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Answer Bob – Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Back in STJ as the Chiefs hit the field Wednesday morning and again in the evening, under the lights when it should be a lot cooler here at Missouri Western state University.

A lot of questions and comments came in, so here goes. These replies will likely be broken up into several different posts, but I will answer them all. Thank for visiting and sending in your posts.

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Blake says: What do you think of the rookies so far? What about the UDFAs? Do you think the Chiefs will try and be a more explosive offense with the addition of Breaston and Baldwin? What do you think the biggest need on the roster is? Who looks out of shape and who looks great? Who has surprised you? Do you see any free agents that could really help us? How has Cassel looked?

Bob says: You guys aren’t going to like this answer but it’s been very hard to get any kind of feeling on the players because there has been so little contact and so little practice time at full speed. I’ll do my best – Jonathan Baldwin looks huge on the field. When he runs, he reminds me of Tamarick Vanover. He starts slow and looking gangly, but once he gets up to speed he’s moving and moving fast. Rodney Hudson and Allen Bailey have not had enough contact work to make any judgments; same goes with Jerrell Powe. Jalil Brown shows good athletic skills and I’d say he’ll eventually be a safety. Ricky Stanzi looks like all rookie QBs in the first week of camp – confused and struggling. Gabe Miller has rushed the passer before and uses his hands well on the rush off the edge. Shane Bannon is tired – he’s been the only fullback in camp, learning a new offense and not sure where to go most of the time. Justin Houston has been invisible.

Among the UDFAs, DE Brandon Bair, OT Butch Lewis and look like they have something to play with in the fight for a roster spot. I think that Todd Haley will try to put the most explosive offense possible on the field, but I’m not sure Breaston and Baldwin will bring immediate explosion. That will take some time. The biggest need on the roster is some veteran offensive linemen and a veteran quarterback.

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Tenand6 says: Is the coaching staff Super Bowl quality? How does this staff measure up to Marty’s best? Top three team needs by position? Have a guess on why Houston hasn’t signed, even if that happens in the next few days? Have a guess on whether Haley will be the primary play-caller on game day? Thanks. You can never have too many “Ask Bob” opportunities.

Bob says: Thank or your comments. This is a pretty good coaching staff at the important positions. On defense, Romeo Crennel is top shelf, Anthony Pleasant has really grown into a good D-Line coach, Gary Gibb at LB is pretty good and who can argue with Emmitt Thomas in the secondary. The question is offense, and how it will all fall together with QB coach Jim Zorn, new offensive coordinator Bill Muir and Haley. As position coaches Zorn and Muir are among the best in the league. As for who will call the plays, I think they’ll start in the pre-season with Zorn, Muir or RB coach Maurice Carthon making the calls. I think Haley would love to find a comfortable situation for himself and the staff. But even if one particular coach gets the title of play caller, Haley will always have veto power, and will also be part of the equation. It’s too early to judge whether this staff can match some of the best that Marty had. They’ll need a few more victories.

I can’t imagine what the problem is with Houston. If it’s money, then he’s not very smart. If it’s an unwillingness to sign some sort of personal conduct clause then he’s unrealistic. If he wants to be paid like first-round choice then he should not have hit on the blunts before the start of the NFL Combine. Top three needs right now are experienced offensive linemen, a veteran quarterback and defensive line help.

 

Andy says: How is our nose tackle position looking? I like the Kelly Gregg signing. When do you think Hali and Carr will report? Are there serious contract issues?

Bob says: again, it’s hard to say about nose tackle until they start having padded practices. Anthony Toribio remains an unknown. Jerrell Powe has some athletic ability for a guy his size. Gregg will make a nice addition, but if he’s the starter at 35, then the team hasn’t improved very much.

I think Hali and Carr might still be a few weeks away from reporting. They can’t go to another team, so they are stuck with the Chiefs for the 2011 season. Both would like the money that would come with a long-term contract. That’s especially true for Carr, since he came into the league without big money as a fifth-round draft choice.

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Brad says: I cannot understand why McCluster isn’t being used as a “Wes Welker”-type receiver, as it seems to be the slot receiver everyone is looking for. At one point last year Haley said he thought Dex was the best route runner they had. He also doesn’t seem to have the build to play much at HB. I have always been curious about your thoughts on this. Also, does Tyson Jackson look confident out there? I feel like last year he was going to show us something and that early injury ruined everything a little bit.

