Monday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

A few tidbits and thoughts as the Chiefs head into a week that will end with the first mini-camp for Todd Haley and his coaching staff.


The Chiefs and veteran linebacker Zach Thomas agreed to a one-year contract over the weekend. Thomas is expected in town this week to sign the deal and take part in the weekend’s mini-camp.

So why would the Chiefs sign Thomas, who will be 36 on September 1, after releasing veteran Donnie Edwards, who himself is 36? And, does this signing take the Chiefs out of the picture for using that third choice on Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry?

Let’s start with the second question first.  It’s hard to believe the signing of Thomas has any effect on what the Chiefs will do at No. 3.  If they’ve decided Curry is their  guy, then they will still go ahead and draft him; doing anything different wouldn’t make sense.  But everyone needs to remember that we have no idea if they think Curry is the guy at No. 3.

On to the initial question of why Thomas over Edwards.  First, Thomas is the big inside backer that the Chiefs do not have on their roster. There are eight backers on the list and the biggest is Vrabel at 6-4, 261. He could play inside, but he’s been an outside linebacker during his career. The biggest ILB would be Monty Beisel at 244 pounds. Edwards played inside linebacker or middle linebacker for both the Chiefs and Chargers, but he was 225 pounds. Thomas is a lot closer to the prototype middle/inside backer.

Second, Edwards was on the roster for seven games last year, after a ’07 season where he was bothered in the second half of the season by a hamstring injury. Thomas played in 15 games last year for Dallas.

And third, Thomas brings intangibles with him, in leadership and his approach to the game. The guy who always wanted to get Thomas in his defense was Gunther Cunningham. From the time he was coming out of Texas Tech in the 1996 NFL Draft, Cunningham tried to find ways to get Thomas. When Cunningham was trying to mold Kawika Mitchell into the middle linebacker/leader of the unit in 2004, he kept referencing Thomas as the type of personality in the middle that he was seeking for his defense.

For what Pioli/Haley is trying to do right now, Zach Thomas makes sense.


Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson and Brian Waters all have said in the calendar year 2009 that they want out of Kansas City. L.J. has since changed his mind, according to his agent. Gonzalez and Waters have been quiet lately.

If it’s going to happen, then it will go down in the next 12 days before the NFL Draft.

National Football Post columnist Michael Lombardi wrote over the weekend that the Atlanta Falcons are working hard to make a deal for Gonzalez. That makes a lot of sense. Gonzalez would be a great option for Matt Ryan and one of those puzzle pieces that might put the Falcons over the top. Lombardi, who worked for many years in the NFL – including a stint with the Browns where Scott Pioli was breaking into the league – says the Falcons will give up their second-round choice. That’s pick No. 55.

If I were Pioli I’d go for that second pick and make the Falcons throw in the fifth-round pick they picked up from the Raiders, No. 143. That package would have me sending Tony G. to the A-T-L in a flash. To get a second-round pick for a 13-year veteran tight end who says he’s only going to play one, maybe two years at the most, would be a very nice pickup.

Also remember, Atlanta’s GM is Thomas Dimitroff, who worked for Pioli with the Patriots for six years, including five as the team’s director of college scouting.


The NFL will release the weekly schedule for the 2009 season on Tuesday evening. Both ESPN and the NFL Network will have specials that night introducing the games.

One of the commentators on the NFL Network who will break down the schedule will be former Chiefs president-GM Carl Peterson. He will join former Tampa Bay GM Bruce Allen, former San Francisco-Detroit coach Steve Mariucci and Solomon Wilcots in discussing the games as they are released to the public.

Here’s a reminder on the Chiefs opponents for this year:

  • HOME: Denver, Oakland, San Diego, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, New York Giants and Buffalo.
  • AWAY: Denver, Oakland, San Diego, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Washington and Jacksonville.


The Chiefs roster is filled with a lot of players who have lived through 2-14 or 6-26 over the last two seasons. The question is asked: do they know how to win?

Todd Haley is not waiting to find out. He’s ratcheting up the competition right in the team’s off-season strength and conditioning program. Groups of players go off twice in the morning and once in the afternoon, four days a week. Each group has about 15 to 20 players taking part. While the lifting of weights and aerobic exercises are done individually by each player, they are done in the framework of the group.

“Every lift we do, every drill, everything is the group together,” said safety Jarrad Page. “Everybody starts at the same time. Everybody moves on to the next thing at the same time. Whether it’s on the field running or in the weight room … We are in there working together. Nobody is done before anybody else. Nobody is lagging behind. We start together and we end together.”

Togetherness/teamwork is obviously being stressed. Another by-product of these sessions under strength and conditioning coaches Cedric Smith and Brent Salazar is competition. Within these groups, players are lifting and running not only with, but against each other. Pull together 15 professional athletes doing the same things at the same time in the weight room and the competitive level naturally goes up.

“Because we are doing things together, you get to see each other do these things,” said Page. “You get to see what another guy does and that just drives the next guy to match what he did, or do it better. And the next guy sees that and wants to do more.

“There’s no doubt that the competitive side of this is being stressed. You can’t help but notice. The whole atmosphere around here is about competing. It’s the word you hear most often.”

Page thinks that teaches lessons on how to win.

“I think doing what we are doing now is part of learning how to win,” said Paige. “Part of learning how to compete against each other, make it through things that are tough; these workouts are tough right now. They are pushing you to get through. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, everybody is pushing through and getting these done. Guys are finishing.

“All this is stuff people don’t see, but they see teams finishing in the fourth quarter on Sunday. I think that begins by finishing as a group in April. It’s similar in what’s required of each player and the group together; teaching yourself mentally how to do that is teaching yourself how to win games.”


Veteran receiver Bobby Engram thinks the young Chiefs receivers like Dwayne Bowe will have a great resource this year in wide receivers coach Dedric Ward.

“Receiver can be a very difficult position to adjust to coming into this league,” Engram said. “What is going to help those guys is having Dedric Ward in the room … a former player who had eight years in the league.”

Ward played for five teams in the league from 1997 through the 2004 season: New York Jets, Miami, Baltimore, New England and Dallas. He joined the Jets in ’07 as a third-round pick out of Northern Iowa. He played in 103 games with 166 catches for 2,307 yards and a dozen touchdown catches.

“I think that is an intangible that a lot of teams don’t have,” Engram said of Ward. “A former NFL receiver in the room that can talk the talk and has been there; It will be good to get that wisdom, as well.”

At 36, Engram is some 20 months older than his position coach, as Ward will not turn 35 until September.

“The thing that I can do is just be an example,” Engram said. “Just come out and prepare, work hard and make plays on Sunday and then like I said, if you get to know each other better, pull them in the film room, make sure you are pushing each other, make sure everybody is doing all of the little things right and that will come with time. It is all about taking care of business both on and off the field. That is something that I’m sure we will have a lot of conversations about. “

24 Responses to “Monday Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 12, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    It is interesting to see how the 09 Chiefs are being put together. Looking forward to how it works out. Still think the 3rd pick will tell a real tale of what the future will bring. Keeping in mind Herm felt the team was 85% complete, if they pick a DL then many of Carl/Herm’s drafts do not fit the future. The future is bright if not totally clear.

  • April 13, 2009  - Rip 'em a new one says:

    I hate to see Tony G get dealt but if he has to go somewhere, Atlanta would be an excellent location, particularly because, while not a Falcon diehard fan, I live about 5 miles from the team’s Flowery Branch complex.

  • April 13, 2009  - MenInRed says:

    Another nice read Bob! Thanks & Keep it coming. I really like hearing your thoughts when you played GM on the Tony G trade, not that I would want Tony to leave but your right on taken advantage of a 2nd & 5th. I would really like to see if we could get a 3rd or 4th for LJ from the Eagles, they need a big running back and LJ needs the city of brotherly love cause he definately hates the sisters.

    In Pioli we trust for:

    “The Right 53″

  • April 13, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    Well…I hate to see Tony G. leave as well….but this is all about winning and if we can use it to help us win….trade away. There are a lot of former Chiefs players I wish could have been on a championship Chiefs team but were not….I can add Tony to that list….as long as it benefits the Chiefs.

