Wrapping Up The Roster … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

I appreciate all the feedback that’s come down the line that last few days on the series of personnel evaluations of the Chiefs. Some posters agreed with my assessments, others thought I was too tough, or not tough enough.

First of all, remember these are the thoughts of one person and I don’t have any say or power in the ultimate decisions on who stays, who goes, who plays and who does not. Again, these evaluations are based on what I’ve seen, not only in the recent off-season, but last season and years before that. I’m going to trust my eyes more than anything else.

I know the arrows up and down caused a bit of confusion for some readers. Generally, a young player was going to have an up arrow, because he should be an ascending player. Any player 30 or older was more than likely going to have a down arrow, as most of his career was behind him. There were exceptions to that, as there always will be when talking about 81 players. Those differences generally were based on what I saw as the potential value of the player’s contribution to the 2010 Chiefs.

Some questioned rating the rookies and putting some of them in slots ahead of players with NFL experience. That’s a legitimate gripe and one that I wrestled with as well. There wasn’t enough football in the off-season program to accurately judge a rookie and his skills against the veteran players. Once again, my ranking had more to do with where the player fit in the ’10 picture and his chances of making an immediate contribution.  

As I walked my way through evaluating this roster it reaffirmed previous considerations on what Scott Pioli and Todd Haley have done since taking over the club. In the secondary, the Chiefs are a much better group than they were in 2008. Despite making a mistake with the release of Bernard Pollard and getting nothing in return, they have what appear to be three solid starters in Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr and Eric Berry and Javier Arenas appears to have smoothly stepped into the nickel role.

The rest of the defense hasn’t taken a step forward. The defense line remains a question mark. Glenn Dorsey and Wallace Gilberry appear solid, otherwise things are very shaky. At linebacker there are various parts and with some sort of laboratory work it could be a good group. You know like combine Andy Studebaker’s body with Mike Vrabel’s brain. On paper – and that’s where we are playing this game right now – there’s not been an infusion of talent.

Offensively, bits and pieces have been added by Pioli/Haley that could make for a productive attack in the coming season. But in a bigger picture of down the road, there are not enough young, talented offensive players in the pipeline. Last year’s draft class on the offensive side was a major disappointment, with no contributions coming from Colin Brown, Quinten Lawrence, Javarris Williams and Jake O’Connell. Any sort of performance flash would have been a chip in the pile of any of those four players, but they had none in the ’09 season. It’s one thing to struggle as a rookie. It’s another to be shutout completely.

I gave an up arrow to a total of 18 players, but only three were on offense: RB Jamaal Charles, LT Branden Albert and QB Matt Cassel. Add draft choice WR/RB Dexter McCluster, C/G Jon Asamoah and TE Tony Moeaki and that’s six. That’s not enough for the future.

It’s evidence of how tough it is to turnaround a roster when both sides of the football have talent pipelines that are producing at a trickle. Without a major step forward in their second season by the ’09 draft class, it will make the process of turning the Chiefs into a competitive team an even longer and tougher assignment.

It’s been that way with the Chiefs for years. In the 1990s, the team had one of the NFL’s best defenses (average finish at No. 10 in yards allowed) and an offense that wasn’t productive enough to score points in the post-season (average finish at No. 15 in yards gained.) Dick Vermeil and Al Saunders brought in the offense scheme that set so many records in the 2000s (average finish at No. 2 in yards gained), the defense lagged behind and was unable to help (average finish at No. 28 in yards allowed.)

The common denominator those teams shared was they won more than they lost; sometimes they won a lot more. Even though they were out of balance when it came to the influence of offense or defense, the strength of one-side carried the team.

Over the last three years, the Chiefs have an average ranking of No. 27 in yards gained and No. 25 in yards allowed. It’s easy to understand the 10-38 record with offense-defense numbers like that. No aspect of the team was good enough to carry the day.

As they begin the 2010 season, what’s different from the offensive and defensive rosters over the previous three years that indicates those rankings will improve? Not much. Growth of existing players is where the difference must come – improvement from within. There haven’t been enough talented players added to really change things. On defense there is Berry. On offense there is McCluster, Moeaki and veteran G Ryan Lilja.

The head coach is constantly talking about the “process” the franchise is going through. It’s another way to say rebuilding and there’s nothing pretty about a rebuild. Anyone who has ever been part of a home or business that went through a remodeling project knows how messy things become. It seldom comes together easily or on schedule. It’s a “process” that tests the patience of everyone involved.

Right now, with two drafts and two cycles of free agency behind them, the Pioli/Haley Chiefs should have a stronger roster than what we have seen. That can change if the ’09 draft class comes through in its second season.

