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Old 05-08-2010, 12:39 AM  
Tribal Warfare Tribal Warfare is offline
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Teicher: Chiefs work to rebuild offensive line

Chiefs work to rebuild offensive line
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star

From afar, Todd Haley admired the great Chiefs offensive lines from the last decade, the ones that included future Hall of Famers Will Shields and Willie Roaf plus Brian Waters and Casey Wiegmann.

“They set the bar for the league, particularly for that stretch of time,” said Haley, then working as an assistant at Chicago and Dallas and now coaching the Chiefs. “I don’t know that there’s been a better group.”

Haley’s Chiefs are now, in a watered-down sense, going back to those glory days to rebuild the offensive line. Not only will Wiegmann return after a two-year absence, but the Chiefs also signed guard Ryan Lilja, who was briefly a backup for the Chiefs in that era before the team, in a decision it would regret, let him go.

It’s an ironic thing for Haley and general manager Scott Pioli, who barely acknowledge that the Chiefs even existed before their arrival in Kansas City last year. And, as Waters said, it’s certainly a coincidence.

“I think you can tell by the management style that the glory days don’t fit into the way they evaluate football players,” said Waters, the only offensive lineman to remain through the interim years.

But Haley and Pioli couldn’t be blamed for trying to restore the line glory with former players. The Chiefs in the early and mid-2000s had a line that was the envy of the league.

“That was the most productive line I ever played on,” Shields said. “It was special. We had a great group of guys and great cohesiveness. We had guys with special and unique talents.”

The line began to split up in 2005 with the retirement of Roaf. Shields followed a year later, and by 2008, after Wiegmann departed as a free agent, only Waters remained.

The line quickly fell into disarray. The Chiefs drafted Branden Albert in the first round two years ago but otherwise tried to fill in the gaps with journeymen and untested players, usually with disastrous results.

In looking to rebuild this offseason, the Chiefs found Wiegmann and Lilja. Particularly surprising was the return of Wiegmann, who played for Denver the past two seasons and will be 37 in July.

“I thought once he left the Chiefs, the next place I’d see him was in the retirement pool like the rest of us,” Shields said. “But he seems to have the nine-lives thing going.”

The Broncos didn’t want Wiegmann anymore and released him, but the Chiefs believe he can still play. He will battle Rudy Niswanger to be the starting center.

“When we studied Casey, it appeared he was still playing at a high level,” Haley said. “He’s done a great job of taking care of his body, a really, really great job, and he’s got the mind-set that he wants to play some more.”

Waters said, “I have a lot of respect for Casey, and I know our offensive line coach (Bill Muir) has a great amount of respect for Casey. Last year, we talked about the way he’s still playing really good football. He still has every trick in the game, but he’s still one of the most consistent football players out there at his position. People feel like he’s overmatched, but he’s still able to get the job done.”

Lilja, who played at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School and Kansas State, initially joined the Chiefs as an undrafted rookie in 2004. He made a positive impression, but the Chiefs didn’t want to carry him on the active roster and tried to sneak him onto the practice squad.

Indianapolis claimed him instead.

“Ryan is, to me, one of the biggest mistakes we made over the years,” Waters said. “I remember the good camp he had, and I remember the decision we made when we let him go. I remember that day when we decided to put him on the practice squad. Me, Casey, Will, we were sitting there talking about what a mistake that was.

“It came down basically to him and (since-departed tackle Kevin Sampson). At that time, this league kind of valued certain positions, and tackle was a more valuable position at the time than guard.”

Lilja went on to be a productive player for Indianapolis and a starter on two Super Bowl teams.

“It didn’t surprise anyone that he became a really good player,” Shields said. “We knew in training camp that year he was a special young guy. He had the heart and the desire. It just so happens he got caught in a numbers game.

“If he can just stay healthy, he’ll have a great season.”

The Colts let him go in part because of concerns about a damaged knee, but if he’s healthy, he will start for the Chiefs at right guard.

Lilja said he learned plenty from Shields, Wiegmann and Waters during his initial four months with the Chiefs.

“When you’re a rookie, especially an undrafted guy, and you come into a group like they had here, you just kind of keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open,” he said. “Some of the stuff I learned from Casey and Will and Brian in particular has helped me my entire career.

“It’s just technique stuff. Casey’s about my size, so we’ve got to do things a little bit different from, say, Brian, who is brute and strong. We’ve got to play with a little more leverage and technique. Casey doesn’t talk much, but he offered me some things I never learned in college.”

The Chiefs are so confident they improved their line with these two additions that they didn’t add a tackle in free agency or the draft. They did draft Jon Asamoah, a guard, in the third round.

•The Chiefs released wide receiver Chandler Williams and tight end T.C. Drake. Williams spent two weeks on the Chiefs’ practice squad last year. Drake was an undrafted free agent who participated in last weekend’s rookie camp.
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Old 05-08-2010, 12:45 AM   #2
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"It’s an ironic thing for Haley and general manager Scott Pioli, who barely acknowledge that the Chiefs even existed before their arrival in Kansas City last year. And, as Waters said, it’s certainly a coincidence."

Adam, stop running around the press room with your leather helmet on while talking about matriculating the article to your editor. We've moved on. You should, too.

Whitlock is ego. Teicher is tradition. We get it. Fiddle and Faddle.
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Old 05-08-2010, 02:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliforniaChief View Post
"It’s an ironic thing for Haley and general manager Scott Pioli, who barely acknowledge that the Chiefs even existed before their arrival in Kansas City last year. And, as Waters said, it’s certainly a coincidence."

Adam, stop running around the press room with your leather helmet on while talking about matriculating the article to your editor. We've moved on. You should, too.

Whitlock is ego. Teicher is tradition. We get it. Fiddle and Faddle.
The worst part is, he's supposed to be a journalist and what he wrote isn't even a real sentence.
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Old 05-08-2010, 03:38 AM   #4
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The worst part is, he's supposed to be a journalist and what he wrote isn't even a real sentence.
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:15 AM   #5
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If our line IS improved we mayhave an entertaining team to watch this year with the weapons we now possess.
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:21 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Hog Farmer View Post
If our line IS improved we mayhave an entertaining team to watch this year with the weapons we now possess.
Agreed.
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:31 AM   #7
Tribal Warfare Tribal Warfare is offline
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Originally Posted by Hog Farmer View Post
If our line IS improved we mayhave an entertaining team to watch this year with the weapons we now possess.
I'll keep retirating this, it is all dependent on Cassel. He doesn't have the head for it and numberous other things I've mentioned in the pass. If anything I expect a mediocre showing because defenses will zero in on the underneath routes and force Cassel to throw crossbar beauties. He's just a backup QB,plain and simple
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:36 AM   #8
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I'll keep retirating this, it is all dependent on Cassel. He doesn't have the head for it and numberous other things I've mentioned in the pass. If anything I expect a mediocre showing because defenses will zero in on the underneath routes and force Cassel to throw crossbar beauties. He's just a backup QB,plain and simple
I think Cassel's capable of being a good QB. Just not a great one. I think to say he's a backup at best is an exaggeration. Weis will build an offense around his weaknesses and the offense will do just fine. Keep in mind that Brady threw a pretty lousy deep ball his rookie year, so Weis knows how to run an offense that relies exclusively on underneath routes.

That being said, I think the problem is that Weis' offense is going to mask Cassel's flaws. Even the offense will do just fine, we'll probably still need a new QB.
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tribal Warfare View Post
I'll keep retirating this, it is all dependent on Cassel. He doesn't have the head for it and numberous other things I've mentioned in the pass. If anything I expect a mediocre showing because defenses will zero in on the underneath routes and force Cassel to throw crossbar beauties. He's just a backup QB,plain and simple
I'm trying to take it easy on Cassel.I have murdered him every chance I get so I guess I can sit back and wait.Hell,8 pro bowlers on offense is all he needs to be Brady /Cassel ball washers.....
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:40 AM   #10
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I think Cassel's capable of being a good QB. Just not a great one. I think to say he's a backup at best is an exaggeration. Weis will build an offense around his weaknesses and the offense will do just fine. Keep in mind that Brady threw a pretty lousy deep ball his rookie year, so Weis knows how to run an offense that relies exclusively on underneath routes.

That being said, I think the problem is that Weis' offense is going to mask Cassel's flaws. Even the offense will do just fine, we'll probably still need a new QB.
No, I actually mean that in its full entity
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:40 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by chiefzilla1501 View Post
I think Cassel's capable of being a good QB. Just not a great one. I think to say he's a backup at best is an exaggeration. Weis will build an offense around his weaknesses and the offense will do just fine. Keep in mind that Brady threw a pretty lousy deep ball his rookie year, so Weis knows how to run an offense that relies exclusively on underneath routes.

That being said, I think the problem is that Weis' offense is going to mask Cassel's flaws. Even the offense will do just fine, we'll probably still need a new QB.
Exactly my point.We have a Qb that will never be "the difference" in a game.He will only be as good as the other players make him.
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Tribal Warfare View Post
I'll keep retirating this, it is all dependent on Cassel. He doesn't have the head for it and numberous other things I've mentioned in the pass. If anything I expect a mediocre showing because defenses will zero in on the underneath routes and force Cassel to throw crossbar beauties. He's just a backup QB,plain and simple
Can't say as I argue this. This will be the year that defines his future. He'll be a career backup or a legit starter.
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Old 05-08-2010, 08:29 AM   #13
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Old 05-08-2010, 08:30 AM   #14
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Exactly my point.We have a Qb that will never be "the difference" in a game.He will only be as good as the other players make him.
Perfect way to describe him.
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Old 05-08-2010, 09:15 AM   #15
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As lousy as this line has been the last three years, progress has been slow in making it better. Herm obviously believed he could put any large body in there and expect miracles. His offense was dictated by play in the '70s anyway. The fact that as bad as the line was when Pioli/Haley arrived and they chose to only try to tweek it was idiotic and took the genius label off Pioli very quickly for me. Or perhaps he just didn't have the ability to act because of restrictions from an owner that to this point has not proven he will open up the pocketbook to make this team a winner.
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