Warpaint Roundtable – Regular Season Week 1

This week we discuss Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard, defensive end Tamba Hali, KC's run defense and the state of the offense.

Do you think we will open up the offense more with Huard??

Nick Athan: There will be more plays down the field, at least I hope so, because offenses have to be able to throw the ball deep or at least present the threat of it to keep defenses honest. The problem with KC's offense a week ago had more to do with the fact the play-calling wasn't effective. The Chiefs will likely throw more screen passes this week to slow the Raiders' front seven. There's no reason to be conservative Sunday with Huard at the helm.

Michael Ash: That very question illustrates how strange the situation is on offense right now. You would expect the total opposite – Huard is the backup and, if anything, teams tend to scale things back when a replacement comes in. But the way the coaches insist on holding Croyle's hand, it actually seems possible they would utilize more of the playbook without him in the game.

To answer the question, we may not know right away. If the offense appears to "open up" this weekend, will it be because Huard is playing, or because the Chiefs aren't up against the same collection of circumstances they faced in New England? We probably won't know until Croyle comes back and we can compare.

C.E. Wendler: Yes, but not because of Huard. If you watched the Raiders last week, you know they have a terrible pass rush. They also can't stop the run. Anticipate plenty of clean pockets for Damon Huard, and a big day running the ball for Larry Johnson and Jamaal Charles. Actually, come to think of it, we could see Herm Edwards and crew go conservative again – if they're pounding the ball for six and eight yards a clip, why stop? The Raiders are that bad.

What is the future of Tamba Hali? This kid has the raw physical skills to be just as dominant as Jared Allen, but he just can't catch a break. Do you think he is going to pan out, or is this another wasted high pick on a defensive lineman?

Nick Athan: The Chiefs would like to get him signed to a long-term contract by season's end, so at least the coaching staff feels he's going to pan out. Last year he should have increased his sack total by five, but didn't finish a few plays. Hali can be a 10-12 sack player every year, and if the Chiefs get the same out of Turk McBride, that tandem will more than replace the sacks lost via the Allen trade.

What's Tamba's future?
Doug Pensinger

Michael Ash: It depends what is meant by "pan out." Hali hasn't been to the Pro Bowl, but he's far from a bust. Until he shows differently, I would expect him to be a solid 7-10 sack player every year. In other words, a strong complimentary player, but not really "the guy" like Jared Allen was.

Is that good enough to not consider him "another wasted high pick?" I would think so. It's not like he's Ryan Sims. Look at Jarvis Moss – the Broncos' first round defensive end from 2007 was a healthy scratch in their season opener. Now that looks like a wasted pick.

C.E. Wendler: He's already panned out as a productive player, but his physical skills are not on the same level as Allen's. That's why I don't believe we'll ever see Hali become an elite defensive end.

Good player? Yes, no question, Hali has 15.5 sacks in two years and a handful of forced fumbles. Great player? Not unless he's genetically altered.

What does KC have to do different to stop the run?

Nick Athan:They did a decent job Sunday against the Patriots. What's hurting this team right now is the linebackers, who outside of Derrick Johnson, just aren't making enough plays. The same old bugaboo that hurt Napoleon Harris a year ago is hurting Pat Thomas now.

If the front four can't get the job done and the backs escape the line of scrimmage, the linebackers have to fill the gaps. A few times they were out of position against New England. That has to change this week against Oakland.

Michael Ash: Put eight men in the box this weekend. Not only will the Chiefs probably need it to stop Oakland's running game, you have to take into account that it's JaMarcus Russell's first career start on the road. The Chiefs should do whatever they can to make Oakland's offense one-dimensional and put the pressure on Russell to move the chains. But over the long term, there's not a lot the Chiefs can change, except for the players on the roster. They have to do a better job of filling their gaps and getting off blocks.

C.E. Wendler: Kansas City has solved the years-old problem at defensive tackle. The Chiefs have two great starters in Glenn Dorsey and Tank Tyler, and Alfonso Boone and Ron Edwards are fantastic depth. That group is talented enough to control most offensive lines up front.

Where the Chiefs had trouble last week was in breakdowns at the second level. Sammy Morris and Laurence Maroney both busted big runs that skewed the yards per carry average somewhat. The Patriots got 39 of their 126 yards rushing on two plays. If Gunther Cunningham takes care of that problem, KC's defense will be stuffing the run no problem.

Is Herm going to let Chan Gailey run the offense or is he going to handcuff him as he did Mike Solari? I thought the days of run, run, pass, punt were over?

Is Chan the man with a plan?
Orlin Wagner

Nick: I've racked my brain over the conservative approach and I'm going to stand up on my seat in the press box on Sunday if they run it the same way against Oakland. Last week was Gailey's mulligan, so let's hope we never see that approach again. One of the reasons Croyle is hurt is because of the predictability of the offense. You could see the plays coming before the team broke the huddle.

The Chiefs must not give it away with their personnel. They have to expand the offense. But I do like the fact that Herm Edwards was going to go for two points if they Chiefs scored a touchdown late in the game.

Michael Ash: I never subscribed to the theory of Herm "handcuffing" Solari, but after Gailey's first game looked so much like many of Solari's efforts, you can't help but wonder what's going on.

Obviously, the Gailey-run offense should be given more than one game before we come to any conclusions. But it's no secret that a lot of fans fell in love with the offense during the Vermeil years, and – fairly or unfairly -- many of them haven't hopped onto Herm's bandwagon because of the way the offense has tanked since he's been here.

Plenty of those people were willing to give Gailey a fair shot. But no matter what happens from here on out, that first Solari-like performance is going to give them all the ammo they need to believe that Herm is really the problem.

C.E. Wendler: At this point, I don't know what to think, who to believe, or what to expect. If you read my column earlier this week you're aware of my stance on this issue. All we can do is wait and see what happens, and hope the Chiefs actually move into the 21st century with their offensive attack.

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