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BigRedChief
07-18-2008, 08:03 AM
Inside Slant


• As opposed to his second NFL season last year, Brodie Croyle (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7834/;_ylt=Amu79gHFdANiRcHt4dc.3dXsrZJ4) will begin this year’s Chiefs camp as the designated starting quarterback.

Now all he has to do is prove that he deserves to keep the spot.

Croyle doesn’t come into the job with a world of credits on his ledger. He was, after all, 0-6 as a starter last year. He failed to beat out incumbent starter Damon Huard (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/4180/;_ylt=Atnj07kgBOsLN0H_SVZGrKjsrZJ4) in training camp, and jumped into the starting role only when a battered Huard had to sit down after the first nine games.
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Playing amid the same difficult circumstances that got Huard beat up—a rebuilding offensive line, no Larry Johnson (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6363/;_ylt=Ak8uhqoOQKVBkmqN7dAH6ZPsrZJ4)-led running game, few weapons beyond Tony Gonzalez (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/3950/;_ylt=AhlmVqGnEouSLu.4WApElEHsrZJ4) and promising rookie WR Dwayne Bowe (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8277/;_ylt=ApwPpl_JICBXA58hw9egvBPsrZJ4)—Croyle didn’t have a lot of help as he amassed only a 69.9 QB rating on 56.7 percent passing accuracy with six TDs and six INTs. He was sacked 17 times in his six starts. A back injury caused him to miss a week after his first two starts, bringing back long-standing questions about his durability that date back to his Alabama years.

But now the job is Croyle’s to lose. He was the starting QB from Day One of spring drills. The Chiefs liked what they saw of Croyle in Chan Gailey’s new power-running offense, but who doesn’t like what they see in spring intramural drills?

Croyle knows better than anyone that he has to justify the team’s confidence in him early in the 2008 campaign.

“You can only believe in something so much until you go out there and prove it,” he said.

“I can have good OTAs and mini-camps and a great training camp, even a great preseason, but it doesn’t really mean much until you go out there and start winning football games. Only then is the offense going to hang onto every word you say because you’re the quarterback. You don’t really call it your team, your huddle, until you go out and win.”

Camp Calendar: The Chiefs will leave for their 18th camp in River Falls, Wis., a commuter community of the Twin Cities, on Thursday, July 24. They will conduct their first practice on Friday, July 25. The highlight of camp will be a joint workout with the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday, Aug. 1 during which Jared Allen (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6885/;_ylt=AmXaLtfQR3wUf4.VfwzjXE_srZJ4) will work against his former teammates. The Chiefs will break camp on Friday, Aug. 15, before their second preseason game.

Notes, Quotes


• Former cornerback Emmett Thomas, who on Aug. 3 will become the ninth member of the Chiefs organization (six players, owner Lamar Hunt and coach Hank Stram) to inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will have his No. 18 jersey retired and receive his Hall of Fame ring during a ceremony Oct. 19 before Kansas City’s game with Tennessee.

Thomas, who played 13 seasons in Kansas City from 1966-78, was a part of both of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl teams. He was one of two selections made by the Hall of Fame’s Senior’s Committee. He led the NFL in interceptions with a team record 12 in 1974 after leading the old AFL in picks with nine in the 1969 Super Bowl championship season.

Thomas will become the ninth Chiefs player to have his number retired. The others are K Jan Stenerud (3), QB Len Dawson (16), RB Abner Haynes (28), RB Stone Johnson (33), RB Mack Lee Hill (36), LB Willie Lanier (63), LB Bobby Bell (78) and DT Buck Buchanan (86).

Stenerud, Dawson, Lanier, Bell and Buchanan also are members of the Hall of Fame, as is Oakland and KC running back Marcus Allen.

