Nick Athan: To me McCluster was the Chiefs biggest disappointment of the entire draft class. He came on scene guns a blazing but honestly he got caught up in his own hype. And he spent too much time on Facebook than on the playbook.
The fact it took him five weeks to recover from a high ankle sprain tells me that he wasn't working as hard as he needed to during his injury. And he basically did nothing when he returned. That means he could eventually become that third down scat back for the Chiefs in 2011. And that's probably all we're going to see out of Dexter unless he grows up a bit.
C.E. Wendler: Read between the lines. Haley was basically saying the Chiefs are giving up any hope that McCluster will someday be a 1,000-yard receiver in the NFL, which is what we expected when he was drafted in the second round.
Because McCluster is too small to take more than three or four carries per game (meaning he can't be the backup to Jamaal Charles), his role becomes third-down back and return specialist. Basically, the hope for McCluster is that he becomes a poor man's version of Eric Metcalf. That's better than nothing, I suppose.
Michael Ash: I don't make much of the comments at all. Press conferences at the combine aren't the time to put stock into what NFL head coaches are saying. They all have their own agendas. You're rarely going to get the truth about anything.
How do we know Haley wasn't just blowing smoke, trying to create the impression that the Chiefs will be targeting a wide receiver? How do we know Haley wasn't pulling a Bill Parcells and publicly tweaking Dexter as a means of motivation? There could be any number of reasons Haley said what he did.
If we take Haley at his word, then the Chiefs – after just one year – have basically given up on Dexter, writing him off as nothing but a third down back. I have a hard time believing they would have reached that conclusion so quickly. But even if they have, the last thing I'd expect is for Haley to openly admit it.
With the addition of Jim Zorn to the coaching staff, what are your expectations of Matt Cassel next season? Do you expect him to take another step forward? Or do you see him staying at the same level, or even regressing?
Nick Athan: I like Zorn and even thought he'd make a great offensive coordinator. And I can tell you that Joe Flacco is heart broken that he's no longer with the Ravens. In fact, I'll go this far, Zorn is the Chiefs best offseason coaching hire that's for certain.
Can new KC QB Coach Jim Zorn bring out the best in Matt Cassel in 2011?
But that doesn't mean he'll get Cassel to the next level. What he has to do is basically find the right buttons to push that make him feel comfortable surveying the field. If Cassel had a flaw last year, he didn't do a very good job reading his options in passing plays. Too often, and for the most part he succeeded, he fed the ball to his primary target.
C.E. Wendler: I think Cassel's progression, or regression, will have a lot more to do with the talent around him than any coaching benefits. After an easy schedule in 2010, the Chiefs face a difficult road next season. Cassel will struggle unless the Chiefs upgrade their receivers.
At minimum, the Chiefs have to find another starter. Ideally they'll also bring in a competent slot receiver, especially with the recent news that Todd Haley thinks Dexter McCluster is a third-down back. Cassel could make great strides if he actually has someone other than Dwayne Bowe to throw the ball to next year. If not, Jim Zorn isn't going to save him.
Michael Ash: I can't say that I expect to see Cassel continue progressing in 2011, because I was surprised he played at the level he did in 2010. I didn't think he had a 27 touchdown to 7 interception type of season in him, so I can't turn around and say that I think he'll do even better in 2011.
The addition of Jim Zorn does give me more hope than I had when it looked like Haley and Bill Muir were going to be the only resources Cassel would have. But even with that said, coaching is still just one piece of the puzzle.
Are the Chiefs going to have the same success in the run game that they did in 2010? Will the offensive line be able to protect Cassel against a much stingier slate of defenses? Will the team finally add a much-needed weapon opposite Bowe?
The answers to those questions will be larger factors in determining Cassel's fate than Zorn or anyone else on the coaching staff.
Do you think the Chiefs should offer a mid-round pick to the Bengals for Carson Palmer? Nick Athan: Thanks but no thanks. I've not found anyone in league circles that can give me any decent qualities that Palmer has in regards to being a leader.
Carson Palmer is looking for a new home but it quite likely won't be in Kansas City.
Honestly, if he's dead set on leaving the Bengals, he should retire. But as far as the Chiefs, HELL NO!
C.E. Wendler: The entire idea is absurd. One, some team will offer a lot more for Palmer. Two, the Chiefs have already committed to Matt Cassel. Three, the salary the Chiefs would likely need to award Palmer, combined with the salary Cassel is already making, would be an astronomical waste of resources. File this one under Madden Fantasies.
Michael Ash: They aren't going to trade for Palmer with the expectation of having him compete for the starting job. But the Chiefs certainly need to upgrade their depth at QB, so if a situation arose where they could land Palmer as a backup for a late-round draft pick, then sure, they should absolutely do it.
It may sound unlikely that Palmer would agree to be a backup, but given that he's apparently told the Bengals he'll retire if he's not traded, it doesn't sound like his competitive fires are burning too strong anymore. If he's willing to leave the league entirely, you'd think he might be open to reworking his deal and being a #2 somewhere. Plus, he and Cassel were college roommates, so he'd get to work alongside one of his buddies.
However, there are teams out there with a dire need for a starting quarterback, and they'll probably drive the trade market for Palmer much higher than the Chiefs would be willing to pay. But in the unlikely event that nobody was bidding on him, the Bengals were willing to unload him for 10 cents on the dollar, and Palmer was willing to backup Cassel, then of course the Chiefs should get involved.
Since it's March and all, which college team do you think will be cutting down the nets when it's all said and done?
Nick Athan: Really you have to ask me that question? The Kansas Jayhawks will battle Notre Dame for the National Championship. I think they are the two best teams in the country at the moment.
Both have depth and veteran leadership. In fact, I think the Fighting Irish are the top team in the country. I know I'm going against my Jayhawks but if Kansas is going to beat them in the title game, they're going to have match Notre Dames' outside shooting behind the arc. If not, Kansas can't beat them in a shoot out.
Are the Kansas Jayhawks poised to duplicate what they did two years ago?
C.E. Wendler: Unfortunately for Warpaint Illustrated subscribers, I don't follow NCAA Basketball whatsoever, so there's no insightful commentary I can provide here. As I would feel terrible about shortchanging any readers on this question, however, I did my due diligence and found the latest top 25 ranking, put the names in a hat, and came up with Kansas.
Actually, I deliberately picked Kansas because I knew it would tickle a bunch of our readers, who are huge Jayhawks fans. Rock Chalk to all of you.
Michael Ash: I'm probably somewhere in between my two colleagues, as I do follow college basketball, but mostly just in passing. I know that Kansas, Duke, and Ohio State seem to be the top three contenders this year, but I couldn't even begin to make a case for why one of those teams might be better than the others.
I do root for the local teams, so out of that mix, I'd obviously hope for a Kansas victory. But we can't all pick Kansas, so I'll take this opportunity to endear myself to the rest of our readership and shamelessly predict Missouri vs. Kansas State in the championship game.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Do you believe Todd Haley when he says Run DMC is going to be a third down back?
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