Chiefs coach Todd Haley said his team spent their bye week on much needed self-scouting. Though he didn’t say it specifically, most of the time was used to tweak an offense that has struggled mightily since Haley took over as offensive coordinator.
The Chiefs still don’t have a rushing touchdown, Matt Cassel has been sacked 24 times in six games, and the offense has not scored more than two touchdowns in a game. Now running back Larry Johnson is unavailable this week because of a two-week suspension, the offensive line is hobbled in addition to being unreliable all season, and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe’s problem with drops has returned.
So the Chiefs made more changes, all in an effort to further shepherd in something that looks like the offense Haley ran in Arizona — but with extra emphasis on protecting Cassel and trying to jump-start a unit that has been anything but intimidating.
“We’ve just got to do a better job across the board,” Haley said, “at blocking and running the football.”
The changes won’t be as glaring as the overhaul the Chiefs underwent in 2008, when Gailey reshaped the offense mid-season to customize the scheme to quarterback Tyler Thigpen’s strengths. Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard suffered season-ending injuries in the same game, and Thigpen was forced into a starting role. It was important to keep him healthy, and to do that meant shifting to the spread. That allowed Thigpen to expand the pocket and improvise, if necessary, and it worked. The Chiefs aren’t planning to reintroduce the spread or any kind of gimmick offense — just a more finely tuned scheme that allows Cassel to release the ball faster and get plays in quicker.
“We’re always going to play to our players’ strengths,” Haley said.
The tough part for the Chiefs coaching staff right now has to be finding the team’s strengths. Taking the first step of protecting Cassel is key because there’s no way you can judge much from the first half of the season when the Chiefs signal caller was running for his life. Keep him upright and then see if Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles can be the playmakers the offense has been desperately seeking.
The Chiefs claimed WR Chris Chambers off of waivers from San Diego yesterday. After being told he was being released, Chambers told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the Chargers let him go due to personal problems but that he has not let his off the field issues impact his performance.
“I thought the team gave up on me a little quick – for factors that don’t have to deal with football,” he said. “I guess it created a distraction upstairs. I kept my head on straight. We all go through things. I did my best to not have my personal life and football clash. They know a little too much of my life, and they used it against me.”
Neither head coach Norv Turner nor General Manager A.J. Smith would discuss Chambers’ off-field issues or their effect on his release.
“With the further development of Malcom Floyd … we felt that the time was now,” Smith said.
Pressed about other factors, Smith said, “I have said many times before there are many reasons why a player becomes a Charger and many reasons why we may move in another direction. We do not discuss from A to Z all of our personnel decisions. I believe I just gave you a detailed explanation of why we made the move. I’ll stand by that.”
Chambers acknowledged the Chargers expressed concerns to him recently about his personal situation.
“I tried to do the right thing,” Chambers said. “I didn’t play as bad as they tried to make it seem. I was in a bit of a slump. I would like to have some of those plays back. It’s been agonizing.
“I feel like I’m a really good football player. I’ve been through some ups and downs. I feel like I was handling it. Time just ran out from their perspective.”
I’m still not sure why the Chiefs claimed Chambers. Even if he turns in a few solid performances in the second half of the season, there is little to no chance he sticks around next year and beyond. When you’re building a team, aren’t you better off seeing if young guys like Quinten Lawrence can show you something?
Speaking of rebuilding, there have been plenty of Jacksonville fans throwing that word around during their 3-4 start. Over at the Jaguars official site, Vic Ketchmen was asked why you see improvement every week when a house is being rebuilt, but not with this Jacksonville team.
Oh, I think you know what rebuilding is, but what you’ve forgotten about the construction of a house is that when the framing is finished, the house goes through long periods without the appearance of work being done. Progress is being made, but it’s difficult to see. The same applies to the reconstruction of a football team. I’m sure that answer won’t satisfy you because anger is your dominant emotion right now, but I think you know what I’m saying to be the truth.
That answer could be given to a lot of angry Chiefs fans right now. Just because Kansas City is 1-6 doesn’t mean that progress isn’t being made. Every time Scott Pioli and Todd Haley sign or release another player, progress is being made.
I’ve heard from a lot of you that are sick and tired already of hearing about trying to find the “right 53”, but it’s a necessary step if the Chiefs are going to turn this franchise around. That doesn’t mean I will hesitate to question moves made by the new regime (see: Chambers, Chris), but I won’t automatically assume everything is wrong because a team that went 2-14 last year is off to a 1-6 start.