Quote To Note: “We’re going to have a whole training camp, a whole preseason where we’re hoping it’s going to be the same offensive line and they can gel, get used to each other and get used to me. I’ve just got to drop back, sit there and believe, and I truly believe I’ll be fine.”—Quarterback Brodie Croyle, on playing behind an offensive line in which four of five spring starters had few or any NFL snaps at new positions.

Strategy And Personnel


The Chiefs have now signed five of their draftees, leaving seven unsigned players—four of them potential starters or situational regulars—just one week before reporting to their River Falls, Wis., training camp.

The new additions are WR/KR Kevin Robinson (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8959/;_ylt=AgtSvXx75pKJ8PsCmmgTZ6jsrZJ4), a sixth-round pick out of Utah State who will compete primarily for a returner’s job; and DE Brian Johnston (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8987/;_ylt=AlHJw8GxhLg8DP31NjMDeDzsrZJ4), a seventh-round pick who saw some time as a rush end in the first-team nickel during spring drills.

The Chiefs had previously signed WR Will Franklin, a fourth-round pick who could contend for the No. 2 or 3 receiver position; CB Brandon Carr (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8906/;_ylt=AgcJd65.X3tdwuRJBhz_85nsrZJ4), a fourth-round pick who might play on the first-team nickel; and T Barry Richardson (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8947/;_ylt=AsH0jO.72jN9XZ7HPB.RMGzsrZJ4), a sixth-round pick who has a chance of being a backup right tackle.

Still unsigned are top pick Glenn Dorsey (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8782/;_ylt=ApTjOwxh2ALyM_Z0Qi2un1LsrZJ4), the LSU defensive tackle drafted fifth overall; Branden Albert (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8792/;_ylt=Ar_AxVUQEntxLgUZr4CJVZzsrZJ4), the No. 15 pick the Chiefs plan to start at left tackle; Brandon Flowers (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8812/;_ylt=AiEF6qbaNDFs2lFBUKcZICLsrZJ4), the 35th player taken who likely will start at right corner; Brad Cottam (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8853/;_ylt=AhPx2irjmOHcxkMpkt5L5fbsrZJ4), a third-round tight end likely to start in double tight end formations; Jamaal Charles (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8850/;_ylt=Am4S0E7ch25uk31.KBWR..nsrZJ4), a running back taken in the third round; DeJuan Morgan, a safety drafted in the third round; and TE Michael Merritt, a seventh-round pick.

Of the unsigned group, Dorsey, Albert and Flowers worked almost exclusively with first-team units, and Cottam played with the No. 1s in two tight end formations, which the Chiefs will employ heavily.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED

• WR Will Franklin (4/105): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

• CB Brandon Carr (5/140); 3 yrs, terms unknown.

• OT Barry Richardson (6/170): 3 yrs, terms unknown.

• WR Kevin Robinson (6/182): 3 yrs, terms unknown.

• DE Brian Johnston (7/210): 3 yrs, terms unknown.
DRAFT CHOICES UNSIGNED

• DT Glenn Dorsey (1/5).

• OT Branden Albert (1/15).

• CB Brandon Flowers (2/35).

• RB Jamaal Charles (3/73).

• TE Brad Cottam (3/76).

• S DaJuan Morgan (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8859/;_ylt=AvTx6t66RsJ1Qi2Iq0bgZ5bsrZJ4) (3/82).

• TE Mike Merritt (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/9016/;_ylt=AuLQyN_kYp0HpB_28JGU0sTsrZJ4) (7/239).

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

Quarterback: Starter—Brodie Croyle. Backups—Damon Huard, Tyler Thigpen (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8471/;_ylt=AoTKQQbGcI2uQKUjqttSY_XsrZJ4).

Croyle will get his best chance to show he is the quarterback of the future the team thinks he can be. That’s a lot of confidence put in a third-year player who has yet to win a game in six starts. Croyle was severely handicapped last year by an injury-ridden offensive line and the absence of injured running back Larry Johnson, and his 69.9 passer rating reflects those problems. He seldom had time to throw, so his 6-to-6 TD-to-INT ratio wasn’t surprising. But he was the Chiefs’ top guy all spring, and the job is his to lose. Second-year player Tyler Thigpen will try to surpass veteran Damon Huard for the backup spot, but the Chiefs still need a steady hand like Huard’s should the injury-prone Croyle go down.

