Behind Enemy Lines: Kansas City

Nick Athan of Warpaint Illustrated took a few minutes to give us the inside scoop on the Chiefs heading into week 1. What role will Larry Johnson play? How much of an impact will the rookies have? Are the Chiefs QB issues behind them... and more.

1. The Chiefs seem to have had quarterback troubles ever since Trent Greene was knocked out of that game with a concussion a couple years ago. Do they have a solution behind center now, or are they still working on it?

Nick Athan: Before Trent Green it was Joe Montana and before that it was Len Dawson. This franchise has really never committed to a young quarterback and that’s one of the reasons that this organization has not been to the post season on a regular basis. However, from the coaches to the players they all believe that Brodie Croyle is the answer. Is he the solution, I think if he gets good line play and Larry Johnson returns to his old self, that all he has to do is mange the game. Edwards likens Croyle to his former protégée Chad Pennington from the Jets. If Edwards can get that kind of play out of Croyle this team could double its win totals from a year ago.

2. Larry Johnson had some injury issues, and a contract dispute. Is that all in the past and should we expect the same Larry Johnson who is usually one of the league's leading rushers out there on Sunday?

Nick Athan: LJ is back and he has attitude raging inside him at the moment. It was an awful year for the star running back after his contract holdout and injury that forced him to miss most of the 2007 season. He’s been the same old LJ in practice and had a solid preseason. The rust is gone and I expect 1500-1600 yards rushing for him this year. He should have a big day against New England on Sunday.

3. Much ado was made about he Chiefs draft this year. Tell us about the kind of impact Kansas City is expecting from those rookies this year.

Nick Athan: Both of the teams first round picks defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and left tackle Brandon Albert are going to start on Sunday. Both have been slowed by injuries and this is a tough opener but they’ll be ready. The other two rookies who will have an impact off the bat will be second round corner Brandon Flowers and third round running back Jamaal Charles. Fourth round receiver Will Franklin would have joined that class but he’s at least another week away after having minor knee surgery two weeks ago. When the season ends these are going to be the guys who will stand out and contribute the most out of the 2008 draft class.

4. Herm Edwards has been in the AFC east for a long time before going to KC. Do you think Herm's familiarity with the Patriots when he was the coach for the Jets will help him this weekend?

Nick Athan: I think that helps but to me the biggest impact will be from Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham who is close friends with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. I would be FAR more worried about his familiarity about the Pats offense against the Chiefs defense than I would coming from the Head Coach of the Chiefs. Still Edwards has a lot of respect for this football team and on Sunday his young Chiefs will get a taste of what he wants them to evolve into as they play arguably one of the best teams in the AFC and the team Edwards wants his players to emulate.

5. What's the top concern for the Chiefs right now, and what do you expect the Chiefs to do to address that – either on Sunday or over the course of the season?

Nick Athan: To me it’s the linebackers. This is a group that’s only four deep and two of the members are coming off injuries. Derrick Johnson is primed to become the first All-Pro linebacker since the late Derrick Thomas. But after that KC has some unknowns. The Chiefs pushed last years free agent pick-up Napoleon Harris to the bench in favor of Pat Thomas and Donnie Edwards might lose his starting job to Demorrio Williams. Collectively if they can play well then this defense might crack the Top Ten in 2008.

6. Who will win on Sunday and how will they do it?

Nick Athan: As bad as I want to be a homer for the Chiefs, I can’t see them going into Foxboro and pulling out a victory. I do think the point spread is too high for a season opener against a team that lost all of its preseason games and its star quarterback didn’t take a snap. Rust and timing will hit Brady but it won’t be enough to lose to the Chiefs. Pats win 30-17.

Nick Athan is the publisher of Warpaint Illustrated, the Kansas City Chiefs affiliate on the Scout.com Network. Be sure to check out the latest in Chiefs news before and after the game at www.warpaintillustrated.com.

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