  • April 13, 2009  - Scott says:

    MenInRed says:
    “LJ needs the city of brotherly love cause he definately hates the sisters.”

    LMAO! That was a good one.

    I don’t want to see Tony go, either. But, he wants to…apparently. So we gotta’ do what we gotta’ do. Main thing is, what are we going to do for a TE? That’s just one more hole to fill. Finding someone as good as Tony will be pretty much impossible, as he’s one of the best. But, you’ve got to have a decent guy in the position…and we don’t. (BTW…I said sometime ago that the Broncos were rumored to be shopping Scheffler. That could be a good fit for us.)

    Same thing for LJ, really. I’d love to see him gone, personally. And if we could get a decent pick for him, all the better. But, then we’d need someone to replace him, too. Smith and Charles have both shown promise running the ball…but we’ll need more than that. Will Smith even be ready for the start of the season? I haven’t heard anything.

  • April 13, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Brad Cottam better step up!!!

  • April 13, 2009  - Merwin says:

    There is no guarantee that where ever Tony goes he will win a Super Bowl, any more then he could if he stays here. As much as I hate to see him go, if the Chiefs could get a second and fifth round pick, then so be it. I do not believe we could get much for LJ as his contract is a problem area as well as what is the NFL going to do about his convictions, games to be suspended? I would have liked to see Donnie stay as a back up, I think the health issues with Donnie decided that against him.

  • April 13, 2009  - Scott says:

    Merwin says:
    “I would have liked to see Donnie stay as a back up, I think the health issues with Donnie decided that against him.”

    The health issues…and his salary, which was among the highest on the team last year. You just can’t afford to pay a guy millions to sit on the bench.

  • April 13, 2009  - Double A says:

    Thanks for the off season workout reports, Bob. They are informative and I love that stuff.

    arrowhead1978 – LOL!

    I’ve got mixed emotions about the Chiefs trading Tony G.. The 55th pick seems too low! Granted Tony’s 32, but he was the best pass catching TE in the NFL last year and he shows no signs of decline. I’d love for Cassel to have him as a target– as we all know, Tony catches everything thrown his way. But, as my Mother has always told me “All good things must come to an end.” Maybe it’s time for Tony G. to move on, he seems to want to.

    I read a rumor (via Bill Williamson ESPN)– Buffalo is offering a mid-round pick for Brian Waters? Is it just me, or does anyone else say there’s no way Brian Waters is with this team after draft weekend? I cannot believe Pioli and Haley want someone who leaks to Jason Whitlock, of all people, on their roster.

    Problem with these trades is, the Chiefs then have to use a pick to fill the hole.

    Philly’s #28 seems much more appropriate for Tony G….but if Philly prefers Pettigrew, by all means, they should pick him.

  • April 13, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    Come on now, a 1st for Tony, great for the Chiefs but any GM who would do that would get fired before Tony could get to that city.

    I sort of feel any “home grown” 30 year olds or older should be considered for trade. In the last few years this team has been a pile of s*** with our own draft picks and players. So we picked up a few older veterans, they collectively cannot be any worse than the stiffs they threw out on the field called herm’s chiefs.

  • April 13, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    Who said anything about a 1st? 2nd was mentioned at pick #55….but I don’t see where a first was mentioned.

  • April 13, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    If they do trade Waters, they will need to pick up a guard as good or better, there O-line hasn’t gotten much better, so far with FA. Well the chiefs did give up a second rounder for Vrabel and an unproven QB… So the Chiefs could get less, but why would you trade Tony for less when, like Douba A said, was the best pass catching TE last year and isn’t declining.

  • April 13, 2009  - Armando says:

    Thanks Bob, this was a good read.

  • April 13, 2009  - Kenny says:

    Zach Thomas is a GREAT PICKUP! I’ve always liked the way he plays. We now have someone that can mentor Derrick Johnson in the inside.

  • April 13, 2009  - alex k says:

    I must say, I like taking Curry, or trading back, however if you look at the starters, the need THIS year at LB isnt as big.

