So, when the immortal Chris Thorman of Arrowhead Pride emailed me saying "Hey jerkweed! Want to do a Q and A, or are you too much of a p*ssy to talk after Vinatieri choked that kick against the Bolts?" I naturally said yes. Here's my answers to Chris' questions over at AHP. And now, here are Chris' answers to mine:
Chris: Despite the Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers fighting it out for the top spot in the AFC West, there is a general feeling amongst the fans that no matter what happens in our division, the winner is essentially a lamb put up for the slaughter. The AFC, most notably the Colts and the Patriots, are so much further ahead than any of the other teams that a win in the AFC West doesn't really mean much right now. Sure, it would be great to win the division. But to win the division with a 9-7 or even an 8-8 record doesn't really mean much.
This season, in pretty much every other year, would already be over for the Chiefs. We have a 4-5 record and not a lot to hang our hat on in 2007. I'm just thankful that despite the poor play of our team, we still have some playoff excitement to root for (and write about!). The parity of the AFC West is the only reason we're still contending, not the play of our team.
BBS: Brodie Croyle is now your QB for 2007. Should Coach Herman Edwards have started him from Week One?
Chris: The Chiefs camp was almost evenly divided on this issue, as noted by a poll Arrowhead Pride had up at the beginning of the season. Out of 150 votes, the decision was nearly split even between Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle starting for the Chiefs in 2007. I was a proponent of Croyle starting from the beginning based on the logic that since the Chiefs had virtually no chance of competing for a Super Bowl, we should develop our quarterback. The worst scenario I could imagine coming out of the 2007 season would be to have the Chiefs miss the playoffs and Damon Huard start all sixteen games.
At this point in the season, through nine games, I'm satisfied with how the quarterback controversy has gone. Damon Huard was winning (sort of) for a while so I supported him as our starting quarterback. With the decline of Huard's play over the last couple of weeks, it was time to bring Croyle in and I believe that seven games will be enough to evaluate our third round pick. Most fans are happy that Croyle is at least playing this season, instead of doing what Carl Peterson and the Chiefs do best- sign aging, retread quarterbacks.
BBS: What's been the change in KC's defense? They are currently ranked 10th in scoring defense, a far cry from the Chiefs defenses in recent years.
Chris: As much of a cliché as it is to say, we have a "defensive-minded" head coach now. Herm Edwards places more of an emphasis on ball control and field position than airing the ball out, scoring (or not) and putting your defense right back on the field. That last comment was a nod to the Dick Vermeil era, which brought a fantastic scoring offense to Kansas City. But, as Colts fans know, a great offense is nothing without a solid defense.
Another factor in the resurgence of Kansas City's defense is that we have some younger defensive players who are coming into their own this season. Jared Allen, of course, is having a stellar fourth season of his career. Our 2005 first round pick, LB Derrick Johnson, is developing this year into the player that the Chiefs' coaches thought he would be. He is a big-hitting, super fast linebacker that is in on a lot of tackles. Sprinkle in some solid 2006 and 2007 draft picks and the Chiefs defense is back on the upswing.
BBS: I've never been a fan of Herman Edwards. I think he's a blow hard that doesn't know much about football, especially the offensive side of the ball. Yet, he has re-built this Chiefs defense, which has been impressive. What does Edwards bring to this team as a coach?
Chris: Herm brings a much more conservative style of play to Kansas City, which is reminiscent of the Marty Schottenheimer era in KC. Putting up 30 points a game with Dick Vermeil was great. But in the back of your mind, you were waiting for the defense to crumble. Vermeil never really cared much about the defensive side of the ball and the Colts saw that first hand in the 2003 playoffs. That is not a winning strategy in my opinion and Herm, to a certain degree, leveled out both sides of the ball on this team.
I also get the sense that Herm Edwards is and will do a much better job developing players than Dick Vermeil did. You won't catch Herm saying anything like the "diaper" comment Vermeil made about Larry Johnson a few years ago. That's simply not his style.
BBS: And finally, try to be objective here: Where do you see this Chiefs team going? What are their needs and how will they get better as a team? Right now, they are sort of wavering in the cusp. What do they need to make them a solid playoff team?
Chris: The defense will continue to improve, so Chiefs fans aren't really worried about that. The albatross around the neck of this Chiefs' offense is the offensive line. Simply put, almost the entire unit is terrible. The Chiefs coaching staff thought they could get by with a couple of sub-par players on the line and this has been far from correct. Larry Johnson and the team in general are having one of their worst seasons ever rushing the football and you can trace that back to an o-line unit that is not cohesive, lacks general talent and has been forced to face a lot of defensive players in the box all season long.
Depending on the development of Brodie Croyle and positive changes on the offensive line, I believe that the Kansas City Chiefs are two, maybe three years away from being a very solid playoff contender in the AFC again. Hopefully, Dwayne Bowe and Brodie Croyle develop some chemistry, Tony Gonzalez sticks around for a few more years and the defense keeps improving. Will the Chiefs unequivocally be one of the top AFC teams in a couple of years? I don't think so. But we're putting the pieces in place to make a run.