Opening Remarks: It's very good to be back here in Indianapolis. It's very good to have a year under my belt. I'm no longer a rookie, which is a good thing. I'm really excited about the progress the Kansas City Chiefs made last year, especially late in the year. I think just like I have a year under my belt and understand what the job entails now fully, the players at the same time understand what we expect as a staff and a team. I think a lot of progress was made in those areas of finishing strong, especially our last game of the year will be good for everybody involved.
And then we're really excited about the additions I've been able to make to the coaching staff. Adding to what I thought was already a strong staff and some quality coaches that we have in Mo Carthon and Gary Gibbs and others. Then being able to add Coach Weis and Coach Crennel that have obviously been talked about a bunch, but also Emmitt Thomas I think will be a really good addition for us. You can feel that things are going in the right direction and that's what has us all really encouraged and excited.
More after the jump:
Q: After the moves with Larry Johnson, what changed in the running game? Why do you think the running game really turned on toward the end of the year?
A: Well, I think number one, there was a lot of change going on with the team in general. We were involved in a process of kind of getting to know how we would do it, the players getting to know how we wanted it done, and that takes time. I think once Jamaal got in there, he had himself ready to go. He had some opportunities early in training camp and pre-season and even when the season started and he wasn't quite there yet. But when he got the big opportunity, he was ready to go. He took it and ran with it, pardon the pun. Each week he raised the bar.
That's another thing that's got everybody excited. When you see a guy do the things that he did and continue to raise the expectations -- for instance, there was some talk with our local guys of, 'How many touches can this guy get?' We started out saying, '15 to 19.' He ended up surpassing that and ended with his best game of the year in his last game. Again, I just think the guy had prepared well and then seized the opportunity when it came and everybody's excited about the future with Jamaal running the football.
Q: Are you going to try to get him some help this off-season?
A: Yeah, one way or another, we need to get him some help, because you know he's 200 lbs. soaking wet. And though that's something he's working on and he knows it's a critical off-season, I think in this day and age, you have to give somebody some help or the time will be short.
Q: How important is it for you to keep Chris Chambers and how are those negotiations going?
A: Well, I won't get into any of that, but just about all of our free agents are guys that we're talking to and would like to have as part of the team. Chris was a guy that came in midway through the year and really did some good things for us. So, again, there's a handful of those guys, or the majority of them I would say, that we're talking to and would really like to be a part of the team.
Q: What playbook is Charlie going to be working from? His own? A combination?
A: It'll be our playbook. The great thing about where we're at is the familiarity. As I've said a bunch of times, Charlie and I shared a six by six office back in New York and we learned under the same mentors and the same offensive philosophy. Over the years when you go different directions, it gets deluded and the system, there's things added. It's just natural and it happens with any system. But what we've been working really hard is getting back to the basics of the system as we knew it back then and really trying to clean up and, again, getting back to the purest form of our system that we believe in.
So the continuity there is just tremendous. We sit there and you've got a lot of bright guys -- and I'm not putting myself in that group -- but you got a lot of guys that are bright. It's fun and we're having fun with it. That's the best way to term it: our playbook. It's a bunch of coaches and that's what they know. Though they may know other systems, that's what they know and believe in most. And again, that's what's kind of exciting.
Q: How do you assess the tackles this year and is Branden Albert going to be on the right or the left?
A: Branden is a guy for us this year that I think is not a lot different than Jamaal and made a lot of progress throughout the year. This time of year when we got ready to roll in the off-season, he wasn't in the best of shape. Then he put his nose to the grindstone and got himself in position to compete. He had his ups and downs, no doubt about it, but he continued to show signs of progress. He's a high character guy that really cares about football, which is the types of guys we're looking for. So I think the sky is the limit for Branden and what's capable of for us.
Q: Last year at this time, you had a lot of enthusiasm for Dwayne Bowe. How did you view his season and what kind of enthusiasm do you have now?
A: I know at that position -- the wide receiver position -- we have to be better. If you could point, without placing blame, but if you could go through our season and situations in games that ended up hurting us, dropped balls were a major issue. It wasn't only the receiver position, but that's their job is to catch the ball and that's an area that we have to improve in. I've talked a bunch to Dwayne since the season ended, and I think he's got his expectations where they need to be, which is high. He knows that he needs to be better, and I think that as long as he's thinking that way and understands what the big picture is, he'll come into this off-season better than he was last off-season and that's the way you get ahead of the bar.
But again, the important thing with Dwayne is his expectations are high and he knows he has to be a better player to be the player he wants to be and to help make this team a great team. So again, I'm encouraged by Dwayne. I'm not tempered at all. He's in the right place.