Bob says: Brad, I think Haley looks at McCluster the way a 10-year boy looks at the fancy remote control car he got for Christmas. He wants to take it outside and run it all day, but he’s also afraid of busting it up and then not having anything to play with. One of the problems with McCluster is how little he stands. When he goes out for a pass route, from the slot let’s say, he’s hard for the quarterback to find. That’s why they are going to try and work him out of the backfield on routes, where Matt Cassel can get a cleaner look at him. McCluster can lineup in a fullback position close to the line of scrimmage and the defense can easily lose track of where he might be headed.

As to Jackson, I’m not sure if he looks more confident, but he definitely looks like he’s in very good shape and that will help his confidence.

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Obscure Dave says: Question/Theory – Could a number of our unrestricted free agents that have been left unsigned be intentional because if they then sign with another team we get “credit” that could yield bonus draft picks next year. If we had released them, there would be no compensation? So for instance, maybe the Chiefs never intended to re-sign Ron Edwards but by allowing him to be picked off by Carolina, we may get a free pick next year? This could explain a lot of things regarding why several players have neither been cut nor resigned. Your wisdom is appreciated.

Bob says: Dave your mind works in mysterious ways, much like Scott Pioli. If all of us had a better understanding of the compensatory formulas then I might buy into this. But Pioli has said the Chiefs wanted to re-sign Edwards and Smith; but they only wanted to re-sign them at their price. Both players found another team willing to pay more. I don’t know if there’s anything to your theory, but I like the thought process. It’s possible.

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TruChief09 says: First, Thank you Bob for your hard work and your excellent reports, I appreciate them a lot as they give excellent insight.
Second, why don’t you use your Twitter account very often? I would love to see you Tweet! Third, if you could choose three free agents for the Chiefs to sign, who would those be in your opinion? Thanks!

Bob says: Thanks for your kind words. I don’t use Twitter as much as I should because I simply haven’t been able to figure out how to squeeze another five minutes into every hour. I see other media types tweeting away at practice, but they end up spending all their time looking at their phone and not practice. Last year at this time we had a program on the site that would tweet every time we posted a story, but then the Twitter people changed their site and the knocked out that plug-in. As for free agents to sign, I think the Chiefs should hold their water right now. I think if they believe Ty Warren can still play, then sign him. If they really think Le’Ron McClain can help their offense, then they should sign him. But it seems like the Chiefs feel more comfortable signing guy who don’t start out as free agents, but become ones when their team lets them go for roster or salary cap reasons. Guys like Casey Wiegmann, Ryan Lilja and Thomas Jones for instance. Stay tuned the roster situations in the league are very fluid and will remain so likely through September.

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Anon says: With so many roster spots open (20+), why haven’t the Chiefs brought in more UDFAs? Playing Lucas Patterson out of position and playing Shane Bannon at every rep at FB doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Bob says: Couldn’t agree more, but for some reasons they have not done this. As far as I know, the UDFAs are the only players they could have signed in the last week that would have immediately been available for practice. It can’t possibly be money, or at least I hope that’s the case, because pre-season pay for a couple weeks for a rookie is chump change.

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Don in ICT says: Thanks for the chance to ask some questions on your initial impression of our team. Any idea, guess on the problem with Moeaki? Your impression of Baldwin? Do you like the FA signings? Which rookie catches your eye? I know they’re playing touch football right now but you’ve been around enough to know good talent and effort when you see it. I’m just looking for your first thoughts. Thanks, Don.

Bob says: Thanks Don for your kind words. Initial impression of this team is a good one, given the type of physical condition they have displayed at the start of camp. The veterans really did a good job of keeping their conditioning from last year. Maybe they aren’t honed to the edge like they were at this time last year, but there hasn’t been any problem with guys being grossly out of shape or falling victim to the heat. Near as I can tell, Moeaki’s right knee is the problem. He wears a sleeve on that knee, but not the other. By the way he moves about the practice field, I don’t think it’s going to be a long-term thing. He’s really missing nothing by being out. Baldwin is big, powerful and will go after the jump balls. He plays a little bit like Plaxico Burruss in his prime, going up and pulling down high balls away from defenders. His hands are inconsistent; he drops too many. I’m not overly impressed by the FA signings. Essentially, they’ve added a third receiver, a special teams linebacker and a 35-year old nose tackle that one of the best defenses in the league considered expendable. That’s not exactly a Murder’s Row of FAs. There’s still plenty of time to pick off a few more.

