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Former Chiefs QB Coach Weighs in on Gailey, Cassel and Calling Plays

Former Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach Terry Shea talked with 810 WHB and weighed in on the issues of the day including Todd Haley's transition to offensive coordinator, Tyler Thigpen and Brodie Croyle.

A former head coach (college), offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach himself, Shea gives some nice insights on what Haley can expect in terms of time management.  From what he says, he'll certainly be needing close to all 24 hours in the day to accomplish what he needs to accomplish.

Shea also weighs in on Croyle, which is definitely worth the read because he was with the former Alabama quarterback in his rookie season while with the Chiefs.

Below are some notes on the exchange.  You can listen to the interview courtesy of 810 WHB.

How difficult is it to be the head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach?

There's no doubt that when you become a first time head coach you can't imagine what buzzes around you from day to day. I'm sure Todd's going to have that environment buzzing around him as much as any head coach ever has because of the NFL.

When you install an offense, and I'm sure if i'm not mistaken on this he probably tried to install his own offense upon his arrival to the Chiefs, there's so much detail involved and so much information that sometimes doesn't show up in a playbook. 

I can see where Todd might be inclined to say, 'Hey, I gotta get this offense where it's gotta be' but to make this change at this time in the calendar is truly unique and a little bit awkward I"m sure.

What's the environment like with a coordinator and a head coach?

There's certainly a conflict when you divide it up along those lines. I would imagine Chan tried to adapt, and I'm sure he did a good job of it. Probably more important, though, is what Todd's feeling and what he experienced through three games of play caling.

I'm not sure what the phrase 'too manty roosters in the hen house' means...but you would think the coach would have been experienced enough to back off at times and let Todd step in but you just don't know what the interplay is all about. 

As a head football coach you don't know quite how to approach it at times unless you experience it. I think that's what happened is that Todd experienced this and thought, 'I gotta be my own guy' and away we go.  It's been done before, with Norv Turner with the Chargers, but he's a lot further along in terms of his head coaching experience but he does it.

How time consuming is it to put together a game plan and to prepare yourself as an offensive coordinator?

It can really zap your energy. It takes a tremendous amount of preparation to put together a game plan. I remember my experience with the Bears where I would be there until midnight and beyond and I know we functioned that way with the Chiefs under different coordinators with Mike Solari and Al Saunders.  It can just zap your time and your energy.

What can happen is a coaching staff, offensively speaking in this case, finds itself waiting around the office place waiting for the head coach to finish what he has to finish.  Unless the head coach can stay on a very demanding and defined schedule, it can wear the offensive coaches down as there's a lot of dead time as they wait for the head coach to kind of clear his daily routine.

What goes into the role of being the QBs coach?

Well, you always have independent meetings with the quarterbacks so Todd will have to certainly handle that phase of it and that's an every day occurrence.  The quarterbacks will come in an hour to an hour and a half before the rest of the players report in. The quarterbacks will spend time after practice with the quarterbacks coach in an academic, classroom type setting. 

If Todd's as thorough as I know he is, those are the hours he's going to have to devote to the quarterback position itself. 

Not to mention the installation of the offense, meeting with the offensive players on a daily basis, then making sure the film is watched and evaluated in great detail.  When you're dealing with a staff for the first year nobody knows this offense better than Todd Haley right now and it's going to take a year for everyone to learn the nuances of the offense.

When you look at Matt Cassel and this team, first year coach and now the playcalling situation, what should expectations be?

The first thing I believe that Matt Cassel doesn't have that Trent Green was able to bring in with him is a real background in the offense.  Trent had spent almost his entire NFL career with the same language and offensive approach.  He was brought from the Redskins to the Rams and then to the Chiefs. 

So, that's what Trent was able to play off of, whereas Matt is being exposed to a whole new world of vocabulary, language and concepts.  From that standpoint, Matt's gotta play catch up.  What Trent had to fight through was that he had to create things in the offense that first year and we weren't surrounding him with the most talent until years two and three. 

So, Matt will face that same challenge.  Trent was inclined to take a few more risks than you'd like to see in the first year of an offense and consequently his passing statistics were fairly average that first year but then he caught fire and really lit up the scoreboard.  That's probably what Matt's going to have to fight and he's gotta do a good job of not putting his defense at risk.

I'm not sure how good the defense will play for him but those are all issues.  Matt better learn it quickly or else he'll have some disappointing games week in and week out as the season unfolds.

Are there things you see in Cassel that suggest he is the right guy and he can be a consistent starter in the NFL?

I really do. What I see with Matt Cassel operating as a quarterback is that he has the feet to get himself out of trouble when he needs to.  He doesn't run just to run. He's got a good feel for how to run when he chooses to do that.

It appears he handles himself quite well, as does Trent, off the field and in the locker room.  He says the right things and his teammates really seem to relate to him.  From all those aspects, it appears to me to be a plus plus situation to have Matt at that position.

Probably what he's going to have to battle through is not putting himself in a position to force plays which every quarterback wants to do, particularly the starter, and take what the defense gives you.

I know that's a conservative aproach, but for year one, I think that's what Todd Haley wants him to do.

How would you coach a quarterback that has the ability the way Cassel does to use his feet?

I think it begins first of all with the play calling. That's probably a real plus for Todd right now to step in and feel like he's going to mastermind the entire offense from this point on.  So from that standpoint, I think Matt's going to benefit from Todd making the calls that won't put Matt in a high risk position. I think it all begins there.

There's obviously gotta be a real premium on getting rid of the football, like there is in the NFL.  Moreso for this offense because maybe the protection won't be as stout as you want it to be but I think Todd can get around that with his playcalling and consequently Matt won't feel the sacks staring him in the face every game like maybe some of the people on the outside are evaluating right now. 

So, from that standpoint, you help your quarterback out with the playcalling, then your quarterback has to be very in tune with the tempo of the coach who's coaching him, and in this case I think Todd's got a chance to give Matt that advantage as well.

Can Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen capably step in and handle the quarterback duties?

I certainly would say yes to Brodie Croyle because I was able to be with Brodie for one year as a rookie. He's a very talented player who can play a high level.

Sure, the injury factor is always there but you gotta give Brodie the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe this is the year that he dodgges that bullet. 

From that standpoint, I see a starting potential in Brodie Croyle and I think he plays accordingly. He's got potential and he's a gamer.  He's got that swagger about him that can lend himself to success onc ethe lights go on.

I'm going to have to probably bow out of the evaluation of Thigpen because I've never been around him. I've only had a chance to coach against him for a preseason but he certainly stepped in and made some things happen for the offense last year. 

But if the protection becomes an issue then it sure would be nice to have a Thigpen come off the sidelines and play.

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