Warpaint Roundtable – Offseason Edition X

This week our crew discusses Romeo Crennel, grades KC's offseason, debates a Brian Waters trade, and looks to the future.

How much of a disappointment do you think Romeo Crennel's decision to decline our offer as our defensive coordinator really is? Was Pendergast a close second, or simply the best option left available?

Nick Athan: I think if you ask the Chiefs he was the choice all along. They didn't delay the announcement for nearly a month if they didn't feel that Crennel would end up taking the job. I'm surprised he didn't, but the Chiefs do have to implement a new defensive strategy and they still have some work to do to add players via free agency, trades and the NFL draft, so it was best to promote Pendergast.

In the end he was really the best candidate for the job and I thought he did a good job with his defense at Arizona the second half of the year and in the postseason. But I don't think we've heard the last of Crennel in Kansas City.

Michael Ash: It's a significant disappointment to miss out on someone with Crennel's track record. We're talking about someone with Super Bowl rings as a defensive coordinator, plus four years of head coaching experience on top of it. Getting him to run KC's defense would have been a major coup.

I doubt Pendergast was a "close second," but I also doubt Todd Haley has any problem with him being coordinator. Pendergast comes to Kansas City from Arizona, of course, so Haley has a firsthand knowledge of how he operates. Plus, Pendergast has experience running a 3-4/4-3 hybrid defense, which the Chiefs will probably employ until they can make a permanent switch to the 3-4.

As fallback plans go, getting the defensive coordinator from a Super Bowl participant isn't a horrible consolation prize. But there's no doubt Crennel was the best option.

C.E. Wendler: Not getting Crennel reminds me of the Chiefs missing out on a big-time free agent, as has happened so many times over the years. But of course, no other team actually picked him up, so it's not exactly comparable, which gives me pause. Did the Chiefs not offer Crennel enough money? Did he want more control? There's something odd about the situation.

We discussed how ill at ease I am over the Pendergast hire earlier this week. I'm not about to come out and predict failure, because that's just ridiculous, but you have to be concerned. Especially with the lack of talent Kansas City is dealing with.

The fair-weather Chiefs fan believes the team needs to make more off-season free agent signings under Pioli and Haley. But when you look at what the Chiefs have accomplished this offeseason, they've traded for and signed a large number of players. Those signings may not be marquee, but Pioli is building a team. How do you rate the first offseason under Pioli and Haley?

Nick Athan: So far for me it's an 'A' because the Chiefs added Cassel and Vrabel for a second-round pick. We'd all like to see more sexy free agent signings but the additions Pioli has made fill roster holes. The new philosophy is to add veteran players and sprinkle them among the youngsters. I like the addition of Engram for two reasons. One, I think he'll help Dwayne Bowe, and something tells me the Chiefs, with the third overall pick, may take a wide receiver.

But all these players likely will make the final roster and they'll make contributions on offense, defense and special teams. More moves are coming and ultimately we won't be able to grade this offseason until 2009 is finished. But thus far it's satisfying.

How's Pioli doing?

Michael Ash: In terms of what we've seen so far, I give it pretty high marks. They've gone out and addressed the most important position on the team. They brought in a defensive leader in Vrabel. They've clearly focused on adding some role players and special teams performers, which is an underrated aspect of the game.

When it comes to judging the offseason, though, it's important to keep in mind that we're just past the halfway point of March. Think of all the things that are still yet to come. There's an entire month before the draft, and who knows what kind of wheeling and dealing could occur in that frame. Then there's the draft itself. Then there are still months to go until training camp. There are events to come that will raise or lower the grade before things are all said and done.

C.E. Wendler: It hasn't gone as I expected. The Chiefs weren't major players in the free-agent market, surprised some with the trade for Matt Cassel, and took a long time in assembling a coaching staff.

But for now, forget the details. The franchise has been completely made over in almost no time at all and the Chiefs are being talked about everywhere in the media. The franchise is relevant again. How can you give this offseason anything but a perfect grade? The details will matter more when the Chiefs are trying to perfect the team. Right now they're just laying the foundation. It looks like a strong one.

