What Does the Charlie Weis Hiring Mean for the Chiefs' Offense?

Unless you've been living in a cave for a few months, you probably know by now that Charlie Weis was hired to be the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs (in related news, the sky is blue). But the real question you're probably asking is: "what does the Charlie Weis hiring mean for Kansas City?" I mean, we think he's good and that he'll help, but how? What kind of offense will he install? What kind of players will he bring in? What is his fit with Kansas City?

 

I'm still learning about him myself. As always, I can't wait to hear some of the discussion about not only the good, but the bad when it comes to Charlie Weis as the Chiefs' offensive coordinator.

Fit:

A few weeks ago, Jason Whitlock wrote a piece questioning whether a Todd Haley/Charlie Weis partnership could ever work out. But he takes that opinion a few steps too far by assuming that this is a surefire marriage made in Hell. I'll admit that I was surprised Weis chose to work with an offensive-minded coach, but I actually think the partnership could work out well.

The fact that Haley pushed for Weis at all is a pretty strong sign that he's maturing as a head coach. While he may lose some power, he also gets to settle into an easier job. He doesn't have to worry about the media tearing into him after every single controversial playcall. More importantly, last season, if Haley didn't prepare the gameplan and call plays, the gameplan would never get done. I'm sure there were times he wanted to spend more time coaching up receivers or Matt Cassel. I'm sure there were other things within the game he wanted to pay attention to, rather than devoting his full attention to playcalling. Weis' presence allows Haley to be whatever coach he wants to be. I'm sure Haley realizes that the power he had last season isn't as exciting as it's advertised to be.  In terms of fit, Weis will fit into Kansas City just fine. Just as Dick Lebeau fit in just fine with Mike Tomlin, a young defensive head coach, at the helm.

As for Weis or Crennel becoming a threat to Haley as a coach, let's get real here. If the Chiefs don't win games under Weis and Crennel, then those two are just as much a part of the problem as Haley. If Haley succeeds, then why fire him? I doubt that Haley is looking over his shoulder. He knows that his future with this franchise depends on the Chiefs' future success. That was true even before Romeo or Weis were hired.

Now, if there is a downside to the Weis hiring it's that he could very well be using this position as a stepping stone for bigger and better things. If Weis improves the Chiefs' offense, he could become a hot commodity in the head coaching market and I wouldn't be surprised if it happened as soon as 2011. All Weis has to do is to prove that he can still coach on the pro level. If Weis leaves after only a year or two of service, it could threaten the continuity of the offense. 

Playcalling:

From a playcalling standpoint, we might have to get used to Haley's aggressive style of game management. Weis has a history of making some questionably risky playcalls when the situation doesn't call for it. Hopefully one aggressive coach will keep the other from making poor decisions, but it's more likely than not that the Chiefs are going to be ultra-aggressive again this season. That's a potential downside to consider.

As for the actual system, if you really pay close attention to the kinds of offenses Charlie Weis has built in the past, you start to get an idea about what kind of offense he'll want to build in the future. And yes, that offense will likely resemble the offense the Patriots currently run under Bill Belichick and the offense the Broncos are trying to build under Josh McDaniels. And yes, there is also some overlap with Todd Haley's offensive system.

The entire offense is built around the ability to do everything on offense, from any formation at any time. They're not afraid to run five-receiver sets and they're not afraid to hit you in the mouth with a power running game, and often times, they'll operate out of the no-huddle so that defenses don't have time to adjust. When defenses become too aggressive, the offense will make you look foolish by dialing in a screen pass. If defenses cheat on the run game, they'll hit you with a playaction pass. If the defense chooses not to respect the run game, they'll hit you in the mouth with an inside run. Most unique to the scheme, however, is the way they blend both a horizontal and vertical passing attack. Whereas West Coast Offenses focus on more of a short, disciplined passing attack and Coryell Offenses focus on a vertical attack, the Erhardt-Perkins offense focuses on a blend of both. They will force you to honor the deep pass and then hit you with a lot of the short to medium stuff. 

There's a lot of good stuff about the type of offense you can expect to see here and here.

Personnel:

At the Quarterback position, Weis has a Quarterback in Matt Cassel that really thrived in this system and a lot of that is because Cassel's strength is in the horizontal passing game throwing a lot of the short- to medium-range stuff. In Tom Brady's first seasons as a Quarterback under Weis, he really wasn't asked to throw a lot of deep stuff. Arguably, Brady was good but not great at the deep ball earlier in his career (that, of course, has changed over time). That's great news, because Cassel currently throws a very questionable deep ball. While many might suggest that Charlie Weis is some kind of a Quarterback guru, it might just be that Weis is really good at setting up an offense that is very comfortable for a Quarterback to operate in. I originally thought that Charlie Weis was going to heavily consider drafting Jimmy Clausen because of his working relationship with him. While I'm not crazy about Matt Cassel, I actually think this is the kind of situation where he could thrive.

As for his protection, the system clearly needs good blockers to keep Cassel upright. However, because the scheme relies on punishing defenses for being overaggressive, a lot of those blocking issues can be resolved through creative playcalling. The offense might not rely on amazing blockers, but it likely needs able, intelligent blockers. Unlike Mel Kiper, I don't think the Chiefs need to worry about their Left Tackle situation. I don't think you need stud offensive linemen to operate in this system. You can find a lot of the guys you need in the later rounds.

At the Wide Receiver position, Charlie Weis really seems to like sure-handed receivers. And on most teams he's coached, he's had a huge receiver (Keyshawn Johnson, Michael Floyd, David Givens)  complemented by a smaller possession receiver (Wayne Chrebet, Deion Branch, Golden Tate) with decent but not unbelievable speed. The Chiefs have their West Coast guy in Dwayne Bowe, though his hands aren't what they should be. They have some guys like Bobby Wade and Lance Long who sort of fit the mold of a slot possession receiver, but they're nowhere near the kind of player Weis probably wants. And while I really liked the play of Chris Chambers this season, if the Chiefs can find a way to maneuver for a player like Anquan Boldin, that would make for a better fit for this offense. At receiver, expect the Chiefs to find some kind of a slot receiver who is a tactician of the game. Decent but not breakneck speed, outstanding hands, and a flawless route runner. In fact, you might as well just call Golden Tate to the podium right now.  

At Tight End, Weis is going to want guys who can roll out into routes and cover more of that short ground. Brad Cottam proved to be a solid target, Leonard Pope appeared to be a decent enough target, and who knows, maybe Jake O'Connell will find hands sometime this year. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Chiefs make a play for a more consistent receiving target and, much as we hate to talk about Patriotizing the Chiefs, it's quite possible that the Chiefs consider a guy like Benjamin Watson to fill that role.

The Running Back position is a little bit tricky. I've been trying to figure out how Jamaal Charles fits into this offense, because he's so different from the type of back Weis typically prefers. While the Erhardt-Perkins scheme isn't necessarily married to a ball-control offense, it does rely on a running game that will keep Linebackers honest. That seems to be more suited for a smashmouth interior running game as opposed to the outside running game Charles is particularly good at. I expect Weis to find a way to make him work, but I also expect him to make bringing in some kind of a bigger back a higher priority. The Chiefs need to bring in a rotational back to spell Charles anyway. 

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