Warpaint Roundtable – Offseason Edition XXI

This week we discuss big problems, KC's leading 2009 receiver, the most improved rookie and fallout in 2010.

What are the biggest question marks this season? What presents the biggest problem?

Nick Athan: The biggest problem for the Chiefs is going to be learning how to win close games. This team was 6-26 the last two seasons and there are still plenty of players around who found new ways to lose games every Sunday. This team has to cut down on mental errors and put the losing behind them, because the AFC West is a winnable division. They have to learn to win as a team because they have plenty of practice losing as a team.

Michael Ash: What isn't a question mark this season? The defense, lousy to start with, is changing schemes. There will be a new offense, a brand new quarterback, and no Tony Gonzalez. There might be a new kicker. The only thing we know for sure is that the punting duties are in good hands.

Taking all of that into account, the defense will be the biggest problem. A combination of scheme and playcalling may manufacture more sacks than last season, but may not result in a better statistical ranking. This is a concern especially because all the leftover players are adjusting to a brand new style of defense, which isn't always easy initially.

C.E. Wendler: If we're going to be specific, it has to be the pass rush. No other critical aspect involving so many players has more question marks. Can Tamba Hali make the adjustment at outside linebacker? Does Mike Vrabel have anything left? Are the Chiefs' rookie defensive ends going to contribute at all? Is there anyone else who can even beat an offensive tackle?

At least two of those questions have to be answered with a "yes" if the Chiefs are going to improve their pass rush. One player emerging won't cut it, it has to be at least two and preferably, three or four. Otherwise, Clancy Pendergast and company are going to have a huge problem on their hands.


Who will lead the Chiefs in receptions this season? The obvious choice is Dwayne Bowe, but there has been some banter about Mark Bradley assuming the Wes Welker role in our offense thus leading the team in receptions. Also, do you see anyone having over 100 receptions?

Nick Athan: It has to be Dwayne Bowe unless the Chiefs acquire Anquan Boldin. Bradley is a serviceable receiver but he's nowhere near the talent Welker is. Engram was the least impressive of the new additions in the spring and in fact, Jeff Webb may have been the second-best receiver behind Bowe.

In order for Matt Cassel to be successful he's going to have to spread the field and use all of his options. If Engram steps up the receiving corps will have a better than average season, but Bowe is the main threat now.


Will Bowe catch 100?
Jamie Squire - Getty

Michael Ash: The "Wes Welker role" refers to the slot receiver, which will be Bobby Engram. There shouldn't be any confusion there. The only way Mark Bradley ends up competing for Engram's job is if the Chiefs add a receiver who bumps Bradley out of the starting lineup.

As for who will lead the team in receptions, Bowe is the odds-on favorite. A case could be made for Engram, who will likely fill the role of Cassel's safety blanket, but that would necessitate Engram staying healthy all 16 games. Bowe had 86 receptions a year ago, so going over 100 should be within his reach without Tony Gonzalez on the same field.

C.E. Wendler: This question may not be answered so obviously. The Chiefs are dealing with a situation in which there really is no true top-flight receiver on the team. Bowe is solid, but hasn't had a season yet where he's truly elevated his game to become a player defenses really fear on every play.

Because of that, and the way Matt Cassel plays the game – he spreads the ball around – it's entirely possible we see three or four receivers have 50+ catches, but no receiver approach 100. The situation is slightly reminiscent of what happened with the Chiefs in 2003. They had no top flight wide receiver, but had a great passing game by way of five pass catchers who had at least 40 catches – Dante Hall, Johnnie Morton, Eddie Kennison, Tony Gonzalez and Priest Holmes.


What 2008 draft pick will improve the most?

Nick Athan: The easy choice is Glenn Dorsey but how about cornerback Brandon Carr? He was stellar a year ago but ran out of gas near the last quarter of the season. He could lead the team in interceptions and with Brandon Flowers on the other side the Chiefs have a tandem that's among the better in the NFL.

The AFC West might have the best corners in the game right now and these two corners have a lot to prove their sophomore seasons. But Carr is one who could make the jump to playmaker.

Michael Ash: I'd vote for Glenn Dorsey. There's no telling how he'll end up faring in a pure 3-4 scheme, but while the Chiefs utilize a hybrid, we'll see Dorsey put in positions to succeed much more often than he was last year when he was asked to stand around tying up blockers.

The other rookies we saw last season – Albert, Charles, Flowers, Carr – would have to really take a noticeable step forward, whereas any impact Dorsey makes this season would be an improvement. So he has the best chance.

