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AP Interview: Mike Lombardi, Part One

One of my daily jaunts comes courtesy of the NFP - the National Football Post. It's a newer football site replete with former/current players, agents and NFL execs who give better in-depth views into the league than anything else I've found. Arrowhead Pride's Matt Conner recently caught up with the NFP's Mike Lombardi, a personnel man who spent 23 years in front offices around the NFL from San Fran and Oakland to Philly and Denver, to get his thoughts on the Chiefs. Here's Part One (Part Two to run on Monday afternoon):

Matt Conner: I wanted to avoid anything to do with LJ with just how tired his name even sounds at this point, but last night I discover he's averaging 2.7 yards per carry, which is the worst in NFL history for a starting running back if carried out over the entire season. Yet he is fourth in the NFL in total carries. What do you make of a rookie head coach like Todd Haley continuing to throw Johnson out there again and again?

Mike Lombardi:
Well, you have to look at cause and effect. Is it Larry's fault that he can't run the ball or is it some other element of their team? Is it the offensive line? Is it the scheme? One thing about football is that there's three ways to break it down: it's either the players, the coaches or the scheme. So you gotta figure out what's the cause and effect.

Are there runs that Larry has that he's not making? Or are there just no runs? But then you look at Jamaal Charles and his average is over 5 yards per carry going into last week's game, I think. So obviously there are times when you can get some Nickel formations and run the football.

Ultimately, I think the Chiefs are struggling in a lot of areas on the offensive side of the football. They're one of the slowest offenses in the National Football League and that makes teams challenge them more and it creates harder spacing on the field to be able to run the football.

More after the jump:

MC: Have you been impressed by any personnel on the Chiefs roster at this point?

: Well, they wouldn't have some of those guys there. This was a situation they've inherited and I've written this before. However, that being said, you have to take the best of what's there and make it better. You have to enhance it. Certainly there were some elements on that football team that you couldn't build upon. They were really lacking at wide receiver and that's a tough situation to deal with. They were getting older on the offensive line which is another problem.

But at the end of the day, you have to make the best of the situation and you have to build on it. You have to find ways to do that.

MC: With the Chiefs in the bye week right now, for a rookie Head Coach like Todd Haley, what do you think is the most important focus for him to regroup the team for the second half?

I think he has to sit down and have a meeting with himself to go over and find out what he can do better to improve himself. Then he can go and talk to the team so he can say, 'Look, I need to work on this and you guys need to work on that.' It can't all be about the players. It's a mutual team. Everyone's learning and growing on the job here. I think he's gotta find out whatever strengths he has on this football team and build on those and focus on those and try to get better. It's not about this year. It's about building for next year.

At some point, you also have to realize that you can't keep changing the roster. It's not always just the players. You have to find a way to build on the strengths you already have in-house.

MC: So you think some of the constant roster turnover can become detrimental to the team?

: Well, I don't see it as a detriment. I mean, if you have a chance to improve your team, you have to do that. A team like New England is constantly changing their roster. But every move you make sends a message to the locker room telling the players this is the kind of guy that you want.

If the players you keep bringing in don't help the team, then you start looking at the people who are bringing them in. I think you have to be very careful about the moves that you make. Moves just to make moves don't mean anything. Just moving in a direction doesn't mean you're making progress. You have to make calculated moves that will benefit the team.

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