WPI Roundtable - Week 9

This week we discuss Terrence Cody, KC's offense, Todd Haley and areas of need.

I am really trying to support Haley, but I think the Chiefs need someone who can call better plays and get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. Why did he go away from Charles so early in the Jacksonville game?

Nick Athan: Haley does not know how to build a running game. Charles, who was hyped for two weeks after Larry Johnson's meltdown, was given zero chance to establish any rhythm against the Jaguars. He deserves 15-16 carries per game and at least three or four passes. If that happens, maybe we'll see him fulfill the potential he flashed at Texas.

You'd think with two weeks to prepare for a single team Haley could come up with some running schemes that work. Right now the Chiefs' system is flawed, and the execution isn't good, either. That's a bad combination and probably why Haley abandoned the run so early against the Jaguars.

Michael Ash: Haley spoke a few times this week about how the offense, specifically the lack of running, was determined by what Jacksonville did defensively. But to put it mildly, that's an explanation that could probably be further questioned.

It was a mistake, that's about all that can be said. Even if Jacksonville was set up to stop the run, there were still ways to get Charles involved in the game.

C.E. Wendler: When Haley gives players like Bobby Wade and Lance Long chances galore a week after they've been signed, and ignores a far more talented player like Charles, it definitely raises questions. It makes you wonder if the head coach is playing favorites. It makes you wonder if the struggles the Cardinals had running the ball last year had something to do with Haley.

At this point it's pretty clear Haley is a pass-first coach. Because he has so much on his plate between being the head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and "team spokesman," as Nick put it earlier this week, you wonder how easy it is for him to fall prey to his instincts as a football coach – throw, throw and throw some more. It's really no different than a coach like Herm Edwards, whose first instinct in a long list of situations would be to run the ball.

What are the chances the Chiefs spend their third top five pick in three years on yet another defensive lineman? There is a good chance Terrence Cody will be available, but with Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, that would be an expensive defensive line.

Nick Athan: The Chiefs may end up with the top pick. If Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford turns out to be the highest-rated prospect, Kansas City might be able to parlay that into a haul of draft picks. Cody would improve the Chiefs but it also depends on the cast around him, and right now the front seven is bad.

Because of that, yes, I see Chiefs picking a defensive lineman again. I also expect the team to attempt to spend some money on high-priced free agents, but those players might bypass Kansas City unless there is an upgrade at the head-coaching position.

Terrence Cody - a fit in KC?
Kevin C. Cox - Getty

Michael Ash: Cody appears to be an ideal 3-4 nose tackle and, by virtue of being coached by Nick Saban, even has connections to the Bill Belichick tree. But because of stamina and conditioning issues, there are a lot of people questioning whether he's cut out to be an every down player in the NFL.

Plenty can change between November and April, of course, but at the moment I'd be surprised if Cody was drafted anywhere near the first five picks. He isn't listed among Mel Kiper's most recent Top 25 and it's been speculated that he might fall to the second round.

At this point I can't see the Chiefs going with a defensive lineman again. The only other possibility might be Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh, who many project as a 3-4 defensive end. But Kansas City just drafted that exact position last year with Tyson Jackson, so it's hard to imagine them doing it again when the team has so many other needs.

C.E. Wendler: The Chiefs would have to be nuts to spend another high pick on a defensive lineman, particularly in a 3-4. How can a team possibly be constructed well with $150 million or more in contracts wrapped up on the defensive line? The fact that we're even discussing that scenario boggles the mind.

Considering how out-of-shape Cody looks, he just doesn't strike me as someone Todd Haley would want playing for him, let alone at a high price. Because Branden Albert has had a terrible season and doesn't appear to be getting better based on last week's game in Jacksonville, it wouldn't be shocking to see the Chiefs take a left tackle if they draft that high.

Every Sunday bad teams move the ball and score. Detroit moves the ball, Jacksonville moved the ball against the Chiefs, even Tampa Bay moved the ball and scored touchdowns against the Packers. Why is it that the Chiefs can't seem to move the ball outside of the fourth quarter, and do you think Bowe is being targeted enough in the passing game?

Nick Athan: The Chiefs' offensive system doesn't match their personnel. They don't run the ball well and until last week, never showed any signs of a downfield passing game. I'm not a big fan of Haley's play-calling or his use of personnel. The only way for the Chiefs to improve on offense, and I've said this for weeks, is for Haley to spread the field with four wide receivers and a scatback. That way he'll give his quarterback more time to throw the ball and opposing linebackers and safeties won't be able to cheat up on the line of scrimmage.

