It became evident very early after Herman Edwards was named as the new head coach that the Chiefs were going to be a team in transition this season. Older players like Gary Stills, Shawn Barber, Todd Collins, and Dexter McCleon were either released or allowed to leave via free agency. Problem children like Eric Warfield were also released. The sudden retirements of John Welbourn and Willie Roaf merely accelerated the process.
There are numerous questions that surround any team in transition. Hopefully, the questions are answered during training camp but it doesn't always happen. And that is precisely where we are with the Chiefs with only a week to go before the regular season starts.
As I see it, there are still four major questions surrounding the 2006 Chiefs and only one will be answered quickly:
The most important question on offense is whether Kyle Turley can adequately replace Willie Roaf or not. Turley has looked good so far, but it's hard to gauge how much the two-year layoff he had has affected his stamina, strength, and instincts when you project over the length of the entire regular season. You also have to wonder if the back problems that sidelined him will come back. Turley is the one who has to protect Trent Green's blind side and if he can't perform, Green will suffer the consequences.
That leads in to my second question; do the Chiefs keep three QBs or four and are any of the backups an adequate replacement for Green in case he goes down? Damon Huard solidified the #2 position during training camp but was it due to his experience and performance? Possibly, but 3rd round pick Brodie Croyle was hurt for much of training camp and ex-CFL star Casey Printers showed that he's not ready to play in the NFL yet. Still, both Croyle and Printers have talent and neither one would clear waivers. The last round of cuts will answer the "three or four" question, but I'm not convinced that any of the backups can adequately step in for Green.
Defensively, the most important question is, who is going to start at defensive tackle and are any of the candidates worth a hoot? Going in to the last exhibition game, the team still has eight tackles on the roster and none have been impressive so far. John Browning's back has kept him on the sidelines and may end his career. Rookie Steve Williams has also been hurt and out of action for most of camp. Junior Siavii's knee kept him out of the mix for a good chunk of camp, but he's never shown much even when healthy. Lional Dalton played well in 2004 but regressed in 2005 and you have to wonder which Dalton we'll see in 2006. Ryan Sims' production has never equaled his potential. Shane Burton is trying to come back after missing the last two seasons with a knee injury. Free agent pick-up Ron Edwards is much like Sims in terms of potential but injuries have kept him from developing. Finally, James Reed has a non-stop motor but he's undersized and you have to wonder if he can hold up for an entire season. The coaching staff can't be sleeping comfortably.
The final question is whether the addition of Ty Law will solidify the secondary or not. In his prime, Law was one of the best. Unfortunately, he's now 32, entering his 12th season, and is only a year removed from a serious foot injury. Only time will tell on this one.
Satisfactory answers to these questions will translate into a solid playoff run for the Chiefs. If the answers are less than adequate, this will be a long, ugly year and will lead to a major overhaul of the team next off-season.