Nick Athan: I've pretty much said all that I could on the situation. I took a beating from some within our own community about how bad things were and most didn't think the back to back losses by the Chiefs had anything to do with the feud.
So I'll just offer my final take on the topic. I strongly disagree with the masses that say it had very little to do with the Chiefs collapse down the stretch.
C.E. Wendler: It's fairly obvious there was some degree of conflict between the two men. There was smoke to that fire from the early stages of the season, and it was burning all to the way through the final playoff game. The question is whether Weis actually left solely because of Todd Haley.
We'll probably never know the answer to that question. But given the fact that he's now coaching at the same school his son attends, it's safe to say Charlie Weis didn't leave Kansas City because of Haley entirely. In the end, Weis deserves more blame for this divorce, because he had prior knowledge of his ability to work with Haley. He knew what he was getting into. If he couldn't handle it, that's on him.
Michael Ash: I think everyone knew from the beginning that Weis wouldn't be with K.C. for the long haul, but the fact that he only lasted a year is surprising. Maybe it shouldn't have been, though, because I think we can go back to Weis' preseason comment of being here to "fix the quarterback" and see signs that he never fully bought into what was going on here.
What he said was probably 100% true, but can you imagine Pioli and Haley's reaction to hearing their new coordinator publicly undercut Cassel like that? We should have seen the writing on the wall back then that this marriage wasn't going to last too long.
I think there's been a tendency to over dramatize the story, but in reality, the end result is what many expected. Weis came to K.C. with a reputation of having a giant ego and there was plenty of speculation that he wouldn't adjust well to working for someone who used to be his subordinate. And maybe that's an unfair analysis – maybe Weis walked in completely open-minded while Haley was an evil tyrant. But we're never going to know the inner workings of their relationship.
At the end of the day, the only question I have is why there's a segment of Chiefs fans wanting to see the team go through the same thing again with Josh McDaniels. He brings all of the same problems to the table that Weis did – the potential of a rocky relationship with Haley, and the likelihood of leaving K.C. the minute another job comes along. But unlike Weis, McDaniels brings the added bonus of being someone that Haley dislikes from the get-go. Talk about a potential disaster.
In terms of progress, where do you expect the Chiefs to be this time next year?
Nick Athan: I think the Chiefs will definitely take a step back a year from now. The 2011 schedule is so daunting and if the team doesn't spend a significant amount of dollars in free agency, I can't see them upgrading their own talent pool to compete with the likes of the Patriots, Jets, Bears, Packers, Vikings, Colts, Steelers and their own teams in the AFC West.
Jared Allen will return to Kansas City next year as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Kansas City won just six games in 2011. And that's hard for me to say considering the strides they made this past season. But there are just too many holes to fill and the biggest being the loss of Charlie Weis, for this team to overcome.
C.E. Wendler: That's a difficult question to answer, at least on my part, because at present the Chiefs have so many needs on both sides of the ball. I don't really have any confidence that Scott Pioli is going to fill those needs, because in two offseasons he's ignored so many of them already.
Let's say, just for argument's sake, Pioli is worthy of being the league's highest-paid general manager. If that's true, I expect the Chiefs to be moving on to the second round of the NFL playoffs this time next year. You would hope all of the leading men at One Arrowhead Drive have the same expectation.
Michael Ash: A lot depends on what the Chiefs do this offseason to prepare for the much tougher schedule they'll face next year. I think the big thing to keep in mind is that, of their 10 wins this season, only two came against the other teams in the AFC West. That meant eight wins came against non-division opponents.
With games against the likes of the Patriots, Jets, Colts, Packers, Bears, and Steelers, the Chiefs aren't going to get eight wins from outside the division in 2011. But if they can increase their wins inside the division, they have a chance to offset that.
The Broncos are in a state of flux right now, and it's anybody's guess as to what will happen with the Raiders now that Tom Cable is gone. It's easier said than done, but if the Chiefs can sweep those games next year and beat the Chargers at home again, that's five wins.
If they can find another five wins outside the division, they're back to 10-6 and probably in the playoff mix again. Given their drastically harder schedule, hitting double-digit wins for the second year in a row would be definite progress. And if they do make the postseason, hopefully they would be a little more battle-tested during the season than they were this year.
We know that several Chiefs players stepped up to the plate this year, but which ones didn't? Did anyone regress this season?
Nick Athan: To me the biggest disappointment was cornerback Brandon Flowers. So much so that I think Javier Arenas could supplant him in 2011 as a starter. He was never the same player after the loss at Houston. And then when Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford schooled him at Oakland, he wasn't near the player of his counterpart on the Chiefs, Brandon Carr.
KC Linebacker Andy Studebaker needs to take a step up in 2011.
With one exception, Flowers had all the tools to be an elite cornerback. He's not very physical at the line of scrimmage. And that means against big, strong physical receivers, Flowers isn't that effective.
In fact, the Chiefs were so worried about his coverage skills that they generally had him ten or twelve yards off opposing receivers. They were counting on his strong closing speed but too often he was burned on third and long – for failing to do the one thing – close on the ball, the Chiefs had hoped he'd be able to do.
