Thursday, September 24, 2009

Know Your Enemy - KC


The Chiefs were a good team for a long time. Coach Dick Vermeil and GM Carl Peterson built a strong OL and had a really dynamic offense. Priest Holmes was the star tailback and then he got hurt and Larry Johnson took his place. Trent Green was the star QB. Slowly but surely the pieces that led the Chiefs to all this success faded away. Holmes injury ended his career. Vermeil retired, this time for real. Green's career as a starter was ended by concussions. And finally Peterson left.

The backbone of all this was a great OL, the best in the NFL. LT Willie Roaf is gone. G Will Shields is gone. C Casey Wiegmann is gone. The only guy left is G Brian Waters, now 32 and the old man up front.

The Chiefs decided to really rebuild this offseason. The process started under Peterson, but he and Herm Edwards still had a tough time fully embracing youth, mainly because a youth movement means losing games. Enter GM Scott Pioli and new coach Todd Haley. These guys want to build an organization and a team together. They understand that 2009 is just a step in that process.

There are some good pieces in place. It is hard to judge too much on what has happened this year. The offensive players are learning a new system and the defensive players are adjusting to a completely new scheme, the 3-4. Here are some thoughts on some of the players:

* Matt Cassel --- Big QB. More athletic than you expect. Has a good arm. Mainly threw short passes vs OAK. Only deep completion was a 29-yard TD pass to Dwayne Bowe. The rest of his throws were short and intermediate plays where the receivers were expected to get RAC yards. Did throw a couple of INTs. Cassel missed the opener with a bum knee, but he seems to be okay at this point.

* Larry Johnson --- Finished with 24 carries for 78 yards. Also caught 3 passes for 41 yards, including one for 22. Still talented player. He had a ton of success being a workhorse runner behind a very good OL. Larry doesn't have the same kind of blocking now. He did get 24 carries and there were times you could see the old LJ. He's big, but has speed to go with his power.

* Branden Albert --- Haley has been hard on Branden since arriving in KC. I assume this is more of a ploy to push him to be a great player than any real dissatisfaction with him. Albert had a good rookie season at LT and looks solid on tape. He's a better run blocker than pass blocker, but he can handle himself in pass pro.

* Dwayne Bowe --- Very good young receiver. Another player that Haley has been trying to push the buttons of. Bowe leads the team with 9 catches and 2 TDs. He has an excellent combo of size and speed. Good hands. Good downfield receiver.

* Bobby Wade --- Signed after he was dumped by the Vikings. Quality veteran who is more quick than fast. Has good RAC skills. Similar to James Thrash in that he's not an ideal starter, but is a serviceable player.

* TE --- Sean Ryan is starting. Limited player has 2 catches. More of a backup type. Brad Cottam is the guy they want on the field, but he missed last week's game.

* OL --- Brian Waters is the LG. He's still a good player. Rudy Niswanger is in his 2nd year as a starter at C. Pig Goff is the RG. He was a good run blocker for the Chargers for several years. Older guy. The RT is Ike Ndukwe. He played G at NW and has been with 5 NFL teams. He's new to starting at RT.

* Tamba Hali --- Former PSU great has been up and down in the NFL. He is now playing LB. He's got a sack and FF so far this year. Hali lacks ideal athletic ability, but he has a very good motor. Too early to know if he can handle the shift to LB.

* Tank Tyler --- Moved from DT to NT. Has the build to handle that job. Tied for the team lead in solo tackles with 11. That's impressive for a NT. Shows good hustle.

* LB --- Mike Vrabel is starting for them and trying to be a leader. I don't know how much he's got left in the tank as a player. Derrick Johnson is the most talented guy, but they've got him coming off the bench. He had an impressive sack last week when blitzing up the middle. Demorrio Williams is an odd fit at ILB, but he's doing his best.

* Mike Brown --- The old Bears DB headed a bit further to the West. Leads the team in tackles. Smart player and excellent leader.

* Brandon Flowers --- Very good young CB. Lacks the ideal size/speed combo, but Flowers can cover. Physical player and excellent tackler. Has a couple of PBUs this year. Can really stick with his man, especially on short patterns. Had an excellent pass break-up on a slant last week.

* Brandon Carr --- Good young CB. He's bigger than Flowers. Has 5 tackles and a couple of PBUs so far this year. Started all 16 games as a rookie last year and picked off 2 passes.


In some ways looking at KC is like looking at the 1999 Eagles. We had a franchise QB and LT. We had a veteran RB. We had a pair of good CBs. There are some differences. We had Dawk and Hugh. They've got Dwayne Bowe. Still, the point is that the Chiefs aren't a talentless team. They have a lot of young guys adjusting to the new systems and new coaching staff, as well as trying to develop as players.