Running Backs: Starter—RB Larry Johnson. Backups—RB Kolby Smith (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8402/;_ylt=ApBVF_SlWxPHZb9sP5gWD9PsrZJ4), RB Jamaal Charles, FB Mike Cox, FB Oliver Hoyte (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8023/;_ylt=AkeyGW0Oy.SSoowIc_USfXzsrZJ4), FB Steven Jackson (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players;_ylt=Auq_CDvc.rxELsR1qzcHDdvsrZJ4?type=lastname&first=1&query=Steven+Jackson&q=Steven+Jackson), RB Jackie Battle (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8739/;_ylt=AirQ9E2af8H51uD9GQsTo4fsrZJ4).

Johnson seems to be fully recovered from the fractured bone in his foot that caused him to miss eight games last year and limited his carries to 158 tries netting 559 yards. Still, that’s only a 3.5-yard average prior to his injury—hardly what was expected of a back who averaged 5.2 and 4.3 in his previous two seasons when he exceeded 1,750 yards in each. Whether LJ can again be the back of 2005 and ‘06, especially when working behind a rebuilding offensive line, is a key question this season. Smith had a strong start as his replacement—150 yards vs. Oakland in his first game as a starter—but also ended up with only a 3.4 average. Rookie speedster Charles will push him for the backup spot. A true fullback failed to emerge from spring drills, and new coordinator Chan Gailey may have to use two tight ends instead of two backs. Underrated rookie Cox, who played for Gailey at Georgia Tech last year, may be the leading candidate, though Jackson will press him and Hoyte.

Tight Ends: Starter—Tony Gonzalez. Backups—Brad Cottam, Michael Allen.

Gonzalez showed few signs of wear and tear at age 31 last year. He again led the Chiefs in receiving with 99 catches, second-best in his career only to his 102-catch season in 2004 when he set the NFL single-season receptions record for a tight end. His 820 career catches are the most of any NFL tight end, and he needs only 179 yards to pass Shannon Sharpe’s league record for receiving yards (10,060). Gonzalez can still make the tough catch despite double teaming, but the attention he draws in the red zone make catching touchdowns (only five in each of the past two seasons) especially difficult. Rookie Cottam looks like a polished blocker who can replace the vanquished Jason Dunn (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/3509/;_ylt=AkdxA8V3p8QBy2Z67L5JkP3srZJ4), who was essentially a valued sixth offensive lineman during his KC years. Cottam, who needs to work on catching the ball better, could see a lot of playing time in the two tight end formations Gailey may have to employ heavily.

Wide Receivers: Starters—Dwayne Bowe, Devard Darling (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6841/;_ylt=AhmKQo3mC2Vjgvin.FvfFs7srZJ4). Backups—Jeff Webb (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7939/;_ylt=Ar.40u9G2KIio1_hMQMf_ILsrZJ4), Will Franklin, Bobby Sippio (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8522/;_ylt=AkHeRrFBOHDcPCxyjDJf72vsrZJ4), Maurice Price, Kevin Robinson.

Bowe, KC’s top draft pick in 2007, had an outstanding start with 70 catches and 995 yards to lead all rookies in both receptions and yards. He demonstrated a consistent ability to make the tough catch and established himself as a wideout with a big future. But finding a solid No. 2 wideout will be a chore. Darling was one of KC’s few free-agent acquisitions, but he was more of a special teams player at Baltimore where he had only 20 career receptions in four years. Webb had turns as KC’s No. 2 last year, but he used the opportunity to catch only 28 passes. Rookie Franklin, a fourth-round pick out of Missouri, has a solid spring and should press the vets for playing time.

