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Tribal Warfare
11-16-2008, 05:58 AM
Now what, Larry? While you were gone, your team changed — for the better (http://www.kansascity.com/sports/chiefs/story/892745.html)
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star

Chan Gailey is the man who orchestrates the Chiefs’ offense, so it’s his job to understand how the introduction of various parts will affect the performance of the whole, for better or for worse.

He spends early mornings, late nights and the hours in between at work. Last week, his project was to figure how the return of Larry Johnson would impact the Chiefs and their suddenly robust offense.

But as the week wound down, Gailey was still as curious as anyone else.

“I don’t have a great feel for it,” admitted Gailey, the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator. “We are headed in a certain direction on offense. We hope he will fit into the direction we’re going right now.”

Amid his benching by the Chiefs and an NFL suspension for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy, Johnson missed four games. Since he’s been gone, the Chiefs changed their offense from one based around a power running game to one centered on the talents of quarterback Tyler Thigpen.

The Chiefs frequently spread the field with receivers, use the shotgun formation and work without a huddle. While they are far from explosive, they are at least consistent.

The Chiefs have scored at least 19 points in each of the last three games. That might not sound like much, but they hadn’t managed that meager feat since the 2006 season.

They’re in no mood to head back to what they were before Johnson’s absence.

“We’re settled now at the quarterback position,” Gailey said. “We’ve got some continuity on the offensive line. A lot of things have worked positively together for us in the last few weeks to give us at least a better direction. The plan is for Larry to add to that, not subtract from that.”

Obviously, Johnson is coming back to a different world, beginning with today’s game against New Orleans at Arrowhead Stadium. Coach Herm Edwards wouldn’t even say whether Johnson would start today.

“He’ll be part of it,” Edwards said. “I think he understands that. He knows that is what we do now. It’s nothing against him, nothing against anybody. I think you adjust to what your players do well. I think what we had to learn — and what we knew all the time, even in the preseason — is that (Thigpen) felt comfortable in (the spread) situation. If it’s about the system and not the players, you end up going down the wrong road. You start out with a system, but the system has to be adjusted to the players you have. Tyler feels very comfortable in what he’s doing and, I think, has given us the best opportunity to move the ball, get first downs and score. We’re rolling that way and not turning back.

“(Johnson will) be fine. He’s a good runner, and we’ll do some things with him in the backfield. He’s another offensive weapon for us. We’re not going to change what we do for the next seven weeks, and hopefully we’ll improve on it.”

As always with Johnson, the issue has many layers. The Chiefs, before his NFL suspension, indicated that Johnson hadn’t been in any frame of mind to be preparing for and playing in football games.

His legal troubles are still pending, so has that changed? Johnson didn’t answer questions last week.

And how will Johnson react to being a lesser part of the offense? Will he pout and drag his teammates down with him?

There is little doubt that the Chiefs’ running game has plenty of room for growth. Even as the offense has improved with Thigpen, the Chiefs were only able to get much done when running the ball two weeks ago against Tampa Bay.

In San Diego last week, the Chiefs lacked so much confidence in their runners that they handed to a back just 16 times in a game in which they seldom trailed.

Thigpen, meanwhile, tried 41 passes. That’s hardly what a Herm Edwards offense is expected to look like, so the Chiefs could certainly use Johnson.

“Where they are offensively has a lot to do with the fact Larry wasn’t available to them,” said former Baltimore coach Brian Billick, the Fox TV analyst for today’s game. “If he’s coming back to them, I would be very surprised if they did not indeed come back a little bit to what he does best. He’s still probably their best player next to Tony Gonzalez. I’m not sure they won’t get back to the ‘I’ and do some of those things he does best.

“That’s not to say Larry Johnson can’t fit into what they’re doing. I’d just be surprised if Herm went another game with (16) rushes. I’m sure he’s looking for a more balanced attack.”

