Cliff Notes: Herm and his Offense

This week Pat takes on The Sporting News and ESPN.com.

If Edwards could go back in time and opt to stay with the Jets instead of heading to Kansas City, would he? For now, he'd swear that he made the right decision in muscling his way out of New York.

In January, he might feel differently.

The Chiefs had a solid draft, and the expectations are generally consistent with this team's status as a work in progress. But a certain number of losses could be enough to prompt owner Clark Hunt to clean house.

If Edwards goes, he'd likely end up a collegiate head coach. He has never been an NFL defensive coordinator, and after eight years as a head coach, he probably wouldn't be interested in becoming a position coach again.

-Mike Florio, Sporting News



Florio couldn't be more wrong in his assessment here. In this article, he ranked the 10 coaches who are on the hot seat this season. He ranked Herm Edwards' seat as the third hottest. Ridiculous. We all know Edwards is chummy with President and GM Carl Peterson. As long as Peterson is still the decision maker at One Arrowhead Drive, Edwards will have ample time to get results from this youth movement.

Peterson still has two years left on the contract extension granted to him by Clark Hunt. It would be absolutely shocking if Hunt didn't let him finish it out. Lamar Hunt was an extremely loyal man, for better or worse. He held on to GM Jack Steadman for entirely too long, and many feel he held on to Peterson too long as well. Like father like son? Maybe, but it's yet to be seen.

Besides the fact that Edwards' seat is lukewarm at best, doesn't he deserve more time as head coach? He inherited an organization in need of a complete revamp, an old, lopsided team with little youth or talent on the defensive side of the ball.

The defense was definitively in shambles when Edwards arrived, but the offense wasn't too far away from being in peril, either. Offensive coordinator Al Saunders was insulted he didn't get the head coaching job and bolted for Washington. What was Herm to do?

Edwards now has his own kind of offensive coordinator, he has speed and talent on defense, he has more balance overall, and his meter is just starting. When the Chiefs went with the full-on youth movement this offseason, it bought Edwards at least two more years.

Florio suggests a certain number of losses this season might result in Herm's dismissal. He's right - that number is 17. If the Chiefs can somehow manage to lose more games than they actually play during the regular season, then yes, there's a possibility Edwards will be let go.


It's incredible to think the Chiefs' two biggest preseason battles will come at quarterback and kicker…

Croyle heads into camp the favorite to start at quarterback, having drawn high praise from new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, though many believe Tyler Thigpen will press him for the starting role perhaps as soon as Week 1. That's right, Damon Huard has effectively slipped to third on an already-thin depth chart.

At kicker, Billy Cundiff and Nick Novak, neither of whom appeared in a game in 2007, will take on undrafted rookie Connor Barth. That three mediocre options are battling for a spot on one of the league's weaker offenses tells you all you need to know.

Of all the questions surrounding the Chiefs this preseason -- and there are plenty -- there's none as big as, "What does Larry Johnson bring to the table in 2008?" Look at the 2007 results: The Chiefs lost the Week 9 contest in which he got hurt, and then all of their final eight games when he was absent. Many of those weren't even close contests, and if you look at the depth chart, things get messy in a hurry when Johnson isn't around.

Unfortunately, answering that question isn't easy; it brings all these other key questions into the fray. Who's the quarterback, and is he productive? Is the offensive line looking even respectable?

-Tristan H. Cockcroft, ESPN.com



The two biggest preseason battles are at quarterback and kicker? Here we go again, another drone who thinks Brodie Croyle's starting job is in danger. If there's anything we've learned this offseason, it's the opposite.

As far as the kicker battle goes, maybe I'm just a football traditionalist, but I don't think there's ever been an intriguing kicker battle, except for maybe the Tynes vs. bouncer fight in River Falls a few years back. I know the kicking game is an important element of football, especially with Herm's clock control offense, but I just don't find a kicker battle all too captivating.

I'll give you a few position battles I think will be paramount to the Chiefs' success in 2008. The first, biggest and maybe fiercest competition will be at wideout. The Chiefs have three unproven entities vying for a starting spot in Devard Darling, Jeff Webb, and Will Franklin. Darling has the most NFL experience, but he's also the smallest, and hasn't shown too many flashes of potential.

Jeff Webb is Herm's boy. He played college ball with Edwards' son at San Diego State, and has shown some promise. Last, but not least, is Will Franklin. He's the in-state kid, the hometown college hero and has the best upside, but he's a rookie. If Hard Knocks was being filmed at the Chiefs' training camp this season, the wide receiver battle would probably take the top billing.

Second is the strong safety position. The Chiefs fell in love with DaJuan Morgan while watching film of Tank Tyler at NC State two offseasons ago. Kansas Citians fell in love with Bernard Pollard when he started blocking punts, hitting receivers like a ton of bricks, and cutting up a rug in the locker room. It will be interesting to see if Morgan can push a fan favorite for some of his playing time.

