WPI Roundtable - Week 10

This week we discuss DaJuan Morgan, Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles.

Why was DaJuan Morgan inactive against the Raiders? Is Romeo Crennel a defensive coordinator possibility again?

Nick Athan: General manager Scott Pioli waited nearly 30 days on Crennel to let him know if he wanted to join the Chiefs this year. We were also told he interviewed for the Chiefs' head coaching position. Right now he should be the top choice to lead KC's defense in 2010. Crennel is a good coach and he would get the defense in order in no time flat.

Morgan may be another one of those dog-house projects. The Chiefs are enamored with Mike Brown and two interceptions against the Raiders gives them reason to be, but sooner or later a young safety is going to have to step up. Morgan isn't as big a project as the Chiefs are portraying him to be.

Michael Ash: The Chiefs must not have been happy with Morgan's play against Jacksonville, but we can't read too much into the situation, given that Bobby Wade – a player Haley clearly likes -- has been inactive each of the last two weeks. But Morgan has also been moved behind Maurice Leggett on the safety depth chart, so there's really no other way to interpret it.

Unfortunately, no one has asked about Morgan during any of Haley's press conferences this week. It's unclear what the coaches were asking Morgan to do in the game he started, but it didn't appear he played poorly, especially considering the awful performance of Mike Brown in that same game. To make Morgan inactive a week after Brown's debacle doesn't seem to bode well.

If Crennel is an option for the Chiefs, nobody knows outside he and Pioli. Both are well-trained in the Belichick arts of secrecy. We have a better chance of getting nuclear launch codes than finding out that those two have been talking. But it doesn't seem likely that Todd Haley would demote Clancy Pendergast after one season, unless the Chiefs were absolutely clear with him up front that such a thing might happen.

C.E. Wendler: The Morgan situation is as baffling as the Jamaal Charles situation. If you remember, Charles was inactive earlier this season and couldn't buy a carry when Larry Johnson was the starter. Why the Chiefs continue to start two slow, un-athletic safeties in Morgan's place is a mystery.

The Chiefs used Maurice Leggett quite a bit last week against the Raiders in Morgan's place, giving them more speed in the deep secondary, so perhaps the last two weeks were simply a tryout for both players. That's the only logical explanation to be found if you think Morgan needs to be on the field.

Crennel should be a candidate if the Chiefs are at all considering replacing Pendergast, who's entire history as a coordinator is filled with almost nothing but bad defenses. The Arizona Cardinals have actually improved defensively in his absence. The book seems to be written on Pendergast. Where he goes, bad defense follows. Why give him another chance?

With Jamaal Charles breaking out, do the Chiefs dedicate more snaps to the run? Or did his success have more to do with the Raiders? Will there be enough carries to get Kolby Smith involved?

Nick Athan: Hopefully Charles will become the primary back. Smith is good for about five or six carries and makes a decent fullback, too. The time to find out about Charles is now. He'll go up against a stout Steelers defense that should test his skills this weekend. If the Chiefs can get him outside, that's where he'll shine. If not, against the league's better front sevens he'll struggle.

Charles is the future, there is no doubt. If he can prove over the last seven games that he can run for 100 yards consistently, the Chiefs might only have to draft one running back in 2010 instead of two. Smith should be no more than a backup.

Will the Chiefs run the ball more with Charles?
Jamie Squire - Getty

Michael Ash: It's doubtful that the games over the next few weeks will be close enough for the Chiefs' offense to focus on running the ball. They'll make an effort, but against the Steelers and Chargers, the score will probably necessitate a heavy dose of passing before too long.

Smith will likely continue to receive a certain number of touches, possibly just because Charles has never been viewed as an every-down back. But it'll probably take a close game with a lot of running plays to really get him involved. Of course, a costly fumble by Charles could also boost Smith's playing time.

C.E. Wendler: The Chiefs should continue to run a balanced gameplan, as they did last week. That means mixing the calls up between run and pass and running from passing formations. In fact, when Charles busted his long last week, it came out of a passing formation.

