Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'll take the chicken salad, please.

Anyone that caught Hard Knocks on HBO last year, might remember these words from quarterback Casey Printers as he was being informed that he had been cut... "hell I had to make chicken salad out of chicken shit". At first it was kind of funny, but as the dreadful 2007 season unfolded, those words seemed prophetic.

Hard Knocks exposed some real cracks in the foundation that the optimistic fan chose to ignore... the offense was one dimensional, special teams as a whole were terrible, Carl Peterson was more worried about butts in the seats, than developing what little youth there was and worst of all, the carousel of scrap heap and re-tread veterans didn't respect Herm Edwards (anyone remember Jason Dunn bitching about not getting a room on the first floor?).

So here we are, Training Camp 2008. And we are paying the price of the "One Player Away" mentality that plagued the Chiefs in the Vermeil era. In all fairness, this can be somewhat excused, because team owner Lamar Hunt was in poor health, and I think there was a sense of urgency to try and win the trophy named after him (the AFC Championship trophy), before he died. Sending a first round pick to the Rams to get Trent Green (at the behest of the head coach), set the tone for the remaining Vermeil Era drafts. Veterans, veterans and more veterans. Youth, be damned! You can count on one hand, the number of early picks that are still in the league. LJ doesn't count, as Carl Peterson is quick to remind us, that was his pick...

OK, I've strayed a little bit... back to 2008. I'm actually quite excited to see what this team looks like this year. Make no mistake about it, they won't be very good. Croyle is being handed the starting QB spot, after 6 underwhelming starts last year. The O-line is a melting pot of draft picks and free agents. The star RB has "malcontent" and not "team leader" written all over him and the stud middle line backer is running out of daylight to prove he really is a stud. Did I forget anything? Oh... I think there are plenty of questions about the coaching staff, particularly Herm Edwards.

Herm seems to have a good handle on evaluating talent and coaching up young players. A poor man's Bill Cowher, if you will. The one difference, was Cowher's (or the Steelers organization) knack for identifying the truly important pieces (usually o-linemen and a few skill players), locking them up and then letting everyone else walk during free agency. When that happened, there was always a young pup in the wings, chomping at the bit to get on the field (how many stud linebackers have come out of that organization?). I think that's where the Chiefs are hoping to land in a few years. The question is, will Herm be around long enough to see the fruits of his labor?

My guess is that the offense should have more direction, consistency and creativity with Chan Gailey running the show. We all know that Gunther is bat shit crazy, and with the trade of Jared Allen, he's got one less bullet in the Gun... his challenge will be to come up with a way to maximize Glen Dorsey and Tamba Hali, so they don't have to bring a LB or DB in to create pressure on the opposing QB. As for special teams... Colquitt is a stud. But the kicking, return and coverage is a huge question mark. Taking and subsequently releasing Justin Medlock, when Mason Crosby was in your backyard could haunt this team for the next 10 years.

I think the logic applied to the Royals this year, will probably also apply to the Chiefs. They might be a better team at times, but it won't be reflected in the stat books or overall record. They are most likely head for another top 10 pick in 2009, and it could be 2010, before the youth investment begins to pay dividends.

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