Looking for a Few Good Men

ST. JOSEPH, MO - With the recent roster defections of veterans Brian Waters, Shaun Smith and Ron Edwards in Kansas City, Head Coach Todd Haley hopes the youth movement he began three years ago, yields some younger outspoken leaders in 2011.

It's never easy to fill gaps in your football team on the field. But off the field, leaders are generally born in the locker room where they put their nose to grind stone and lead their teammates by example. The Chiefs are still looking for a few good men to do just that.

"I think one what good teams, over the long haul, are able to do is develop players and leadership", said Haley before day 2 practice. "We don't pinpoint guys and say "you have to do this" its just something that has to evolve and happen but we definitely coach it. I think with good teams those guys step up at the appropriate times."

On the heels of a AFC West crown a year ago, the Chiefs are on the right track. So many players stepped up a year ago. But the loss of some vocal leaders in Kansas City, to repeat that division crown those leadership gaps must be filled sooner rather than later.

On Saturday when he spoke to the media, Haley declined to give specifics on who he hopes will step into that leadership role. But he said, as an organization, it's something they emphasize when adding players to the roster.

"That's part of the puzzle", says Haley. "Its part of trying to get this right. That doesn't mean all choir boys. It's about trying to get the right guys in the building that you know will understand the expectations and the way that we as an organization and a coaching staff want to do things. I don't know if you can predict when someone is going to take another step as a player and as a leader you just start to see it happen and you feel good about it."

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel definitely made strides over the past year in asserting himself as this teams definitive leader but outside of Cassel the Chiefs are desperate for someone to step up. Although Haley says he likes the ascension process to be a natural one, he says there are tricks to push player to evolve into that role.

"We reviewed our season last night. In that review, which was a highlight tape of sorts. But there were some pictures of some players that are not here any longer and I showed that for a purpose. Who in this room is going to step up? I don't know who you are but be aware of the situation. We need guys continuing to take steps if we want to be a great team. We are not there yet. We did a lot of good things (last year) but we did not accomplish what our ultimate goal is."

Players such as safety Eric Berry and linebacker Derrick Johnson seem poised to step up on the defensive side of the ball but where the Chiefs need more of a veteran presence the most in on the offensive line.

One man Casey Wiegmann, who the Chiefs signed to a one-year deal on Friday, can't practice with the rest of this teammates until next Thursday. But Haley says his presence, even in the film room ,will be a key learning tool.

"He's the epitome of what I've tried to coach for many years. He's the same guy everyday. You talk about leadership, this guy is a phenom. You don't do what he has done for as long as he has done it by accident. With this good group of men we have you make sure to occasionally say "hey take a look at the guy in the back of the room. He wrote the book on how to have a great career. So I would be trying to do most of the things he's doing"

Although the addition of Wiegmann will set the bar for the younger players, his presence on this team has an expiration date ending hopefully sometime in January 2012. If this team plans on taking yet another step to a perennial winner, a younger players on the offensive line, better absorb everything Wiegmann can deliver in the meetings and on the sidelines.

At no point has the opportunity been more available, or important, than now. If no one steps up to the plate now chances are they never will.

So which diaper dandies are going to become leaders for KC?

For all the news, notes and quotes on the Chiefs, visit WarpaintIllustrated.com

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories