Price? Shula? Gailey?

Within the next week the Chiefs hope to name a new offensive coordinator. With the Senior Bowl fast approaching, who will be the man to resurrect KC's once-proud offense? Let's take a look at the candidates.

Names like Paul Hackett, Brian Billick, Cam Cameron and Bill Callahan may have been on KC's list, but they were never really serious candidates. As we go down the stretch it appears the Chiefs are hoping to land one of three candidates. Only one of the offensive coordinator openings has been filled, that going to Mike Martz who landed in San Francisco, so we'll assume Edwards has the pick of the remaining litter.

The three candidates we'll look at today are as follows: UTEP offensive coordinator Eric Price, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks coach Mike Shula and former Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey. Who is right for the Chiefs?

1. Chan Gailey

Gailey's credentials are impressive when you consider he's been an NFL head coach (Dallas Cowboys), an NCAA head coach (Georgia Tech) and a successful offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1994-95) and Miami Dolphins (2000-01).

He began his coaching career in 1975 as a graduate assistant at Florida, then went back and forth from Troy State and the Air Force Academy, serving as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator until 1985. He then spent the next six years as the Denver Broncos special teams coach before moving on a year later as the head coach of the World League's Birmingham Fire.

After a year as the head coach at Samford University he took a job on Bill Cowher's staff in Pittsburgh, leading to his eventual promotion as offensive coordinator. That stint led to a head coaching job in Dallas, where Gailey took over for Barry Switzer.

Those were difficult years as the talent that led the Cowboys to domination in the early 90s was deteriorating. Though Gailey got Dallas to the post season, a lack of youthful playmakers did him in.

But he wasn't out of work long as he moved back to the AFC and the Miami Dolphins, coordinating Dave Wannstedt's offense until the NCAA came calling.

At Georgia Tech he turned around the program, never losing more than five games in any season. Gailey was regarded as a decent recruiter, but in November he was fired.

Is Gailey the right man for the Chiefs? There are certainly less qualified candidates out there. It's clear he understands offense, has NFL experience and has spent the last 30 years coaching football. It also helps that Kansas City's potential choice for the new offensive line coach, Alex Gibbs, worked with Gailey in Denver.

Here's the red flag – Gailey just turned 56. Age can be a plus, but also a detriment to an offense that could feature as many as seven or eight starters 28 or younger. Can Gailey relate to the young guns while keeping the older players satisfied?

I say no.


2. Mike Shula

Shula began his career as an offensive assistant with his father in Miami and later with the Chicago Bears. In 1996 he was hired by Tony Dungy to take over Tampa Bay's offense. That Buccaneers staff also included Edwards, who served as assistant head coach and defensive backs coach.

Shula spent the next four years playing second fiddle to one of the best defensive units in the NFL. After an 11-6 loss in the NFC Championship game, he was fired. Shula moved back to the Dolphins to become quarterbacks coach for three seasons. In both of his early NFL stops he didn't have much to work with at the quarterback position. In Tampa Bay, Trent Dilfer never developed and with the Dolphins he had Dan Marino at the tail end of his career.

But then his alma mater came calling. Shula was a star quarterback at Alabama, and the Crimson Tide pegged him to replace Mike Price, who had been fired after a scandal.

Shula lasted four seasons at Alabama, compiling a 26-23 record. He was regarded as the man who rebuilt a program that was decimated with the departure of Dennis Franchione and left in ruins after the Price fiasco. Shula was also credited for constructing an offense that featured Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle and little else.

To put it bluntly, he was a miracle worker. Alabama's offense had a below average line, no real running threat and mediocre wide receivers. Despite all of that Shula guided the Tide to a Cotton Bowl victory and a 10-2 record in 2005.

With Croyle off to the NFL in 2006, he went 6-6 and that was the end of the Shula era at Alabama. But he wasn't out of work for long as Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio hired him to coach quarterbacks. Shula is now credited with making David Garrard one of the league's steadiest quarterbacks.

Clearly that's a plus for the Chiefs, as they have their own young quarterback in Croyle, whom Shula obviously coached at Alabama. The two had a good relationship so it's easy to see why he might be the right guy for Kansas City.

But during his short tenure as an NFL offensive coordinator, none of his offenses cracked the top 20 in yards or points. That's a big negative.

Is Shula the guy? Probably not.


3. Eric Price

Eric who? When we first received the tip a few months ago that Solari might be fired, the name Eric Price was whispered in our ears. After doing a little research and talking to some people who knew Price, we discovered plenty.

First, he was with Edwards in New York in 2002 and was the man responsible for preparing Chad Pennington to replace Vinny Testaverde. Price is regarded as the man who kicked Pennington in the tail and worked with him enough that when he made his NFL debut he was ready to play at a high level.

After that brief stint, Price followed his father Mike to Alabama. His first job was to sit down and work with a young new recruit by the name of Brodie Croyle. The two spent six months together before the elder Price was forced out. It was that kick-start that allowed Croyle to take to the teaching of Shula.

After his father accepted the head coaching job at UTEP, Eric followed and became offensive coordinator. From that point all he did was set one WAC offensive record after another, as UTEP's offense was one of the nation's best.

Price was on a short list of future NCAA head coaches when Montana State went after him, but that didn't appeal to him. He wanted to stay with his father or ultimately find his way back to the big show in the NFL.

And that's where his career is at the moment. The popular thinking at UTEP was that he'd replace his father as head coach, but after turning down offers from Montana State and others, he might be better suited to be a coordinator rather than a head coach.

Price is intriguing because the Chiefs have always gone the safe route in choosing proven coordinators. They've either been on another NFL team in the same capacity or were promoted from position coach.

The Chiefs have never gone out on a limb, but Price would be a branch buster.

I say The Price is Right for Kansas City. We'll find out soon enough.

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