The end is near for Chiefs’ Bell
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star
Kendrell Bell’s time with the Chiefs will end quietly Sunday. He will be a reserve again and perhaps not even play at all unless it’s on special teams.
That’s in contrast to his free-agent arrival in Kansas City, which came with much fanfare. He was an accomplished linebacker who would help transform a lousy defense.
But after three disappointing seasons, two as a starter and one as a seldom-used reserve, Bell stands as one of the worst free-agent signings in Chiefs history. Sometime after Sunday’s game against the Jets, they will acknowledge their mistake with Bell by parting ways with him.
“I wish it had worked out better,” Bell said, already acknowledging his time with the Chiefs in the past tense. “I had my opportunities. There’s going to be a different future here, and I totally understand that.”
Bell had made an appearance in the Pro Bowl while playing for Pittsburgh but never approached that kind of impact after joining the Chiefs. They acknowledged Bell wasn’t working out last winter when they signed Donnie Edwards and Napoleon Harris to be starting linebackers.
The Chiefs would have released Bell last winter except that his considerable salary of about $3 million was guaranteed.
So they kept him around, but this time as a backup. The Chiefs talked during the offseason about using Bell as a pass-rushing defensive end in passing situations, but they later determined they were better off with Jared Allen and Tamba Hali, so that never materialized.
As it developed, the Chiefs thought so little of Bell that he didn’t even suit up for four of their games.
Bell was damaged goods when the Chiefs signed him. He had a shoulder injury that he was rehabilitating. The injury scared away other teams, but not the Chiefs.
He missed all of training camp and most of the preseason his first year with the Chiefs because of the injury.
“My first year here was the worst experience of my life when it comes to my football career because of that injury,” he said. “So my issue was my health. That was my problem. If I had come here without any problems, I would have done the things here that I was able to do with Pittsburgh.
“I tried to do too much too early because I was trying to prove people wrong, and it ended up hurting me.”
Beyond that, Bell never was a good fit in the Chiefs’ system. In Pittsburgh, Bell played in the 3-4 defense, and the Steelers let him rush the quarterback in most passing situations.
He had nine sacks as a rookie in 2001 and nine more in his final three seasons with the Steelers.
He had 2 1/2 sacks in three seasons for the Chiefs. In the Chiefs’ 4-3 system, Bell wasn’t given only pass-rush responsibilities. He was also asked to cover and had trouble with it.
“He was in a 3-4 system, and he was a really good player in that system for Pittsburgh,” Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. “He really wasn’t asked to play the conventional linebacker position like we play it in the 4-3. He was more of a pass-rush guy. He rushed off the edge. He was a blitzer. He dropped into coverage every once in awhile but most times he was a rusher.
“He comes over here and all of a sudden we’re asking him to do a lot of different things. That’s sometimes tough on certain guys because they’ve grown up in a certain system.
“He’s a good talent, a good athlete, a good guy. But he just didn’t fit.”
Bell disputed that notion, saying he could be a productive player in any system. He will walk away as one of the Chiefs’ biggest free-agent busts but comfortable he did everything possible to make it work.
“I’m trying to be a team player through all of this,” he said. “I’ve tried to help in ways that a lot of people don’t notice. I’ve tried to help some of the young guys. And I’ve definitely tried not to be a distraction.”
Last edited by hermhater; 12-26-2007 at 02:57 AM.