Offensive Line: Starters—LT Branden Albert, LG Brian Waters (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/5349/;_ylt=AoDeirrYAvEzwfxNJr9uGBrsrZJ4), C Rudy Niswanger (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8036/;_ylt=AiyXULPRI02DI79DhbTv2GfsrZJ4), RG Adrian Jones (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6891/;_ylt=AhaSU_giTyoKinq8cEZQ_83srZJ4), RT Damien McIntosh. Backups—T Will Svitek (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7363/;_ylt=As_RufgnO1M3QgTCvmvy2J3srZJ4), T Anthony Alabi (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7338/;_ylt=Anzb6ypL3YWzu5bHBBQPnH_srZJ4), T Will Svitek, G Herb Taylor (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8450/;_ylt=ApQMZXRPKDOemeuNpMSY5a_srZJ4), C Wade Smith (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6414/;_ylt=AklFUXlmnGjGV0zjcyu_fsnsrZJ4), G Tre Stallings (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7935/;_ylt=ArbRVqd8otLrIn6G2GbmQBfsrZJ4), T Barry Richardson.

Of the prospective starting linemen, only Waters, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, has extended time at his position. All four others have little or no NFL time at their spots. Albert is the team’s “1A” draft pick, the 15th player taken overall who will be thrown into the open waters at left tackle and told to swim. He played mainly at the left guard position at Virginia. McIntosh was a capable left tackle for nine seasons before being shifted to the right side for the first time in his career. Jones was primarily a tackle for coach Herm Edwards’ Jets, but has seen spot play up and down the line and will be tried at right guard. Niswanger was showing flashes last year before a December knee injury forced him out after seeing time in five games on offense. Even then, he was primarily a guard. Backups have little proven experience. Svitek started in four of 13 games last year at both tackles, but his play is a mixed review on a good day.

Defensive Line: Starters—LE Alfonso Boone (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/5283/;_ylt=AoKbNpE2Ciwpj1OvOouRtAfsrZJ4), LT Ron Edwards (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/5523/;_ylt=AtMBJ70yqmCOnNwlwGKQklDsrZJ4), RT Glenn Dorsey, RE Tamba Hali (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7769/;_ylt=AqxktnMoF5b44.zO6dMdgU_srZJ4). Backups—E/T Turk McBride (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8308/;_ylt=AneAuGyuHBInWUXFz8qwbRHsrZJ4), T Tank Tyler (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8336/;_ylt=Av.slMmeIE1m86KU_n3FDPHsrZJ4), T T.J. Jackson (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8029/;_ylt=Ah_T2swV9WHGI7oUzD0MSrPsrZJ4), E Brian Johnston.

Kansas City’s pre-draft trade of NFL sack leader Jared Allen to Minnesota got the Chiefs three draft picks (one first, two thirds) and an unsettled defensive line. Hali, who has 15.5 sacks in his first two seasons at the LE spot, will shift to Allen’s vacated right side. Boone will shift from tackle to LE, where he could offer better point-of-attack resistance than Hali did. First-round draft pick Dorsey (5th overall), if he plays like anything close to the player who won every interior lineman and defensive player award there was to win at LSU, could provide a pocket pass rush that compensates some for Allen’s loss. He also should fortify a rush defense that ranked only 28th last year. McBride and Tyler, second- and third-round draft picks last year, really need to step up in their sophomore seasons. McBride will be pushed for the LE spot in the nickel by rookie Johnston, a Division 1-AA player (like Allen) who had a strong spring.

