As the discouraging and disappointing 2008 season draws to a conclusion this next Sunday in Cincinnati, we are left to wonder what the team will look like next year. Much of this has to do with the new General Manager brought in to replace Carl Peterson and his choice of a head coach.
There are some players and schemes that we have seen growth in this year that may be completely done away with next year depending on the decision makers brought in. We may go through a whole new phase of trying to pound round pegs into square holes as the new coach determines how to make the guys we have fit into the schemes he wants. Much of this will be determined by whether the new GM & Head Coach are offensive minded or defensive minded and what type of assistants he will be able to bring along with him.
Here are some things we could see drastic changes in next year:
Tyler Thigpen and the Spread Offense
Many Chiefs fans have warmed up to plucky Tyler Thigpen and the exciting Spread Offense Chan Gailey has come up with on the fly. But how will the new decision makers look at it?
Tyler Thigpen did not play well in a conventional NFL offense earlier in the season and only began putting up big numbers when they rebuilt the offense to his experience in the Spread. The majority of NFL people still do not think the Spread Offense if viable in the NFL as an overall scheme and that might be especially true if we get another defensive minded Head Coach (like Cowher or Spagnuolo currently the Giants Defensive Coordinator) that doesn't want to "throw the ball all over the yard" and wear his defense out.
Combine the above possibilities with the fact the Chiefs are looking at at least a top 5 and quite possibly a top 3 overall drat pick where there are likely to be a couple of decent QB prospects that the new GM could look at as the new "Face of the Franchise" could mean the end of Thigpens time as a starter and the Spread Offense in KC no matter how well he has played.
Gaileys future is up in the air as well. I think most Chiefs fans recognize him as having a very good and flexible offensive mind and for a new coach that doesn't have a hip pocket Offensive Coordinator candidate to bring with him, we can hope that Gailey will be looked at as a good candidate to retain.
However, if the new Head Coach (like Josh McDaniels, current Patriots head coach who could be brought along if Scott Pioli were hired as GM) is offensive minded, he might have his own schemes he wants to implement and bring one of his assistants from his previous job to hire as his offensive coordinator.
There are obvious holes and problems with our defense as is, but a new Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator with a radically different scheme could put us even further behind in the rebuild. In the Cover 2 base defense we currently run, we have big hard hitting safeties and can get by with shorter CBs like Brandon Flowers. If the new defensive scheme is based more on man to man, Flowers height could become a much more important disadvantage. The new defensive coordinator might give higher priority to faster coverage safeties than hard hitting run supporters.
And God help us all if the decision is made to switch to a 3-4 scheme. Personally I love the 3-4, but you are talking about overhauling nearly the entire defensive roster to make it work and a player like Glen Dorsey just wouldn't fit.
Clark Hunt must consider carefully the ramifications of the new General Manager and eventual Head Coach hired. Hiring a "big name" candidate would likely require handing over authority for him to make whatever changes he desires no matter what has already been done with the rebuild up to this point and that could add years to getting to the point where the team is an actual Super Bowl contender again.
Ideally finding a GM with experience in philosophically similar systems that we are currently running (like Chris Polian who has been finding players for Dungys Cover 2 defense for years, though he might be reluctant to raid his fathers team for coaches and scouts) is the ideal and will lead to less disruption in the rebuilding process.