WPI Roundtable – Week 6

This week our crew discusses Larry Johnson, Gunther Cunningham, Tim Krumrie, the trade-deadline frenzy, and the Tony Gonzalez fiasco.

How do the Chiefs intend to use Larry Johnson now? After trying to trade him and trying to get Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith more involved, will Johnson be phased out?

Nick Athan: It's inevitable. The Chiefs like Kolby Smith and he's a better all-around back than Johnson. Not a better runner, but he does the little things correctly and he's willing to block. Johnson will play out the 2008 season in Kansas City but after this year, with the salary cap rising by $10 million and Johnson's recent alleged incident, how does he fit into this picture with Smith and Charles? It's been a great run for LJ but as he said weeks ago, the writing is on the wall and now everyone's reading it.

Michael Ash: If Johnson was playing this week, there likely wouldn't be any kind of change in how the Chiefs use him. But since he'll be on the bench, it opens the door for Smith or Charles to take advantage of the situation and show they deserve to be featured in the offense more often. If that doesn't happen, we'll probably see Johnson used in the typical fashion when he returns.

C.E. Wendler: I think KC's coaching staff is completely fed up with Larry Johnson. Almost anytime something goes wrong, he reacts negatively. That's a terrible attribute for any football player at any position, and especially a running back.

The Chiefs aren't a good running team even with Johnson in the backfield, so even when he returns, I expect we'll see more of Smith and Charles than we did early in the season. Or, they can keep plowing Larry into walls of inept blocking.

Do you think there will be a changes made at defensive coordinator and defensive line coach after the season? I haven't seen as much improvement on the defensive side of the ball as expected so far this season as I expected that unit to be far ahead of the offense.

Nick Athan: Changes at either position would not surprise me whatsoever. The dual role of defensive coordinator and linebackers coach is taking a toll on Gunther Cunningham. He's a great coach, but it's clear the players aren't listening to him at this point.

There's plenty of talent on this roster defensively, perhaps not a huge amount, but enough that this defense can certainly play better than they've displayed. As far as Tim Krumrie, he's not getting anything out of his pass rushers and that has to change.

Will Gunther Cunningham return in 2009?
Brian Bahr

Michael Ash: The defense has received a bad rap to some extent. I'm not defending their play on the field, but it was widely known last season that the defense was the strength of the team. And this year it seems like everyone expected the unit to play at that same level, or even to improve, despite the fact that there are so many new starters. That's not realistic.

To answer the question, it obviously all depends on what happens with Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards. If there's a housecleaning, it's doubtful either Cunningham or Krumrie keep their jobs.

If Edwards stays, Cunningham would likely remain. Replacing two coordinators in back-to-back years would seem like Edwards was finding scapegoats to blame, something he's been criticized over in the past.

As for the defensive line, other than Tank Tyler playing so much better this year, is there anything else positive to say about Krumrie's job performance? Is that one item enough to keep him around if Tamba Hali and Glenn Dorsey, two first round picks, don't show improvement under his tutelage?

C.E. Wendler: Don't blame Cunningham or Krumrie for the failings of the defense. Yeah, KC's defense is absolutely terrible, and we can't pin it on the offense, either, because recently the defense has been gashed early in games, too. But there's just not enough talent there right now.

The Chiefs don't have a legitimate pass rusher, their safeties are terrible tacklers, and Pat Thomas isn't exactly inspiring people at middle linebacker. Throw in two rookie corners and you have a recipe for disaster. Believe me, a staff comprised of Monte Kiffin, Buddy Ryan and Jim Johnson couldn't coach up this defense to respectable levels.

If you want to blame someone for the state of the Chiefs' defense, blame Herm Edwards. He went into the season thinking Hali and Turk McBride would provide a pass rush. They haven't come close. Whoever made the call on Thomas at middle linebacker doesn't appear to be a brilliant talent evaluator, either.

Did we start too late on putting the feelers out before the trade deadline? With Patrick Surtain, Larry Johnson, Tony Gonzalez, Napoleon Harris and Damon Huard being shopped, it's shocking we didn't get anything for any of them.

Nick: The Chiefs contacted many teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, who signed Harris after he was cut. Nobody wanted Harris, nor did anyone particularly want the other players you mentioned. From what I was told, why would teams trade for players the Chiefs might cut this offseason?

At the end of the trade deadline the only serious offer was for Gonzalez, with lukewarm interest in Johnson. But all the players you mentioned, including a few others – Donnie Edwards, Ron Edwards, Damion McIntosh – likely won't be on this roster in 2009.

Just what did the Patriots offer for Damon Huard?
Jamie Squire

Michael Ash: It's not that surprising. We know there were several offers for Gonzalez, but the Chiefs didn't want to pull the trigger. Beyond that, what was really going on? There were rumors of Dallas being interested in Surtain, and New England having interest in Huard, but we never heard of any offers made.

A team would have to be insane to trade for Harris, given that the Chiefs benched him for the equally-underperforming Pat Thomas. Even if some team out there was willing to take on Johnson's contract and give up something worthwhile in return, the news of his latest legal situation has surely harmed his value,

C.E. Wendler: I'm not really "shocked," but surprised at least one player wasn't dealt. Yes, we never heard of any offers for Huard, but reportedly the Patriots did express interest. It follows they would be open to trading for him. We can only assume the Chiefs wanted a higher pick than the Patriots were willing to offer.

That raises the question, of course, just what were the Chiefs thinking? At this point of his career, Huard has almost no value to this team. Why not get a seventh-round pick for him? If the Patriots were offering a player, why not grab him? What's really at stake otherwise? A few more snaps for Tyler Thigpen?

How's Herm going to clean up his mess after calling Tony Gonzalez a distraction?

Nick Athan: I'm not sure he can. To be honest, this entire situation could have been avoided and dealt with in-house where it belonged. Now Edwards has a player who hates management, has alienated some of his teammates, and has for the lack of a better phrase, cried foul when no crime was committed.

Gonzalez knew full well that the Chiefs wanted a second-round pick and nobody wanted him that bad. Edwards should tell Gonzalez to put his street clothes on after Sunday's pre-game ceremony and watch from the bench. That alone would regain the control Edwards needs in the locker room. But that won't happen.

Michael Ash: When you count up the number of messes over the last several days, Edwards accurately calling the Gonzalez situation a distraction is about the last thing he or anyone else needs to worry about. Hopefully, Gonzalez's speech to the locker room helped everyone put the issue aside.

C.E. Wendler: Haven't you heard? There's no mess. Edwards told the media he was going to ignore this supposed "distraction" everyone is talking about, and play a football game. Besides, he's busy cleaning up Larry Johnson's mess, anyway. One mess at a time.

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