Where Springs The Leak: Is There A New Traffic Cop In KC?


Chiefs fans, myself included, are always itching to see each year’s new defense.  Under Vermeil we knew the offense would be good, under Herm bad.  Not a lot of fluctuation there.  The defense was bad throughout the decade, but every year we convinced ourselves they’d be better.  We listed our reasons why.  Even a modest improvement, such as Jared Allen brought, drove us wild.  It was fun.  The yearning for the 90s is palpable in Chiefs Nation.  More than anything, we want our defense back.

Still, any time you take the #1 rushing offense in the league (“I’ll take a thunder and lightning, hold the thunder”) and add significant receiving talent, a fan base will lick its chops.  This is the first time in five years I can remember going into a season with legitimate expectations for our offense.  It’s all in place, right?  Charles is still here, Cassel is coming into his own,

Terry Copper got inked to a new deal

, our receivers should be A LOT better, and we even have a new fullback.  AA’s own Double D has been quoted as saying we’re one Thom Jones firing away from being unstoppable.  With all of this coming together at the same time, what could go wrong?

the obvious answer after le jump:

Our offensive line worries me.  I know a lot of you share this worry.  There are just too many question marks here.  And even one serious leak along the line can cripple an offense.  You can send an old clown like Chris Chambers out there at receiver, and someone still has to cover him.  Even awful running backs can pick up 3.7 yards per carry.  Pope can play tight end and it isn’t a deal breaker.  Send a scrub out there at any position on the line and the whole unit falters.  The QB runs for his life, running plays get blown up in the backfield.  Remember what our offense looked like when Chris Terry was our starting right tackle?  How about when Adrian Jones played right guard?

I’m not trying to say we have anyone who will reach Terry/Jones levels of bad, but I don’t think Niswanger/Welbourn/McIntosh levels of bad are out of the question.  Even that can be tough to overcome.

Ah, Damion McIntosh.  My friends and I called him Traffic Cop, because he directed the defenders exactly where they needed to go to get to the QB or ball carrier.  In retrospect, we may have been a little hard on McIntosh.  He certainly wasn’t the worst offensive linemen to suit up for Herm’s Chiefs.  But in a way, this is my point.  Its really hard to field a line without at least one weak link.  It stands to reason the weak link on our line will be exposed by year’s end.  My question is, where springs the leak?

Ryan Lilja is really good.  I think we can safely cross him off the list of potential Traffic Cops.  And while Branden Albert wasn’t exactly impressive last year, we’ve seen enough of him at this point to know he won’t shame himself.  He’s a starting caliber lineman.

The other three spots, in my eyes, are potentially risky business.  Casey Weigmann is small and old.  He’s durable, no doubt, and zone blockers don’t necessarily have to be big.  But old players eventually fall off a cliff.  We may be rolling the dice one year too long on Weigmann.  Time will tell.  Luckily we have Rodney Hudson learning to play the position.  If Weigmann falters, its possible Hudson will be ready to step in by midseason.  Step in and play well?  Probably not.  But even as a rookie I gotta think Hudson will be better than Niswanger ever was.  I don’t see a Traffic Cop here.

That leaves the right side of our line, and at this point I think it should be pretty obvious where I’m going with this.  We’re all looking forward to watching Asamoah play.  I’m not assuming he’s a stud already like some, but the Chiefs are high on him and he was my favorite pick of that class.  Technically a question mark, but not my Traffic Cop.

Barry “Push” Richardson is the guy who worries me, and who should be worrying you.  And no, this isn’t an overreaction to Friday’s preseason game.  Richardson was not good last year*.  Jamaal Charles can mask anyone’s ineptitude for a while, but we shouldn’t have pushed our luck with Richardson going into this season.  I really don’t think he has what it takes to be a starting lineman in the NFL.

*Cue the “He was good enough to start on the #1 rushing offense!!!!” comments. Just like whenever we talk about Jones! There is comfort in routine.

Maybe I’m having trouble forgetting him shoving a coach.  Or maybe my dislike of him before that incident caused me to make too much of it.  But at the very least, its a pretty good indicator his head wasn’t in the game.  The guy had a total meltdown after getting flagged for a penalty he definitely committed.  I’m not saying we should still hold this against him (though I obviously do), but at the very least it should raise a mental red flag, right?  Pair that with marginal talent and you’ve got a guy who probably shouldn’t be trusted to protect your franchise quarterback on a play-by-play basis.

We should be keeping a close eye on Jared Gaither and my boy Secret of Mims.  I realize those guys are both lottery tickets, but better that than a scratched off lottery ticket that lost.   I’m actually a little surprised the Chiefs don’t just go with O’Callaghan.  He used to be on the Patriots!

I’m not declaring Richardson the new Traffic Cop just yet.  He deserves a few real games before we start calling for his head.  I’m just saying, its naive of us to assume this line will have no problems.  A leak will spring.  At this point, my money is on that leak being Richardson.