The third biggest position battle is at defensive end. It looks like Alfonso Boone will take most of the snaps at left defensive end, but there will probably be a pretty deep rotation. Boone will be great against the run on first and second down, but he won't be much of a pass rushing threat on third down.

While Boone may be a serviceable end, I think Chiefs fans everywhere were holding out hope that last year's second-round pick, Turk McBride, would improve and win the starting spot outright. As for who will be that pass rusher on third downs, I think it will be either McBride, rookie Brian Johnston, or a linebacker with his hand on the ground.

The final battle I want to discuss is at the return positions. Yes, everyone knows B.J. Sams is an established NFL punt returner, but don't overlook Kevin Robinson. His college statistics are insane. I would quote them here, but they're so cumbersome I would surely develop carpel tunnel just typing them in.

Robinson has great vision, sure hands, and shifty moves. He's not the ballroom dancer that Dante Hall was, but he can cut and go. There may not be enough room on the team for him as a wideout, so winning the punt return job could insure his survival.

If Robinson sticks as a receiver, but is beat out as a punt returner, a battle could emerge at kickoff returner. Sams would probably be a no-brainer to return kicks if he won the punt return job, but Jamaal Charles' presence may have an impact.


Twelve questions for first-round draft pick Branden Albert, the Kansas City Chiefs' new left tackle, who played only two games at that position during his college career at Virginia.

Sporting News: What was your welcome-to-the-NFL moment? Branden Albert: I haven't had it yet, but I know it's coming. It'll probably happen at training camp.

SN: What was your reaction when the Chiefs told you they wanted you to play left tackle?

Albert: I knew it was a possibility. When they told me, I knew they had faith in my ability and talent. I was ready to go, because that was the talk coming into the draft, that I was going to play left tackle.

SN: What has been the most challenging aspect about making the transition from college guard to NFL left tackle?

Albert: Just the technique. Playing guard in college I was, as they say, in a phone booth, in a tighter space. Playing tackle in the NFL, there's a lot more space I have to deal with. And the speed of the game is faster. But I'm slowly coming along.

SN: What have you discovered about Kansas City that you really like?

Albert: There are a lot of great restaurants, especially barbecue. And they have great enthusiasm about football. I don't think I've gone out one time when someone hasn't recognized me. They're passionate about their Kansas City Chiefs football team.

SN: What has been your most memorable on-field moment so far?

Albert: I don't think I've had one yet. I don't think it's hit me yet that I'm in the National Football League. Every day is like a blur. When training camp comes and we put the pads on, I think I'll realize then that I'm in the NFL.

SN: What has been your most embarrassing on-field moment?

Albert: The first day (of practice) I did real well, better than some people thought. The media wrote, "Branden Albert did this and that." The next day, I didn't do nearly as well in practice. I realized then you've got to bring it every day.

SN: What's the best advice you've received since coming into the NFL?

Albert: (Chiefs guard) Brian Waters told me, "You've come into a lot of money. You need to save your money and take care of it, because you can go broke."

SN: Which NFL opponent are you most looking forward to facing and why?

Albert: Julius Peppers. He's one of the best defensive ends in the league. ... The challenge of playing against a guy like that will let me see where I'm at myself.

SN: What are you going to do between now and the start of training camp?

Albert: I'm going back to school to train.

SN: Describe your experience throwing out the first pitch at a Kansas City Royals game?

Albert: It was a good experience and good exposure for me. A lot of people thought I was going to throw it in the dirt, but I think I threw a pretty good ball -- a nice little fastball.

SN: What hidden talent do you have that might surprise some people?

Albert: I can do perfect cartwheels. And I can do handstands.

SN: I'm trying to picture a 6-7, 315-pound lineman doing a cartwheel. Are you going to do one on the football field?

Albert: I don't think so.

Dennis Dillon, Sporting News



Branden Albert answered just about every question in the right way during this interview. As for what his "welcome to the NFL moment" is going to be, I wouldn't want to be the veteran tasked with enforcing that rite of passage. Albert's a big man, but I'm sure he'll take his hazing well.

He seems humble and quite hungry. He wants to take on one of the game's best pass rushers in Julius Peppers to gauge where he himself is in his development. He's learned that he can't take days and plays off like his talent afforded him to do in college, and that he needs to be wise with his money. Hopefully he doesn't take a wad of cash down to Bazooka's and "make it rain."

The toughest, most telling question of the interview was the one about barbecue. As a native Kansas Citian, I feel comfortable in saying that if there's one thing we as a city are as passionate about as football, it's barbecue. Branden hit a homerun with his answer on that one.

The one scary answer Albert gave was when he revealed that his hidden talent is doing cartwheels. Hopefully Brian Waters doesn't challenge him to a cartwheel race after practice at training camp, resulting in a nagging hamstring injury all season long.

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