That’s why it’s easy to highlight the players in the spotlight for the 2010 season. It’s Tyson Jackson, Alex Magee, Donald Washington, Colin Brown, Quinten Lawrence, Javarris Williams and Jake O’Connell. We can add undrafted free agents from last year like Jovan Belcher, Pierre Walters, Reshard Langford, Jackie Bates, Bobby Greenwood and Dion Gales to that group. They all have a chance to make the 53-man roster.

Belcher was the only player in that group that exceeded expectations in the ’09 season. The rookie star last year was K Ryan Succop. But a class of rookies will never be considered successful with just a kicker getting it done.

The Hunt Family wants to build its team through the Draft. That only works if the annual selection meeting ALWAYS produces talent. There can be no exceptions, no bad drafts, not busts with the early and supposedly more talented draft choices. If the production and performance level of the ’09 class doesn’t take a significant jump, it’s going to seriously set back the “process”.


A GREAT FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND STORY

It was halfway around the world where the story came down that was a fantastic way to highlight the celebration as our birth as a nation.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress is one of the four NFL head coaches that are touring military installations in the last two weeks. Childress, along with Andy Reid of the Eagles, John Fox of the Panthers and Marvin Lewis of the Bengals have been in Germany and Afghanistan meeting and greeting the troops. That’s Reid and Childress above visiting with a wounded warrior in Germany.

On Friday, they were at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, just north of Kabul. Childress was unloading flak jackets when he stopped to talk with a group of Marines that was walking past.

Here’s how Childress told the story to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“How are you doing? I’m Brad Childress, I appreciate everything,” he told the young man. Childress was looking the Marine in the eye, their hands were clasped and after about three seconds the Vikings coach realized this was no stranger. It was his son, Andrew, who had been brought to Bagram without Childress’ knowledge.

“Honest to God, I had him by the hand and I didn’t realize who I was looking at until …” said Childress, his voice trailing off as he retold the story during a phone conversation Friday. “I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea that was going to happen. We were in one spot and he’s in another. Somehow they pulled it off.”

The coach didn’t recognize his son because of a new mustache and weight loss. Childress thought it would be December before he saw Andrew again.

“It was emotional as hell,” Childress said. “It was just a great feeling holding him in my arms.”

Happy Fourth of July!

NFL PERSONNEL & NEWS FILE FOR JULY 5

JURISPRUDENCE – former Oakland QB JaMarcus Russell (right) was arrested on Monday at his home in Mobile, Alabama for possession of a controlled substance – codeine syrup. The arrest came out of an undercover investigation After being booked at the Mobile Metro Jail, he was released on a $2,500 bond. He’s scheduled to appear in court on July 20. A bond hearing is set for Wednesday. Russell was released by the Raiders in May and had not been heard from since, at least until this weekend. One of the popular ways people abuse liquid codeine is to mix it with soft drinks or hard liquor, providing an extra kick. Remember, the Chargers had a defensive back Terrence Kiel who was arrested by the DEA for shipping codeine cough syrup across state lines. He eventually pleaded down to a misdemeanor. The Chargers released him almost as soon as he was charged.


24 Responses to “Wrapping Up The Roster … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • July 6, 2010  - Anonymous says:

    THE PURPLE DRINK STRIKES AGAIN


  • July 6, 2010  - The Morning Fix | Arrowhead Addict | A Kansas City Chiefs blog says:

    [...] Wrapping Up The Roster … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs-BobGretz.com [...]


  • July 6, 2010  - RW in the ATL says:

    Again, an excellent report series and final overview which coincide with my own feelings toward this roster as currently constructed. A large question looms: How long?

    How long does Pioli/Haley have to show results? In this microwave results expectation era the term “Win Now!” is more in vogue than ever before. I believe Haley is working on the 2d of a 3 year contract and also believe he and his GM boss have about that much time to show or…go.


  • July 6, 2010  - Anonymous says:

    “Once again, my ranking had more to do with where the player fit in the ‘10 picture and his chances of making an immediate contribution.”

    Good feedback BobGretz. Obviously, as the blogmaster, you have no requirement to justify any of your thoughts, so we appreciate all your comments (as we’re all big-time Chiefs fans)! :-)


  • July 6, 2010  - jimbo says:

    I’m glad today is not Monday. I’ve got a sour taste in my mouth, as Bob has left out the sugar in the Kool Aid today. A realistic evaluation?. Probably…

    In the meantime, If the coffee tastes bitter & the bagels are plain. I’m bringing extra sugar to work today & will be offering it to everybody.
    Go Chiefs.


  • July 6, 2010  - jim says:

    JaMarcus R has one of those big Gretz arrows pointing down beside his name. Where are those folks now who were saying that we should sign him? What a disaster he has been – worse even than Ryan Leaf.


  • July 6, 2010  - Nate Adams says:

    Bob – I’m sure you will hear about this from many others, however you didn’t list Tomas Jones as being added to this years offense. You are the best source of Chief’s information and I thank you for it!

    Nate


  • July 6, 2010  - Adrian says:

    I know that the bulk of free agency has long-ago passed by, but I wonder if there’s anyone out there who would be able to improve the Chiefs roster from training camp on out (instead of adding players every week during the middle of the season). It seems like Haley/Pioli aren’t unwilling to meddle in free agency, so I think it wouldn’t hurt to take a look once the roster trims down a little. The more talent, the better. Simple enough.


  • July 6, 2010  - colby says:

    While the Chiefs didn’t upgrade their front seven as much as many of us would have liked, I think they are counting on our new defensive coaches in Crennel, Pleasant, and Thomas to make the impact necessary to winning games. Our secondary looks like it should be a strength for years to come. If guys like DJ, Studebaker and our LSU linemen step up their games then our front seven won’t be as bad as we might think.

    I would like to see us add another receiver to push Bowe and Chambers. I’ve said many times that a Jarrad Page for Patrick Crayton trade would make sense. Also, even though he’s on the downside of his career, Terrell Owens might not be the worst idea in the world at this point either. He wasn’t a disruption in Buffalo last year and his numbers weren’t terrible considering the poor offense he had around him.


  • July 6, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Nice wrap-up of a fine series of articles, Bob. Well done.

    JaMarcus Russell. Wow. I know a lot of people make fun of this guy…and I have too in the past (when he was playing). But, his story has turned sad. I can’t help but feel sorry for this young man. I have to wonder…just exactly what happened to this guy? He had a ton of potential coming out of college. What a waste of talent.


  • July 6, 2010  - el cid says:

    Got to say, 4-12, 22 sacks in 09. New coordinators, Jones and Lilja from free agency, a good draft. 8-8 looks good BEFORE training camp. Unless a lot of unknowns develope into all pros, 8-8 might grade out a solid B.


  • July 6, 2010  - SG says:

    “I know that the bulk of free agency has long-ago passed by, but I wonder …”

    What names might you drop for conversation purposes?


  • July 6, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    I don’t think there’s much available at the moment. Wait until the roster cuts start coming. There will be some talented players cut from other teams that will probably be able to help us. For depth, if nothing else.


  • July 6, 2010  - el cid says:

    There is always guys who get cut. Most do not help a team on the rise. They can cement over a spot until the next year. Chambers is the exception for the Chiefs but look at all the WR and TEs last year. You can only get so much picking over the bones of others.


  • July 6, 2010  - SG says:

    “You can only get so much picking over the bones of others.”

    Fully agreed – which highlights the importance of the early FA moves made. The team is improved.


  • July 6, 2010  - el cid says:

    Once we get over the awe of the Chiefs in 2010, we might notice that the front 7 on defense is basically the same. Improved, older, wiser, better hope so because 22 sacks will not cut it in 2010. For the first 6-8 games, offensive coordinators are salivating over wearing down this defense and them not able to get off the field after 3rd down. The Chiefs were less than interested in defensive help in free agency, SG, so we will see what happens after game 8 but watch out during the first eight, could be ugly. The blame for this year may well be the overpaid front defensive seven, then again the group may actually start earning their pay.


  • July 6, 2010  - Michael says:

    Last year was almost too much for me to take. The D would play pretty good, and would get the opposition in third and 5 plus,then give up a first down. Then do that again, and again.

    Worse yet were the times when opposing teams just gashed the D for huge runs over and over. It was embarrassing, and made me want to throw up. I’m sure all of you remember.

    Now I have a list of vet free agents who I thought KC should have signed this year but didn’t. I remember being pretty P.O’d as guy after guy was signed, and the Chiefs did nothing. Then the draft came and went. I love the draft KC had, and I think the players KC got will be major pluses and playmakers for the team this year. But, management decided not to hedge their bets (that all the young guys in the front seven on D who need to step up will)along the defensive line and at linebacker.

    So, that’s where things sit. I believe the offense will be greatly improved (perhaps, even explosive). I believe the kicking and return games will be very, very good.

    Defense? Well, hold on to your hats. Berry and Arenas should help make the secondary a major strength, but after that it all falls on the young returning vets (and we all know who they are)on the DL and LB corp. Judging by their actions, there’s no doubt Haley and Pioli believe all those guys are going to take major steps forward. There’s no doubt Crennel, Pleasant and the rest of the def. coaching staff believe it, too.

    Man, I hope they are right, or the offense and kicking game are going to have to put up a whole lot of points.