    3-4 LB’s. Vrabel/Beisel/Z.Thomas/D.Johnson
    4-3 LB’s Vrabel/Thomas/Johnson

    Hali plays rotation hybrid LB in 3-4 and moves to LE to replace Dorsey who moves to DT along with tank in the 4-3, leaving Mcbride at DE.

    This defense considering Flowers/Carr/Leggett with Morgan/Page/Pollard/Mcgraw gives KC a pretty darn decent defense, plus they are learning a new defense this season.

    This allows KC to deal Gonzalez for a 2nd, and maybe take crabtree, allowing a 2nd round DE like Kruger, or a RT like Loadholt.

    just my thoughts on the rotations.

  • April 13, 2009  - alex k says:

    100 percent agreed with your take on the gonzalez situation Bob, he has said one more year, and that is reason enough to move him…Honestly he lost a lot of respect from me when he made it about him after that great win over the Broncos.

  • April 13, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    Harold the post before mine said Philly’s 28th pick and that is a 1st rounder. At least that is what my screen says.

  • April 13, 2009  - Mortis says:

    I see Dorsey going bye bye too for a first pick with LJ tied onto just for extra fluff. He is too big for this 3-4 defense. Something is going to happen. They keep looking at these possible draft picks that will NOT be around for the second round and dang sure not going at #3. I look for the Chiefs to trade down their #3 IF Stafford is still around by the time the Rams select their #2. If Lions get Stafford then we will get Curry.
    With Stafford gone the #3 will lose its value.

  • April 13, 2009  - Double A says:

    tm1946 – Sometimes, if you put something out into the universe, it will actualize. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?

    Besides, if you were McNabb, how sweet would it be to have Tony G. as a target? And, sometimes, guys drafted in the first round never play a down in the nfl. (ie Yatil Green, former Dolphin,..not to jinx Brandon Pettigrew!) Wouldn’t you rather have durable, dependable Tony G.?

    My 2 cents on the LB and DL rotation, Dorsey LDE (ie Wilfork), Tank and Edwards in the rotation at NT. The team looks to be without a 3-4 RDE. I am really high on Aaron Curry, but it is really too bad there is no 3-4 DL up there in the top five. I expect the Chiefs to draft a DE suitable for the 3-4 fairly early in the draft, NT in the later rounds, LB at #3.

    I think McBride does not fit. Maybe Gunther loves him and the Chiefs can deal him for a pick.

    Thankfully, we will not see Hali on the D-line with DJ lined up behind him anymore. Hope that Tamba can play OLB. DJ’s days may be numbered, too.

  • April 13, 2009  - Behind Enemy Lines says:

    I agree with tm1946…No way we get close to a 1st round pick for Tony. The talk from other teams last year was in the ballpark of a 4th round pick (which Carl laughed at)…still a far cry from the 1st round. I guess we could always hope that we could trade Jeff Webb to Arizona for Larry Fitzgerald…but come on, let’s be realistic.

  • April 13, 2009  - ED says:

    HOpefully Tony will stick around one more who’s to say that we’re not going to make the type of turnaround the Falcons made last year. In 2009 for the Chiefs. I think he should definately finish his career a Chief. First of all because the AFC west is alot weaker then the NFC south if Atlanta is where he’s considering going. With Cutler out of Denver, the Chargers declining every year, and the Raiders still in the division looks like we’re already a step ahead of the competition and the draft haven’t even came yet.

  • April 13, 2009  - SG says:

    Bob, did you spend too much time in an ATL bar over the weekend? I say we write a big check and keep Gonzalez in town until he retires where he belongs – a Chief.

    The right 53 starts with the right 22…and he’s been possibly in the top 2 of those 22 for 13 years. A “2″ and a “5″ for a guy whose only fault is playing for a team that hasn’t had the defense to bring him a title? I don’t think so!

  • April 13, 2009  - Mark says:

    Nice to see that Atlanta tidbit leaked. Hopefully starts a mini bidding war, if they do want to deal Tony G.

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