Q: The running back is becoming more a hybrid position and Dexter McCluster was just here. Can you talk about that?
A: Well, I think when you have unique ability guys that have some of those qualities that it's an advantage to whoever has those players. As we went through the year with Jamaal, there were times where he was split outside and I know against the San Diego Chargers, he caught a double move on one of the top corners, I believe, in the league and looked like a receiver doing it. When you get guys with some unique abilities like that who can do multiple things... you know we ran a couple wildcat snaps with Jamaal, but we didn't push it much further than that. But he has a unique skill set that I think anybody that's into offense gets excited about. And when you see these guys, like McCluster you're talking about -- that have really good production in multiple areas, they have a unique skill set that you'd be excited to try to utilize.
Q: Do you have a strategy in place to address the 3-4 nose tackle position? You're in a draft position where the top guys might not be there and what little free agents available are being retained by their teams. So where do you go from here?
A: Well, we've got a couple nose tackles on the roster, so we need to have those guys continue to improve and, again, we've got a core of guys on this team in general that I think we can go forward with and just add some talent around. When you win four games, you obviously have needs in a lot of different areas. So for us to specify one particular need or another, we just need to add good football players that like to play and have ability and think the way that we believe that guys have to think. Then we'll continue to improve.
Q: So there is not an in-house emphasis to address the nose tackle position specifically?
A: Again, with four wins, we've got a lot of needs. You just try to get the best ones that you can get.
Q: Do you see this as a deep defensive draft?
A: That's all to me hypothetical. No matter what I say, we won't know until a couple years down the road. But there's a lot of guys here that look hungry and a lot of them are working out, which is good. They're rising up to the competition, so this is always an exciting time of the year.
Q: I only saw Matt Cassel play in the Cleveland game and he looked great. Do you think that was his best game? And what do you think of his progression throughout the season?
A: Well, I think Matt throughout the year went through ups and downs like all of us. The thing about Matt is that he did continue to improve. He continued to go in this direction which is good. He's a tough guy and mentally tough, because it was not an easy year to be the quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. He withstood that onslaught. He didn't show any signs of cracking. He's working his butt off right now. He's into football. I think he's got the ability to continue to get better, and I just know he's really excited. When you get a tough guy like that to be around long enough, you know that those guys generally will find a way to succeed and I think that's what he's going to do.
Q: What about the Cleveland game in particular?
A: The Cleveland game in particular? He did a lot of good things throughout the year and I talked about the drops. When you have as many drops -- and we led the league in drops -- when you have that amount of drops, it has an effect on everybody. It directly has an effect on the quarterback. Again, as Matt's head coach, I'm excited about the direction that he's going and I know he's excited. We just need to continue to get the players we have better and coach them better and add some to the mix, and I think, again, we'll see the improvement we want to see.
Q: Would you rather trade down in the draft or stay up in the draft and get a top player?
A: We just want good football players, the more, the better. So, again, I'll take them however they come.
Q: You said you're excited about Matt Cassel and you have Brodie Croyle. Are you looking to address the quarterback position in the draft?
A: Again, I think any position we'd be open to address in some form or another. It may be to get a guy to develop to step into the role at some point, so again, across the board we have needs and that's only natural. We just have to do a good job of finding as many good football players as we can get, however we get them. Then work them into our system and our way of doing things and that's the way it works. Then you just stay with the plan.
Q: How does your background in scouting and personnel play into this time of year as a head coach?
A: Coach Parcells told me to be an effective head coach in the NFL, you have to know personnel. I don't think there's any doubt about that. I'm very fortunate again to be raised by the man I was raised by who was pretty good at finding guys who could play football. So I enjoy this time of year a bunch. I'm happy again that this time of year, we're really on full scramble mode probably trying to fill six or seven spots on the staff, so we really didn't get to enjoy this process or get into it as much as I would have liked to. So we're in a much more settled position where you can really put your head into finding players which is fun for me.
Q: Can you talk about Glenn Dorsey a little bit?
A: Glenn's a guy similar to Branden Albert who came into the off-season not in the shape that he wanted to be or that we would expect him to be. It was an uphill battle early on for Glenn. He was fighting from the start. But he continued to fight and got himself into much better football condition. Then stepping into a situation that was new to him, I thought he handled it very well. We were clearly a better team when he was playing than when he wasn't. He missed a couple games late that we missed him pretty dearly I would say. For Glenn, this is a big year and big off-season for him as it is for a bunch of the guys. But I think his mind's in the right place and he wants to be a top player. Again, when the player's thinking that way and has his expectations where they need to be, you have a chance.