While the offensive line is still awful, spreading the field will just make things easier on Matt Cassel, as it did last year with Tyler Thigpen. Hopefully, in the same situation, Cassel can read the defense and start making plays. Thus far Haley's game plans lack any creativity or ingenuity.

Michael Ash: The Chiefs simply have a bad offense, which is about much more than one specific player. But given some of the fourth-quarter success the team has had – the comeback against Dallas, the near-comeback against Jacksonville – you have to wonder about how much of the struggles early in games are on Matt Cassel's shoulders.

On the rare occasions when Cassel is protected well enough to be aggressive in his decision-making, does he hesitate to take chances or go downfield unless he's in a situation where the game is on the line? If he hesitates early, it's hard to blame him. His team's margin of error is so small that it puts extra pressure on the quarterback to avoid mistakes. The Chiefs have lost games after winning the turnover battle, so being on the wrong end would only make it all the more difficult to win.

As for Bowe, he's been underutilized, but the question is why isn't he seeing more targets? Is it because of the plays being called, or does it also have to do with Cassel? Bowe isn't a speed receiver who separates, so going back to the issue of Cassel not wanting to make mistakes, he could be hesitant to force the ball to him. As they get more comfortable with each other, that should improve.

C.E. Wendler: Newsflash: the Chiefs are worse on offense than Detroit, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, just like the Raiders are even worse than the Chiefs. Oakland's fans are probably sitting around wondering why they can't score 21 points (or even 14 some weeks) like the Chiefs. Consider that those other teams also didn't begin installing their offenses a week before the regular season.

People want to blame Bowe's lack of production on Cassel or Haley, but why not blame Bowe himself? He's near the top of the league in dropped passes and, despite his weight loss, he doesn't really appear to be faster than he was last season. Who can forget the end of the game against the Redskins, when he had two steps on the entire Washington defense but couldn't reach the end zone? If Bowe keeps dropping passes and can't get open because of his lack of speed, maybe he's just not an elite player whose production is going to suffer when he's the primary focus of the opposition.

What are the areas of need and players Pioli may target after the season is over? Do you see him trading current players for more second and third-round draft picks?

Nick Athan: First, Pioli needs a veteran head coach. Second, he needs to rid the entire roster of malcontents and the over-the-hill gang and just start over. He must try and gain any draft pick that he can and hope what he dumps will lead to better players in the future.

Pioli gained virtually nothing this offseason with any of his player acquisitions. He deserves an F at the moment. This offseason the Chiefs need young free agents who can make an immediate impact. If Pioli is going to follow the Patriot Way, then he must rebuild the offensive and defensive lines. He won't be able to do that with what's on the roster right now so he needs to hit home runs the entire offseason.

Will the Chiefs trade DJ?
Jamie Squire - Getty

Michael Ash: What area isn't a position of need? The Chiefs could stand pat with their current crop of quarterbacks, but there's not another position on the roster that couldn't be improved to some degree.

There are few options in the trade market that would bring the Chiefs anything meaningful in return. A team would have to be some unique combination of desperate and insane to give up more than a fifth- or sixth-round pick for a player like Brodie Croyle. Brian Waters will be 33 in February and is on the decline – if Pioli could get a fourth-round pick for him, it would be a steal. Derrick Johnson is in the last year of his contract, so he'd have to be tagged for the Chiefs to trade him. If another team wanted him that badly, they could have acted on it back around the trading deadline.

The only player who would get the Chiefs something meaningful in return would be Glenn Dorsey. Certainly Dwayne Bowe or Brandon Flowers would be worth something, but they aren't as likely to be trade bait. We'll probably keep hearing trade speculation about Dorsey, simply because many people think he's out of position in a 3-4.

C.E. Wendler: On defense, the Chiefs will probably target safety, outside linebacker and defensive tackle. Offensively, they'll look hard at the available talent at every offensive line position. Note that we're just talking about the draft here, because if we see an uncapped year there won't be much to pick from in free agency. Because of that, I would not be shocked to see a trade orchestrated for a big name that's an actual play-making threat.

Whether the Chiefs trade for picks is another matter altogether. The franchise needs to win next year. Another season at the bottom of the NFL barrel just can't happen. The sense right now is that if the Chiefs make a trade, it has to have an immediate impact.

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