Warpaint Roundtable – Week 8

This week our crew discusses the playcalling fiasco in New York, the underachieving Bernard Pollard, whether Tyler Thigpen is for real, and just how many heads should roll at the end of 2008 in Kansas City.

I keep hearing that Pollard isn't playing that well, but every game I see him hustling more than most other players and usually he is covering for other players mistakes. He also looks like he calls out plays and is acting like a leader off the field. Am I missing something about his game?

Nick Athan: He's in the dog house. DaJuan Morgan is hurt with a hand injury, and that's the main reason that Pollard is still starting. The Chiefs have high hopes for Morgan but the injury has slowed down his progress this year. Pollard is a stand up guy but he's just not playing well. He's slow to read passing plays and often is late covering his part of the field. He's had a few hits defending the run, but those are few and far between.

Michael Ash: Is it really fair to judge Pollard this year? Teams can run on the Chiefs so easily that Pollard's play in the secondary hasn't been tested much. Kansas City's front seven are screwing up their gaps so badly it's hard to get a read on him in run support.

But overall, I haven't noticed him making a lot of mistakes. Leon Washington made him look silly on that big touchdown run last Sunday, but guys like Washington will do that. Pollard's tackling has been better – he's certainly improved in that area more than Page has -- and he's faster due to the weight he dropped.

C.E. Wendler: Sadly, Pollard looks like another second-round bust in a long line of second-round busts for the Chiefs during the Carl Peterson era. His open-field tackling skills are terrible, he constantly takes poor angles, and he flat out doesn't make plays. As a second-round pick, by now Pollard should be competing for Pro Bowls.

Instead, he's not even a solid starter. Isn't Pollard supposed to be this great, intimidating hitter? You can count the number of licks he's laid on receivers this year on one hand. Pollard's a great special teams player, but you don't spend a second-round pick on the next Steve Tasker. By the way, Turk McBride looks like another second-round bust.

Thigpen played great against the Jets, and I know it was only one game, but given the way he played, is there any chance he could be the "Dark Horse" quarterback of the future that's been hiding right under our nose?

Nick Athan: I can't see him being successful in any other scenario other than a spread offense. He has a solid arm and given time he can complete passes. He has some weapons but needs time to read the defense before he makes his throws. If he's afforded that, he can be an above average quarterback for the Chiefs. Is he the future? Ask me again at the end of the season.

Is Tyler Thigpen the answer?
Jamie Squire

Michael Ash: There's certainly a chance. But as the question said, it's only been one game. If Thigpen were to keep playing at that same level for the rest of the season, and if he led the Chiefs to a couple wins, it may lessen the need to make a quarterback the number one priority in the offseason. But even that is hard to say since we don't yet know which quarterbacks will be leaving college to enter the draft.

C.E. Wendler: Thigpen had one good half against New York. After halftime, Kansas City's offense scored just three points and converted only one third down. That's terrible, and quite frankly plenty of people are ignoring just what took place in the second half.

It's clear the Jets adjusted to Kansas City's spread attack and the Chiefs had no counter-adjustment of their own. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had an entire week to prepare for Thigpen and the spread, so what happens now? I'll be shocked if Thigpen turns in another good game, but I will admit I was surprised how well he played last week. His normally inaccurate passing was almost completely absent.

Why did Chan Gailey cover for Herm?

Nick Athan: He didn't cover for him, it was his call to make and he felt that was the best way to salt the game away. From what I was told there was input to call a different play on first down, which was offered again on second down, but Gailey became stubborn. Some think Herm Edwards was to blame, and he was, because he didn't override his offensive coordinator.

Even if Thigpen had turned the ball over, the Jets were going to score sooner rather than later in the fourth quarter, and that would have given KC's offense more time to try and win the game. It's a stretch to assume Thigpen and company could have done it but I'd rather take my chances with him than with a running back averaging one yard per carry up to that point in the game.

Michael Ash: Gailey didn't lie, and I have no trouble believing he called three runs in a row – he's just as conservative as Herm is. The bigger issue to me is that Edwards has the final say and he could have told Gailey to run something else. Ultimately, despite the fact the Chiefs really have nothing to lose at this point, Edwards still chose the overly conservative route.

According to Jason Whitlock's column on the topic, Gailey even acknowledged that his calls could have been overruled by the head coach. In that sense, Gailey almost seemed to deflect the blame rather than protect Herm.

C.E. Wendler: Because that's the kind of assistant Herm Edwards loves – someone who's completely loyal, to a fault. Go back to when Gailey was hired. Gunther Cunningham was raving about him, and in an interview with Warpaint Illustrated, was quoted as saying, "he understands our only job is to protect the head coach at all costs."

Unfortunately, plenty of people are still blaming Herm Edwards. I have a feeling this won't be the last time.

There has been plenty of talk about cleaning house this year. Who needs to go, and who would this set back the progression of this young football team?

Nick: There's concern over the entire coaching staff at the moment. Herm Edwards is on the same ground he was in New York and everyone knows how I feel about Chan Gailey. The big question is about defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. He's a great coach but I'm not sure the players are getting his message anymore.

But if Edwards isn't asked back for 2009, we won't see many on this staff stay, though I'd keep Eric Price and Bob Bicknell at all costs on the offensive side, as well as defensive backs coach David Gibbs on defense and special teams coach Mike Priefer.

Who's gettin' canned?
Charlie Riedel

Michael Ash: Assuming a house-cleaning is on the way, it would be easier for me to list the coaches who should stay. As Nick said, Gibbs has done a good job, as Flowers and Carr are coming along nicely. Coaching receivers may not be the best use of Eric Price, but he deserves more than one year.

If an entirely new staff were to come aboard, it probably would set back the team to some extent. A new offensive coordinator would mean players like Tyler Thigpen and Dwayne Bowe would be learning their third new offense in as many years. Most of the defensive players have been drafted during Herm Edwards' tenure, so they would have to learn an entirely new defense.

Edwards raised a good point during his search to replace Solari when he said that some coaches tailor their schemes to fit the players they have, and some coaches try to adjust their roster to fit a particular scheme. If a new coach comes in who's a slave to a particular system, there could be a serious delay in progression as players who fit that scheme are brought in and players who don't fit it are shipped out.

C.E. Wendler: Who needs to go? Everyone. Including a long list of people in the front office, too. Arrowhead has become stale. Fresh blood is badly needed. As much as the stadium needs a makeover, what's going on inside the stadium also needs a total overhaul.

Sure, there are some good coaches on this staff. Priefer's special teams are finally making progress this year. But a new head coach is going to want his own assistants. That's just how it works in the NFL.

Will it set back some players? Of course. But it's not like any player on this team is going anywhere under the current regime anyway. Time for a reboot.

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