C.E. Wendler: Jamaal Charles, simply because of his speed. Even for a player as fast he is, there is still an adjustment to the speed of the professional game. Now that he's made that adjustment, he can really start to use his elite speed to his advantage.

Some of the errors we saw from Charles last season – dropped passes, a couple of fumbles – were most likely caused by the fact he was thinking too much, as is the case with most rookies. If all of that is past him, and he's just reacting instead of thinking, then just how fast he really is will start to be shown. And it goes without saying that great offensive coaches like Todd Haley know exactly how to use a player with Charles' rare physical gifts.


If the Chiefs don't win at least six games this year, what sort of fallout do you envision?

Nick Athan: They might fire offensive coordinator Chan Gailey and find a place for Romeo Crennel. Gailey is a potential candidate to be canned because he's a holdover from the old regime who might not be able to co-exist. You have to like the direction of the defense so far, but it's going to be impossible to fire any coaches from that side of the ball as they convert schemes.

Haley will have three and quite possibly four years to turn this ship around because there really isn't anything else that can happen. The Chiefs enter 2009 with no expectations and they'll have major cash to spend come next March with a new stadium opening. This team is being built to win in 2010, so don't expect any major fallout.


Will Gailey be replaced?
AP

Michael Ash: Little, if anything. If offensive woes are part of the problem, they could replace Chan Gailey with someone Haley is more familiar with. They might make another run at Romeo Crennell as defensive coordinator if that side of the ball struggles, but they could go after Crennell again no matter what happens.

The biggest "fallout" could be on the roster, as players who don't fit are moved out in favor of players who do, but that's probably going to happen regardless of how many games the Chiefs win.

C.E. Wendler: Another disappointing season is going to be difficult for the season-ticket base to endure. We know Chiefs fans are fickle despite their loyalty, so a bad 2009 season will put real pressure on KC's front office to do everything possible to win in 2010.

As Nick said, however, the franchise is in a position to spend big next offseason. Coming off a bad season, with all that cap room, the fans will expect to see money being tossed around in the free agency and trade markets. And the Chiefs, not wanting another losing season, would likely oblige.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories

\r\n\r\nWhat are the biggest question marks this season? What presents the biggest problem?\r\n

Nick Athan: The biggest problem for the Chiefs is going to be learning how to win close games. This team was 6-26 the last two seasons and there are still plenty of players around who found new ways to lose games every Sunday. This team has to cut down on mental errors and put the losing behind them, because the AFC West is a winnable division. They have to learn to win as a team because they have plenty of practice losing as a team.\r\n

Michael Ash: What isn't a question mark this season? The defense, lousy to start with, is changing schemes. There will be a new offense, a brand new quarterback, and no Tony Gonzalez. There might be a new kicker. The only thing we know for sure is that the punting duties are in good hands.\r\n

Taking all of that into account, the defense will be the biggest problem. A combination of scheme and playcalling may manufacture more sacks than last season, but may not result in a better statistical ranking. This is a concern especially because all the leftover players are adjusting to a brand new style of defense, which isn't always easy initially.\r\n

C.E. Wendler: If we're going to be specific, it has to be the pass rush. No other critical aspect involving so many players has more question marks. Can Tamba Hali make the adjustment at outside linebacker? Does Mike Vrabel have anything left? Are the Chiefs' rookie defensive ends going to contribute at all? Is there anyone else who can even beat an offensive tackle?\r\n

At least two of those questions have to be answered with a \"yes\" if the Chiefs are going to improve their pass rush. One player emerging won't cut it, it has to be at least two and preferably, three or four. Otherwise, Clancy Pendergast and company are going to have a huge problem on their hands.\r\n\r\n


Who will lead the Chiefs in receptions this season? The obvious choice is Dwayne Bowe, but there has been some banter about Mark Bradley assuming the Wes Welker role in our offense thus leading the team in receptions. Also, do you see anyone having over 100 receptions?\r\n

Nick Athan: It has to be Dwayne Bowe unless the Chiefs acquire Anquan Boldin. Bradley is a serviceable receiver but he's nowhere near the talent Welker is. Engram was the least impressive of the new additions in the spring and in fact, Jeff Webb may have been the second-best receiver behind Bowe. \r\n

In order for Matt Cassel to be successful he's going to have to spread the field and use all of his options. If Engram steps up the receiving corps will have a better than average season, but Bowe is the main threat now.\r\n\r\n


