When the Kansas City Chiefs started full-squad offseason practice last week, they looked like a new program with a fresh coaching staff. But by week’s end they appeared much more like Todd Haley’s eventual vision, reports Adam Teicher.
The Chiefs take a break from practice this week. They’ll resume next week with two sessions plus a mandatory weekend mini-camp. If the current rate of progress continues, they’ll be ready for the start of training camp in late July. The Chiefs looked sloppy in their first practice but were much sharper by the time they finished the week. This progression seems about right for wide receiver Bobby Engram.
“It’s always slow at first when you’re putting in a new offense and trying to get everybody in to the same program. But I’m encouraged. We’ve got a lot of good players. It’s part of the growth process. Guys are trying to feel this offense and get to know each other on the field. Obviously, the first week of practice is going to be slower, a little more uncertain than it will be three or four weeks from now.”
The Chiefs made most progress in the passing game. Dropped balls and scattered passes were the standard earlier in the week. Leaping catches and completed passes were the norm by Friday’s final practice. Todd Haley, like Engram, isn’t worried about any hiccups.
“As time goes on, you improve. If you weren’t improving … I’d be a little more worried… It’s going to take some time, there’s no doubt. That’s what’s good about this time of year. It’s receivers, tight ends, backs or whoever’s running the routes understanding the coverage. The defense is putting in stuff, too, so they’re throwing a bunch of different looks at them, which makes it difficult.”
If you’ll remember, there were alarms going off when Matt Cassel’s first two passes went for incompletions last week. Any sort of slow start by the team shouldn’t be a worry to anyone. Is the “Patriot Way” immune to any and all adjustment periods? Calm down, folks it’s still May. Like the coach said, if there weren’t any improvements there would be a reason to worry.
Tamba Hali’s conversion to OLB has been well documented but should the Chiefs cut ties with the former first round pick if he doesn’t take to his new position quickly? Jeff Smith at NFL Gridiron Gab seems to think so.
What if Hali is unable to make the conversion to linebacker? If conventional wisdom were to be applied to resolve the dilemma, a return of Hali to a position of success would seem logical. But lining up at defensive end could only be accomplished elsewhere.
The relationship between Scott Pioli and Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff was instrumental in the trade of Tony Gonzalez and the two could once again be at work on a trade. This time a straight player swap with Tamba Hali going to Atlanta for Jamaal Anderson.
Anderson (6-6, 282) has only amassed 2 sacks in 31 starts, but does have the versatility to move inside to the defensive tackle position. The Chiefs would get depth and a player that has yet to fully realize his tremendous upside.
Pass. What would be the point of swapping a guy in Hali who we know can get to the quarterback in the right situation with a player that has yet to open many eyes in any situation? I’ve been the first to admit I’m a huge Hali fan and fully expect him to be starting at OLB when the season starts, but even the most skeptical Chiefs fan wouldn’t pull the trigger on this deal. Before the draft I was been worried about the depth along the defensive line but after drafting Tyson Jackson and Alex Magee I think we could be looking at one of the team’s strengths.
Like everybody else, the Chiefs will return to work today after enjoying a three-day Memorial Day holiday. Bob Gretz breaks down the team’s schedule until training camp opens.
After going through four OTA sessions last week the players will get back into the strength and conditioning program this week. They will not get back on the field as a team until a week from today. Starting with a workout on June 1, the Chiefs are scheduled to have 15 practices in 18 days, wrapping up the OTA sessions on June 18th. The Chiefs will then be on vacation until July 30th, when they are currently scheduled to travel to River Falls, Wisconsin for the start of training camp.
As important as their practice sessions will be, Todd Haley has been focused on the strength and conditioning program for his team and the gains that his players have made since it began back in March.
“These guys have bought into what we are trying to do and you can see it on some of these guys already. Bigger, stronger, in better condition, it all helps you play the game and it keeps you healthy.”
It can also help you win in the fourth quarter. In the last 10 games of the 2008 season, the Chiefs had the lead, were tied, or trailed by less than a touchdown seven times. The Chiefs record in those games: 1-6.
With all the talk about the players picking up the new offensive and defensive schemes, I’m more interested in the team’s conditioning. That may sound silly, but then you just have to look at that 1-6 record and you see how poorly conditioned the Chiefs were last season and during Herman Edwards’ entire tenure. As bad of an in-game coach as Edwards was, his powder puff conditioning was just as big of a detriment to the team. It will be a treat to watch games this year and not see most every player on defense bent over at the waist looking down the field at a guy cutting them up for 50 yards.