Johnson had a couple of 100-plus-yard games early in the season. But even when things were going well, he seemed to have a most uneasy alliance with the Chiefs. Edwards and Gailey removed Johnson from the lineup on third downs and at other important junctures.

The Chiefs obviously aren’t comfortable with Johnson as a pass blocker and think Jamaal Charles is a more dangerous receiver.

At times, the Chiefs have been guilty of signaling their intentions with personnel. They would most often run when Johnson was in the game and pass when he wasn’t.

For his part, Johnson would get frustrated with a role that left him standing on the sideline at crucial times. He publicly accused the Chiefs of phasing him out of their plans after a 12-carry, 22-yard performance in a September loss to the Raiders.

“The problem with Larry Johnson is that you just don’t know if you’re going to get the 65-yard run and the 200 yards he got against (Denver), or are you going to get the two yards he got the next game?” said former Dallas personnel director Gil Brandt. “Larry Johnson can still be a productive player. But can he be a consistently productive player?”

The way the Chiefs are currently trying to run the ball is completely different and something Johnson hasn’t been trained to do.

“When you’re in the shotgun, the back is going sideways when he gets the ball,” Gailey said. “Some guys are more comfortable doing it that way, especially those guys that have come into the league in the last four or five years that have been doing that every snap (in college). There’s a learned skill to that, just like there is everything else.

“It’s not like we reinvented the wheel. I think he has the ability to adjust to just about anything. We’re trying to find that good combination of being able to run the spread offense and get a good enough running game. The hard part is to try to mesh the run game with that if you’re not running the quarterback, which you don’t want to do.”

Johnson has always been a straight-ahead, power runner, so he has some adapting to do if the Chiefs are going to give him the ball out of the shotgun. They could put Thigpen directly under center and have him hand the ball to Johnson that way. They could have two game plans, one for Johnson and another when he’s not in the game.

No matter what they do, it requires an adjustment for the Chiefs or Johnson or both. How well they adjust will determine not only whether this offensive revival continues, but also the path of Johnson’s career.

“We didn’t have enough runs out of the shotgun early, and now we’ve added some runs to it,” Edwards said. “We’ve been pretty successful in moving the ball, in the first half anyway, and scoring points. That’s helped our defense because we’ve been able to stay on the field.

“Now, that’s kind of what we are. We didn’t start out that way and have been forced to do it. But we were a little bit smart enough to figure out what (Thigpen) can do, so why not play to the guy’s strength? He is the quarterback. The quarterback is important because he moves the team. That’s kind of where we’re at offensively.”

penchief
11-16-2008, 06:00 AM
I've always believed that LJ was better utilized in a spread type offense, anyway. Getting him the ball with a little room to move makes him double deadly. Running the ball into eight and nine man fronts was never the best use of LJ's skills, IMO.

the Talking Can
11-16-2008, 06:07 AM
wow. an article from the star with actual information in it

rocks
11-16-2008, 06:41 AM
There is no reason LJ can't perform at a high level in this offense if he is willing to learn it and play the position correctly. Guess we will find out.

ElGringo
11-16-2008, 06:43 AM
There is no reason LJ can't perform at a high level in this offense if he is willing to learn it and play the position correctly. Guess we will find out.

I think that is the question everyone has. Is Larry willing to learn a new way of doing things to help the team. This is not an attribute he has shown in the past, in fact it has always been the opposite. For Larry it has always been my way or I'm not playing. I hope he finally grows up and learns to be a team player as opposed to a baby that just wants to take his ball and go home.

milkman
11-16-2008, 06:44 AM
There is no reason LJ can't perform at a high level in this offense if he is willing to learn it and play the position correctly. Guess we will find out.

Except, of course, for the pouting that he isn't the featured cog in the offense.

My money says that LJ sucks balls.

Bwana
11-16-2008, 06:47 AM
Did Larry learn to block in his free time?

