From the FanPosts. Click through to find links to NaNz's previous posts in this series. -Chris
From 1999 to 2009, the Kansas City Chiefs have never had a defense that ranked any higher than 15th. I'll help you comprehend that, that's ten years of having a less than average defense. The last time the Chiefs had an above average defense, The Backstreet boys edged out Britney Spears, Shania Twain, and N' Sync for the best selling album of the year and "Star Wars Episode 1" killed the "Sixth Sense" and "Toy Story 2" for the highest grossing film of the year (VHS copies of the movie went through the roof!).
Fast forward to the 2010 off season. Romeo Crennel is brought out to Kansas City after a year long rest to heal his hip. While there is a lot of excitement surrounding his hiring, there's a lot of skepticism as well, seeing as his defenses in New England were never really elite, thought of just to be "enough" to compliment their offense. Crennel would go on to coach an 11th ranked defense that had been 29th the year before, in his first season. It's becoming very obvious, Crennel knows how to get the most out of his players.
The once head coach has already brought in Shaun Smith with a positive result, and Travis Daniels has been solid as a reserve and in special teams. It goes without saying, If Crennel believes in a former player, Kansas City should believe in that player.
What Crennel left to the Cleveland Browns and former colleague Eric Mangini, is a true testament Crennel's coaching ability. Just about every player, excluding Ahtyba Rubin, regressed rapidly, especially the veterans. As aforementioned, Crennel has also shown the ability to revive a players effectiveness with Shaun Smith. Do you think his former players respect him? Is a bird in a hand worth two in a bush?
Cleveland could be a point of focus for the Chiefs whenever free agency starts, With a new head coach in town, a switch in both offensive and defensive schemes, and Mike Homlmgren not particularly tied to any of his free agents, most of the free agents coming out of Cleveland stand a legitimate chance of getting out.
Shaun Rogers, NT
Let's start with the fan favorite. Shaun Rogers is simply a man beast when he's on the field. He's the type of player that can come in for two downs and deliver penetration right up the gut of an offensive line. While a lot of players can have that ability used against them, Rogers has the size, instincts, and ability to beat the play action and draw plays. The key phrase in this entire paragraph is "when he's on the field."
While Rogers is a phenomenal athlete, he also has a recent history of injuries, and a history of off the field issues. Rogers hasn't played a full season since 2008 , and has only played 12 games in the last two seasons. While Rogers' off the field issues really is only technically one event, it still exists. June 2007: Charged on sexual assault, charges eventually dropped and April 2010: Arrested for having a loaded gun in an airport.
The Browns cut Rogers in the interests of both money and getting younger. So there is absolutely zero chance he goes back to that team, however the Chiefs will be challenging "a third of the league" should they decide to pursue him. The need for a NT in Kansas City is probably at or near the top of their off season checklist.
A Shaun Rogers signing in Kansas City makes a ton of sense. Since Romeo Crennel's departure from the Browns, Rogers hasn't even matched his production in two seasons combined (given it was only 12 games he's played in). His presence on first and second down would elevate the play of a defense that had already been faring well with a sub-par NT. Also a NT signing of his caliber could free up the draft in the early rounds.
D'Qwell Jackson, ILB
D'Qwell Jackson was once a force in Romeo Crennel's defense and was very well respected by Eric Mangini. At one point Eric Mangini declared a fire sale for all Cleveland players but D'Qwell Jackson and Joe Thomas. Jackson is solid in both coverage and run support, but (again), his main concern is an injury history. Jackson has only played 6 games in the two seasons since Crennel left, all six coming in 2009.
Cleveland may like Jackson enough to retain him, but the chances are slim. Mike Holmgren has no ties to Jackson and may not want to take a contractual risk on Jackson, who has shown to be nothing but an injury risk as long as Holmgren has been there. Also, with Eric Mangini now out as Cleveland's head coach, Jackson has nobody to vouch for him either. The need for a WILB in Kansas City isn't pressing at all, seeing as Derrick Johnson just had a spectacular season.
A D'Qwell Jackson signing would be odd, but very welcomed. As I said before, Jackson plays the same position as Derrick Johnson, and the Chiefs are in no rush to replace him. Jackson and Johnson are around the same age so building a replacement isn't much of an argument either, however, in the 3-4 where you're rotating players almost every down, having a solid presence behind DJ would make that position stout. Also, in Nickel situations, Both Johnson and Jackson could line up next to each other and solidify middle of the field coverage.
Jackson in Kansas City would most likely mean the end of Demorrio Williams, which wouldn't be a tragedy. Kansas City could get him cheap because of injury concerns, and flip him into a solid rotational starter with the help of Romeo Crennel.
Lawrence Vickers, FB
Vickers is a traditional FB. He doesn't catch much, he doesn't run much, but what he does do is open freeways for your running back, and pound out those two to three yard conversions. Vickers, in his 5 seasons in the NFL hasn't even accumulated 100 career rushing yards, and has never gone over a 100 yards receiving on a season. Despite that Vickers is regarded as one of the best FB's in the game. Why? His blocking ability, and his ability. His ability to get to the second and third levels is about as good as it gets.
Vickers is as good as gone in Cleveland, who is switching to the West Coast offense. The West Coast offense is more of a one back system that doesn't particularly need a FB to operate. Meanwhile in Kansas City, Todd Haley is trying to implement a "meat and potatoes" offense that requires a strong running game. The need for a FB should be up there on the off season checklist for the Chiefs, who are currently burning two roster spots on Mike Cox and Tim Castille. Both of which don't seem to be the answer at FB.
