Answer Bob #3 – January 7

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Last batch of questions and answers and again, thanks so much. I hope the answers are as good as the questions.

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Branden Albert (L), Jon Asamoah (C) & Geoff Schwartz (R) all left Chiefs in free agency

Montanachief says – Hi Bob, great articles all year. Many thanks. My questions are about the offensive line. First, did Dorsey and Reid underestimate the loss of three linemen (Jon Asamoah, Geoff Schwartz and Branden Albert)? Albert was a given because of money and Eric Fisher, but the other two seem like an oversight. How about Andy Heck (offensive line coach); is he up to the job? Why didn’t they give Eric Kush a chance at guard? There’s a lot of talk about Alex Smith’s ability to throw deep, but to me the major problem with going deep was the guard play. There was never a pocket to set up in and throw deep. Not to say that Smith doesn’t have some blame also. Thanks.

Bob says – Montana, good comments and questions all. I don’t think Dorsey & Reid underestimated the loss of Asamoah-Schwartz-Albert – I think they overestimated the talent they pulled together to replace them. I don’t see how Jeff Linkenbach’s signing as a free agent helped the team at all. Donald Stephenson’s four-game suspension really hurt the situation and it was obvious from how little he played once he returned. Losing Jeff Allen really hurt because he actually showed he was a better right tackle than he was left guard. Fisher improved as the season went on, but he wasn’t anything close to Albert playing at his best. Linkenbach, Mike McGlynn and rookie Zach Fulton did not come close to matching the effort of Schwartz in the ’13 season. When a guy gets signed off the street a few days before the final pre-season game and ends up being a starter, that tells us something was wrong with the evaluations and decisions on the offensive line. I think Andy Heck is not the problem at tackle; there maybe somebody better out there to handle the duties, but Heck is not a negative. I think the lack of playing time in any fashion for Kush tells us that the coaches did not see enough improvement in his training camp and pre-season performances to warrant a chance there.

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Kenny says – In order to win our division let alone a Super Bowl it seems like we to have something great to drive the team to success: a great quarterback, prolific offense or a defense that just plain scares you. I think the world of Alex Smith and think the offense can be efficient at times. But our defense is a lot closer to operating at an elite level than anywhere else on the team. Why shouldn’t we go after Suh or other defenders in the off-season to make our defense something to fear?

Bob says – Kenny, I like the way you think, but I can assure you the Chiefs will not be a player for Ndamukong Suh in free agency. That’s the type of ticket that they are not going to pay. They will pick off some free agents, but it won’t be the top of the list type of guys, which Suh surely would qualify. As badly as the Chiefs need receivers and blockers, there’s no way they can ignore the defense. There’s no way to know how far back both Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito will come back from their ruptured Achilles tendon injuries. There’s no way to know if Eric Berry will be part of the mix. Without a doubt, they need help at inside linebacker and safety, whether free agency or the draft.

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Ernie B. says – Bob, thanks for another great year on your site. Count me as a subscriber if you are on-line again next season. I’d like to know your thoughts on Andy Reid and his staff and specifically how they would rank if you lined up the 32 teams staff top to bottom. I think Reid and company got a lot out of what John Dorsey gave them and the injury card that was dealt. I’m also interested in your take as to why, two seasons in a row now, the Chiefs performance in the late season games was not as good as the earlier games. And yes I am still scratching my head as to why the Chiefs played so badly in the home opener. One loss made the difference between making the post season and only watching TV at home again. Thanks a lot for your efforts Bob and wishing you and yours the best in 2015.

Bob says – Ernie, thanks for your kind words. I think as a whole, Reid and his coaching staff are good. I think Reid is very good in his role, same with Bob Sutton on defense and Dave Toub on special teams is outstanding. The duo of Emmitt Thomas and Al Harris did a nice job with a shifting picture in the secondary. I think all those coaches would rank among the league’s upper echelon. The chemistry with this group is good, because most of them have worked together for a long time and they are efficient in what they do and how they work.