Will Bowe catch 100?
Jamie Squire - Getty\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nMichael Ash: The \"Wes Welker role\" refers to the slot receiver, which will be Bobby Engram. There shouldn't be any confusion there. The only way Mark Bradley ends up competing for Engram's job is if the Chiefs add a receiver who bumps Bradley out of the starting lineup.\r\n

As for who will lead the team in receptions, Bowe is the odds-on favorite. A case could be made for Engram, who will likely fill the role of Cassel's safety blanket, but that would necessitate Engram staying healthy all 16 games. Bowe had 86 receptions a year ago, so going over 100 should be within his reach without Tony Gonzalez on the same field.\r\n

C.E. Wendler: This question may not be answered so obviously. The Chiefs are dealing with a situation in which there really is no true top-flight receiver on the team. Bowe is solid, but hasn't had a season yet where he's truly elevated his game to become a player defenses really fear on every play.\r\n

Because of that, and the way Matt Cassel plays the game – he spreads the ball around – it's entirely possible we see three or four receivers have 50+ catches, but no receiver approach 100. The situation is slightly reminiscent of what happened with the Chiefs in 2003. They had no top flight wide receiver, but had a great passing game by way of five pass catchers who had at least 40 catches – Dante Hall, Johnnie Morton, Eddie Kennison, Tony Gonzalez and Priest Holmes.\r\n\r\n


What 2008 draft pick will improve the most?\r\n

Nick Athan: The easy choice is Glenn Dorsey but how about cornerback Brandon Carr? He was stellar a year ago but ran out of gas near the last quarter of the season. He could lead the team in interceptions and with Brandon Flowers on the other side the Chiefs have a tandem that's among the better in the NFL.\r\n

The AFC West might have the best corners in the game right now and these two corners have a lot to prove their sophomore seasons. But Carr is one who could make the jump to playmaker.\r\n

Michael Ash: I'd vote for Glenn Dorsey. There's no telling how he'll end up faring in a pure 3-4 scheme, but while the Chiefs utilize a hybrid, we'll see Dorsey put in positions to succeed much more often than he was last year when he was asked to stand around tying up blockers. \r\n

The other rookies we saw last season – Albert, Charles, Flowers, Carr – would have to really take a noticeable step forward, whereas any impact Dorsey makes this season would be an improvement. So he has the best chance.\r\n

C.E. Wendler: Jamaal Charles, simply because of his speed. Even for a player as fast he is, there is still an adjustment to the speed of the professional game. Now that he's made that adjustment, he can really start to use his elite speed to his advantage.\r\n

Some of the errors we saw from Charles last season – dropped passes, a couple of fumbles – were most likely caused by the fact he was thinking too much, as is the case with most rookies. If all of that is past him, and he's just reacting instead of thinking, then just how fast he really is will start to be shown. And it goes without saying that great offensive coaches like Todd Haley know exactly how to use a player with Charles' rare physical gifts.\r\n


If the Chiefs don't win at least six games this year, what sort of fallout do you envision?\r\n

Nick Athan: They might fire offensive coordinator Chan Gailey and find a place for Romeo Crennel. Gailey is a potential candidate to be canned because he's a holdover from the old regime who might not be able to co-exist. You have to like the direction of the defense so far, but it's going to be impossible to fire any coaches from that side of the ball as they convert schemes. \r\n

Haley will have three and quite possibly four years to turn this ship around because there really isn't anything else that can happen. The Chiefs enter 2009 with no expectations and they'll have major cash to spend come next March with a new stadium opening. This team is being built to win in 2010, so don't expect any major fallout.\r\n\r\n


Will Gailey be replaced?
AP\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nMichael Ash: Little, if anything. If offensive woes are part of the problem, they could replace Chan Gailey with someone Haley is more familiar with. They might make another run at Romeo Crennell as defensive coordinator if that side of the ball struggles, but they could go after Crennell again no matter what happens. \r\n

The biggest \"fallout\" could be on the roster, as players who don't fit are moved out in favor of players who do, but that's probably going to happen regardless of how many games the Chiefs win.\r\n

C.E. Wendler: Another disappointing season is going to be difficult for the season-ticket base to endure. We know Chiefs fans are fickle despite their loyalty, so a bad 2009 season will put real pressure on KC's front office to do everything possible to win in 2010. \r\n\r\n

As Nick said, however, the franchise is in a position to spend big next offseason. Coming off a bad season, with all that cap room, the fans will expect to see money being tossed around in the free agency and trade markets. And the Chiefs, not wanting another losing season, would likely oblige.\r\n
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