MichaelH
11-16-2008, 06:49 AM
Except, of course, for the pouting that he isn't the featured cog in the offense.

My money says that LJ sucks balls.


I'd like to think otherwise but I have to agree. If he could change his awful attitude, he'd realize that the increased passing attack will help his running game. But he'll probably be too busy pouting.

milkman
11-16-2008, 06:51 AM
Did Larry learn to block in his free time?

Phft......Details.

He can't be concerned with details.

Are you high?

Bwana
11-16-2008, 06:57 AM
Phft......Details.

He can't be concerned with details.

Are you high?

Heh, my bad. I wouldn't want to put to much pressure on poor Larry. That whole blocking thing may be a bit much for him, particularly after his extended "vacation."

Crashride
11-16-2008, 07:17 AM
forget larry, this whole team has become stronger while he has been suspended. I honestly feel the only reason the chiefs are letting him play right now is because kolby smith is out for the season, so they need a good number 1 or 2. Im not a fan of his anymore, I vote trade.

DDO Nut
11-16-2008, 08:01 AM
Meh... The only blocking Johnson knows is cockblocking.... put him in, if he still sidesteps instead of blocking, then sit his thug butt down, or better yet send him to the lockerroom!

Bah, he still wouldn't get the message....

FringeNC
11-16-2008, 08:11 AM
Tyler Thigpen's value to this team in the spread is a lot more than LJ's value to this team in th "i". When Gailey talks about tailoring your offense to your personnel, what he really means is finding a system that makes the QB productive. If LJ can't perform in the spread, he shouldn't sniff the field.

Having re-watched the SD game, there were a lot of plays were the RB got a free release. On those plays, there were actually other guys Thigpen hit, but LJ could be very effective catching dump off passes over the middle in space. Problem is sometimes there will be a defender LJ will have to pick up. Will he do it?

StcChief
11-16-2008, 08:35 AM
Did Larry learn to block in his free time?ROFL

yeah. B1tch get outta my way, I need a drink.

Skip Towne
11-16-2008, 08:38 AM
I hope LJ can fit in with this offense only because it would help the Chiefs. I don't give a fuck what happens to LJ.

the Talking Can
11-16-2008, 08:59 AM
I hope LJ can fit in with this offense only because it would help the Chiefs. I don't give a **** what happens to LJ.

it would help us to trade him, i hope....maybe he'll run like hell for a few games and we can find a sucker to take him

the Talking Can
11-16-2008, 09:01 AM
Tyler Thigpen's value to this team in the spread is a lot more than LJ's value to this team in th "i". When Gailey talks about tailoring your offense to your personnel, what he really means is finding a system that makes the QB productive. If LJ can't perform in the spread, he shouldn't sniff the field.

Having re-watched the SD game, there were a lot of plays were the RB got a free release. On those plays, there were actually other guys Thigpen hit, but LJ could be very effective catching dump off passes over the middle in space. Problem is sometimes there will be a defender LJ will have to pick up. Will he do it?

refreshing that we're building an offense around our QB (gailey) and not our RB (Herm)....also funny to note that the leader of our offense makes about a $1.50 an hour while our "franchise" player rots on the bench making $100,000 per snap...

FringeNC
11-16-2008, 09:11 AM
refreshing that we're building an offense around our QB (gailey) and not our RB (Herm)....also funny to note that the leader of our offense makes about a $1.50 an hour while our "franchise" player rots on the bench making $100,000 per snap...

Yeah, Gailey seems to understand that it's a quarterback's league. I don't understand some people's fascination with RBs. It's always been a QB's league (at least since the merger), and is becoming more so.

I just worry that Herm will fuck up the progress Gailey is making. He needs to be team preacher, and NOTHING else.

Skip Towne
11-16-2008, 09:17 AM
Yeah, Gailey seems to understand that it's a quarterback's league. I don't understand some people's fascination with RBs. It's always been a QB's league (at least since the merger), and is becoming more so.

