Move #10 – Be Bold in Fixing the Offense

In our final look at the top 10 moves of the offseason, we take a look at the offense. We've touched on some of these topics already but during the senior bowl some interesting items came up. Kansas City's offense has even more questions going into free agency than I had previously thought.

With the Senior Bowl ending in a 27-0 route by the North, NFL Scouts, general managers and head coaches will return to their cities to evaluate and criticize the players they watched first hand in the cold and rain in Mobile, Alabama this week.

If the Chiefs are going to have any success next season they need more consistency on offense. Herm Edwards must put his stamp on it and he needs to find better players along the offensive line and at wide receiver.

Don't think that I've forgotten the quarterback issue, but as I previously stated I think Kansas City should go into training camp with Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle competing for the starting job.

That might indeed be the plan as the Chiefs spent a considerable amount of time talking to and interviewing numerous quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl.

There are four quarterbacks that will fill out the first round of the NFL Draft in April - Ohio State's Troy Smith, Florida's Chris Leak, Notre Dame's Brady Quinn and LSU Junior JaMarcus Russell, who could go number one overall to the Raiders.

But the Chiefs appear to be hedging their bets and could be in a position to take one of these three young quarterbacks if they fall into the latter part of the first round. Would it be prudent? Absolutely not, but it might not be a bad idea, especially if they release Trent Green.

It's not my choice at all, however, due to more pressing needs along the offensive line.

Going into the Senior Bowl, that appeared to be one of the deepest positions of the first round, but when the week ended only one tackle is a sure fire first-round hit - Wisconsin's Joe Thomas. The biggest disappointment was Penn State's Levi Brown, who clearly fell in the eyes of the scouts after a lackluster week in Mobile.

As I stated before, he could fall to the Chiefs when they're on the clock with pick 23, and I would not be upset despite his fall in the rankings if Kansas City selected him. But they have to be 100 percent sure he can start at left tackle come opening day.

His possible first-round selection is muddled based on the fact that All-World left tackle Willie Roaf has begun working out again. The fact he's yet to file all of his retirement papers, leads some – including myself – to believe he could attempt a comeback in 2007. I'm not sure that's a good idea for the Chiefs.

If that happens Kansas City likely won't go after free agent tackle Leonard Davis from the Cardinals. Whichever direction the Chiefs go they can't make a mistake. Left tackle is a vital cog in rebuilding the offense. I'd say it's far more important than deciding on the starting quarterback.

The Chiefs entire offensive game plan is predicated on the success of the offensive line. With only left guard Brian Waters a lock to return in 2007, Edwards has to be dead on in his evaluation process of the four remaining starters. The good thing about the lackluster effort of the offensive linemen in Mobile means some good players will fall into the second and third rounds.

One who likely won't get that far is guard Justin Blalock from Texas, who caught KC's eye in Mobile. Though he's played tackle he's far more suited to play guard in the NFL. To me, the sleeper is Mike Jones from Iowa. You can never have enough farm-bred boys on your roster and Jones to me is a guy who will likely slip into the third round. The last time the Chiefs drafted one of those types of players they plucked Will Shields from Nebraska.

But fixing the offensive line is only a part of the problem for the Chiefs as they hope to compete with the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos for the division crown.

Another issue is at wide receiver. This past week the Chiefs worked out former Michigan State star Charles Rogers. In three NFL seasons he's only played 15 games, caught 36 passes and scored only four touchdowns.

When the Detroit Lions drafted the homegrown talent back in 2003, they were sure he'd be a star. Of course with Lions GM Matt Millen running the show, that line of thinking was merely optimism rather than true evaluation.

Looking closer at his career in college, Rogers had plenty of issues to overcome, including the fact he wasn't a hard worker and he went up against some inferior defensive talent in the Big 10.

When he came to the Lions he couldn't stay healthy. He still can't and Detroit cut him during the regular season. Several teams, including the Chiefs, gave him a look. The Chiefs were slightly interested but felt he wasn't 100 percent ready to play, so they signed Rod Gardner which really didn't work out much better.

The sentiment from the Chiefs brass at that time was that Rogers was a malcontent. Between then and now apparently something has changed or they would not have brought him in for a workout.

But is a healthy Rogers better than Samie Parker? I say yes. Eddie Kennison is a still a solid NFL receiver but he's no longer a number one. His performance, along with the other receivers in the playoff loss to the Colts, is the issue that leaves many believing this unit needs wholesale changes.

Edwards is already on record as saying Jeff Webb will be in the mix next season and so will Chris Hannon. That leaves someone the odd man out if the Chiefs bring in new blood – which they have to.

I think signing Rogers would be a solid move. He hasn't worked out with anyone else since the season ended and Kansas City really has nothing to lose by giving him a shot.

Edwards, like his predecessor Dick Vermeil, loves reclamation projects and none might be more of a challenge than getting Rogers to develop into the number one receiver most NFL scouts believed he'd become when he left Michigan State. I'm not sure if that can be done or not, but if the Chiefs sign him he'll instantly become the second-best receiver behind Tony Gonzalez.

That doesn't say much for the current receiving corps but with Gonzalez in the mix for at least another three years, Edwards must get more productivity out of his wide outs.

The blueprint for the Chiefs offensive renaissance is very simple. Fix the offensive line, decide on which quarterback gives you the best chance to win the division for years to come and find a game-breaking wide receiver that will open up the running game for Larry Johnson.

The key is still Johnson, but he showed in the playoffs he's only as good as the line in front of him. Of course the ultra-conservative gameplan didn't help but I can live with that for now. In the end, the Chiefs offense wasn't as talented as it needed to be to win in the playoffs. That was clearly evident in the loss to the Colts and down the stretch when the Chiefs went 2-3 to finish the season after a 7-4 start.

For Edwards the honeymoon has ended in Kansas City. Fans expect this team to be more competitive in 2007. For the most part, they consider 2006 the rebuilding year.

He fixed the defense and with some key acquisitions in free agency and the draft, he should have them a top 10 unit in 2007. Now he must show he can build a solid offense - one that can win close games, sustain long drives and improving its scoring output.

Overall I'm not sure how many of the 10 moves I've suggested will see the light of day, but it's a start. In the coming weeks the Chiefs will release some veterans and sign some no-name free agents to fill out the practice roster in hopes of finding the next Tony Richardson or Brian Waters.

They'll put together their free agent Christmas list and put together the draft board that will serve as the blueprint for what they hope is another solid draft class. Last year's group could yield as many as six or seven starters by 2008.

This team made some leaps last year and took some steps backward, but Edwards has learned pretty much everything he needs to know about each and every one of the players he inherited from Dick Vermeil and those he added in his tenure.

Now is the time for him to be bold and decisive, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Top Stories