison were among the departed. Along the way, Kansas City ended up with 12 draft picks.

This shift is nothing new. Edwards knew he needed to make some changes when he arrived in Kansas City after spending five seasons with the New York Jets.

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"We had the oldest team in football," he says. "Last year, we came back with a veteran team again, and we had a lot of deals that didn't work out for us.

"Our mind-set was, whether it be sooner or later, we were going to be in a rebuilding mode."

Trading Allen to the Minnesota Vikings netted a first-round pick and two third-rounders. The Chiefs used that first-round pick to grab Virginia offensive lineman Branden Albert. Kansas City selected dominant LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey with its own first-rounder (No. 5 overall) and landed Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers in Round 2.

All three will likely start in Week 1, but many of their fellow NFL freshmen will be helping, too.

"I see maybe nine of these guys dressing on Sunday," Edwards says of his draft picks. "Our first-round picks the last few years have all started."

It wasn't always that way. Just four of the Chiefs' 24 picks between 2003-05 are still on the roster. But Edwards is convinced youth is the way to go.

"Young guys are going to make mistakes, but I've watched old guys make mistakes, and I don't know if they get better," he says. "They just keep getting older."

The youth movement has players such as linebacker Derrick Johnson, a 2005 first-rounder, suddenly finding himself in a leadership role. "I (need to) make plays on the field, but I also think I need to be more vocal," he says.

Both Johnson and Edwards believe that Dorsey will be a key addition to a defense that lost Allen's league-leading 15 sacks. "We felt this kid inside is a legitimate player," Edwards says of Dorsey. "That's how you build defenses anyway, from the inside out."

Johnson acknowledges the loss of Allen won't be easily overcome.

"Jared Allen was the sack leader; that's a big loss. We definitely need everyone to step up now," he says. "We're on the right track. I'm glad to pick up Glenn Dorsey; he'll help bring more pressure to the middle."

Johnson also envisions the linebacker corps becoming more involved in pressuring the quarterback. "We'll be calling more blitzes," he says. "I like that. Mix it up a little bit, get me on the edge, use my speed a little bit."

Things are even more unsettled on offense, where new coordinator Chan Gailey will search for answers from a unit that ranked next to last in the league in points (14.1 a game) and yards (276.8) and last in average rushing yards (78.0).

Quarterback Brodie Croyle struggled after taking over for Damon Huard last season. But Edwards, who did not select another quarterback in the draft, says it's Croyle's job to lose.

"He feels good that he's the guy," Edwards says of Croyle. "His whole deal is that he has to get through a whole season of playing quarterback without any nicks or bumps or bruises. He's going to have his ups and downs; they all do. But I think he learned a lot last year having to play.

"Now we've got to surround him with some players where he has that ability to find out if he can do it."

The other huge offensive question is star tailback Larry Johnson. After he rushed for more than 3,500 yards between 2005-06, a broken foot limited him to eight games and 559 yards in 2007.

"He's running around; he feels good," Edwards says of Johnson. "That was a big part of our offense (gone) when he got hurt.

"But Larry's in pretty good shape right now for a guy who went through what he went through."

Not that Johnson was tearing it up before his injury, having been limited to 3.5 yards a carry. Both Johnson's and Croyle's struggles can, in part, be chalked up to an offensive line in transition.

Once the strength of the Chiefs, the unit was devastated by age and retirements in recent years. Guard Brian Waters and tackle Damion McIntosh are the lone veteran holdovers. "Branden Albert is going to help us," Edwards says.

There were a few bright spots on offense. Tony Gonzalez remains one of the league's premier tight ends. Kansas City also appears to have found a top-flight receiver in Dwayne Bowe.

Edwards says he knows what needs to be fixed, and it's not that complicated. "We didn't play smart," he says. "We were penalized a bunch, more than I've ever been penalized as a coach before.

"We turned the ball over way too much; you can't win that way. Those things don't involve talent. We can fix that, and we have to fix it if we're going to be successful."


Quarterback: Brodie Croyle enters the season as the starter. Playing behind a shaky line and without the benefit of star running back Larry Johnson, Croyle didn't exactly light it up in his six starts last season. He must make strides in 2008. But Croyle is coach Herm Edwards' hand-picked guy and figures only to yield to veteran Damon Huard in the event of injury.

Running back: A healthy Johnson can take a lot of pressure off of Croyle. The two-time Pro Bowler twice established franchise records by rushing for 1,750 (in nine starts) and 1,789 yards in 2005 and 2006, respectively. But it all went wrong in 2007 as a broken foot sidelined him for half of the season. Backup Kolby Smith did a decent job filling in. The Chiefs added speed and depth by selecting Texas' Jamaal Charles in the third round of the draft.

Wide receiver: After spending years looking for a go-to receiver, the Chiefs might have finally found their man. Dwayne Bowe led all rookies last year in receptions (70) and receiving yards (995). On the other side, the nominal starter is third-year man Jeff Webb, but he will have to fight off Devard Darling, imported from the Baltimore Ravens.

Tight end: Kansas City's top receiving option remains Tony Gonzalez. The 12-year veteran enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2007 and remains among the game's best at his position, showing no signs of slowing down.

Offensive line: This has been a unit in flux since the retirements of Willie Roaf and Will Shields. Guard Brian Waters is back, but there could be three starters who never have played a full season. Branden Albert, one of the team's two first-round picks, is expected to help immediately, either at tackle or guard.

Defensive line: The departure of Jared Allen will be severely felt in the pass rush. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham will look to Tamba Hali to try to replace Allen's league-leading 15 sacks. Hali moves from left end to Allen's old right-side spot. There are equally high expectations of rookie tackle Glenn Dorsey, who's being counted on to step in and provide a Warren Sapp-like presence.

Linebacker: Perhaps the most stable unit on the team. Napoleon Harris and Donnie Edwards were the top tacklers last year, and Derrick Johnson is an emerging talent. Free agent Demorrio Williams has been added and will relegate Harris to reserve duty.

Secondary: This is another area where the Chiefs have gotten younger. Cornerback Patrick Surtain is the lone remaining graybeard now that Ty Law is gone. Herm Edwards dips into the 2008 draft class again for Law's replacement, second-rounder Brandon Flowers. The safety spots will be manned by improving third-year players, Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard.

Special teams: Punter Dustin Colquitt and the coverage team were the bright spots. The return game struggled mightily, but free agent B.J. Sams should help, provided he stays healthy. The kicking game was equally bad in 2007 as three different players were cast in the role. Veterans Nick Novak and Billy Cundiff are competing for the job this year.

Coaching staff: Herm Edwards went with the veterans when he arrived in 2006 but now is intent on getting a younger look. Edwards appears to have the confidence of general manager Carl Peterson and looks to be secure.

Outlook: An overhauled roster stocked with a plethora of rookies might translate to more growing pains and a season closer to last year's 4-12 than the nine- and 10-win campaigns that preceded it.

05-26-2008, 05:14 PM


05-26-2008, 05:36 PM
Trading Allen to the Minnesota Vikings netted a first-round pick and two third-rounders. The Chiefs used that first-round pick + the fifth round pick from trading Trent Green to Miami to grab Virginia offensive lineman Branden Albert. Kansas City selected dominant LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey with its own first-rounder (No. 5 overall) and landed Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers in Round 2.


05-26-2008, 07:21 PM
Almost sounds like a real NFL team. Build through the draft and pickup some free agents along the way. We'll find a way to f**k it up I have no doubt!! Maybe though just maybe Herm can keep Carl locked up and try to succeed the way everybody else does it.

05-26-2008, 07:32 PM
It looks like a typical national media piece that just gives a broad picture, but doesn't really do any research.