WPI Roundtable - Week 7

This week we discuss LJ's replacement, support for Todd Haley, the spread offense and Kansas City misery.

Who is the starting running come Week 9, or is it too early to tell?

Nick Athan: I think Kolby Smith will get the opportunity and likely start against Jacksonville. He's the best fit for this offense with Jamaal Charles coming in on passing downs or as a change of pace back.

The Chiefs need to find out about Smith. He has the stuff to be a solid running back but injuries have delayed his career to this point. He's finally 100 percent healthy and he'll have fresh legs and bring a harder style of running to this offense. The knock I had on Larry Johnson was that he wasn't running that hard and I think that, more than his mouth, hurt this football team.

Michael Ash: Surely it'll be Jamaal Charles. Kolby Smith hasn't been practicing long enough for him to leapfrog anyone to the top of the depth chart. Ultimately, though, the "starter" designation may be meaningless – the Chiefs could easily go with a committee of Charles, Smith, and Savage.

C.E. Wendler: It has to be Charles. No one else on KC's roster is as much of a threat with the ball in their hands, and Smith isn't close to ready. He could be used in short-yardage situations, perhaps, but the Chiefs need to see if Charles can handle the starting load – 15 carries, four or five catches and plenty of blocking duty.

However, I expect Dantrell Savage to receive plenty of touches. The Chiefs kept him around because they obviously saw something in him and I've liked him ever since I first saw him at training camp two seasons ago. This is a terrible comparison to make, but he reminds me quite a bit of Priest Holmes, both in his body type and the way he runs.

Are Scott Pioli and Clark Hunt behind Todd Haley in what he's trying to do or have they, like some of the players, given up on him? Right now I question what's going on with the organization. Pioli has hung Haley out to dry, especially with the Larry Johnson situation.

Nick Athan: Privately, the Hunt family has to be upset with the status of things. The team is playing its worst football since their first season. Todd Haley has lost the locker room and the Larry Johnson madness could have easily been avoided if he had been dumped in the offseason. As far as Scott Pioli, he has totally laid out his head coach and one can only assume Haley will be one and done at this point.

Hunt needs to regain control of things. That includes showing public support for Haley and letting the fans know he cares about the Chiefs' tragic slide. Right now neither Hunt nor Haley appear to be all that concerned about public opinion. At some point Pioli needs to jump out of his third floor office and Hunt needs to talk to the media. Right now all they are doing are serving up Haley and he's getting a raw deal.

Michael Ash: The absolute last thing Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli should do is make some sort of public statement. Speaking out would only serve to legitimize a foolish, asinine comment. It would give validity to the criticisms Johnson made. It would be like saying "We think Larry had a point and we want to put out the fire before it spreads any further."

Johnson's Tweets should be dismissed and ignored like the ignorant drivel they are. What kind of playing career did Bill Belichick have? Or Mike Shanahan? Or any number of coaches one could name? On the other hand, how long did Herm Edwards play in the NFL? And how many games did the Chiefs win with him at the helm over the last two seasons?

The player who's questioning Todd Haley for not playing football is the same guy who infamously told Inside The NFL that he had a hard time taking orders from Dick Vermeil because Vermeil wasn't black. This is the sort of person the owner and general manager should come forward to refute? Johnson has no credibility – the last thing Pioli or Hunt should do is grant him some by responding to him.

C.E. Wendler: Pioli is just sticking to what he promised when he was hired – the head coach would be the figurehead at the forefront of the organization. Meanwhile, he would work in the background and not get in Todd Haley's way. So far, the Chiefs have held to that, so what's the problem?

Words don't really count for much right now. What good does a bunch of propaganda do when the Chiefs are 1-6? It might make for a few good sound bites, but little else. It would be different if Haley had a history of losing, but he's in his first season. Everyone, Pioli and Hunt included, should have plenty of patience at the moment.

On NFL radio they mentioned that the Chiefs may be able to run the spread offense more with Jamaal Charles starting, and that it's the offense Todd Haley would prefer to run. Will we see this with LJ out of the picture?

Nick Athan: Johnson's been done for two years now but Haley had little choice to start him because Charles has fumble-itis and Smith has been injured. Jackie Battle was never the answer and with a terrible offensive line, what can the head coach do?

The spread offense is great and it should have been implemented once Haley fired Chan Gailey. Give me four wide receivers, Charles and a shotgun snap on every down and the Chiefs can score 20 points per game. Right now there is no creativity offensively and Haley is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The entire concept is bad.

Michael Ash: Haley isn't holding back on the schemes he wants to run because of personnel. Just look at the defense - the Chiefs are running a 3-4 without a proven nose tackle, with a 4-3 tackle at defensive end, and with a converted 4-3 end as their primary pass-rushing outside linebacker.

If Haley wanted to run the spread, he'd have been running it all along, with Johnson on the bench if necessary. He's not going to allow one player to determine what scheme he runs.

C.E. Wendler: Michael has a point, but simply because of Charles' skillset, we may see more of a spread-type offense from the Chiefs. Note that this doesn't really mean we'll revisit what we saw from last year's Chiefs, because that offense was more designed to help Tyler Thigpen than anything else.

But we may see more three and four wide receiver sets and less of fullback Mike Cox than we've been seeing. Charles is suited to run draws and shotgun running plays. The more the Chiefs can use his speed and quickness, the better.

Is Kansas City the hardest city in the country to be a die hard sports fan in right now?

Nick Athan: At least we have Big 12 football and basketball, the crown jewel of the area. It's too bad the Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals are lacking at the top end of the organization. It's a testament to the die-hards fans in this small market that they care enough to show up at Arrowhead and watch a terrible product.

At least the Royals' stadium is farther along and in the summer, it's not a bad way to spend an evening, even without Zach Grienke pitching. This city has never seen both franchises at the top of their respective divisions together.

Michael Ash: Restricting the criteria to professional sports – which would eliminate the success of KU basketball and KU/Mizzou football in recent seasons – Kansas City has to be right up there.

There are more than a few cities that could argue their case, though. In terms of current failures, Washington has the embarrassing Nationals, the sad sack Redskins, and a Wizards team that went 19-63 last season. Taking more of a big picture view, we may lament the lack of modern-day championships for the Chiefs and Royals, but at least Kansas City's trophy case isn't completely bare -- unlike, say, San Diego's. The Chargers and Padres have never won titles, a trend that seems unlikely to change in the near future.

C.E. Wendler: In a word, yes. The Chiefs and Royals are at the bottom of their leagues and have been for a few seasons now. Making matters worse, Kansas City has no professional basketball or hockey franchises to turn to. Though the college scene has plenty of competitive teams, are any of them truly going to compete for a national championship this year?

It's a bad time to be a sports fan in Kansas City. Just remember it's the darkest right before the dawn.

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