A Vickers signing in Kansas City could make Jamaal Charles the most scary man in the NFL. Despite playing behind a revolving door at FB, Charles has been able to break off long runs using pure speed, with a blocker like Vickers propelling him to the third level, the Chiefs could see a lot more of those game breaking runs from Charles.
Vickers would likely knock both Tim Castille and Mike Cox off the roster, freeing up roster space for another special teams player or rotational player.
Matt Roth can be a decent starter at SOLB for a 3-4, but that's it. At 28, Roth has shown his ceiling as a starter in the NFL. After suffering a "mysterious groin injury" he was waived by the Dolphins in 2009. He went on to start for the Cleveland Browns both that year and the year following, and he did a pretty decent job too. One could assume that then football czar Bill Parcells' decision to cut Roth wasn't because of ability, rather just effort. Roth is a force against the run and is "ok" in coverage. As for Pass rushing ability, Roth is good for about five sacks a season.
Roth may be on his way out of Cleveland with the scheme change. He's never played 4-3 DE in the NFL and entering the final years of his prime, I don't imagine he wants to run the risk of failing in that position having been a starter in the 3-4 for so long. Kansas City's SOLB position is a huge question mark going into the 2011 season. While Andy Studebaker has shown promise as a rotational player, it's hard to say he's ready to be a full time starter. The Chiefs could go either way on this one
Personally, other than Rogers, Roth may be the signing I would like to see the most. With Roth, Kansas City has a cheap option at SOLB that could give them a year to see if Andy Studebaker is truly the answer there. If the experiment fails, then Roth starts the rest of the season, if it goes well, then Roth is a solid rotational linebacker that can contribute on special teams.
A Roth signing means we're bracing for a Mike Vrabel retirement. Outside of Pierre Walters, we have nothing to backup the SOLB position in such a situation. I think most Chiefs fans would be more than okay with retiring Vrabel at this point. Roth could be cheap, he hasn't really set the world on fire, however he does have some ability that could be better fine tuned by Romeo Crennel.
Eric Wright, CB
Yet another defensive player that regressed after Crennel's departure. Eric Wright has all the talent in the world but Eric Mangini couldn't unleash it. Crennel turned him into a solid pro in just his rookie season, taking home a player of the week award and 11 passes defended, 71 tackles, and an interception that season. Wright has the size and speed to keep up with just about anyone in the NFL, where he struggles is awareness. A polished route runner will, more often than not, beat out Wright.
Mike Holmgren doesn't seem to be impressed with Wright's ability. Since becoming Clevelands football czar, Holmgren has spent a first round selection (Joe Haden) and fourth and fifth round selections (Sheldon Brown) on improving the CB position. The chances Wright gets out of Cleveland really depends on the new CBA. If Wright is a RFA there's no way he leaves, if not, it seems likely the Browns would part ways with him.
There isn't much of a need for a CB in Kansas City, with Flowers, Carr, and Arenas probably locked in for the long run. However, you can never have enough solid corner back depth, and Kansas City has virtually nothing behind it's starters. Wright could be solid in rotation and could help create a beast of Nickel and Dime packages for Kansas City. Also Wright's size and speed would help out Brandon Carr with the Chargers gigantic receivers twice a year.
Wright in Kansas City probably means the Donald Washington project has officially failed. He could carry more of a price tag than we're willing to pay. With his ability and youth, some team desperate for a solid #2 corner may overpay for him.
Seneca Wallace, QB
Seneca Wallace is more of a Jim Zorn connection so the same theory applies. Seneca Wallace is one of those guys who makes you feel awesome about your quarterback position when he's on the bench. Wallace is a cerebral player with a very accurate gun in short to mid range passes. However, Wallace just isn't "that guy," and has never and probably never will start in the NFL. Wallace's scrambling ability, combined with his accuracy make him a very potent threat as a QB, and a solid option should your starter go down for four to six games.
Wallace will probably be retained by Cleveland. There aren't many #2 QB's that can teach your QB of the future the West Coast system much better than Wallace can, and that's exactly what Colt McCoy needs in Cleveland. However, the allure of working with Jim Zorn again, and (can't believe I'm saying this) winning now, could bring Wallace to Kansas City. The need for a solid backup QB in Kansas City can be summed up in two words, "week 14."
Wallace would mean the end of Brodie Croyle, not something (most) fans would be opposed to. Wallace could provide a solid presence at QB#2 for at least five to six years, like Charlie Batch in Pittsburgh.
Robaire Smith, DE/NT
Here's a signing that could surprise some. Smtih is a lot like Shaun Smith, versatile and a force against the run. However at 33, there isn't much of a need for him given the depth we have at the DE position.
Kenyon Coleman, DE/NT
I'm starting to think Crennel likes these DE/NT types. Dock a year from the age and look above this write up at Robaire Smith. Same thing, just a tad more powerful.
Pork Chop Womack, OG
Has both Crennel and Zorn connections. Womack is a decent starter, but above average depth.
Abram Elam, S
Elam will probably end up with a starting job somewhere in the NFL because of his youth/ ability. He's a liability against the run but offers a decent presence at S. He could come in a replace Jon McGraw and Donald Washington in Kansas City.
In case you missed previous "Connected" articles