Cliff Notes: 2008 Outlook

In this week's edition of Cliff Notes, Pat discusses where the Chiefs will finish in 2008, the running back situation and Brodie Croyle.

Coming off a 4-12 record in 2007, the Chiefs are looking to be a contender for the No. 1 overall pick in next years draft. The drafting of defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, offensive lineman Branden Albert, and cornerback Brandon Flowers is exciting, but is not enough to consider playoff talk. Most anyway you look at it, Brodie Croyle is not the second coming of Trent Green and new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is only a slight improvement over Mike Solari.

-Bryan Wheeler, Sporting News

Wheeler writes that the Chiefs look like a contender for the top pick in the 2009 draft, and their offseason acquisitions shouldn't garner playoff talk. Is there no middle ground?

The Chiefs may not be hoisting the Lombardi trophy come season's end, but that doesn't mean they're going to be tanking games down the stretch to jockey for a higher draft pick. I think it's fair to say the Chiefs will be a better team than they were in 2008. They made improvements all over the roster, and are losing just a couple of key components from last season's squad: Eddie Kennison and Jared Allen.

The loss of Allen will have a big impact on the Chiefs' defense, but so will the acquisition of Glenn Dorsey. Eddie Kennison was a solid receiver, but was hampered by a nagging hamstring injury last season.

The fact that last season's opening-day left tackle is now working on the right side, says a lot about the improvement along the offensive line, as does the lack of chatter about Will Svitek, who started four games for the Chiefs in 2007 but is not expected to see much playing time in 2008.

If your top tackle from last season has been moved from the position reserved for your best tackle, and a player who started four games the previous season has slid down the depth chart, there must be better players on this year's line than last.

The offensive line isn't the only unit looking to improve from last season. There's more depth at the running back and tight end positions, and the addition of Demorrio Williams will likely prove to be an upgrade from the disappointing Kendrell Bell era. The Brandons in the defensive backfield (Flowers and Carr) have given the cornerback position a much needed boost in speed and athleticism.

Much has changed since Kansas City lost the last regular season game in 2007, but who's to say those changes weren't for the better? I've yet to hear or read anything about the Chiefs being a legit contender for the AFC West title, but that doesn't mean they'll be picking number one next May.

In a season when an exceedingly young Chiefs team needs Johnson more than ever, they are talking about using him less. With new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who has historically streamlined his system through one running back, Kansas City coach Herm Edwards is talking about relying heavily on a No. 2. And in a year when cohesion is an absolute top priority, the unit's load-bearing pillar is being brought along in measured increments, primarily because of a foot injury that could have significantly altered his career. So yes, it's a marriage of conflicting needs and plans.

-Charles Robinson, Yahoo

Larry Johnson is a stud. He strung together one of the most productive nine-game stints in NFL history just three seasons ago, and he's healthy again. The Chiefs hopped on his back for the past few years, and all that extra weight resulted in a stress fracture in his foot last season. Can you imagine giving guys like Tank Tyler and Damion McIntosh a piggy back ride for nearly 4,000 yards? Me either, and it probably wouldn't be wise for Edwards to ask Johnson to accomplish that feat again.

Instead, he'll share some of Larry's load between Kolby Smith and Jamaal Charles. But don't expect the Chiefs to go to a two-running back system like that of the Cowboys or Saints.

Expect something more along the lines of what San Diego did with LaDainian Tomlinson and former Chargers running back Michael Turner. Despite playing behind the best back in the league, everyone realized Turner was a good player. The carries given to Turner resulted in less punishment absorbed by Tomlinson.

Another comparison could be drawn between what the Chiefs will do this season and what Herm Edwards did in New York. Curtis Martin was the marquee back during Edwards' tenure with the Jets, but his backup, Lamont Jordan, did well enough to earn the starting job in Oakland in 2006. Despite sharing a few carries here and there with Jordan, Martin posted four straight 1,000-yard seasons under Edwards.

Johnson will still be the focal point of the Chiefs' offensive attack in 2008, but Charles will be a nice change-of-pace on third downs and passing situations.

So let's look at the participants in what shapes up as the lamest Chiefs quarterback battle since Todd Blackledge and Steve Fuller battled for playing time in the mid-80s.

Brodie Croyle starred at the University of Alabama, where he met his wife Kelli. A former Junior Miss winner, Kelli became an Internet sensation after displaying the poise and, um, physical attributes that Croyle frequently lacked in the pocket last year. Brodie landed Kelli with his sophistication, as evidenced by this quote uttered on HBO's Hard Knocks documentary last year: "Camp should be a breeze after going through all the marriage stuff. Stressful time for the women folk."

Croyle was nicknamed "Blu-Ray" last year by Priest Holmes for his laserlike arm, not for the additional speed he processes information. He looked lost and confused last year as a starter, compiling a 0-6 mark in 2007.

-Chris Rasmussen, Pitch Weekly

When this weekly column "Cliff Notes" was introduced, it was mainly designed to shed some light on misconceptions about the Chiefs from the national media. But, this week, I find it necessary to tackle some homegrown ignorance displayed by Kansas City's own Pitch Weekly blogger, Chris Rasmussen.

A lot has been made of the new "simpler offense" that the Chiefs are running this year, but I think it's gone too far. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said himself that there are only so many football plays, and that basically everybody runs the same ones. It's not like the Chiefs are tearing up the old cumbersome playbooks and issuing pamphlets.

Every time you hear Gailey, Edwards, or Croyle talk about the new offense, they use the word "terminology." That's the biggest difference between offenses in professional football. No one runs the spread or the option like they do in college. The terminology is the biggest difference. A play-action bootleg is a play-action bootleg whether it's in the west-coast offense or Gailey's.

Croyle was intelligent enough to run the old offense, but the new one simply fits him better. It will allow more room for audibles. Even Trent Green became frustrated when he couldn't call audibles at the line of scrimmage.

Rasmussen takes some low blows at Croyle, and paints the picture that he's a dumb, simple-minded, redneck from the sticks. That couldn't be further from the truth. Anyone who's watched Croyle give an interview can tell he's a bright, well-spoken young man. The fact Rasmussen thinks Croyle's southern accent and jargon are signs of ignorance only displays his own.

Croyle is fighting the same battle that fellow southerner Terry Bradshaw had to fight when he broke into the NFL. People questioned his decision making and his ability to read defenses because he spoke with a southern drawl.

Bradshaw now has four Super Bowl rings and a broadcasting career. Not too bad for a dumb hick, right? Top Stories