Don't look at this game as some cakewalk. Rebuilding teams are very hard to predict. Washington won the NFC East that year. We beat them 35-28 and lost 20-17. We almost beat the 9-7 Dolphins (lost 16-13). We beat the Pats (who were 7-6 at the time). Pete Carroll was the coach, by the way. Just because KC was bad last year and has issues this year doesn't mean they'll be an easy game. Not at all. The Ravens beat them 38-24 in the opener. That score looks okay, but the game was tied at 24 with 5 minutes left to play. And the Chiefs didn't even have their starting QB. Don't overlook this team. They aren't likely to win, but they will play hard and the games they do pull out this year will be the ones where the opponent makes too many mistakes and Chiefs are able to capitalize on them.


* KC's Gamebook from last week

* KC's stats page

* KC's depth chart


* The team cut TE Rob Myers from the Practice Squad so they could sign TE Martin Rucker. I can't say I'm a huge fan of this move. Rucker was a super-productive pass catcher at Missouri and has some athletic ability, but always looked a bit stiff. I really liked what we saw from Myers in the one preseason game and was hoping he'd develop into a solid backup TE. Rucker has more potential, but I've just never been a big fan of his.

* Big Red made some statement about not being sure if Mike Vick would play on Sunday. C'mon Andy. That statement borders on ludicrous. I know teams don't want to show their hands, but that's just silly. Alien beings doing research on Neptune know that Vick will play.

I'll be writing plenty on Vick, the Wilcat, and everything else tomorrow when we discuss strategy and matchups.


T_S_O_P said...

* The team cut TE Rob Myers from the Practice Squad so they could sign TE Martin Rucker.

I wonder if we also put a claim for Greg Estandia?

Tommy Lawlor said...

I'm pretty sure we are busy talking to Anthony Carfagno.

mcud77 said...

Jeremiah Trotter brought in for a workout? Reeks of Levon Kirkland again.

If we need another LB, I don't see why we can't offer a pick to KC for Derrick Johnson, who is on the bench as a mis-cast 3-4 ILB.

What are your thoughts on the MIKE right now Tommy?

orangecrush007 said...

If the Eagles want to run it down people's throats then they need to activate Eldra Buckley.p

izzylangfan said...

The running game concerns me. Last year Brian Westbrook was running almost exclusively up the middle. This must have been because he couldn't make the cuts needed to run on the edges due to his injuries.

This year the running strategy seems to be similar he is running up the middle mostly and there is little effort to get him in the edges or in space. I can't even remember a screen to Westbrook this year.

Adam Caplan said on the Eagles website yesterday that Westbrook no longer has the acceleration coming out of his cuts. Reid has even stated that he thinks Westbrook's loss of running prowess is only temporary until he fully recovers from his surgery. But with a high ankle sprain it seems unlikely that the recovery will be this week.

I will be carefully watching the game this week to see what I can see. But on the quick shot the Eagles showed when Caplan spoke it appeared that he was not accelerating out of his cut to get around the corner. With ankle and knee surgery one might easily imagine that the necessary flexibility to achieve the correct angular positioning of the ankle and knee as well as the power needed to accelerate could be affected. This is probably a significant factor in the shift towards DeSean as a playmaker as well as the liberal use of the wildcat. We need to shift away from Westbrook to have the capability to consistently make big plays.

I certainly hope that Westbrooks gets it all back, but realistically what are the odds? And how long would it take?

Cliff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cliff said...

I thought Westbrook looked pretty good against the Saints. In fact, the numbers show that he's player pretty well over 2 games:

26 carries, 116 yards, 4.5 yards per carry

I don't know what people are really looking for with Westbrook. He's averaging over 4 yards a carry. He's not a workhorse like A.P., especially not in his "old age." If anything, we need to get him more involved in the passing game, but it's not like our passing game suffered last week.

With all that said, it's only Week 3. That's hardly enough time to close the book on a player.

* Deleted my previous comment because of too many typos. *

Brendan said...

If your only lookig at the numbers, Westy is doing fine, but when you watch him run you can see it's not the same guy that used to make at least one person miss on almost every run. Two years ago, no one could get a clean tackle on him and now that just isn't the case. I hope he gets better as the season moves on but to me it is clear that he is breaking down.

Cliff said...

I know the "numbers paradox," but what I don't know is what the fans want from our 30-year-old RB. Of course, he doesn't have the same burst. Of course, he doesn't have the same cutting ability.

The Eagles obviously expected this. I guess the fans haven't.

Cliff said...

Brandon Flowers... dumb as a rock.

Shared the secondary with our boy Macho, but clearly IQ was not a big factor in drafting defensive backs. Brandon went in the 3rd, I think

Brendan said...


I expected it (that's why I took shady in my fantasy draft), what I'm saying is it's time for Shady to get the bulk of the carries with Westy spelling him. If the kid can hold onto the rock then we have a running back playing behind our 30 year old running back with the same skill set Westy had years ago. Makes sense, don't it?

Tommy Lawlor said...

@ Mcud...

I'm going to write about MLB as a post on Sat. morning.

The Eagles aren't all that happy with Omar. He needs to play well to help his cause. Another poor game vs the run could lead to some change. I don't know exactly what would happen, but he's got to be more physical inside.

T_S_O_P said...

"I'm pretty sure we are busy talking to Anthony Carfagno."
I've been busy at work and missed this. But it made me smile... a lot.

I don't give up do I?