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 Week 17 Motivation

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PostSubject: Week 17 Motivation   Tue Dec 27, 2011 1:51 pm


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Several Chiefs rookies, like DL Brandon Bair (pictured), enter Week 17 looking for their first NFL action


With playoff football no longer a possibility, it’s time for the Kansas City Chiefs to start thinking about the future.

Week 17 brings several things to consider regarding the immediate future of the team.

Leading off the Chiefs checklist, of course, is the future of (interim) head coach Romeo Crennel.

Kansas City is operating in a position of strength when it comes to finding a new head football coach. The job is an attractive one. It might be the most attractive job currently on the market.

The Chiefs aren’t your typical team swimming circles through coaching uncertainty. The roster is in need of upgrades at several positions, but the Chiefs aren’t a team that needs a new head coach to hit the reset button.

Kansas City has come a long way since it last changed head coaches following the 2008 season. The Chiefs had won just 10 games in three seasons and were in need of a complete overhaul.

In 2012, the Chiefs won’t need an overhaul. They’ll need a tune-up.

If the right head coach mixes successfully with the rehabilitation of injured players and effective offseason roster construction, Kansas City could enter next season as the AFC West favorite.

The Chiefs head coaching job is an attractive one that should draw significant interest from external candidates. In house, there is an experienced candidate in Crennel who has already won over the locker room.

It’s a situation that gives Kansas City’s front office some intriguing possibilities.

This next week is an important one for Crennel. With bowl games, beach plans and other post-season factors entering the minds of NFL locker rooms eliminated from postseason play, Crennel must keep the Chiefs focused for one more week.

Kansas City has nothing to play for other than pride and professionalism, and perhaps their next head coach. They’ll be squaring off against a Denver team whose playoffs begin in this Sunday’s game.

Up next is roster construction.

The impending free agency of Brandon Carr, Dwayne Bowe and Kyle Orton is sure to make plenty of headlines over the next two months, but the Chiefs won’t be pressed to make immediate decisions on those players this week.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be decisions involving some form of free agency over the next several days.

Protecting practice squad players who may have a future with the franchise is something Kansas City’s front office must consider this week.

All 256 practice squad players in the NFL are treated as free agents and are available to be signed by another team at any time. Reshard Langford (2009), Wallace Gilberry (2008) and Andy Studebaker (2008) each arrived in Kansas City following an in-season raid of opponent practice squads.

Kansas City has protected at least one practice squad player via Week 17 promotion each year under GM Scott Pioli.

For teams out of contention, Week 17 roster space is often cleared by placing injured players on injured reserve (IR). Jon McGraw would be the team’s leading candidate for IR having missed the past two games with a high ankle sprain.

Kansas City’s practice squad currently consists of the following players (career games played in parenthesis):

OL Rob Bruggeman (2)

LB Caleb Campbell (3)

RB Shaun Draughn (0)

G Darryl Harris (1)

DB Quinten Lawrence (6)

WR Jamar Newsome (2)

OL Lucas Patterson (0)

DT Anthony Toribio (6)

Finally, the Chiefs may re-adjust their approach to play-time and gameday inactives now that playoffs aren’t a possibility.

Several “redshirts” on Kansas City’s roster might benefit from getting their first game-action this weekend in Denver.

Rookies Ricky Stanzi, Brandon Bair and David Mims are the only players on Kansas City’s 53-man roster yet to see their first NFL snap.

Bair has been a healthy inactive for all 15 games this season and Mims has been a healthy scratch each of the four games since his promotion from the practice squad November 29th. Stanzi has jumped Tyler Palko as the team’s No. 2 quarterback, but has yet to see any game action.

Rookie Jerrell Powe is another candidate for Week 17 play-time, having been active just once this season. Powe saw seven snaps against the Patriots when Amon Gordon shifted outside for an injured Glenn Dorsey at defensive end.