Linebackers: Starters—OLB Derrick Johnson (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players;_ylt=Au5pqTN1u18Md9I8.h.R8pDsrZJ4?type=lastname&first=1&query=Derrick+Johnson&q=Derrick+Johnson), MLB Napoleon Harris (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/5909/;_ylt=AilU3HlSl1QrXiyrDelxsdnsrZJ4), OLB Donnie Edwards (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/3637/;_ylt=AjzizYfxwSaZJcTNfpby5ufsrZJ4). Backups—Demorrio Williams (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6860/;_ylt=Ar9UG5t23AlAl.DpMvByen3srZJ4), Nate Harris (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8553/;_ylt=AvKXEIdD9_fhnMOj4UU8ulzsrZJ4), Johnny Baldwin (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8412/;_ylt=AhZkKUvJwKYbRcdPaTLyj5fsrZJ4), Pat Thomas (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7370/;_ylt=AgWhq9WHpZruz1Lf1655ckLsrZJ4), Steve Octavien.

Positions aren’t written in stone here. Edwards finally showed his age (34 last year) and the wear and tear of 12 stalwart seasons in 2007. He will be pushed by free-agent acquisition Williams, KC’s biggest veteran pickup. Napoleon Harris led the Chiefs with a career-high 123 tackles, but even then his play wasn’t as consistent as the Chiefs need from an MLB that has major pass coverage responsibilities in the Cover Two. Johnson shows occasional flashes of brilliance—a team-high 16 tackles for losses last year—but then disappears for long stretches. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham now coaches the LBs as well, and he rode Edwards and Napoleon Harris loud and long all spring. Other than Williams, however, there are no proven reserves.

Defensive Backs: Starters—LCB Pat Surtain, SS Bernard Pollard (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7803/;_ylt=AgLMPAVUiR2DXsdS2okJw5XsrZJ4), FS Jarrad Page (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7977/;_ylt=AttdHIgdV8xUgaDqzTRqpHPsrZJ4), RCB Brandon Flowers. Backups—CB Tyrone Brackenridge, CB Dimitri Patterson (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7516/;_ylt=Agy9HPYTO2tufAIGhkwGbqnsrZJ4), CB Brandon Carr, S Jon McGraw (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/5943/;_ylt=AhNL5FZP8XrkiaDT1lH23zDsrZJ4), S DeJuan Morgan, CB Maurice Leggett.

Rookie Flowers, a second-round draft pick (35th overall) from Virginia Tech, was thrown immediately into the RCB spot vacated by Ty Law (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/3188/;_ylt=AiQpW0Uo5ZP_31wCyDvynnHsrZJ4) during spring drills. Ready or not, he showed flashes and likely will be the guy. Surtain is showing signs of age (32 this year) and 10 seasons at the other spot. He remains the best of the CB crew, but his starting spot isn’t written in stone. Brackenridge, who saw extended action last year as a rookie, missed offseason drills while recovering from a December knee injury, and his spot in the nickel was played by rookie Carr from Division II power Grand Valley State. Page, a two-year starter at free safety since midway through his 2006 rookie season, also missed spring drills while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He’s had six picks in his first two seasons. Pollard is a close-quarters hitter who misses too many open-field tackles. Not a good risk-reward gamble, and he could be pushed by rookie third-round pick Howard before the year is over.

Special Teams: P Dustin Colquitt (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7275/;_ylt=AvDD8X3jt7VN9YmIOBeHT1_srZJ4), K Nick Novak (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7505/;_ylt=As2s6GI0mS813hmLoicrpAnsrZJ4)/Connor Barth, LS John-Phillippe Darche, KR Kolby Smith/Jamaal Charles, PR B.J. Sams (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7061/;_ylt=Arrc5o0aMS6B6SfJ0ofgqI3srZJ4)/Kevin Robinson.

Colquitt’s 95 punts last year (fourth most in team history) averaged 45.5 gross (seventh-best in the league) and 39.1 net (fifth). He was one of KC’s most consistent weapons. Journeyman kicker Novak will battle North Carolina rookie Barth during camp for kicking duties, but the winner shouldn’t feel real secure. KC went through three kickers last year. KC’s return game was just awful in ‘07 with the deposed Eddie Drummond (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6182/;_ylt=Ag4cIPXDjAHpToAnqFocqSLsrZJ4) handling both duties, so KC may divide them up this year. Smith is a tough runner, rookie Charles the speedster who will vie for kickoff return duties. Sams was good early in his career at early in his career at Baltimore before falling off. Robinson, a sixth-round draft pick, set an NCAA all-purpose yardage record at Utah State.

