Around The Web: Priest In The Booth, Rookie Head Coaches, Engram’s Fantasy Value

Just like countless other current and former athletes, Priest Holmes is looking for that long term post-playing career answer.  For Holmes he hopes he finds his in the world of broadcasting, so he decided to attend the NFL Broadcast Boot PriestHolmes1Camp in Mount Laurel, NJ and told the Star’s Randy Covitz about his experience.

The aspiring broadcasters were staggered by the volume of instructions and tips for calling a game or working as a studio analyst.

Know the players’ names.

Know their numbers.

Their colleges.

Their strengths and weaknesses.

And say it clearly, quickly and intelligently.  Holmes, who took part in the program late last month, was surprised at the amount of work broadcasters do.

“I have a new appreciation for anyone who sits in that booth because I didn’t realize how much work goes into it.  Mentally, it was draining.”

The program, directed by the NFL Broadcasting Department for the last three years, brought in instructors from the league’s broadcast partners who offered their expertise in myriad areas, including field reporting, game analysis, tape study, editing, studio preparation, radio production and control-room operation.

Holmes provided color commentary for a tape of the Chicago Bears’ 24-20 win over Philadelphia from last season, and he benefited from some lessons from Dick Vermeil, his former coach with the Chiefs, who has had a distinguished career as an analyst.

“He talked to us about preparation.  They were giving him credit as the one who invented the flip board, where you have the offensive and defensive (depth charts on each side) and can use it for tidbits about each player.”

Vermeil said Holmes showed enough potential that he recommended him for a position with NFL Network.

“Priest always had a unique response to everyday questions regarding football but expressed himself in a different way than most guys asked the same question.  I thought fans might find that interesting coming from one of the great running backs like Priest Holmes.”

Of all the former Chiefs out there, Priest Holmes probably would have been the last person I expected to try his hand at broadcasting.  Not because he wasn’t articulate during his time in Kansas City — he was always one of the best to hear from after a game — but because he completely disappeared from the public eye once he retired.  Coming from the world of radio, I know just how difficult it is to call sports on TV and radio.  If Holmes is willing to put the time in, I think can he be a great analyst and if he’s not then I guess he can go work for FOX.

Todd Haley’s first training camp as a head coach in the NFL is just over a week away and for the sake of the franchise hopefully he has a better career than most of the first-time head coaches the Chiefs have hired over the years.  Bob Gretz took a look at how Kansas City (then Dallas) had success with their first rookie head coach, but not much since.

The most successful head coach in league history was Hank Stram.  Before he was hired to coach the Dallas Texans for the 1960 inaugural season of the American Football League, Stram had never before been a head coach.  Although he wasn’t Lamar Hunt’s first choice to lead the team – the Chiefs founder initially offered the job to Bud Wilkinson and Tom Landry but they turned him down – Stram proved wildly successful with three AFL championships and a Super Bowl victory.  In that first season under him the Texans had an 8-6 record.

Stram was the exception among the other first-time head coaches the Hunts have hired over the history of the franchise: Paul Wiggin, the late Frank Gansz and Gunther Cunningham.

In two and a half seasons, Wiggin was 11-24.  He started 5-9.  Gansz was 8-22-1 in his two seasons as head coach, with an opening 4-11.  Cunningham’s two seasons leading the team produced a 16-16 record.  Only Gunther had a winning record in his first season, at 9-7.

Marv Levy, John Mackovic, Marty Schottenheimer, Dick Vermeil and Herm Edwards had all been head coaches before.  All but Mackovic had been a head coach on the pro level.

Previous head coaching experience guarantees nothing when taking over an NFL team.  But it’s sure helpful in making smooth transitions and getting teams up and running and winning more quickly.  There’s no on the job learning of the basics and that allows the coach can take his role to the next level.

It should be fascinating to see how Todd Haley adjusts to running training camp for the first time in his life at any level.  I think he will get a huge boost from not only working under Bill Parcells over the years, but he just saw Ken Whisenhunt make the same adjustment two years ago with the Cardinals.  So far he has seemed up to the task and I’m confident there won’t be any major issues when the Chiefs leave for River Falls at the end of next week.

The fantasy profiles of Chiefs players keep coming in, today it’s another one from our friends at KFFL.com.  Everyone is trying to figure out who will get the bulk of Tony Gonzalez’ 94 catches from last season.  Will it be new WR Bobby Engram?

Engram has been no stranger to injury in his career, and at 36 years old he may be even more susceptible than ever before.  Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is of the same possession-receiver mold, so how many passes can realistically come Engram’s way?  He has to learn a new offense and has to work with quarterback Matt Cassel, who is looking to prove last year wasn’t a fluke.

In point-per-reception leagues, consider Engram only if you want to make a very late investment.  Any upside he once had is gone; we see no reason to draft him in 2009.

I’m going to have to disagree with KFFL here.  I’ve been pretty clear that there aren’t many fantasy starters on the current Chiefs roster.  But there are plenty of potential value picks and Engram is one of them.  Again, if you are going to count on the veteran wide out to be a starter, just give up on the season now before it starts.  But with Todd Haley’s history with the passing game, the Chiefs likely to be coming from behind plenty this year and no Tony Gonzalez as a safety valve that means Engram is the perfect option to be your first WR off the bench.  How often can you fill your bye weeks with someone that is (health withstanding) all but guaranteed 4-5 catches every week.  That’s a 64-80 catch season.  Not too shabby for a backup.

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