Do you consider a trade of Jason Peters for Brian Waters and our fourth-round pick an option? If that worked out we could have our right tackle and still get Aaron Curry. Exciting, eh?

Nick Athan: Waters is worthy of far more in return. Peters wants out of Buffalo as Waters does in Kansas City, so it makes sense. But to me, the Bills would have to give the Chiefs at least a second rounder for me to get as excited about this trade as you are. Of the Chiefs' three malcontents (Waters, Larry Johnson and Tony Gonzalez), Waters is the least likely to be dealt in the offseason. As we mentioned last week, he wants a new contract. He'll have a better chance of getting one in Buffalo than in Kansas City, but I'd pass on the trade as you suggested it.

Michael Ash: We could have our right tackle, but I'm not sure why Aaron Curry becomes an automatic part of the deal. Don't forget, this trade would create a huge hole at guard. If you're worried that the Chiefs might pass on Curry to draft a right tackle, doesn't this Peters trade scenario create the possibility of the Chiefs passing on Curry so they can draft a left tackle, freeing up Branden Albert to replace Waters?

It's probably a moot point, though, because it'd be a surprise if the Bills agreed to that trade. There have been rumors of Buffalo's interest in Waters, but that interest probably revolves around the idea of having a Pro Bowl guard line up next to their Pro Bowl left tackle, not swapping one with the other. Peters is only 27 and has been to the last two Pro Bowls as a left tackle. Trading him for an unhappy aging guard and a fourth-round pick would be an enormous steal.

C.E. Wendler: Not only would I consider it, I'd regard Scott Pioli a genius and the Bills a bunch of buffoons if it went down. It would be one of the most lopsided trades in Chiefs history. How many good years does Waters even have left? A fourth-round pick is nothing if Peters is involved. It's exciting, yes. But it will never happen.

Can we rule out a scary defense? Pioli never had a great defense in New England, and Haley is an offensive guru! Are we going back to the Vermeil style team?

Nick Athan: The Patriots were built with defense first, and without that they'd never have won three Super Bowls. The Chiefs' new offense will someday resemble Vermeil's, but this team will never field defenses like Greg Robinson's. Pioli did a fine job assembling a defensive unit in New England and I can't see him doing any less in Kansas City.

There isn't any way a team in the NFL today can win with just a great offense. You have to be able to stop someone. Where the Chiefs will eventually excel is if they can rebuild the front seven. If that comes together, this team will be as complete as it's been in a long time.

Richard Seymour - proof of Pioli's eye for defense.

Michael Ash: Pioli never had a great defense in New England? The Patriots were built on defense. The 2003 Patriots, for instance, gave up the fewest points in the league, less than 15 per game. They were second in that statistic in 2004, behind only Baltimore. Their defense struggled in 2005, but in 2006 they were back to giving up less than 15 a game.

Even in 2007 when the Patriots had the greatest offense ever, they still had the fourth ranked defense, which shows that you can have a high-scoring offense and a strong defense at the same time. Look at the defensive statistics from 2003 to 2008 (2003 marking the point where the Patriots became a dominating team) and you'll repeatedly find New England in the top 10, both in terms of yardage and points allowed.

A great defense isn't going to come overnight, but turning it into a strong unit that performs year after year – like he had with the Patriots - is sure to be one of Pioli's top goals.

C.E. Wendler: Why rule out anything at this point? We're dealing with a general manager whose history includes both great offense and great defense. We don't know if the Chiefs will ever have either, but that's certainly the goal. Scott Pioli and Todd Haley aren't entering into their new jobs shooting for a great offense with a lackluster defense. They want to be the best they possibly can be on both sides of the ball.

We really have no clue what this team might look like when it's fully assembled. Maybe the 2010 Chiefs will boast a merely above-average offense that is propped up by a great defense. Maybe they'll be the most dominating, complete team ever on both sides of the ball. The point is, don't rule out anything, especially not right now. The future is not written.

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