Nick Athan: As all of you know I've been on the Brodie Croyle bandwagon since day one. I have zero doubt he's going to get the job done. He has the best arm this team has seen since Steve DeBerg, and I think once he gets a couple of wins under his belt he'll gain confidence. He has the tools, and if he does manage to lead this team to a .500 season there won't be anyone saying anything negative about Croyle in 2008.
Michael Ash: I'm sure they'll give him his due credit, but I don't think anyone needs to be held accountable. I haven't seen many talking heads saying, "Brodie Croyle will never amount to anything in the NFL." I think they're mostly just unconvinced that he's an NFL-caliber starting quarterback.
And, honestly, what has Croyle really done to this point to dispute that? He's going to have to prove himself before the national media starts to take him seriously.
C.E. Wendler: The problem with this kind of attitude is that Brodie Croyle isn't going to have a breakout season, at least not in the traditional sense. He's a third-year quarterback who's going to be running a new offense for the first time while playing for a conservative head coach. He's not going to go out and throw 30 touchdowns, or perhaps even 20 for that matter. If the Chiefs miss the playoffs again while Croyle puts up solid, yet unspectacular numbers, can it truly be described as a breakout season?
If Croyle has a breakout year do you believe the Chiefs will try to lock him up long term or will they have him play out the fourth year of his four-year deal?
Nick Athan: Without question, but I think it's going to take a stellar performance. As I stated earlier this offseason, I think this team will win eight games in 2008, and Kid Croyle will be a large part of that. The Chiefs' top priority is to lock down their young core of ascending players, so I can't see them passing on giving Croyle a rich deal before he enters the final season of his rookie contract.
Will the Chiefs show Croyle the money?
If Croyle's confident he can play at a high level or better in 2009, he might want to wait to sign a long-term deal. He'd be making himself a lot more money in the process.
C.E. Wendler: For the purposes of this question, we'll assume that the definition of "breakout season" is something akin to a year that makes the media stand up and take notice, something like what Trent Green accomplished in his second and third seasons in Kansas City (2002 and 2003). If Croyle surprises us all with that kind of season, the Chiefs would be foolish not to offer him a long-term contract.
Would Croyle ink it? Considering his injury history, he'd be insane to turn down a long-term deal with a large signing bonus, wouldn't he? To play devil's advocate for a moment, what if Croyle has his breakout season in 2008 but gets seriously injured in Week 16 or 17? How's that for a little potential contract-negotiations drama?
Which defensive back do you think will end up with the most interceptions, and will the cornerback blitz be used any this season?
Nick Athan: I've thought about that a great deal because I'm high on both of KC's rookie corners, Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. The defense is faster than it was a year ago and it shows in the secondary. Based on what I saw in OTAs and Mini-Camp, Flowers will be dynamite this year, and he could end up being the guy who blitzes. He's already adept at making plays behind the line of scrimmage. To answer your question, I think Carr will lead the team with six picks. To me he's an Albert Lewis clone. He has everything but experience.
Michael Ash: Jarrad Page had the most interceptions on the team last year and was just shy of the top spot in 2006, so he's a pretty safe bet to grab the most picks again this season. I'm sure they'll use the cornerback blitz here and there. The last time I remember it working was the 2006 playoff game with the Colts, where Patrick Surtain got to Peyton Manning. That wasn't too long ago, so I don't think they've abandoned it or anything.
C.E. Wendler: I'll echo Mike's sentiments with the Page selection. In his first two years, even though he recorded seven interceptions, Page also dropped his fair share. With his coverage skills he has the potential to rack up big turnover numbers. As far as the corner blitz, the Chiefs have used any number of defensive backs in that role in recent years – Benny Sapp, Patrick Surtain, Bernard Pollard. I'm sure Gunther Cunningham will continue to utilize it.
Are we are going to use zone blocking or not? I know there was an attempt to bring in zone blocking guru Alex Gibbs and that Chan Gailey has a history with zone blocking.
How much zone blocking will the Chiefs run with athletic linemen such as Branden Albert?
Michael Ash: The Chiefs aren't switching over to the kind of pure zone-blocking system that Alex Gibbs was known for with the Broncos, a team that has used smaller, quicker guys up front for years. Gailey has been loading up on bigger linemen this offseason.
But even though KC's linemen are mostly big, there's still a lot of athleticism there. We've heard all about Branden Albert since the draft, Rudy Niswanger has been able to play at more than one position, and Adrian Jones was a tackle, so one would assume he has quicker feet than the average guard. Unless Jones has bulked up this offseason, he's also the only starter listed under 300 pounds, which may reflect the Chiefs' desire to have some linemen capable of moving around.
With athletic linemen, it shouldn't be difficult to incorporate some zone blocking fundamentals here and there, but it'll be a far cry from Denver's, "drop down and cut block a guy at the knees on every play" method.
C.E. Wendler: I'm not sure if all the zone blocking talk wasn't a product of the rumored interest in Jeremy Bates, the Broncos' offensive assistant, as a possible candidate for KC's offensive coordinator job. The plan may have been to bring in Gibbs and Bates to resurrect the Chiefs' running game, but that fell through when Gibbs went to Houston.
WPI staff, with your height and weight, which position would you excel at in football? I am 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, so I would make a pretty good wide receiver, just going by my measurables only. How about you guys?
Nick Athan: I've been waiting for someone to ask this question since we started this series. I'm 6 feet and 160 pounds, so there's no question I'd be a wide receiver. I have tremendous hands, I'm a thinker and if I had the talent I'd be a Steve Largent clone.
Ever since watching Otis Taylor as a kid, I've loved the wide receiver position. When I told former Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders we spent three hours going over the playbook in his office years ago. After that meeting I was chomping at the bit to get on the field and show him what I could do.
Michael Ash: I would say tight end, but I don't like to run and I can't catch anything, and I'm told those are two factors that may substantially hurt my prospects. So I'd probably have to bulk up and try to be a blocking tight end or a lineman.
C.E. Wendler: A year ago I'd have been relegated to being a stump of a defensive tackle at 5-foot-11, but dropping a good chunk of weight means I have no place on any defensive line. In my dreams I'm the white Larry Johnson, running angrily over linebackers, but a lack of foot speed would relegate me to fullback. On second thought, I've never actually timed myself in the 40-yard dash. I'll get back to you.