The Chiefs May Be Fishing For A New QB


I read the news the rest of you read this morning here on AA:

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. the Chiefs will interview Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin this evening for their head coaching vacancy.

Philbin, 50, is likely to be a hot coaching candidate given his success with the Packers. As Green Bay’s backup QB Matt Flynn showed last week when he tossed six TD passes, the Packers offense works pretty well even without the eventual NFL MVP calling the shots.

This should prove to most that the Kansas City Chiefs are seriously considering moving beyond the unholy duo of Matt Cassel and Kyle Orton as they prepare to make a serious playoff push in 2012.

Joe Philbin is not a serious head coaching option.  His resume, other than his stint with the Packers as their offensive coordinator, has been pretty humdrum with mixed results, to put it generously.  He is only in the head coaching conversation because of his time in Green Bay, but it has been his head coach Mike McCarthy has been the genius sculpting the offense and calling the plays.  At best, Philbin is an offensive coordinator candidate, but the Chiefs aren’t going to hire an offensive coordinator before they make their head coaching decision.  And as RedZone’s Adam Teicher writes, the Chiefs won’t wait for after the NFC title game or the Super Bowl to make their new head coaching hire.

So why bring in Joe Philbin?  Why fly him in during the season, sit him down and pelt him with questions, and carry on a charade that he’s some sort of head coaching option?

The answer: they want to know the story on Matt Flynn.

Folks, the Chiefs are fishing for a new QB.  Much, much more after the jump.

This has been a tactic of Scott Pioli ever since he became GM of the Kansas City Chiefs.  This is the guy who loves relying on networking and inside information just as much as he relies on game tape and statistical success.

He scouted DE Aldon Smith a year in advance by talking to Missouri alum LB Sean Witherspoon.  He utilized testimony from S Kendrick Lewis and RB Dexter McCluster in drafting Ole Miss teammate NT Jerrell Powe.  And I’m willing to bet FB Le’Ron McClain and QB coach Jim Zorn had a hand in Pioli escorting fellow Raven OT Jared Gaither to town.

Now I believe Pioli is exercising the same tactic with Philbin.  It shouldn’t surprise that the other team reported to be bringing in Philbin for interviews are the Miami Dolphins, another team with huge questions at QB.

The Packers are likely going to be franchising backup QB Matt Flynn this offseason and trading him away for picks, a la the New England Patriots with Matt Cassel in 2009.  And like in 2009, do not be surprised to see the Chiefs in the mix.  Flynn is an attractive candidate; he’s only had a few opportunities to prove his ability, two of them in serious in-season competition, and he looked extremely talented both against the Patriots in 2010 in leiu of a QB Aaron Rodgers injury, and last week as the Packers rested Rodgers for the playoffs.

The similarities do abound.  Like Cassel, Matt Flynn is an overachieving 7th round pick.  Like Cassel, Flynn rested for years behind an elite QB on teams with ridiculous talent.  Like Cassel, Flynn has very real QB weaknesses but makes up for them with heady play.

I can feel your bile ducts starting to rage, but I beg you not to throw the baby out with the bathwater here.  The bad experience we’ve endured so far with Matt Cassel should not rightly be used against a completely different player in Flynn.  Flynn has a much stronger arm, and is far more willing to challenge secondaries and take calculated risks, whereas Cassel refuses to take risks and by extension, costs his team with slow reads and poor decision making.

Flynn also doesn’t require a run game for life support.  There has not been a single game during Cassel’s tenure where he was able to win the Chiefs a game when the run game wasn’t working.  But once the run game works, Cassel gets breathing room and can take your team where it needs to go.  To stop Cassel, you just need to stop the run game.  Meanwhile, Flynn has had no run game in his tenure at Green Bay.  Trust me, I had James Starks on my fantasy team this year.  Flynn’s two games he’s played, he’s put up outstanding numbers, whereas Cassel was much more of a conservative game manager in New England.

The draft doesn’t have much to offer you this year if you find yourself QB starved, unfortunately.  Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are both outstanding prospects, but they will likely both go #1 (to the Colts) and #2 (to whomever trades into the Rams spot) this year.  Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A&M is getting some people excited, but he’s incredibly raw, he barfed all over himself in the biggest games he played this past season, and some team is going to reach phenomenally for him much like the Vikings did for Christian Ponder last year.  Others like Nick Foles out of Arizona, and that might change either way as draft season progresses.

The free agency market is similarly dry.  Unless you’re some desperate blogger praying for the Colts to release Peyton Manning, your best hope is Jason Campbell or Kyle Orton.  Of course, you could always take Donovan McNabb in a Hail Mary — good luck with that.

So Flynn emerges for the half-dozen QB starved teams who can’t get their hands on Luck or RGIII.  (And I disagree with Paddy — this team’s window is now, I don’t think we should mortgage our next two drafts to sell out for RGIII, which we’d definitely have to do to land him.)  But even considering the snaps Flynn took in LSU, that we still don’t have a lot of tape on him.

Thus: we bring in Philbin for an interview.

I don’t pretend to know what Flynn would command on the open market.  Most of the teams I’d suspect, like the Chiefs, Dolphins, and Seahawks, would probably resist the temptation to sell the farm for him, making Flynn worth something Cassel-like, such as a second-round pick.  But if one of those notoriously ambitious teams get into the mix, like the Redskins or the Jets, Flynn suddenly becomes first-round value.

Is he worth it?  The kid is 26, and sharp as a tack.  You’re going to get at least one season of transition for him, much like we had with Cassel in 2009, albeit Pioli is operating on a much higher level now than he was in 2009 when he gave Cassel a pathetic draft and a dreadful supporting cast.  Flynn would have an amazing run game (especially if Paddy’s right and we took Trent Richardson in the first round) and a Romeo Crennel-led defense putting him in great situations time after time.

If he comes with a golden blessing from Philbin, I’d take a shot on him for a 2nd rounder plus any additional midrounder we might have to throw in to outbid the Dolphins or whoever.

Because, really, what are our options for the next two years?