Did it have anything to do with the Raiders? While they are terrible against the run, it was fairly obvious Charles' speed, especially in small spaces, came in handy. There was several runs where a slower back could have been brought down for a loss. That's valuable every week, and especially this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Are Bowe's days numbered? He can be a top wide receiver in this league and played well against Nnamdi Asomugha. He just needs to be consistent.

Nick Athan: He will be back next year. His recent incident, if it was just a diuretic, is hardly anything to be alarmed about. Bowe wanted to lose weight and unfortunately did it in a way that sent him on a four-week vacation. The Chiefs would be foolish to move him in the offseason. With another receiver opposite him that can stretch the field, Bowe can be a top 10 receiver every season he's healthy.

Haley was too hard on him and Bowe is the best the Chiefs have. It's possible Kansas City could push hard to get Anquan Boldin in the offseason, even if Haley isn't the head coach. In that event, especially if the Chiefs can get another year out of Chris Chambers, keeping Bowe will be exactly what this offense needs to improve.

Michael Ash: I'd say it's up to Bowe whether his days are numbered. We have to keep in mind that this suspension isn't for recent actions, it's for something foolish he did back in training camp. It seems pretty clear in hindsight that Bowe wasn't buying into what Haley wanted back then, choosing instead to continue on with some of the poor habits he's probably had all throughout his career.

Around the time of the Redskins game, though, Bowe began making public statements that showed he was starting to get it. If that was sincere, we shouldn't have to worry – Bowe just needs to continue maturing. If it was just lip service, on the other hand, it's probably only a matter of time before something else pops up. And then his days may indeed be numbered.

C.E. Wendler: The latest incident is a concern, but not because of what Bowe did to lose weight, but rather the reaction the Chiefs might have to it. If Bowe wants a new contract, how will that play out? Will the Chiefs be inclined to fork over the dough so readily? Will they lowball him? At this point he's probably worth more than the rookie deal he signed, and likely his agent knows it.

If you recall, Bowe had a long holdout before and during training camp as a rookie. If any potential contract negotiations between the Chiefs and Bowe get complicated, and he continues to drop passes, he might just be written off. Remember, the Patriots and Scott Pioli were bold enough to dump Deion Branch.

Who do you see stepping up in Bowe's absence?

Nick Athan: Bobby Wade has the most to prove. He was solid early but has fallen off in recent weeks. Chris Chambers quickly moved ahead of him and will be the go-to-guy during Bowe's suspension. It's unlikely anyone else will jump to the forefront.

It's a shame because Bowe was playing great, but Wade's signing was a good move. If he makes the most of this opportunity, he could play his way into a bigger role next year with a strong finish to the 2009 season.

Who will step up to replace Bowe?
Reed Hoffman - AP

Michael Ash: The Chiefs need the entire receiving corps to step up, and that's probably the message Haley pounded into them this week. Going back to the game where Larry Johnson was suspended, the workload might not have been split evenly, but Charles, Smith, and Savage were all involved in one way or another.

Something similar could happen now, with Bowe's load being shared between Wade and Mark Bradley, Chambers on the opposite side and Lance Long in the slot. None of those players are capable of filling Bowe's shoes alone, but if one player can make a play here and the next can make a play there, the passing game as a whole still has a chance of being effective.

C.E. Wendler: Because the Chiefs are wise enough not to reveal who will start in Bowe's absence, we're left to speculate. But how about Mark Bradley? Physically he's not far off from Bowe, and his speed, with Chambers on the opposite side, may really help KC's offense in certain situations.

What would be creative and fresh, however, is if the Chiefs really featured Jamaal Charles in the passing game. Get him the ball through the air seven or eight times, or even more. Turn him into Marshall Faulk. This strategy might be particularly effective this week, because Pittsburgh's linebackers, like most 3-4 linebackers, aren't great in pass coverage.

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