  • July 6, 2010  - Merwin in NY says:

    Thanks for the articles Bob. I realize they are just you’re opinions, but it’s nice to get them since you see more of the team then we do. Colby, I agree with you on the first part about the defensive front seven, I hope we do see improvement. Maybe we could trade DJ for Patrick Crayton if DJ doesn’t seem to improve/fit the defense. I don’t think TO is a good fit in KC with the type of players Pioli wants to bring in.


  • July 6, 2010  - True Red & Gold says:

    Bob, great stuff. I think your assessment is as good as any. Looking at our roster that way certainly does sour the Kool-Aid. Hopefully assembled as a team they will perform better than many expect.

    T.O. is a terrible idea by the way. Thankfully Pioli would never do that.

    Don’t feel too sorry for Russell. He has enough money in the bank that he will never have to work another day in his life. If he blows it and lives in a trailer I will still not feel sorry for the man.


  • July 6, 2010  - Harry says:

    Some things to throw on top of all the talk, above:

    Let’s not discount how getting generally better in terms of speed, quickness, and coverage ability in the secondary will redound to the rest of the D. It’s not like the secondary improves in isolation and the run D won’t improve as a consequence. Winning just ONE more battle in the pattern means the pass rush and the run D have, in effect, one more player free to do rush the passer or crush the ballcarrier.

    And while I’m a trenches first kind of guy, there’s no discounting the impact of Jamaal Charles on the offense last year. Shoot! All of a sudden, LBs are frozen on the play fake, and a wall of blockers were actually giving Cassel a few seconds to survey the field, not that Matt was quite prepared to do much but run for his life, by that point. But he was comin’ around and the ball was coming out cleaner and even Terrance Copper caught a pass in the late going.

    The high number of drops is on the receivers, but it’s also on the amount of time and the number of really good looks our QB gets. If the ball’s coming out before Cassel can get set, maybe it’s coming out HOT and EARLY, when the play’s designed for a different timing, and the WR isn’t ready, and hasn’t trained for that poorly thrown ball comin’ out early. WE all see either the QB screwin’ it up or the WR muffin’ a ball that hit him on the hands.

    I know these guys are all pro’s and are paid to get it right under difficult circumstances, but there are a lot of little things that have to go RIGHT for the whole 11-man idea to click. That’s why they call it clickin’, as in tickin’, as in finely tuned time piece of many gears.

    It’s easy for us to dissect the moves made thus far, and, because we ALL fail to see all the interrelationships taking place, we over-emphasize the big-name signings, and maybe miss the rising tide. Certainly it’s hard for us outsiders to predict a sinking tide, when one or three stalwarts take a turn for the worse between December and September.

    To a great extent, the magic IS taking place under our radar. When/if it DOES click, we’ll all point to the prospect that developed or the rejuvenated veteran, when really it’s all about how all 11 pieces got on the same page at the same time.

    In other words, I think they have enough team stout and quick to put on respectable performances. Wins and losses for this team, as ‘most all others, now reside in the hands of the coaches and how the players respond to the coaching.

    I personally think this outfit has turned the corner and there are enough returning players who know how Haley wants things done and are doing it. Very little yelling about basic stuff everybody ought to know, and a lot more catching players in the act of doing GOOD things. Haley was between a rock and a hard place, trying to set a new standard of performance AND develop a sense of mutual positive regard.

    Can they be contenders this year? Likely not, but it’s a league where enough wrong-headed egotists stick their fingers in the pie, in a system designed to keep even THOSE misfit teams in that 6-10 to 10-6 window, that an outfit that does things right CAN get on the right side of .500 in 2 seasons.


  • July 7, 2010  - SG says:

    “Don’t feel too sorry for Russell.”

    Although Bob’s write-up didn’t say anything about it – let’s put it in a different light – he’s been acting much like a lost puppy. The remaining father figure in his life passed away and he’s lost his compass it seems ever since. I could be wrong – but this guy’s doesn’t appear to be acting like another high-profile QB who hangs out with people who kill dogs for sport – he’s making poor life decisions and is in desperate need of a good role model. I, for one, do feel very sorry for the guy and wish him a Tony Dungy encounter very soon.


  • July 7, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    I agree, SG. It’s one thing to make fun of a guy for throwing bad passes on a football field. But, when you see a young man’s life going down the toilet…I just don’t see any humor in that.


  • July 7, 2010  - Todd says:

    Not traditionally a big fan, but I have really enjoyed the articles you have written this year. They have been very honest, insightful and enjoyable. Hats off to you.


  • July 7, 2010  - True Red & Gold says:

    he’s making poor life decisions and is in desperate need of a good role model.

    SG are you kidding? That would put him in the same category as about 1 in every 5 people. Only 99% of those people never get the opportunities that Russell has been given. To feel sorry for him is a joke.




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