BigRedChief
07-18-2008, 08:09 AM
Adam Teicher writing for the Sporting news.
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Armed with ample salary-cap space and a list of free agents who could have helped them reload immediately, the Kansas City Chiefs (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/teams/kan/;_ylt=AuQMnOvupFxSeJTnujVN8MgZc9AF) opted for a different path. They were largely bystanders during free agency, content to pass on the chance to spark a quick turnaround for a franchise that has quickly turned stale.

The team even traded defensive end Jared Allen (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6885/;_ylt=AtGONTPoncUdKOgmOb_94BYZc9AF), the NFL’s reigning sack leader and arguably its best player, for a package of draft choices.
And so the 2008 season was sacrificed in hopes of a better future, as the Chiefs went about rebuilding from the ground up in the NFL draft. As many as three rookies could find a starting role by Week 1, and several others figure to see the field.

With the growing pains that the influx of youth in place of proven talent will undoubtedly bring, the season might be better judged by progress from start to finish than wins and losses.


In other words, there’s little hope for the immediate future. At best, the goal should be a postseason berth in 2009.
Offense
New coordinator Chan Gailey will build his system around the power running game and abilities of Larry Johnson (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6363/;_ylt=Ak8uhqoOQKVBkmqN7dAH6ZMZc9AF). While the Chiefs will throw downfield at times, they will also make use of underneath passes that take advantage of Dwayne Bowe (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/8277/;_ylt=AlW3v65yiHDwy2FqXmMy.NoZc9AF)’s ability to run after the catch.
Gailey’s system is an easy one to learn, which is an important asset for a unit in transition.
Defense
The Chiefs predominantly play Cover 2, but as long as Gunther Cunningham runs the defense, they will blitz frequently in an effort to disrupt the quarterback. Cunningham will coach the linebackers this season, a sign that he wasn’t happy with the production there in 2007.
Overall, the Chiefs missed too many tackles and were occasionally out of position. The front seven consists mostly of veterans, but the secondary boasts plenty of youth.
Breakout candidate
Defensive end Tamba Hali (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/7769/;_ylt=Avs7wIVuLa7AgNRhQfYWqBoZc9AF): Hali didn’t play as well last year as he did in 2006, when he was a rookie. But he played through nagging injuries, some of which should have kept him from the lineup.
If Hali can stay healthy, he should be able to take the next step in his development.
Bottom line
The ambitious rebuilding project the Chiefs have assumed precludes them from a playoff run. Too many things need to fall into place too quickly.
The offense must adapt to Gailey and his new system. Croyle has to give the Chiefs more than he did last year. Numerous rookies and other young players have to grow up quickly.

It’s unreasonable to expect all of that to happen. A more reasonable expectation is for the Chiefs to become more competitive as the season wears on.
SN prediction: 5-11, third in AFC West.

BigRedChief
07-18-2008, 08:11 AM
Gretz on KC Chiefs .com

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What to expect from the Oakland Raiders?
The sideshow never seems to end with the boys that once had pride and poise. Last season, the Raiders actually seemed to make some progress under first-year coach Lane Kiffin. There was a better attitude and the Raiders actually ran the ball on offense. Going into last season, they were judicious in signing free agents and did not throw around a lot of big money. The franchise seemed headed in the right direction.
That was last year. This is now.

After the 4-12 season Kiffin’s job was in jeopardy on a daily basis this spring. Back in January it looked like he was out when the Raiders staff coached in the Senior Bowl game. Kiffin was so sure that his time was limited; he worked all week in Mobile wearing shirts and jackets without the Raiders logo.