I just worry that Herm will fuck up the progress Gailey is making. He needs to be team preacher, and NOTHING else.

Preacher? Nooooo. Then he would be allowed to come around on Sunday.

Psyko Tek
11-16-2008, 09:18 AM
Preacher? Nooooo. Then he would be allowed to come around on Sunday.

Rabbi then?

Rausch
11-16-2008, 09:25 AM
refreshing that we're building an offense around our QB (gailey) and not our RB (Herm)....also funny to note that the leader of our offense makes about a $1.50 an hour while our "franchise" player rots on the bench making $100,000 per snap...

The good news is we're so far under the cap we can afford the hit to cut his ass is we can't trade him.

I'm sure we could get something for him. Even a 5th or a 6th would be OK at this point.

chiefzilla1501
11-16-2008, 09:27 AM
This is going to be really interesting. I'm wondering how effective LJ will be in the spread. I have a feeling Thigpen's going to start taking a lot more snaps under center.

milkman
11-16-2008, 09:29 AM
The good news is we're so far under the cap we can afford the hit to cut his ass is we can't trade him.

I'm sure we could get something for him. Even a 5th or a 6th would be OK at this point.

Based on his contract which apparently has a behavior clause, there would be more of a hit on the cap if we traded him, but it really doesn't matter either way.

As noted, we have a lot of space, so we can absorb the hit.

FringeNC
11-16-2008, 09:31 AM
This is going to be really interesting. I'm wondering how effective LJ will be in the spread. I have a feeling Thigpen's going to start taking a lot more snaps under center.

If so, Herm and Gailey are idiots. This is the best our offense has looked since 2005 -- why in the hell would we change?

milkman
11-16-2008, 09:36 AM
If so, Herm and Gailey are idiots. This is the best our offense has looked since 2005 -- why in the hell would we change?

If you already know the answer, why would you ask the question.

chiefzilla1501
11-16-2008, 09:54 AM
If so, Herm and Gailey are idiots. This is the best our offense has looked since 2005 -- why in the hell would we change?

I don't know the answer to that. But I'm not sure that LJ will be at his most effective out of the shotgun. While I agree that this is the best our offense has looked since 2005, I also think that you can't ignore the pro bowl RB you have in the backfield. This is a RB who in the prior years carried a crappy team to a 9-7 and 4-4 record before.

Here's what I do know:
-It's also the first time since 2005 that LJ will see less than 8 guys in the box
-Our offense, while effective, has been too reliant on the pass and while I like it that way, it's also led us to too many 2nd half 3-and-outs. I don't want to resort back to R2/P2, but clearly, this team will need to find some balance

I trust Gailey will figure something out. But you can't have LJ on the field and not find a way to get him involved in a very positive way. The hope is that he does real well from the shotgun--that would make our answer real easy. My guess is, though, that he's most effective when he gets a running start.

milkman
11-16-2008, 10:01 AM
I don't know the answer to that. But I'm not sure that LJ will be at his most effective out of the shotgun. While I agree that this is the best our offense has looked since 2005, I also think that you can't ignore the pro bowl RB you have in the backfield. This is a RB who in the prior years carried a crappy team to a 9-7 and 4-4 record before.

Here's what I do know:
-It's also the first time since 2005 that LJ will see less than 8 guys in the box
-Our offense, while effective, has been too reliant on the pass and while I like it that way, it's also led us to too many 2nd half 3-and-outs. I don't want to resort back to R2/P2, but clearly, this team will need to find some balance

I trust Gailey will figure something out. But you can't have LJ on the field and not find a way to get him involved in a very positive way. The hope is that he does real well from the shotgun--that would make our answer real easy. My guess is, though, that he's most effective when he gets a running start.

This offense hasn't led us to too many three and outs in the second half.

The dumbass in charge changing to a strategy of playing not to lose and becoming passive on offense is what has led to all those three and outs.

