2009 Chiefs

Don Wassall

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Like the Falcons and Dolphins last year, the Chiefs look to be moving away from having a coal black team in the post-Herm Edwards era. The change paid immediate dividends for Miami and Atlanta, and hopefully will for KC, which has traditionally been a black dominated team going back to the days of the AFL.

According to the article belowthe Chiefs may start the '09 season with 3 white starting linebackers in their 3-4, all of them veterans, and all acquired since the end of the 2008 season. 36-year-old Zach Thomas is a future Hall of Famer, and Mike Vrabel became an instant star after leaving Pittsburgh for New England. Monty Beisel has a good chance of joining Vrabel as the team's other starting OLB.


<H1 =title>Position-by-position analysis: Linebackers</H1>
<DIV =tabs>
<DIV =node>
If the Chiefs needed to aggressively address one position group this offseason, it clearly was the linebackers. And they have addressed it in such a comprehensive manner, it was clear that Kansas City's new regime didn't need many weeks to determine last year's group simply didn't cut it and needed a massive overhaul.
Before the end of last year's dreadful defensive performance -- in which very little went according to plan and hastened the firing of former head coach Herm Edwards, the departure of coordinator Gunther Cunningham, and the abandonment of the 4-3 scheme -- the Chiefs knew they had gambled and lost on a group of linebackers that couldn't stay healthy and just didn't work.
The moves, and non-moves in at least one case, looked fine before last season. The addition of Demorrio Williams from Atlanta seemed like a good signing, which it might still be, and Donnie Edwards was the team's eldest player but still appeared to have some good years left. And in his fourth season, Derrick Johnson was primed for a breakout year. The Chiefs' linebackers turned out to be a constant work in progress, as Edwards couldn't stay healthy, Williams had his own injury issues, and Johnson was inconsistent.
Enter Scott Pioli, Todd Haley, Clancy Pendergast and, ladies and germs, the 3-4 defensive front. And a whole lot of new faces on the roster, too.
Let's not kid ourselves: The Chiefs' linebackers are far from set. Tamba Hali at outside linebacker remains a question, and his adjustment from defensive end wouldn't be so pressure-filled if Hali weren't expected to be a starter at linebacker. But he is, and for any troubles adjusting to his new position, he has done by far the best job. Heck, Turk McBride said last month he didn't even think he was a "good" linebacker. Part of the uncertainty centers on a clear lack of depth at this position; for all the upgrades the Chiefs made to their expected starting linebackers, there's not a lot to feel confident about among the reserves. Monty Beisel was a terrific signing, and his acquisition might even get my vote for the Chiefs' best free-agent signing. Maybe I'll make up a plaque and everything.
The Chiefs just keep waiting for Johnson to break out. He has shown flashes, such as the first Denver game in 2008, of being an elite NFL defender. Then he disappears, drops interceptions, takes odd routes to ball carriers, doesn't wrap up and ... well, even Johnson has said he's been disappointed at times with his play. This is a bottom-line kind of year for Johnson, and he'll need to prove himself as more than an above-average linebacker, which he has been. He'll need to be consistent and motivated, and he'll also need to contribute leadership on a defense that should have been his a long time ago.
Instead, if you ask around the Chiefs' locker room after offseason practice, the defense's leader is Zach Thomas. That's good and bad. It's great that the Chiefs have someone to look up to, and amid all these changes, it's terrific that <CITE>someone</CITE> has emerged as a loud voice in the locker room. Players noticed Thomas' work ethic and discipline, and more than a few suggested they needed to increase their workload to be more like Zach. But it's bad because Thomas will be 36 years old on opening day, and who knows how much longer he'll be effective? Here's a cold truth: In an ideal situation, Thomas wouldn't be a starter and could instead be used as a strong backup and a mentor for the Chiefs' young defenders. Instead, he's likely to be one of the Chiefs' starting inside linebackers and will face the grind of another long season, one that was too much for Donnie Edwards last year and led to his release. The criticism has almost nothing to do with Thomas; it centers on the fact that the Chiefs didn't have another inside linebacker outperform him in OTAs. Thomas was an example on the field and in the locker room the past few months, and his leadership helped earned him starting consideration. But it would have been nice for the Chiefs to have another, younger linebacker on his tail. That didn't happen, and the Chiefs better hope that Thomas can stay healthy and keep burning at that high-octane level he showed in May and June.
The Chiefs certainly wish that Mike Vrabel had been in the house the past few months, in addition to the three days he attended the team's mandatory minicamp. Vrabel said he was exercising his rights within the collective bargaining agreement, which is fine and perhaps noble from a players' union standpoint, but the Chiefs badly needed Vrabel as they made that transition to the 3-4 and got to know each other before this long season begins. After a week or so of training camp, assuming Vrabel arrives in what we'll call "Todd Haley shape," his absence during OTAs will be mostly forgotten. It just was a less-than-ideal beginning for Vrabel and the Chiefs, particularly after he was another guy the team hoped would emerge as a leader before training camp began.
Here's the way I predict the linebacker two-deep will play out come opening day:
LOLB Mike Vrabel
Turk McBride
LILB Zach Thomas
Demorrio Williams
RILB Derrick Johnson
Weston Dacus
ROLB Monty Beisel
Tamba Hali
<DIV =post>full article: http://chiefsblog.kansascity.com/?q=node/847
 

Colonel_Reb

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Interesting. Wouldn't it be something if Weston Dacus ended up starting at some point as well. It will be neat to see how it plays out.
 

whiteCB

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Colonel_Reb said:
Interesting. Wouldn't it be something if Weston Dacus ended up starting at some point as well. It will be neat to see how it plays out. 