But in the strange world that revolves around Al Davis, the Raiders head coach remains Kiffin. And this year, without a real general manager in place, Oakland spent money in free agency like a drunken sailor on shore leave. Overall, along with the deal given first-round choice Darren McFadden, the Raiders committed to over $300 million in deals for just seven players. Here are two examples.
Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly missed the last nine games of the 2007 season with an ACL knee injury. That didn’t stop the Raiders from giving him a new contract, including over $18 million in guaranteed money. Kelly had one sack in the seven games he played last year. His money matched the contract given by the Chicago Bears to DT Tommie Harris, who had eight sacks and a Pro Bowl berth last year.

Then there was WR Javon Walker coming off multiple knee surgeries in the last two years who was signed to a big-money deal after he was released by Denver. He got $16 million in guaranteed money from the Raiders. With that money, and again trying to come back off knee problems, Walker was partying in Las Vegas back in June when he was beaten and robbed. Despite his broken jaw, the Raiders say he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.

There was also big money for disgruntled CB DeAngelo Hall, who came out of Atlanta where he wore out his welcome with his attitude and poor play. Hall was a typical Raiders signing: a highly talented player with a record of being hard to handle.
In the middle of all this is second-year QB JaMarcus Russell, who is set to begin the season as the Raiders starter. Russell’s rookie season was derailed when he missed all of the pre-season in a contract dispute. He ended up with minimal playing time, throwing two touchdowns compared to four interceptions in 66 passing attempts.

Russell will be helped if the Raiders continue to run the football, which they should be able to do with the addition of first-round draft choice Darren McFadden. Last year, Justin Fargas became the workhorse back for Oakland and he responded with a 1,000-yard season. He also got himself a new contract in the off-season. A two-headed combination of Fargas and McFadden, with a possible contribution from Michael Bush makes for a powerful running game.

When it comes to targets, Russell hopes to have Walker and a healthy Ronald Curry, who led the team last year with 55 catches for 717 yards. Also added was free agent WR Drew Carter out of Carolina (Tight end Zach Miller had a nice rookie season in ‘07, with 44 catches for 444 yards.

The Raiders have been trying to piece together an effective offensive line for several seasons. This year, they added free agent Kwame Harris at left tackle and free agent Jon Wade at center. The right tackle spot is a battle between veteran Cornell Green and untested Mario Henderson.

Defensively the Raiders went backwards last season. Oakland was 31st in the league against the run, allowing an average of 145.9 yards per game. Ten different running backs ran for more than 100 yards against them. They were 26th in points allowed, giving up 24.9 points per game.

Gone are DT Warren Sapp, DE Tyler Brayton, CB Fabian Washington and S Stuart Schweigert. Defense is where the Raiders focused in free agency, with five players added, including Hall and FS Gibril Wilson from the New York Giants who will move into the starting lineup.

On special teams, kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler are one of the strongest pairs in the league. Returner Chris Carr had a so-so year in ‘07 and left in free agency, so the Raiders must find a replacement.

OAKLAND RAIDERS
• First Full Camp Practice: July 24th.
• Site of Camp: Napa, California.
• Added to the Roster: WR Javon Walker, CB DeAngelo Hall, FS Gibril Wilson, LT Kwame Harris, C Jon Wade, WR Drew Carter, DT William Joseph, DE Greg Spires, DE Kalimba Edwards.
• Off the Roster: QB Josh McCown (free agent), CB Fabian Washington (traded), T Barry Sims (free agent), S Stuart Schweigert (released), DT Warren Sapp (retired), WR Jerry Porter (free agent), C Jeremy Newberry (free agent), DB Chris Carr (free agent), DE Tyler Brayton (free agent) and RB Dominic Rhodes (free agent).
• Draft picks likely to contribute as rookies: RB Darren McFadden (1st-round) and CB Tyvon Branch (4th).
• Unresolved contract situations: franchise CB Nnamdi Asomugha and draft picks Branch, Arman Shields, Trevor Scott and Chaz Schilens.
• Unhappy Camper: Head coach Lane Kiffin. If we are to believe the rumors and stories out of Oakland and the NFL, Al Davis wants Kiffin out, but doesn’t want to pay him for the rest of his contract. Kiffin must have some air-tight language in that deal, because Davis still owes Mike Shanahan money from when he fired him as head coach.