The second-half stumbles are hard to nail down to one or even two factors. In 2013, they faced better competition in the final half of the season, especially at quarterback, and that made a big difference. I do not think it’s conditioning or how they train or practice. NFL teams are so limited these days in what they can do on the practice field, exhausting a team isn’t a factor. Plus, Reid gives his guys time to recover. What I do know is that Reid and his staff needs to pick apart everything they do and analyze what’s happened and address the situation.

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johnfromfairfax says – Hi Bob, I’d like to wish you and your family a good year in 2015. I’d also like to thank you for the best site for all things Chiefs and football-related. I think we’ve improved a good deal under the current coaching staff and organization and are headed in the right direction but the next couple years will obviously tell the tale. Could you detail what you would do this off-season to get the team ready for next year? Specifically, what moves you would consider in free agency and the draft? Who would you let go and retain from the team and what major areas or changes need to be emphasized? Thanks again Bob and know how much your fans enjoy your work and our chance to correspond with you. Happy New Year.

Bob says – Thanks John for the kind words and being part of this little slice of the Internet. You’ve handed me a platter of questions, some that I can answer specifically and others that will have to wait until it’s known who might be available in free agency and the draft. But, I would approach things in this manner: I would release Donnie Avery, Anthony Fasano and as painful as it would be, I would release Tamba Hali. I would work very hard to get Dwayne Bowe to agree to a redo on his contract. If he balked, I would release him as well. I would also negotiate some sort of deal with Eric Berry to regain cap room in 2015. I would sign Rodney Hudson and make Justin Houston the team’s franchise player.

In free agency, I’d be looking at guard, inside linebacker, safety and defensive end to hedge my bets with the injured players and how far they can come back. In the draft, I’m figuring a minimum of 10 draft choices, with three compensatory picks from last year’s free agency losses. One of those figures to be a third-round choice. With four selections in the first three rounds, I would grab a receiver or maybe two. I would grab a defensive lineman, either tackle or end. I’d find an inside linebacker and a cornerback.

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chewbone says – Bob, I see the team as having missed their window of opportunity again. Some of the sites are blowing smoke of only being a few players away, but when you look at the uncertainty with a few key players coming back (DeVito, Berry, D.J.) from injury and then an absolute “H” with the salary cap with Sean Smith, Justin Houston, etc. and then mix in that Jamaal Charles is nearing the end of the road, I see three more years to retool. I don’t see the Chiefs being anything more than a wildcard at best until Peyton Manning checks out and let’s not forget other AFC teams are striving to get better as well, even the Texans came closer to getting in this year than the Chiefs. You agree?

Bob says – Chewbone, I understand your feelings and can’t say that you’re wrong with your pessimistic take. I happen to be a bit more optimistic, but there’s no question the Chiefs margin of error is very slim if they want to challenge in the AFC West, let alone the conference or league as a whole. Dorsey and his personnel evaluators have to hit the nail on the personnel head at a very successful rate or there’s going to be a lot of treading water in the next few years. The Chiefs are more than a few players away – left guard, right tackle, wide receiver, wide receiver, defensive end, inside linebacker, safety, and another cornerback – that’s eight important roster spots that need help for 2015.

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Robert D. says – Bob, I think we are all agreed that the Chiefs need help at guard. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif did not see the field this year. Have you been able to speak with his O-Line coaches? Can you give us an assessment of his chances? In the same vein, is Donald Stephenson capable of moving to guard as his days as a Chiefs tackle appear to be numbered? Finally, is Eric Kush a lost cause? Thanks.

Bob says – Robert, good questions all. It’s hard to judge just how good a future LDT might have in the NFL. A full off-season in the team’s strength and conditioning program will help. He’s got a world of athletic ability and he’s smart. I think if he’s dedicated to becoming a factor in 2015, there shouldn’t be anything holding him back other than opportunity. Donald Stephenson’s future with the Chiefs at any position appears to be in some jeopardy. His 2014 season was a lost cause and he has nobody to blame but himself for that fact. Given the factors on the offensive line, that Kush couldn’t get on the field indicates the coaching staff did not think he was ready or capable of handling the situation.

