Behind Enemy Lines, Part 2

With the Dolphins scheduled to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, we took time out to ask Warpaint Illustrated publisher Nick Athan some pertinent questions about the Chiefs.

Q: The Chiefs offensive line long has been one of the best in the league. How has it performed this year with William Roaf retired?

Athan: It's been a struggle but it's getting better. Last week against the Rams Kyle Turley replaced Kevin Sampson as the starter and he was dominating. Jordan Black, who has been much maligned by the fans, has stepped up his game and seems to be playing above-average left tackle. He's not Willie Roaf, but he's holding his own. Against the San Diego Chargers a few weeks ago, he made sure Shawne Merriman was a non-factor in the pass rush the entire game.

The problem now is the fact All-Pro Guard Brian Waters is out for at least several weeks. Chris Bober did a solid job filling in for him last Sunday in St. Louis. He's one of those guys who can play multiple positions on the offensive line but his strength right now is at guard. He has exceptional footwork and strength.

Still, this team doesn't have much more depth to play with outside of John Welbourn, who was roasted last weekend playing both tackles. Granted, it was his first game back after serving a league suspension but he should get better as the weeks progress during the season.

Q: On defense, Dolphins fans obviously are well aware of Patrick Surtain. What kind of season is he having?

Athan: At times Surtain has struggled in pass coverage. He's been playing the slot receiver and at times he's been effective. The Chiefs have used Lenny Walls and Ty Law on the outside. Surtain was brilliant against the run last season but when he lines up on the outside he's generally playing back and not able to do that.

This defense is predicated on getting pressure on the quarterback using the front four. When they break down up front, the Chiefs linebackers and secondary play their Cover 2 and usually they're are some major holes open down the field.

Surtain needs to be more aggressive and I'd like to see him press more in obvious passing situations. But part of the reason that he's not playing as well as he did a year ago is because of the addition of free agent cornerback Ty Law.

Surtain doesn't have to be the man anymore and the Chiefs are trying to use him in a variety of ways. And to some degree that's forced him to play back on the ball. He does an excellent job of keeping receivers in front of him and he's a sure tackler.

Q: What about former Dolphins safety Sammy Knight? How has he performed?

Athan: Sammy Knight has played solid for the Chiefs defense this year. Though he's lost a step he does an amazing job of knowing where to be on the field. Even though he's being pushed by rookie safety Jarrad Page, he's not ready to give up playing time.

There are no better safety in the league in my opinion that supports the run like Knight. You also can't take away his ball-hawking skills. Where he has struggled is trying to cover large tight ends down the field.

Still, he's the leader of the defense and his presence in crunch time is something that has made this unit better in 2006.

Q: What kind of impact, if any, has Herm Edwards been able to make on the defense?

Athan: What Edwards has done is unite the fractions that divided this locker room the last two years. The first thing he did was put offensive and defensive players side by side in the locker room. There wasn't going to be any division from his players that might wreck what he always felt could be a very good football team.

But even further he's bridged the gap between the players he inherited from Dick Vermeil and those he hand-selected in free agency and the draft. He made a huge statement to his team when he convinced Ty Law to sign as a free agent last summer.

The impact he's made on this defense can't be overlooked. Granted, the team is giving up yards in the middle of the field but outside of the Pittsburgh Steelers shellacking they've kept their opponents out of the end zone in situations that could turn the tide from a victory to a loss.

He's taught them how to win on the road and that's something Dick Vermeil couldn't do in five seasons as the head coach.

Q: Is Dante Hall as dangerous a return man as ever?

Athan: He's really struggling in the return game. His problem is that he's not setting up his returns like he did a year ago. He used to trick the coverage teams into going one way and then he would cut back and split a seam and be off for the races.

He's not as fast as he was three years ago and that's been part of the problem. Still, teams can't take him lightly because if they do, he'll bust one open. He's only returned one to the house this year and if this team is going to play well in all three phases then Hall has to get back into a rhythm.


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