blueballs
07-18-2008, 08:45 AM
Croyle didn’t have a lot of help as he amassed only a 69.9 QB rating on 56.7 percent passing accuracy with six TDs and six INTs. He was sacked 17 times in his six starts. A back injury caused him to miss a week after his first two starts, bringing back long-standing questions about his durability that date back to his Alabama years.

Trent Green 2001(before Roaf)

16 games-----17 tds-----24 ints-----39 sacks-----71.1 rating-----56.6pct

Trent Green 2006(after Roaf retires)

8 games------7 tds-----9 ints-----24 sacks-----74.1 rating-----61.1pct

Hays
07-18-2008, 09:53 AM
I believe Branch for the raiders is signed
and Schilens signed yesterday

Pasta Giant Meatball
07-18-2008, 10:00 AM
Croyle didn’t have a lot of help as he amassed only a 69.9 QB rating on 56.7 percent passing accuracy with six TDs and six INTs. He was sacked 17 times in his six starts. A back injury caused him to miss a week after his first two starts, bringing back long-standing questions about his durability that date back to his Alabama years.

Trent Green 2001(before Roaf)

16 games-----7 tds-----9 ints-----39 sacks-----71.1 rating-----56.6pct

Trent Green 2006(after Roaf retires)

8 games------17 tds-----24 ints-----24 sacks-----74.1 rating-----61.1pct

Green threw 7 TD's and 9 picks in 06...17 and 24 would be silly numbers
I remember Roaf missing a few games as well one year and the offense looking stagnant. The guy was a stud to say the least.

blueballs
07-18-2008, 10:18 AM
Green threw 7 TD's and 9 picks in 06...17 and 24 would be silly numbers
I remember Roaf missing a few games as well one year and the offense looking stagnant. The guy was a stud to say the least.

doh right stats - wrong years
01- 17/24 06 - 7/9
thanks for the heads up

Buehler445
07-18-2008, 12:45 PM
Thanks guys. This is the first I've heard of K Smith returning. Doesn't make much sense to me because he isn't fast and his hands aren't all that good. Did I miss something?

Rain Man
07-18-2008, 06:13 PM
Of the prospective starting linemen, only Waters, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, has extended time at his position. All four others have little or no NFL time at their spots. Albert is the team’s “1A” draft pick, the 15th player taken overall who will be thrown into the open waters at left tackle and told to swim. He played mainly at the left guard position at Virginia. McIntosh was a capable left tackle for nine seasons before being shifted to the right side for the first time in his career. Jones was primarily a tackle for coach Herm Edwards’ Jets, but has seen spot play up and down the line and will be tried at right guard. Niswanger was showing flashes last year before a December knee injury forced him out after seeing time in five games on offense. Even then, he was primarily a guard. Backups have little proven experience. Svitek started in four of 13 games last year at both tackles, but his play is a mixed review on a good day.



I hadn't thought about it this way, but our offensive line consists of:

a C moved to LG (Waters)
a LG moved to LT (Albert)
a LT moved to RT (McIntosh)
a RT moved to RG (Jones)
a RG moved to C (Niswanger)

Hey, Herm! Turn 45 degrees to your right, dummy!

RustShack
07-18-2008, 06:21 PM
I hadn't thought about it this way, but our offensive line consists of:

a C moved to LG (Waters)
a LG moved to LT (Albert)
a LT moved to RT (McIntosh)
a RT moved to RG (Jones)
a RG moved to C (Niswanger)

Hey, Herm! Turn 45 degrees to your right, dummy!

:)