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Mark says: Hey Bob, what is your take on Barry Richardson? I have a different outlook on him than most of the football media guys that always seem to want to replace him by way of draft or FA and fans. I think he did just fine last season, his first full season starting, giving up only 5 sacks and 9 penalties (2 holding.) The guy is 6-6, 320 pounds and I say we give him a chance to grow instead of watching him go to another team and reach the Super Bowl like other former Chiefs.

Bob says: Mark, I tend to agree with you. Last year was the first time Richardson was up to the task and yes there were sacks that he gave up, but o did everybody else on the Chiefs line. As long as he shows up in excellent shape, I think he’ll keep his job. But I do think they should bring in a veteran body to give him some competition. I don’t think that’s going to come from Ryan O’Callaghan. Much like Glenn Dorsey after his rookie season, Barry Richardson wasn’t as bad as so many people want to make him out to be.

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Vincent says: Bob, what 2-3 year players seem poised to make a giant leap forward? WHICH are jumping backward? How about the udfas? Anyone standing out? WITH so many young lbs, does there seem to be a tier of talent?

Bob says: Among the third year players, Tyson Jackson and Donald Washington need to take two steps forward, since they missed some steps the first two seasons. If they can come through with big contributions, they’ll raise the level of that ’09 draft class out of the garbage. Among the second year guys, Dexter McCluster needs to stay healthy and make a contribution that matches his second-round draft status. I think Verran Tucker has a chance to become a factor at wide receiver, although things are getting crowded in front of him with Bowe-Baldwin-Breaston-Urban. Obviously, Jon Asamoah has pressure on him. Cameron Sheffield looks like he might be ready to pick up where he was before his head/neck injury last pre-season. Anthony Toribio has his chance as well.

At linebacker, it’s an interesting group behind Hali-Johnson-Studebaker-Belcher. There’s Justin Houston – if he ever shows up – inside there are a couple of guys in Cory Greenwood and Micah Johnson that nobody talks about, but seem like they have some abilities.

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Cupp says: Probably pretty hard to answer personnel questions at this point. So, what do you think of the way Haley is running the show given the new rules and lack of off-season work? I still don’t understand all the practice rules. Also, there’s been a lot of talk about minimum cap spending. What happens if a team does not reach the cap floor? How long do they have to spend money?

Bob says: The practice rules are a bunch of crap, but then you have to remember I’m an old school guy. The more they put some of these things in the NFL is going to become touch football. In the negotiations, the owners were only too happy to give the players what they wanted with the new practice and work rule, as long as the players gave some money back. From what I’ve seen so far, I think Haley is handling things about as well as possible, as he tries to get done the things he thinks need to be done, and doing it within the new rules. The one thing about Haley that I like is that if somebody can come up with a better idea, he’ll do it. He’s not set in stone; you’ve got to be flexible these days. The salary cap minimum is not a factor for teams until the 2013 season. So the Chiefs really aren’t in any type of pressure position to spend money. When that’s the case, I don’t think they will spend. I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on the new agreement, so there are a lot of items that remain cloudy for me.

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Pookie says: I always like to the tidbits you get each year around camp time who the Intern Coaches are. Eventually those guys seem to make their way to the big leagues. Plenty of times it’s a former college or pro player.

Bob says: I’m working on those right now. It’s not easy to get the names out of the Chiefs, but we should be able to find out. Stay tuned.

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Brad says: Do you think Thomas Jones will be able to get the job done as our ‘big’ back? He faded last year and isn’t any younger. It would be nice to have another back to complement Charles.

Bob says: Brad, I agree with you, and I think that’s why they have some interest in Le’Ron McClain out of Baltimore. He would elevate the level of talent in the backfield and allow Jones to finish up his career in 2011 by making some contributions to the offense without wearing him out in the first half of the season.

MORE TO COME

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