I was pleased to be joined by Joel Thorman from Arrowhead Pride, our Kansas City Chiefs affiliate, to preview Sunday's game. Joel talks about how fans are responding to QB Matt Cassel, if running back Jamaal Charles should receive more carries, how safety Eric Berry has been doing, and more.
Chris: "Since coming to the Chiefs, quarterback Matt Cassel hasn't come anywhere close to producing like he did with the New England Patriots. Do fans still have faith in Cassel, or have they accepted the fact that he's not going to turn into an elite quarterback?"
Joel: "I think the fans that still do have faith in Cassel want to see some production this year. Last year, there were many reasons for him not to play well including coming into a new system, new coordinators, new city, new teammates...everything was new. Though we may not all agree with it, there were reasons why he had an average to below average season.
Now? All the moves made offensively this offseason were done with Matt Cassel in mind. The coordinator (Charlie Weis), the receivers (Chris Chambers, Dexter McCluster), offensive line (Casey Wiegmann, Ryan Lilja), running game (Thomas Jones) ... All those moves were made to help the quarterback. This year there are no more excuses. There has to be legitimate progress from Cassel or there will be more than a few fans who will ask him (politely) to leave town."
Chris: "With how Jamaal Charles played at the end of last season, I was a bit surprised that the Chiefs went out and signed veteran Thomas Jones. Do you wish Charles would receive the bulk of the carries, or is a two-back system fine for the Chiefs?"
Joel: "Yeah I think most of us wish Charles received the ball more often. For example: Last week both players had 11 carries. Charles had 92 yards while Jones had 39 yards. See the difference? Dating back to week 9 of last year Charles has done nothing but show Todd Haley, the Chiefs organization and the fans that he is the best option. He consistently gets more yards per carry than others so why wouldn't you put that guy on the field more often?
I guess one of the things that bothered me last week was that at halftime the fullback had three touches while Charles had five, one of which went 56 yards to the house. That said, I understand somewhat why Todd Haley is doing this. He needs a guy like Jones in the huddle and on the offense. I'm not sure if the quarterback is leading that huddle or if you need a guy like Jones in there."
Chris: "Eric Berry. Eric Berry. Eric Berry. Many Browns fans were obsessed with the thought of drafting Berry before the Chiefs took him. We ended up drafting safety T.J. Ward in the second round (a player who fans have already fallen in love with), but we never heard anything about Berry after our pre-draft buzz. Can you give us a little primer on how he looked in camp, the preseason, and/or last week against the Chargers?"
Joel: "He's been the starter since day one. There was never really any question about it. Off the field, he's a cool dude and all the fans seem to recognize that. On the field, he's had a good start to his NFL career. I can't give you a detailed breakdown of his individual play without studying it a little more but I can say that he seems to consistently be around the ball, which is a good thing. He's not a liability back there like the Chiefs last player in his position was. He's had a good start and all the hype is legit to this point."
Chris: "The Chiefs got off to a great start last week against the Chargers, but their offense didn't score any points in the second half. What was the reason for the lack of points in the second half?"
Joel: "A big part of it was the rain. It was raining cats and dogs, raining sideways (like they described in Forrest Gump) and even lightning at times. Bottomline, they weren't the best conditions. The Chiefs got a 21-7 lead and I think kinda shut down offensively. They haven't had a lead very often and I think they were doing whatever they could to keep it. They have Charles and brought in Jones for reasons like this -- getting a lead and holding onto it in the second half. The Chiefs coach said more than a few times that the weather was the biggest reason for their conservative approach to the game."
Chris: "This Sunday, who are you more afraid of, given their efforts against the Chiefs last year: Jerome Harrison or Joshua Cribbs?"
Joel: "Joshua Cribbs. With the arrival of Romeo Crennel, I don't think you're going to see an undisciplined defense that gives up a ton of rushing yards. Plus, it's early in the year and these guys are motivated. Last year, the Chiefs weren't playing for anything. The season was over. This year there's a lot more hope. As to why Cribbs is dangerous...well, he may be the best special teamer in the game. He's going to have to have a big game so Dexter McCluster or Javier Arenas don't take away the title of best return man in the game from him. "
Once again, I'd like to thank Joel for taking the time to answer this questions.