From the FanPosts. -Chris
(I started this post months ago and never finished because the CBA got me down on the idea, however, with free agency seemingly around the corner I thought it would be a good idea to start it up again.)
If you sat Todd Haley in a room and asked him to describe what his ideal team looks like, the image you get might not be to the likeness of the Patriots, rather the Baltimore Ravens. Sure the Ravens are in sort of a decline, and that's never what a franchise aspires to. But on their best days, you can see what Todd Haley's vision is for his squad.
We all witnessed it week one of the playoffs, what Ozzie Newsome and his gang had built in Baltimore. A rough meat and potatoes offense complimented by a versatile, punch you in the mouth defense.
Roaming the sidelines of that game? Our very own Jim Zorn, then quarterbacks coach for the Ravens. However, what goes unnoticed is that the Chiefs have an even stronger connection to the Ravens franchise than a Quarterback coach who posted just a year of service in Baltimore.
We have Ozzie Newsome. Possibly one of the most accomplished football men ever and respected colleague of one Scott Pioli who worked closely with Newsome when the Ravens franchise was still in Cleveland.
The Crop of free agent Ravens is ripe for picking, they have tons of high quality guys and not enough cap room to keep them all. The only drawback to an Ozzie Newsome product is that he disregards the work ethic factor. Two examples; Terrance Cody and Jared Gaither. You can't teach someone who doesn't want to learn. However, with Jim Zorn and Scott Pioli, we have both an executive eye and a field view of the situation.
While the Chiefs connections to the Ravens may not net them any insider deals. They will be able to get a more thorough analysis of just what to expect out of a certain player, then judge the price tag next to the expectations, thus creating a solid deal. Here are some of the top free agents Baltimore has to offer.
Le'Ron McClain, FB/HB, Age: 26
I cannot express to you enough how lethal LeRon McClain makes the Chiefs offense. Imagine if you will, the Chiefs come out in a split back set with Charles and McClain in the backfield, Tony Moeaki at TE and Baldwin and Bowe split out.
Formation shift one (I-Form): Charles kicks back to Tailback position, McClain shifts right in front of him at FB, Moeaki is free to play the slot or stay tight and add even more run blocking force to the formation.
From this formation we can run at any edge we want to and call a mess of counters, the passing routes are still pretty open but with Charles and McClain coming out of the backfield the opposition has time to get to the QB before more than two routes (Bowe and Baldwin) develop. A solid formation to go to play action out of.
Formation shift two (Trips Form): Charles kicks out to slot receiver, probably taking a linebacker or the Safety with him, McClain kicks back to the tailback position, Moeaki motions into the fullback position, we now have a power running game to pay attention to but also three dangerous receiving threats. With Charles taking a run defender with him the field is evened with the lack of a blocking TE, if McClain can get past the second level, look out. This formation can use a lot of straight forward runs and presents a TON of opportunities for screens.
Formation shift three (4 wide): Pretty self explanatory, Charles and Moeaki split out and become receivers three and four, while McClain stays back in the tailback position either in a single back formation or next to the QB in shotgun. More than likely this causes a linebacker and the Strong Safety to play further out of the hash marks then they intended to.
This is a pretty good set up for draws, sweeps, and very good for screens Bowe can blind side the linebacker shadowing Charles on a screen, Moeaki can provide a lead blocker for Baldwin on a screen, and McClain can run a traditional screen right out of the backfield. Also with McClains punishing running style he could grind out good yardage on dives up the middle with a linebacker and the strong safety having to make up ground before they can get that crucial second body on him.
These are just some of my favorite ideas, I'm sure Haley could come up with a thousand more, and this is before you add in the fact that we could sub out Moeaki or Baldwin and put McCluster in there.
Dawan Landry, SS, Age: 28
Landry is a highly unlikely signing. However, if he was brought in he would bring Kansas City's secondary to a whole new level. Landry is the beneficiary of Ed Reeds presence in Baltimore, which allows him to be one of the best run support SS's in the business. Landry would probably force Eric Berry into more of a FS type role, not really necessary seeing as Kendrick Lewis played solid FS as a rookie.
Ultimately his money to position of need ratio would put more value in his pockets than in the construction of the Chiefs dynasty.
Marshal Yanda, G/T, Age: 26
Yanda is like the right side version of Branden Albert. He's a SOLID guard and a decent tackle. Yanda played well enough that two teams could get into a bidding war and pay a handsome contract to him, which he probably deserves. I don't see Yanda being a great fit for the Chiefs however, we have a budding starter at RT and our best offensive lineman happens to play RG.
Still, adding Yanda probably kicks Richardson to the swing tackle role and with Richardson as a swing tackle and Asomoah or Hudson as a swing interior lineman, the Chiefs are set with both starters and depth, not a bad thing to have going into playoffs.
Chris Carr & Josh Wilson, CB's, Ages: 28 and 26 respectively.
Carr would be the guy the front office is more interested in but Wilson is probably the guy that gets out of Baltimore. Wilson really stepped up last season when he was thrust into a starting role, and he performed admirably. Wilson probably gets a shot at a CB competition on a team with a need for a 2nd CB, but would bring much needed depth for all corner spots in Kansas City.
Throughout his career in Baltimore, Carr has played almost every position in the defensive backfield, and last season started at CB and played at a high level. We saw it first hand in playoffs. Carr would be solid depth for the entire secondary, and could even free up some roster spots, more than likely retiring John McGraw. With the Ravens taking Chykie Brown and Jimmy Smith in the draft, Carr leaving sounds pretty believable. Still, the Ravens probably get the hometown discount or some other team brings him in as a starter, the Chiefs probably don't look very attractive in his situation.
Jared Gaither, OT, Age: 25
Could Gaither be the next Willie Roaf signing? I certainly think so. Gaither is an elite LT in this league when he's healthy, he has tremendous size (6'9" 340lbs) and athleticism to go along with it. Problem is, Gaither has serious back problems, which in a lot of cases changes how a player plays for the rest of his career, if he's lucky enough to have a career after it.
Gaither is a classic very high risk, very high reward situation. If the Chiefs were to sign Gaither and he panned out, the Chiefs could play Gaither at RT and create one of the best lines in the league. If he comes in and his back problems persist, then he just eats up a roster spot for a season and life goes on with Barry Richardson at RT. He has a lot of question marks, but he could ask for a decent contract because of his potential to be great.
TJ Houshmanzadeh, Age: 33
Common misconception about TJ, he is not a #2 WR, he has been playing slot receiver his entire career. That said, TJ and Zorn have been on two separate teams together, in Seattle and more recently with the Ravens. Houshmanzadeh could give the Chiefs another one or two years of solid play but he is deteriorating and the Chiefs may be better off with Jereheme Urban in the slot.
Chris Chester, G, Age: 28
would be above average depth as a swing guard, not a huge need and will probably command starter money after a solid season.
Kelly Talavou, NT, Age: 26
Jalen Parmele, RB, Age: 25
I doubt he gets out of Baltimore, with McClain and McGahee most likely leaving. Parmele brings quality to special teams, and is a decent #3 RB. Who knows he could breakout and we could find out he's been hidden underneath all of the Ravens RB depth.
In case you missed previous "Connected" articles