Arrowhead Pride's main man Chris Thorman stopped by (not technically) this week. We chatted about the Chiefs offense, defense and everything in between.
Josh Kirkendall : You're reporting on Arrowhead Pride that Brodie Croyle will get the start Sunday. Was this move anticipated? And explain to Bengals fans what type of quarterback he is and an idea of what to expect with the Chiefs offense.
Chris Thorman: As of today (Weds.), Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards has not decided on a starting quarterback. If Damon Huard is able to play after injuring his shoulder last week, he'll be the starter. If not, the Brodie Croyle era begins in Kansas City. The eventual move to Croyle has been anticipated in many circles. Damon Huard is a 34 year old veteran so he obviously does not fit into our long term plans. The question wasn't if Croyle would start, it was when.
Since the QB hasn't been decided yet and I'm going to assume you guys know a bit about Damon Huard (career backup is all you need to know), I'll go with Brodie Croyle. He broke basically every passing record while he was the QB at Alabama but he was also perennially injured. He has a very strong arm and from what little I've seen of him, he seems be pretty accurate. He's not especially mobile but he's got a younger guy quickness about him that Damon Huard doesn't have.
To be quite honest with you, KC fans are waiting to see what Brodie Croyle is made of as well. The Chiefs need to make a decision soon about their QBOTF and it may come this weekend against the Bengals.
JK: Expanding on Brodie Croyle for a second. I realize that every player always has a chance to become mainstays at their position based off early success. Putting on your meteorologist cap for a second, would it be fair to say that you and Chiefs fans feel confident Croyle is your long-term guy? Or would it be more accurate to say that Croyle is simply better than Huard and that's why he's so anticipated?
CT: For far too long, the Kansas City Chiefs organization has survived by plugging veteran QB after veteran QB into our team. The Chiefs, in the last 25 years at least, have never developed a home grown quarterback. Just going back to the 1990s, we've had Joe Montana, Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, Trent Green and now Damon Huard. Like a lot of fans, I'm excited at the prospect of developing a quarterback to call our own. A decision to do that would signal a shift in strategy for the KC Chiefs and be a great refresher to the retread strategy that the Chiefs' front office has fallen in to.
I don't think any Chiefs fan thinks that Brodie Croyle is automatically going to be a great quarterback. What we're excited for is to see what Croyle can do and to see if he is the QBOTF. We need to know what we have on our hands before the quarterback rich 2008 draft.
JK: Larry Johnson's struggles are well documented. Without being a constant observer, my naive perception in a way shows. I've said that the Chiefs running game was a product of Dick Vermeil's system. Would that be an accurate statement?
CT: Not especially accurate. The Chiefs running game was more a product of the fantastic offensive line we had at the beginning of the decade. Not only did we have two future hall of famers playing on that line but the line was able to play together for close to two seasons straight. You can't buy continuity like that. We also had a great fullback in Tony Richardson (now a Viking) whose position hasn't been filled even today. The Chiefs are currently using a H-back in Kris Wilson. Wilson is a half fullback (odd phrase I know) and half tight end and even our head coach isn't satisfied with the way we're using the fullback position.
I don't to include just my opinion about this either because the opinions on Arrowhead Pride vary widely. Some think LJ's struggles are a product of the fat contract he signed in the preseason. They feel like he doesn't have much to run for now that he's "the man". LJ has always played better angry and some think that now that he's financially satisfied, the chip on his shoulder is no longer there. Others think he simply isn't a good running back and that his success was predicated by the great offensive line I mentioned before.
JK: Some are questioning Larry Johnson's effort after receiving his new contract. Do you notice that his effort has in any way degraded?
CT: That's a tough question to answer. His performance has dropped dramatically this season since he signed his new contract. I'm hesitant to place a lot of the blame specifically on Larry Johnson because from the plays I've watched, he isn't getting any help blocking in the running game. So, to answer your question, it could be his attitude but the poor blocking of the o-line is overshadowing it.
JK: Give us a quick overview of the Chiefs defense and who you'd nominated as your teams best defensive player at this point.
CT: The Chiefs defense makes me giddy because it brings me back to the days when the Chiefs were one of the most dominant teams in the 1990s, which is when I grew up watching football. Currently, this is a top 5 rated defense and I expect it to stay that way the rest of the year. We have a great defensive line and two great defensive ends in Jared Allen and second year guy out of Penn State Tamba Hali. Our linebacking corp is one of the top corps in the AFC and our corners are at least capable of keeping up with most WRs. CBs Patrick Surtain and Ty Law are getting old and may not have another year in them. But for now, they're working out just fine. Two young safeties in Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page round out the secondary. Page has been playing inconsistently as of late but should end up being a steal as a 7th round draft pick.
I have to nominate LB Derrick Johnson for our best defensive player at this point in the season. He's third on the team in tackles with one INT and one forced fumble. You may remember that forced fumble as the one against the San Diego Chargers that rookie nickel back Tyron Brackenridge took back for a touchdown. A former first round pick in 2005, Johnson is becoming a force before Chiefs fans eyes.
JK: Expanding on Defense. The Chiefs weren't always noted for their defense. But they've noticeably improved with some good young talent. Now, Bengals fans are very nervous about our defense every game. What would you say made the biggest difference in transitioning your defense with rising expectations? Good drafting and quality free agent pick ups?
CT: Good drafting accounts for about 90% of the success. DE Jared Allen, DE Tamba Hali and LB Derrick Johnson are all Chiefs draft picks that are rising stars. Our safety tandem of Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page are second year starters that the Chiefs drafted. The draft has been very kind to the Chiefs defense the last five years.
Not to discount free agency entirely, the Chiefs did sign two veteran linebackers in Donnie Edwards and Napoleon Harris this past offseason. So far, those are the two leading tacklers on our team and great mentors for the younger players.