WPI Roundtable - Week 11

This week we discuss Chris Chambers, 2010 coaching turnover and expectations for the rest of the season.

Q: With Chris Chambers playing lights out over the last couple of games, how many years do you think he has left in the tank? Have the Chiefs found a contributor for the long haul, or is another wide receiver still a major priority?

Nick Athan: He can maintain this productivity at least through next year, and might turn into someone like James Lofton, who excelled even in his old age. Chambers has been a breath of fresh air and has made the difference on offense. While the offensive line has played better in spurts the last two games, the fact Chambers is making plays downfield really opens things up. Expect him to have a great game Sunday at San Diego. If he becomes the next Eddie Kennison, maybe he can last even longer in this offensive system.

Michael Ash: The Chiefs can't count on Chambers being here past 2009. His contract expires after the season and he never chose to come to Kansas City in the first place. Considering his age (he'll be 32 when next season starts) and his resurgence since joining the Chiefs, it would be shocking if he didn't want to test free agency. He's probably only got one final shot at a big payday, and his production should make him attractive to other teams. The Chiefs could pay him, of course, but does he want to stay on a team that's rebuilding rather than a potential contender?

There might be evidence to suggest he doesn't. Had Ryan Succop not made the game-winning field goal against the Steelers Sunday, we would have spent all week talking about Chambers' failure to reach the end zone after his long catch and run. A field goal attempt would have been unnecessary had Chambers lowered his shoulder, leapt for the pylon, or tried to cut back. Instead, he simply conceded and ran out of bounds.

It's not a huge deal, because Chambers played hard throughout a physical game. Still, any number of things could have gone wrong on the field goal attempt - a bad snap, a bad hold, a block, a miss. If that were Dwayne Bowe, who's been here suffering through all the losses, don't you think he would have done whatever he could to get into the end zone on that play?

Chambers is making an impact on the field, no question. But with such an enormous victory at stake, his effort at the end of that play could raise the question of whether he's truly buying in to what's going on in Kansas City.

C.E. Wendler: Wide receivers aren't like running backs, and for a player like Chambers, who has stayed healthy his entire career, his longevity appears to be all but guaranteed at this point. He clearly runs fantastic routes and has great, natural catching ability, so why can't he be productive for another four or five seasons? Considering his production after barely joining the Chiefs, we could really be in for something special down the road.

However, that doesn't mean the Chiefs need ignore wide receiver in the draft. They still lack quality young depth and the future isn't set in stone. Chambers might want to leave Kansas City (as Michael noted), or Dwayne Bowe could test positive again. You just never know. If a talented receiver is on the board next April, Scott Pioli should be interested.


Do you think the Chiefs stay with the assistant coaches they have now or will changes be made after this season is over? Will Haley be able to work with an offensive coordinator?

Nick Athan: I think we're going to see massive changes in the coaching ranks if Todd Haley comes back. Two wins in a row is nice, but he's not in the safety zone just yet. Beat San Diego on Sunday and I'll be convinced. Will Charlie Weis, who the Chiefs reportedly met with Tuesday night in Kansas City on the Plaza per an unconfirmed source, be KC's offensive coordinator in 2010? He could be unless he chooses to have knee replacement surgery.

Romeo Crennel could be hired as defensive coordinator. Haley may continue to coach quarterbacks, but the Chiefs should try to hire Steve DeBerg if at all possible to teach Matt Cassel the art of the play-fake and to correct the minor flaw in his throwing motion. But I expect at least five or six changes.


Will Charlie Weis be KC's next OC?
Irish EYES

Michael Ash: It would be surprising if the Chiefs didn't hire an offensive coordinator and a quarterbacks coach, since Haley is currently handling both of those duties. As for whether Haley could work with a coordinator, it's important to remember that his assistant head coach, Maurice Carthon, is a former NFL offensive coordinator.

Being able to work closely alongside Haley might make Carthon the top candidate for the job. He wasn't a great coordinator in the past, but he also didn't have an offensive mind like Haley overseeing the process.

C.E. Wendler: We know the Chiefs had to scramble at the last minute to find assistant coaches, so it's possible they hired a staff that consisted mostly of their last options. However, as most of the coaches on this staff have deep connections – and in some cases long-running connections – to the Parcells/Belichick coaching tree, it's possible all of them are here for the long haul. If anything, the NFL is a fraternity.

Haley should be able to work with any coordinator he hires. After all, he's going to be the one picking the coordinator, so he should have an idea of whether or not he can make it work. If Haley fires offensive coordinators in back-to-back seasons, it would look bad.


With the Chiefs beating the Steelers, what kind of hope is there for the rest of the season?

Nick Athan: A 3-3 way the rest of the mark is possible. The Chiefs will lose Sunday at San Diego before sweeping three December home games and losing the final two on the road. A win at Cincinnati is possible if the Bengals have a playoff spot locked up. The Chiefs have raised their level of play and there's no doubt they can still improve.

Even so, the talent level is still what it is and right now the players are jelling and playing for their own pride. That's a good thing because that wasn't the case earlier this season. Kudos to Haley for standing his ground and weathering a mighty storm. As I said before the season, this team would win six games, and I'm not backing down from that.

Michael Ash: There's obviously a greater hope that the Chiefs can win some of their final games. Beating Pittsburgh doesn't suddenly put Kansas City among the upper-echelon teams in the league, of course, but it would be a big letdown if they couldn't beat poor teams like Buffalo and Cleveland after beating the defending champions.

We can't forget, though, that just one week earlier the Chiefs barely scraped by the bumbling JaMarcus Russell-led Raiders. We don't know if the effort we saw against Pittsburgh will stay consistent throughout the rest of the season.

C.E. Wendler: Making dead-lock predictions for wins is foolhardy at this point. The only hope should be that the Chiefs will be competitive in every game. They showed they can do that the last three weeks, not only at home, but on the road. The expectation should be that Kansas City will give every opponent a game from here on out.

We should be disappointed if there's a repeat of the San Diego or Philadelphia debacles in the final six weeks. That would be an indication, especially if it happens more than once, that there are still some major problems with the team. At bare minimum, you would hope they can beat Cleveland soundly in a few weeks.

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