I cannot remember the last time an NFL team had a 3-4 snow patrol if at all. Does anybody know???
 

backrow

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hmm, not sure (maybe Steelers at some point way back when?), but Packers might get there this season, with 5 white LBs on the roster (Poppinga who still might be cut, Chillar, Hawk, Kampman, Matthews)
 

Taco

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Poppinga might be cut? he always seemed to be a solid linebacker to me.
 

Colonel_Reb

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From what I can tell, the Raiders, Dolphins, Steelers (started 3-4 in the early 80s), and Broncos from when they started using the 3-4 in the 70s, until the mid-80s, started as many as 3 whites out of the 4 positions, but I couldn't find a regular starting lineup that had 4.

Except for the 1977 Eagles. That was their first year running the 3-4 and the starters were RLB Drew Mahalic, RILB Frank LeMaster, LILB Bill Bergey, and LLB John Bunting. Bunting was replaced by a black in 1978. I didn't look up any other teams because the above teams were the earliest teams to regularly use the 3-4.

So, if the Chiefs somehow end up with 4 white starting LBs, I think it will be the first time its happened since the early 80s at least. I'm almost positive that with the number of 3 out of 4 teams during that period, there were single games (and a lot of in game moments) where all 4 were white.
Edited by: Colonel_Reb
 

referendum

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Chiefs cut Weston Dacus. This is sad as he was an undrafted rookie last year who managed to make the active team roster for most of last year. I really root for those guys as they represent white players who manage to break into the NFL inspite of being underrated.
 

Jack Lambert

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Zach Thomas to retire. A stellar career for a future Hall of Famer.
smiley32.gif


Still, that doesn't help us in terms of white starters this year though.
From Rotoworld:

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Zach Thomas will retire from football.

Thomas signed a one-year contract in April to help new coordinator Clancy Pendergast install a 3-4 defense in Kansas City. But the 36-year-old inside linebacker couldn't shake an undisclosed injury in camp. A seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time All Pro, Thomas has a shot to get in the Hall of Fame eventually, although he probably won't be on the first or second ballot. He'll surely retire as a Dolphin, for whom Thomas played 12 of his 14 seasons.
Edited by: Jack Lambert
 

Colonel_Reb

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Both of them will be missed!
 

Jack Lambert

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Zack may not be done yet, accoring to his agent Rosenhaus.

From Rotoworld:
The agent for Chiefs ILB Zach Thomas disputes an ESPN report that his client plans to retire.

"Zach Thomas is not retiring," agent Drew Rosenhaus tweeted after Adam Schefter's report. "He is progressing from his injury & he fully expects to have a great season with the Chiefs in 09." There are now rumors circulating that the Chiefs will waive Thomas injured, which would end his five-month tenure in Kansas City. Stay tuned. It appears the 36-year-old may not be done yet.
 

jaxvid

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Amani Toomer was cut today.
smiley32.gif
 

Leonardfan

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Here is a list of all the white athletes that have made the 2009 Kansas City Chiefs

QB
Matt Cassel
Brodie Croyle
Tyler Thigpen

RB/FB
Mike Cox
WR
None

TE
Sean Ryan
Brad Cottam
Jake O'Connell

G
Andy Alleman
Mike Goff

C
Rudy Niswanger

OT
None

DL
None

LB
Mike Vrabel
Andy Studebaker
Monty Beisel

DB
Jon McGraw

P
Dustin Colquitt

K
Ryan Succop

LS
Thomas Gafford
 

backrow

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from rotoworld.com:

The Chiefs will strongly consider activating WR Lance Long off their practice squad this week, according to NFL.com's Steve Wyche.

Kansas City offered Arizona a seventh-round pick for Long in training camp, but later got him for free when the Cards waived the 5'11/186-pounder. It's unclear if Long's promotion is telling about Dwayne Bowe's hamstring injury.
 

Colonel_Reb

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I hope Lance does get some playing time this year. While he's not anywhere close to the best white WR waiting for a chance, he's better than a lot of washed up blackstones out there.
 

backrow

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from rotoworld.com:

"Chiefs released LB Monty Beisel.

The 31-year-old journeyman will try to land a job elsewhere as a special teamer and reserve inside linebacker."
 

referendum

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Some good news in the midst of the bad news about Beisel and the failure, so far, to activate Long from the PS. Ryan O'Callahan will start on Sunday, so the Chiefs will actually start three white Offensive linemen probably the first time in a long time.
 

backrow

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from rotoworld.com:

Chiefs signed OLB Justin Rogers, formerly of the Cowboys.

The former SMU defensive end has experience at outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. Rogers' main role, however, will likely end up on special teams.
Source: National Football Post
 

FootballDad

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Noting that the Chiefs with their three starting WHITE offensive linemen just had their very best game of the season, line-play wise, against the Redskins. Ryan O'Callaghan, even though a converted center, has been a vast improvement over Ndukwe (why's he taking up valuable roster space, anyway?), Richardson, or the now-departed McIntosh at right tackle.

Oh. and a real sore spot this year has been WR play. The "best" afflete, Dwayne Bowe, drops as many passes as he catches. The rest of the receiving corps are as ordinary as you can possibly get. Why not give Matt Jones a chance? He's a far better deep threat than any of these guys, and can run the wildcat better than just about anybody in the league. Oh, that's right, zero tolerance for white guys.
 
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