C.E. Wendler: Mike Vrabel clearly was an enormous liability by the end of the season, which is a step down from being merely below average as a player a year ago. It's also fairly obvious Chris Chambers went from being a valuable offensive asset to a complete nothing.
Both of these players should not be Chiefs next season, at least in an ideal world. At the very least, neither should be starting. If Vrabel or Chambers start a single game for the 2011 Chiefs, something is wrong.
Michael Ash: Several of the older guys on the team fit this bill, naturally. But in terms of young players the Chiefs need to rely on going forward, I talked some last week about my thoughts on Branden Albert and Barry Richardson. Particularly when it comes to pass protection, I didn't think either player was too impressive over the second half of the season. That's definitely a concern going forward.
And while it might be too harsh to say he regressed, I didn't see what I was hoping to see from Andy Studebaker this year. Maybe I set my expectations a bit too high, but other than receiver and possibly nose tackle, I think the OLB spot opposite Tamba Hali is the biggest hole the Chiefs need to fill. For most of the season, Studebaker was replacing Mike Vrabel in passing situations, giving him a chance to make his case that the Chiefs already had an answer on the roster. He fell well short, in my opinion.
If the draft was today, who would you take with the 21st pick?
Nick Athan: I hate to go back to the LSU well. But based on where the Chiefs are drafting, they have to get the best defensive tackle they can find. And that should lead them to the Tigers Drake Nevis. He's big, strong and physical. Plus as a bonus he can sack opposing quarterbacks.
Texas A&M Linbeacker Von Miller could be quite a catch for the Chiefs in the first round.
I know the risk in the Chiefs going back to LSU to draft another defensive lineman. But until Kansas City can find that space eating nose tackle that can split double teams, it's never going to ever be able to develop a dominating 3-4 scheme that can lead to victories in December and January.
If Nevis isn't available; they should spend their top at inside linebacker. And to me the best inside guy they could hope to land with the 21st pick is Akeem Ayers from UCLA. He can do it all and I'm not sold on Jevon Belcher long term.
C.E. Wendler: Von Miller, from Texas A&M. He fills the Chiefs dire need at outside linebacker and he's likely to be available around the 21st pick.
It's too early to tell where the wide receivers will fall in the draft this year. One might very well drop to Kansas City's spot, but that's a far cloudier proposition at the moment than Miller's likely draft spot.
Michael Ash: Not to cop out on answering the question, but unless the Chiefs are able to make a big free agent signing at receiver, they need to give serious consideration to using their #1 pick to make a run at Larry Fitzgerald. As we've talked about, they have to make some significant moves this offseason, and that's one that would have a major impact.
It's come out over the last week or two that the Cardinals are starting to talk about a contract extension with Fitzgerald, and that seems to have some Chiefs fans souring on the idea that he'd be available. On the contrary, it's good that Arizona is talking with him about a new contract. Either they're going sign him to a new deal, or they'll realize they can't keep him, which will probably lead to a trade. Either way, they have to start negotiating with him first, so it's good that they've gotten the ball rolling.
Receiver is obviously one of the Chiefs' biggest needs, so if there's a strong possibility of drafting one anyway, why not use the pick to get a proven commodity?
Did his performance in the final two games of the season change your opinion about Matt Cassel?
Nick Athan: Emphatically No! Had the Chiefs not had a coaching meltdown late in the year, I think it was probable that Cassel would have led Kansas City to the AFC's Final Four.
Matt Cassel deserves major kudos for a brilliant 2010 season.
Cassel was the teams 2010 MVP. Sure he had some horrific moments early in the season but to me I'll never forget his performance against the St. Louis Rams just eleven days after his emergency appendectomy, that will forever solidify his place as the quarterback of the future.
Let's hope the team can find a solid offensive coordinator and add another veteran receiver that can stretch the field.
C.E. Wendler: No. It was extremely disappointing to see Cassel save his worst game for last, but we can't knee jerk over one game when he showed such tremendous improvement in other games. While Cassel was terrible against the Ravens, it doesn't mean he suddenly lost the ability to read a defense, step into a throw and hit a receiver accurately.
Cassel will be a starter in Kansas City for at least two more seasons. We have plenty of time to see if he can continue the progress he showed this season. There's no rush, especially because the Chiefs aren't in a position to draft a quarterback high. They have too many other needs to even think about sacrificing picks to move up.
Michael Ash: Cassel showed too much improvement this season to have it all be wiped away by two bad games. But the reality of the situation is that he had a chance to end the argument once and for all and prove that he was the guy who could lead this team to postseason success, and he responded with three interceptions (plus two in the previous game).
Cassel has shown that he can be more than a game manager who rides the coattails of a good defense or a good running game, and compared to where he was last year, that's a huge step forward. But there are still going to be people who doubt whether he's good enough to win the meaningful games, and those doubts are perfectly legitimate because Cassel has yet to prove otherwise.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Which player should KC draft with their first pick in April?