While it's no easy task deciphering the current state of affairs at One Arrowhead Drive, we've got five weeks or so until training camp...so here's my take on the current state of affairs with the Kansas City Chiefs offense.
Biggest surprise so far this offseason? Easily it has to be the silence and work ethic of Larry Johnson. I thought he'd be traded shortly after he lost his grievance over his guaranteed money.
I don't care how or why he's suddenly come to Jesus. All I care about is can he haul the rock and refrain from abusing women. If he can also be a good teammate and quit whining to the media—so much the better. Right now it looks like he can.
If Pioli has somehow been the catalyst for the change in Larry, more power to him. If he has, and is not taking credit for it in the media—maybe some of you pundits out there can quit yer b*tchin' and let the man do his job.
There's been a lot of complaining about the Chiefs offensive line this offseason, particularly with regard to the draft and free agent market. So let's review.
Currently, the starting depth chart probably looks like this:
LT-Albert, LG-Waters, C-Niswanger, RG-Goff, RT-MacIntosh
Both guards are former or current Pro Bowl players. Albert is acknowledged league wide as a stud LT. As first year starters, both Niswanger and Albert played better than expected. The real problem last year was the right side was pitiful.
While I'm no big fan of MacIntosh, I can't really blame him for not being able to compensate for the disability of Adrian Jones and crew at right guard last year. Certainly, the right side should be a heck of a lot better with Goff regardless of who is playing right tackle.
My personal favorite to start at RT this year is Herb Taylor, at least until Colin Brown is ready to step in. As Goff may only be here one year, I would really like to see Colin get a chance to play at least eight games with Goff before we try to upgrade the line in next years draft.
Also, it would be a huge benefit for Taylor to get those starts with Goff as well. After the way Taylor filled in for Albert last year, he is clearly our future utility lineman who can fill a short term slot on either side of the line.
As to Waters little tiff with the new brain trust, fahgettiaboutit. Brian has ALWAYS been about the benjamins, and that's fine–he deserves every penny he gets. But he's also not stupid. He can see the writing on the wall. KC is not going to trade him—at least not this year.
And he knows you never get the money they would take in fines back. He's too much of a pro to pay fines simply for pride. He will be there, and he'll play as well as ever.
Lots of folks think KC is going to really miss Tony Gonzalez, and we will. That said, neither Haley's or the Patriots offenses have made as much use of the TE as KC has for the last 10 years. Ingram will be able to replace TonyG's production from the slot without too much trouble.
What we're really going to need from our tight ends this year is blocking, both in passing and running situations. Fortunately, it's a job the top three TE's on the roster are well suited to do.
What can we expect from this year's offense? Uh...does Woody Hayes ring a bell?
Many of the less informed around the league have been saying Larry Johnson is past his prime.
Last year's stats, particularly at home (five-plus yards a carry) show clearly LJ has a lot left. When you factor in how bad the line really was last year, how defenses KNEW when we were going to run the ball, and how low the morale was...you have to acknowledge LJ was one of the few bright spots in spite of his whining and the plays he quit on.
With the line upgrades, and the lack of top talent at the receiver positions, it's reasonable to assume Haley is going to play ball control conservative offense, run it as much as possible, and when we do pass, it will go either to Bowe, Ingram or Charles out of the backfield.
If we can put up 21-24 points a game without turning the ball over, and the offense can keep the defense off the field even eight to 10 plays less per game than last year...the Chiefs could easily contend in the AFC West this year.
Now before you horse-laugh at that last statement, bear in mind it says as much about the division as it does the Chiefs.
Denver? A total quagmire of question marks right now—though I suspect they will find ways to answer those questions early, particularly on defense.
San Diego? Merriman's return is a worry, though it generally takes top NFL players two full years to get back to 100 percent of what they were before a major ACL injury. If that holds true for Shawne, he's still got another year to go.
Also, Norv Turner has destroyed the chemistry of every team where he's been the head coach. It's just a matter of time before he finds some new way to sabotage the Chargers.
What really encourages me in all of this is how well Haley's offense in Arizona played late last season when he decided to feature Edgerrin James. They were absolutely smokin' hot down the stretch. And LJ is younger and more powerful than Edge.
With even average line play, and a QB tall enough to see over the line...we could really surprise on this side of the ball.
It's going to be a lot of fun watching these guys jell. And I, for one, think they're a lot better than they even know yet.
As to the picture with this article...this one was SO much more appealing than the QB's view of the o-line...