Around The Web: Hali’s Fresh Start, Substance Over Sizzle, Rush Defense, Rookie Bulldog

Tamba Hali told The Kansas City Star that the idea first occurred to him last year as he suffered through the worst season of his short NFL career.  Maybe he’d be better off if he were allowed to drop some weight and move away from defensive end, where he was having trouble staying in one piece and fulfilling what the Chiefs saw in Hali when they Hali2drafted him in the first round in 2006.

“I don’t really need to be 275 pounds. I don’t even need to be 260. Maybe I can be 250 like (Pittsburgh’s) James Harrison or (San Diego’s) Shawne Merriman.  I’m more comfortable at that weight anyway. I was 275 only because that’s what (former defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham) wanted.  Right now, we’re looking for speed.”

So far this offseason coach Todd Haley has been moving Hali around between positions and he’s just fine with that.

“They’re trying me at different spots, but I’ve got to think (linebacker) is probably where they’ll want me.  Haley’s telling me both defensive end and linebacker, so I’m moving between both of them now.  I can rush the passer and play the run while I’m playing linebacker. That’s basically what I did at Penn State, so I’m excited about that.”

After taking on Aaron Curry as my cause-of-the-moment leading up to the draft, I think I’ll focus my energy on building up Tamba Hali as the playmaker the Chiefs defense need up until training camp.  We have seen Hali’s ability to rush the passer when he has talent around him and with the drafting of Tyson Jackson and Alex Magee to go along with (hopefully) a bounce back year from Glenn Dorsey I believe we will see that ability once again.  Obviously depending on who else the Chiefs decide to bring in, the play of Hali and Derrick Johnson will decide how much DC Clancy Pendergast can transform the defense this season.

Once you’ve subscribed to The Red & Gold Report on I-Tunes, make sure you listen to The Red Zone podcast with Soren Petro.  This week Petro talks with Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and you can hear the entire interview below.

There is a lot to take in from that interview and just a great job by Petro.  Soren, anytime you want to come on The Red & Gold Report to talk about the Chiefs just let me know.  The one thing that sticks out to me from the interview is Pioli talking about substance over sizzle with players.  That’s how you need to look at the Tyson Jackson pick if you’re still not on board.  He migt not have been the sexy pick, but it’s about winning not being sexy.

No matter which defense Todd Haley and Clancy Pendergast decide to run, Bob Gretz knows the team needs to start stopping the run.

From Marty to Herm the run defense became twice as bad on average. In seven of 10 seasons under Schottenheimer, the Chiefs were in the top half of the league in stopping the run and three times in the top 10. In the next 10 seasons, only once did they finish in the top 10 against the run, and that was the 2005 defense that was seventh against the run.

In three seasons under Herm Edwards and Gunther Cunningham, the run defense went from No. 18 to No. 28 to last year, No. 30. In the last two seasons, the Chiefs run defense has given up an average of 144.7 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry. Last year’s defense gave up 25 rushing touchdowns. In 32 games over the last two seasons the Chiefs have allowed 14 rushers to gain over 100 yards.  Whether it’s the 4-3, 3-4, under 4-3, 5-2, the scheme had better be able to stop the run.

Ah, yes… Stopping the run.  I remember those days!  It seems clear that Scott Pioli is on the same page as Gretz here with all the new blood brought in to be a part of the front seven.  Between the rookie camp that starts today and the beginning of training camp that is just around the corner it will be interesting to see how far along the progression of the defensive scheme gets.  The Chiefs will be a 3-4 team, but as we’ve been talking about it’s a matter of when.

A player that is hoping to help the Chiefs defense and catch the eye of Haley and Pioli is former Yale linebacker Bobby Abare, an undrafted free agent.

abare1Abare was Yale’s leading tackler for the past three seasons, an All-American and team captain for the Bulldogs last season.  He also holds Yale records for interceptions by a linebacker (10) and touchdowns by a defensive player (4).  A member of Yale’s 2006 Ivy League championship squad, Abare received the Bulger Lowe Award last fall as the most valuable collegiate player in New England and was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player in the Division I Football Subdivision.  Like most undrafted free agents, all Abare is looking for is a chance.

“What I hope to do is show them I’m an athlete and do the things I did in college, play with emotion and intensity and make the most of my opportunity.”

I keep telling myself not to expect much when it comes to undrafted free agents, but between Pierre Walters, Taurus Johnson and now Abare I am getting excited.  These keeps all fit the profile of the type of football players Scott Pioli is looking for and would not shock me one bit if all three of them find their way onto the Chiefs’ roster.  People love to point to the level of competition or combine numbers but when it comes down to it the only thing that matters is that these kids can play the game.

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