Three key issues for Chiefs' offseason
Now that the Kansas City Chiefs' disappointing 2007 season has finally come to an end, it's time to focus on the issues that will be impacting the team over the next several months. These topics and more will be covered in-depth in the coming weeks, but for now here's a look at the three main things that will have Chiefs fans talking this offseason.
1) The search for a new offensive coordinator.
Offensive line coach Mike Solari was promoted to coordinator when Al Saunders left the Chiefs in 2006. Although key injuries, retirements and the decline of aging players were certainly major contributors, with Solari at the helm Kansas City went from having the league's highest-ranked offense in 2005 to the second-worst offense in 2007. Solari had never been a play-caller before and was often criticized for overly simple game plans and a lack of adjustments as games wore on.
While it's easy to say in hindsight that promoting him was a mistake, one has to keep in mind that Solari was supposed to represent a bridge back to the previous era. Whether the decision to keep Solari belonged to Herm Edwards or to Chiefs G.M. Carl Peterson - and it can be safely assumed Peterson made the call - the team really had little choice. The Chiefs' offense was still rolling right along when Dick Vermeil retired, and had Edwards scrapped the previous system and brought in his own coordinator upon taking over as head coach, he would have been vilified for killing a productive offense.
Ironically, though, Edwards has been blamed for that anyway. Some fans feel that Solari is merely a scapegoat and that he was calling a boring, predictable offense because Edwards instructed him to. Whether there's any truth to that will be seen in the coming seasons once someone new takes over the play-calling.
Edwards has indicated that he'd like to have the position filled before the Senior Bowl, so the Chiefs should have a new coordinator in place within the next few weeks. Many rumors about the team's offense, including the possible return to Kansas City of famed O-line coach Alex Gibbs, have also been swirling in recent days.
The Chiefs' offense is being blown up, and the reconstruction will likely be the biggest story of their offseason.
2) The 2008 draft.
Thanks to their 13-10 loss to the New York Jets last Sunday, the Chiefs guaranteed themselves a top-five pick in the upcoming NFL draft. They'll pick either fourth or fifth, depending on one or more coin flips that will happen at the combine in February. The Chiefs haven't picked in the top five since landing future Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas nearly 20 years ago, and the next several months will surely be filled with heated discussions over whom they should take in 2008.
While Arkansas RB Darren McFadden and LSU DT Glenn Dorsey, arguably the draft's top two prospects, will likely be gone when Kansas City picks, a host of other talented players - names like Virgina DE Chris Long, Michigan OT Jake Long, USC DT Sedrick Ellis and Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis - could be among the available names when the Chiefs go on the clock.
3) The status of Jared Allen.
The NFL's sack leader in 2007, Allen will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. If the two sides can't work out a long-term contract, Peterson has already indicated that he'll use the franchise tag on Allen to prevent him from leaving the team.
In that regard there doesn't seem to be much mystery as to whether Allen will return to the Chiefs in 2008. But could there be another Chiefs holdout, with Allen taking a page from Larry Johnson? Will any trade partners come calling for Allen while he works out a new deal, as was rumored to be the case with Johnson?
Much like Johnson a year ago, Allen's contract status will be a constant topic of conversation until the Chiefs resume play next September.