Gordon and Kelly Gregg, both veterans, have been playing ahead of Powe at nose tackle throughout the season.

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PostSubject: Re: Week 17 Motivation   Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:59 pm

I would like to see Stanzi, Mims, and Bair at some point against Denver. But if Crennel is smart, he wont do it unless the Chiefs are up big. Crennell needs to win this game in the worst way!
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PostSubject: Re: Week 17 Motivation   Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:10 pm

I wanna lose for the draft pick, but I wanna win to keep Crennel around(at least increase the chances)

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PostSubject: Re: Week 17 Motivation   Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:57 am

Chiefs unlikely to let young players loose in finale
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

After last Saturday’s overtime heartbreaker at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs don’t appear to have much to play for in their season finale Sunday at Denver.

Sure, interim coach Romeo Crennel said this week that the team was as focused as ever on winning each game and, in this case, finishing 7-9 instead of 6-10. But whether the Chiefs pursue it or not, they do have one final incentive: learning about themselves and their future.

Of the team’s nine draft picks in 2011, only two — first-round receiver Jon Baldwin and third-round linebacker Justin Houston — have received significant playing time. Three of the remaining picks, including fifth-round quarterback Ricky Stanzi, have yet to play a single snap, and sixth-round nose tackle Jerrell Powe has been inactive in all but one game. The rest — offensive lineman Rodney Hudson, defensive lineman Allen Bailey and cornerback Jalil Brown — have made only a handful of appearances.

Added to a fruitless class of undrafted free agents, and this season hasn’t offered much hope that the Chiefs did the right things last offseason to build for the future. The problem is that, simply, they don’t know what they have in many of those players. And Crennel indicated this week that, after Sunday, the Chiefs still might be wondering.

“I’m going to go the way it has been because we feel like the guys that we have been playing with basically have given us the best chance to win,” he said. “I don’t know that making a change now will change that.”

As often as the Chiefs have struggled this season, the team wasn’t eliminated from playoff contention until a 13-10 loss Saturday to Oakland. That kept youngsters out of the lineup, as the Chiefs chased a faint chance at a playoff berth.

That wasn’t the story in recent years, when the Chiefs’ seasons were sometimes dedicated to learning how young players might help in the future. In 2008, when coaches decided early that they’d play rookies immediately, 11 of the team’s 12 draft picks played in at least six games — including four picks who started immediately. The Chiefs went 2-14 that season, but at least they knew that many of the rookies would someday be helpful pieces.

As the team added pieces in subsequent years, plenty of youngsters had a chance to show their value. Of the Chiefs’ 15 draft picks in 2009 and 2010, all but four played in at least six games during their rookie seasons. Many emerged as immediate starters or at least showed promise. During those seasons, several undrafted free agents, such as linebacker Jovan Belcher and wide receiver Jeremy Horne, also contributed.

This year, Houston leads all rookies with nine starts, and he’s one of five draft picks to appear in at least 10 games — though, in the cases of Hudson, Bailey and Brown, those appearances have been brief. Fifth-round linebacker Gabe Miller was placed on injured reserve during the preseason, and seventh-round fullback Shane Bannon was released after training camp and then added to the team’s practice squad. Questions remain about the futures of Stanzi and Powe, seen on draft weekend as potential difference-makers in the future. No undrafted players have played significant roles this season.

Still, Crennel appears to see potential. He praised Brown’s special-teams play this week, indicating that he’s a candidate to see an increased role sometime in the future. Still, it’s unlikely it’ll be in the immediate future.

“If an opportunity arose, then he might be able to get some playing time,” Crennel said. “But going into this game, knowing what we have to face offensively, our defense has to face a running quarterback in (Tim) Tebow and the option and all those things, so I don’t know that Brown’s abilities, how much they will impact what we need to do defensively.”

Crennel added that Stanzi would play only if starting quarterback Kyle Orton is injured. Stanzi has been inactive for all but three games this season.

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