Behind Enemy Lines: Seahawks/Chiefs, Vol. 3

In Part Three of our four-part game preview series, Seahawks.NET's Scott Eklund asks's Nick Athan five final questions. Nick gives us the inside take on Dante Hall's regression, the defensive impact of Ty Law and Derrick Johnson, and Kansas City's chances for - and in - the postseason.

Scott Eklund, Seahawks.NET: Dante Hall is still one of the best returners in the league. Is he still as dangerous and explosive as he was a few years ago or have teams been able to hem him in more?

Nick Athan, Warpaint Illustrated: He’s struggling, and it’s already cost the Chiefs a game this season. His turnover against the Bengals in week one turned the tide and took all the momentum away from Kansas City when they had Cincinnati on the ropes in the first quarter.

The problem with Hall is his lack of patience and his poor decision-making in following his blockers. Last week he had a clear path for a big gainer in the fourth quarter but went away from the wedge up the middle and instead turned to the sidelines.

Hall is still one of the games best return men but he’s no longer the best. I really can’t put my finger on it, but if he continues to struggle then rookie Jeff Webb could line up on kick-offs and veteran Eddie Kennison could handle the punt return duties.

Scott Eklund:
It appears that Derrick Johnson has stepped up in his second season for the Chiefs and he’s an amazing athlete. Is he the leader of the defense or are some of the other veterans still asserting themselves in that role?

Nick Athan: I think he’s becoming a leader of this defense, but he needs to play more consistent from game to game. To me the leader of this defense is veteran cornerback Ty Law. Since his addition, he’s led by example and his work ethic along with first round draft pick Tamba Hali is impressive.

Law usually begins his workouts in the weight room shortly after sunrise and now has other teammates joining him in early morning sessions. He’s not a “rah-rah” guy and he generally won’t get in any players’ faces, however he works with his defensive secondary mates and has solidified a pass-defense that had been torched the last four seasons.

There is no doubt that Derrick Johnson has made strides, but I’m not ready to make him an All-Pro this season. But starting in 2007, he might be one for the remainder of his NFL career.

Scott Eklund. With Dick Vermeil being such a popular and fan-friendly coach, it would seem tough for Edwards to come right in and be accepted. Has Edwards been embraced by the Kansas City media and fans?

Nick Athan: Vermeil was a very popular head coach but Edwards is one as well. Despite the fact that he’s constantly defending his conservative offensive philosophies, he steadfastly believes that he’s doing what’s best for his football team.

The media has been fair with him and I think the fans were ready for Vermeil to retire. To me there is no doubt that Edwards is the right man for the job in Kansas City. The fans will give him the benefit of the doubt this year as long as the defense improves. But with the offense struggling at times and rightly so, that side of the ball could put Edwards over the top with the fans.

If you consider he’s working with a back up quarterback a second string left tackle, no real fullback and really only one clutch wide receiver and a stud tight end, this offense might be on the verge of finding its swagger back.

Edwards has started to get more involved in the offense now that the defense is on track. If they become a high flying circus act, then Edwards’ relationship with the fans will be higher than it ever was with Vermeil.

Scott Eklund: Who are the Chiefs most hated rivals? Do fans miss the rivalry that Seattle and Kansas City had developed while the Seahawks were part of the AFC West?

Nick Athan: It’s still the Raiders, though they haven’t put up much of a fight in recent years. But if you ask the fans, they hate the Denver Broncos more than any other team in the division. That stems from their days battling John Elway who beat them with one late comeback drive after another.

In recent years the biggest beef with the fans is the fact the Broncos have been perceived as having the best offensive line in the NFL. Granted they are this year, but for the fans they have to grin and bare it because Denver has a pair of Super Bowl victories in the last decade while the Chiefs haven’t.

As far as Seattle, I think the Chiefs miss playing the Seahawks. Their home and away series were very entertaining and who could forget Derrick Thomas’ record setting seven sacks against David Krieg. The problem with that game is that he had whiffed on his eighth sack attempt as Krieg eluded his grasp and made him pay with a last second touchdown pass giving Seattle a win on Veterans Day back in the 1990 season.

Scott Eklund: Playing in one of the toughest divisions, what are your projections for the Chiefs as we approach the mid-way point of the season? Are they a playoff team?

Nick Athan: The Chiefs are a playoff, team in my opinion. Over the next five weeks they will be favored in four of their games. Three of them will be at home beginning Sunday against the Seahawks.

The AFC West battle could boil down to which offense can play at a consistent level. If Green comes back by mid-November and the offensive line gels, the Chiefs could end being the last team standing in the AFC West. If that happens, then maybe the Chiefs and Seahawks will meet again in Miami. Top Stories