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Raised On Riots
04-28-2009, 01:49 PM
Chiefs Picks Stay True To Form
Apr 27, 2009, 9:43:20 AM by Bob Gretz

Last year, the Chiefs defense was 31st in the NFL in yards allowed, finishing ahead of only the dreadful 0-16 Detroit Lions defense.

Scott Pioli and Todd Haley took notice, because without a doubt they went after defensive players with the 2009 Draft. Two defensive linemen and a cornerback were the first players taken among the eight picks that went off the draft board on Saturday and Sunday.

“We spent a lot of time with the defensive coaches this week trying to understand how they want to play the scheme and finding the right players to fit in there,” Pioli said. “That’s where we’re at.”

The rest of the Chiefs ‘09 draft, starting with the fifth round, was given over to the offense, with a tackle, wide receiver, running back, tight end and kicker rounding out the ‘09 class.

But the premier positions went to the defenders. There are two avenues that Pioli/Haley are using to improve matters on the defensive side of the ball. First, they are no longer going to be a 4-3 defense. They are going to play an odd-man front, the 3-5 or the hybrid 3-4 that actually has as many as five players on the line of scrimmage at the snap. The second avenue comes in the personnel being acquired to help make the change functional.

That process has gone on since the end of February with free agency and it continued in the draft. The attention has been on the front seven: the defensive line and linebackers.

“When you start to think about changing over into an odd front you need certain types of players,” said Haley. “To get two big defensive linemen who can compete right away, that’s a pretty big deal.”

The head coach was talking about the team’s first two picks: first-round DE Tyson Jackson and third-round DT Alex Magee. Football people call Jackson a five-technique defensive lineman and Magee is a three-technique. What the jargon means is that Jackson is probably best on the outside shoulder of the tackle, while Magee is best in the gap between guard and tackle.

But what Pioli/Haley liked best is that Jackson and Magee can play inside and outside, no matter whether it’s the 3-4 or the 4-3. Nose tackle is about the only spot on the defensive line that these guys are not suited to play. Haley thinks there are a couple of guys on the Chiefs roster who can handle the nose, Ron Edwards and Tank Tyler. It’s the defensive ends in the 290-pound range that the Chiefs lacked. They found that with Jackson (296) and Magee (298).

What sort of contribution can Chiefs fans expect in the ‘09 season from Jackson and Magee? Pioli was speaking of Jackson, but you can be sure he thinks the same of Magee: it takes time to make the transition.

“The history of the defensive linemen that I’ve been with whether it was Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren or Richard Seymour, people see what those players become in their second or third years and they forget what they were as rookies,” Pioli said. “Richard Seymour as a rookie struggled tremendously, as did Ty Warren, and did Vince Wilfork. All three as rookies were not the players they became.

“Picking the player where we did we obviously think he’s a good player but we have to be careful in terms of managing expectations of a player coming into his first year in the National Football League. It’s a longer schedule, bigger players and it’s a significant adjustment for the players. It’s a dramatic difference from the college game, particularly up front.”

Getting Jackson and Magee on the field and allowing that growing process to begin is one of the most important things that can happen this fall. No matter how much they may struggle, these guys need snaps and they need time.

It’s all part of the next steps in rebuilding the Chiefs defense. Earlier, veteran linebackers Mike Vrabel, Monty Beisel and Zach Thomas were added to help out on the second level of the defense. Don’t be surprised if another veteran on the defensive line or at linebacker is added before the start of training camp. The addition of fourth-round pick CB Donald Washington provides more depth in the secondary.

Pioli promised on Sunday that the Chiefs were not done in adding talent, whether offense or defense. “There’s still a lot of ground to cover,” he said.

It’s all very important ground because the Chiefs will continue to struggle as long as their defense continues to have problems. That’s what made the first choices of the ‘09 Draft so important for the short and long term future of the team.

Liked that part; sounds like the old days when the Chiefs actually played defense.

Pitt Gorilla
04-28-2009, 01:52 PM
Elephant in room=Dorsey.