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el cid says – Sunday’s K.C. Star reported the Chiefs are at the edge of salary cap hell and will be pressed to sign Justin Houston and Rodney Hudson and not do much else with veteran free agents. We were in cap hell last year, I THOUGHT. How did we get into cap hell two years in a row, while the rest of the NFL seems to be progressing along?

Bob says – el cid, Dorsey and Reid inherited a bad cap situation from the Pioli mess, and they didn’t help matters with the signing of Dwayne Bowe to the contract they gave him. The salary cap number will continue to rise each season and once they get through 2015, the Chiefs will have a very favorable cap situation in 2016 and beyond. One thing they can’t afford to do this season is make financial moves that would jeopardize the money available in 2016. There are quite a few moves they can make to open up room under the cap with releasing players and redoing contracts. That’s where they must be careful about pushing money in restructuring deals into future years.

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michael says – Is there any talk that either of two young quarterbacks behind Chase Daniel have any potential? I think John Dorsey and Andy Reid have worked magic for a team used to losing with an average roster. Then, factor in the free agency loss on the offensive line plus the injuries to key players. With that said, where do you see their emphasis will be in next year’s draft? Why did Donald Stephenson not play much after his suspension?

Bob says – Michael, let’s start with Stephenson. It’s obvious that he lost the confidence and support of the coaching staff. There’s a misconception that Stephenson came out of the 2013 season as the Chiefs best blocker. That simply wasn’t true. But he was set for the starting job at right tackle, but when he flunked a drug test and got a four-game NFL suspension, it really damaged him in the eyes of the franchise. As for a draft emphasis, I think they are still in a spot with their overall roster that they can’t focus in on one side of the ball, or one position and ignore others. They need help both offensively and defensively and that help is needed in 2015 and beyond.

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Marc D. says – I see a similar question is already out there, but . . . the 2nd half swoon seems to becoming a trend if it happens one more year. Is it because of conditioning? Injuries, which means depth? Other teams catching up to the schemes? I am excited for 2015, but worried about not playing the best football in December and January. Getting better during the year will be the only way we can get off the playoff-win snide.

Bob says – Marc, thanks for your thoughts. Without a doubt you are right about the way this team gets a post-season victory comes from entering the playoffs with some momentum from the end of the regular season. I don’t think it’s a matter of conditioning. It may be a question of depth. Without a doubt 2013 was a matter of the competition level going way up compared to the first half of the schedule. That’s something that wasn’t the case in 2014. Even with the Tennessee loss to start the season, the Chiefs had time to make up ground in the AFC, and they did until that ghastly loss to the Raiders on a rainy Thursday night in Oakland. That was a true disaster.

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Merwin in NY says – Bob, thanks for all the hard work you put in covering our beloved Chiefs. I do hope you can continue to do this, as nowhere else can we get all this unbiased information. My question is off topic a bit. How much access do you have to the players and coaches as compared to the past? Are you allowed in the press box and locker room? Do you still get a press pass for team functions same as you used to? Thanks again for everything you do, and I hope you are able to continue this excellent site for many more years.

Bob says – Merwin, thanks for your kind words. I have as much access to the players and coaches as any other member of the media and I’m treated quite well by the team’s communications staff along with Andy Reid and John Dorsey. It’s not as open as it was during the time Peterson and Schottenheimer were in charge, but equal to the way it was under Gunther Cunningham, Dick Vermeil and Herm Edwards as head coaches. I have a seat in the press box for all home games and a seat for road games if I can make it there. The locker room access is the minimum that NFL teams must provide, but that’s the way it is in the other 31 locker rooms as well. The arrival of Dorsey and Reid has brought professionalism back to the building. As I’ve said for two years now, the adults are back in charge and the silly antics of a megalomaniac G.M. are now something the folks in Atlanta must deal with. Thank goodness for that.