FringeNC
11-16-2008, 10:10 AM
Mortensen just said LJ will get 12-15 carries, and that LJ went to Herm and said he could be effective out of the spread.

chiefzilla1501
11-16-2008, 10:10 AM
This offense hasn't led us to too many three and outs in the second half.

The dumbass in charge changing to a strategy of playing not to lose and becoming passive on offense is what has led to all those three and outs.

In the second half against San Diego, we were very aggressive in the air and it wasn't working for us. We need to find better balance.

I know that the offense has worked for us. But I also know that we have a pro bowl RB who's seen 8, 9, even 10 guys in the box the past 2 seasons. You have to find a way to get him involved. I'm hoping he works out well in the spread, but i don't think he will.

milkman
11-16-2008, 10:12 AM
In the second half against San Diego, we were very aggressive in the air and it wasn't working for us. We need to find better balance.

I know that the offense has worked for us. But I also know that we have a pro bowl RB who's seen 8, 9, even 10 guys in the box the past 2 seasons. You have to find a way to get him involved. I'm hoping he works out well in the spread, but i don't think he will.

We were passing more, but we weren't more aggressive.

We were using short passes as an extension of the gound game.

It was a passive attack.

They weren't looking to attack downfield.

Mr. Laz
11-16-2008, 10:14 AM
I've always believed that LJ was better utilized in a spread type offense, anyway. Getting him the ball with a little room to move makes him double deadly. Running the ball into eight and nine man fronts was never the best use of LJ's skills, IMO.

the problem is that the single back in a spread offense HAS TO PASS block or the QB gets killed.

johnson is a selfish,lazy prick who generally is a half-assed blocker

runnercyclist
11-16-2008, 10:26 AM
I hope they sit his thugg ass. I much rather lose without him, than lose with him.

chiefzilla1501
11-16-2008, 10:37 AM
We were passing more, but we weren't more aggressive.

We were using short passes as an extension of the gound game.

It was a passive attack.

They weren't looking to attack downfield.

Hmm... I think I can buy that.

Chiefaholic
11-16-2008, 10:39 AM
If there's even one snap that LJ sidesteps a pass rusher, I'de bench his ass the rest of the season. LJ is the HB's version of Randy Moss, and this young team doesn't need his "me,me, me" attitude in the lockerroom. I'de trade his ass this offseason for no less than a high second rounder or sit on his contract till somebody gets hurt next season.

milkman
11-16-2008, 10:46 AM
Hmm... I think I can buy that.



:thumb:

Psyko Tek
11-16-2008, 11:09 AM
I read about the clause in his contract
how does it play out is he still under contract to us and he loses his bonus?

penchief
11-16-2008, 11:18 AM
This is going to be really interesting. I'm wondering how effective LJ will be in the spread. I have a feeling Thigpen's going to start taking a lot more snaps under center.

LJ will be very effective in the spread. That's been his forte all along. Not running straight into eight/nine man fronts. His open field vision and the way he slices through defenses suits the spread much better.

Reerun_KC
11-16-2008, 01:27 PM
Much better, we were 1-3 with LJ and 0-4 without...


ROFL...

chiefzilla1501
11-16-2008, 01:52 PM
LJ will be very effective in the spread. That's been his forte all along. Not running straight into eight/nine man fronts. His open field vision and the way he slices through defenses suits the spread much better.

He's done well because they have in the pistol offense, which is an interesting wrinkle. I didn't see that coming. He wouldn't be good in the spread without the pistol because he has to come out of an I formation type offense where he can get a running start. He doesn't have the burst to do well otherwise.

The answer seems pretty clear and I hope Gailey makes the adjustment. Thigpen HAS to learn to take the ball under center in the red zone. Shotgun downfield, under center in the red zone.

Johnny Vegas
11-16-2008, 02:47 PM
He did pretty good blocking today. One of the blocks that stands out is the block he made for Thigpen on pass for a TD to Bowe.