I recently had the chance to exchange 5 questions with the good people of Arrowhead Pride, SBN's Kansas City Chiefs blog. You can head over to their site to see my responses to their Dolphins-related questions. DJ from Arrowhead Pride was nice enough to answer my questions, which you can read below:
Matty I: I've read a little bit about how the offense being run in now in Kansas City is very different than the one ran last season. What are these differences and do you think they will help generate more offense?
DJ: A reporter recently asked Brody Croyle that exact question at a recent press conference. This is how he replied: 'Nothing we did last year we do this year. We have the checks now and we just kind of line up and go. It's not about trying to trick people with motions; it's about getting in better plays. It's really no comparison.'
Gailey has crafted the offense around both the strengths and weaknesses of our current roster. We have a strong armed QB that can throw on the run and to any part of the field, and an offensive line that is probably still going to be pretty soft. So you will see a lot of rollouts, bootlegs and zone blocking. The offense is much simpler and young player friendly than the fabled Vermeil/Saunders 700 page playbook, but from what we have seen so far, is far from predictable.
I would say the biggest thing about the new offense is that it is allowing the offense to lead long, sustained drives, which is a huge part of Herm Edwards conservative philosophy. When the starters were in the game, we had the following time of possession stats:
Preseason Game 1 (1st quarter)
KC - 10:03
Chicago - 4:57
Preseason Game 2 (1st half)
KC - 23:45
Arizona - 6:15
Matty I: To be honest, I haven't watched any of the Chiefs' preseason games. But from looking at the numbers, it seems like Brodie Croyle hasn't been necessarily effective while Tyler Thigpen has moved the ball more when leading the offense. Is there a QB competition? And if there isn't right now, might there be a controversy if Croyle should struggle in the regular season?
DJ: There is absolutely no QB controversy in K.C. It was made clear at the end of last year that Brodie Croyle is the Chiefs starting QB. The Chiefs did not make any move for a QB in free agency. They made no attempt to draft a QB in the draft. And despite Herm Edwards and Chad Penningtons well known friendship and connection from their time together with the Jets, Pennington was not led to believe he would have a chance to compete for the starting job with the Chiefs if he came here, which is why he went to Miami.
Thigpen has played considerably longer in the preseason games than Croyle and remember that most of that time is going up against 2nd and 3rd string defensive players. Croyles performance has been solid and steady, Thigpens has been scary at times. He seems to move the ball well in the two minute drills, but flounders for the rest of the game. In reality, the only QB competition that you will hear of in K.C. will be for the 2nd string job between Thigpen and Damon Huard.
Matty I: I've noticed that the Chiefs' defense has been struggling against the run in the preseason, allowing 5 yards per carry. Does this worry you at all?
DJ: The Chiefs had a lot of trouble against the run last year, largely because of some weakness in our linebacker group not hitting their gaps. This past offseason, the linebackers coach was fired and Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham has personally taken over direct coaching of this group. We are still waiting to see the results, but like the rest of the team, the LB group has been hit heavily by injuries and turn over with young players. On a bright note, out defensive line may turn out to be much more solid than it was last year. Glenn Dorsey will of course be starting and last years 3rd round pick, Tank Tyler, has earned himself a starting spot over both of last years veterans. Turk McBride has been playing very well at Left Defensive End and is much more suited for stopping the run than Tamba Hali was, who moved to the right side, replacing Jared Allen.
Again, looking at preseason stats as a whole is not very useful because the stats get warped by 3rd and 4th stringers who likely won't even be in the NFL in another couple of weeks. Its still a wait and see thing for the Chiefs, but I think most fans are feeling much more confident about our ability to defend the run this year from last.
Matty I: How is Kansas City's offensive line shaping up? Are they going to be able to open up some holes for Larry Johnson to run through this year?
DJ: The offensive line is still in quite a bit of flux. We only have one player that is still playing at the same position he did last year, and three that will be completely new on the line altogether. 1st round pick Brandon Albert got a sprained foot the second week of training camp and looks like he will miss the entire preseason, but he has a rare level of athleticism for an offensive linemen and many Chiefs fans think that in a few years, he could turn out to be the best Left Tackle to come out of the 2008 draft (no offense Jake Long!). I'm sure you are well aware of the issues we are facing with Damion McIntosh, who is being moved to Right Tackle to make room for Albert at Left. He played horribly in the first preseason game against the Bears, but did well in the second game. But he is injured nearly every practice it seems like. With Alberts backup, Herb Taylor doing a fantastic job filling in for him, its possible that Taylor will get moved to RT when Albert returns and McIntosh will have to start dodging splinters on the bench.
Much of offensive coordinator Chan Gaileys offensive scheme is about giving the soft and inexperienced on the Offensive Line help. Lots of zone blocking, lots of 2 TE sets, lots of QB rollouts.
Matty I: What is the most interesting position battle playing out in Chiefs' camp right now?
DJ: Well at this point, most of the battles are more or less settled. We still have a kicker battle going on, but I expect it to probably be resolved after the Miami game and who really cares about kicking battles anyway?
Probably the most heated battle going on right now is for the final WR position. Normally the Chiefs would carry 3 RBs and 5 WRs, with one of those WRs doing kick return duties. However, undrafted free agent RB Dantrell Savage is making huge waves this offseason and its looking more and more likely that he will end up doing the kick and punt returns so the Chiefs will end up carrying 4 RBs and only 4 WRs. So there is a pretty good battle going for that #4 WR spot between Jeff Webb and Maurice Price that I expect to continue on until the last game of the preseason.