Nick Athan: Give him plenty of credit for falling in line with a new approach on offense. It's not easy for him, but the results are clear. This team can score points and they are doing it without any semblance of a running game.
If Thigpen stays on course as the starter and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey – assuming he returns in 2009 – can have an entire offseason to develop a new playbook knowing Thigpen is the guy, they will likely stick with it. That's a lot of ifs, though, because if Edwards isn't retained that could change everything. So yes, if the group remains, that'll be the offense next year. If they don't, the jury is out on your question.
Michael Ash: I doubt anyone, Herm included, knows what the plans are beyond this season. But if Thigpen goes into next year as the starter, it would obviously be foolish to change a system he's excelling in.
If Edwards can show some flexibility and allow the team to run an offense that he's not comfortable with, that would be a big step forward for him. It would be comparable to the adjustment Tony Dungy had to make in Indianapolis, which certainly worked out well for the Colts. But in Herm's case, I'll believe it when I see it. It's one thing to try this offense in the midst of a one-win season – it's quite another to commit to it on a full-time basis
C.E. Wendler: If Thigpen remains as the starter, even then, we'd probably see the offense expanded, if he can handle the more traditional NFL style of offense. The Chiefs can't stand pat with their offensive line, so that's a factor, too. If they go out and find a couple of studs who can run block consistently, the running game isn't going to be ignored just because of what happened this year. Especially if Larry Johnson is kept around.
Instead of drafting a quarterback in the first round, why don't the Chiefs go after someone like Matt Cassell and let him and Thigpen compete for the starting job?
Nick Athan: There is no way the Patriots let Cassell become a free agent. With a new set of post-operation issues surrounding Tom Brady, it's probable he won't be ready to start the 2009 season. Don't be shocked if he doesn't play until 2010. Cassell is maturing as a young quarterback, but the Patriots are so progressive in their thinking I would not be surprised if they're already talking about a long-term contract.
Does Tyler Thigpen need competition?
Half a season out of Thigpen shouldn't be enough to make anyone say, "Nope, we're all set, we can afford to pass on a highly-touted prospect." If the Chiefs don't have that opportunity, then bringing someone in to compete with Thigpen is certainly a possibility.
C.E. Wendler: For the record, Cassell is overrated. New England's offensive line is terrific, their receivers are terrific, and their offensive coaches are terrific. Those elements will make just about any average quarterback look good. Casell would look much different in any other offense.
Depending on who's coaching the Chiefs next year, we may well see the scenario you described. I have my doubts about Herm Edwards or Clark Hunt wanting to groom another young quarterback, as a rookie quarterback would be another excuse for a bad season. A new coach might want to bring in a veteran.
How have the weak links – Damion McIntosh and Adrian Jones - on the offensive line been playing lately? Herb Taylor and Wade Smith both have received playing time in the past couple games. Any chance of movement on the depth charts?
Nick Athan: To me, both are guards, but right now Taylor is playing right tackle due to injuries. I think he's a solid backup but should move inside unless he continues to play solidly in the absence of McIntosh. In regards to Smith, why did it take so long to get him into the game over Jones, who will be a free agent at season's end? Part of it may have been that he had some awful coaching before he came to Kansas City and used some bad techniques that offensive line coach Bob Bicknell had to fix.
Are Smith and Taylor the future? Ask me after the season. Even if they are, there isn't any doubt that the Chiefs need to be progressive by adding a solid free agent and a couple of rookies.
Michael Ash: Whether the "weak links" are playing better or the new spread offense is just hiding their weaknesses, I couldn't say at the moment. But no matter what the reason is, the offensive line has improved over the last few games. Knowing that, there's not much chance of the depth chart getting changed, except due to injury.
C.E. Wendler: Michael is correct. The spread certainly helps to hide McIntosh and Jones, especially the former. McIntosh is still good for an "ole" or three per game, but fortunately Tyler Thigpen gets rid of the ball so quickly it usually doesn't result in a sack. Thigpen's mobility is probably the most underrated aspect of KC's improvement on offense, really.
As far as McIntosh, his chronic injury bug has finally forced the Chiefs' hand. Hopefully it's Herb Taylor's show from here on out. Without any counter-productive rotation plans, either.
Which free agents should be extended this offseason?
Nick: The Chiefs are in a pretty good position. Most of the core is under contract through the 2009/2010 season. The team is hopeful of getting both linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Jarrad Page under contract before the season starts. There has been talk about Tamba Hali as well, but he's so injury prone, waiting might be prudent. Jon McGraw is a free agent and I'd sign him up for another tour of duty. The Chiefs do need to lock down center Rudy Niswanger (RFA), but they should pass on both linebacker Pat Thomas and wide receiver Jeff Webb.
Should Jarrad Page be retained?
C.E. Wendler: None of us will lose a wink of sleep if Jon McGraw isn't retained. It's safe to say we'd all be much better without seeing him miss another tackle in a Chiefs' uniform ever again. Page's poor tackling should keep his contract numbers relatively low, but his coverage skills are so good, he represents a fine long-term investment.
By the way, can anyone give me a good reason why Dwayne Bowe shouldn't be locked up long-term, immediately? He's just going to be more expensive after he puts up his first 1,500-yard, 10-touchdown season a few years down the line. Come to think of it, Bowe probably wants no part of a new contract just yet.