Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Clear Commitment

By Josh Looney

August 2, 2010

All seven of the Chiefs defensive ends enter camp with less than three years of NFL experience

The Chiefs added just one new face to the defensive line this off-season – six-year veteran DT Shaun Smith. Upon arrival, Smith immediately became the second-most experienced member of the group outside of 10-year vet Ron Edwards. The two happen to play the same position.

After Edwards and Smith, the next-eldest member of the nine remaining defensive lineman is just 25 years old (Wallace Gilberry). Headed by a pair of top-five draft picks on the bookends, the Chiefs opted to put their faith in youth rather than free agency; particularly in the area player development.

While the Chiefs didn’t make any drastic off-season changes to its cast of defensive linemen, head coach Todd Haley completely overhauled the group of men responsible for maximizing their production. The addition of defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and his proven history of developing youthful linemen was the obvious starting point.

In essence, Crennel was the Chiefs big-name free agent along the Chiefs defensive line.

“He brings a lot of energy, and we know that he’s been there and done that,” Dorsey said of Crennel. “He’s won championships, so he knows how to do it. Everyone is just trying to soak in as much knowledge as possible.”

But the additions to the coaching staff responsible for developing the defensive line didn’t begin and end with Crennel. Often lost in the conversation is the promotion of former NFL DE Anthony Pleasant to the Chiefs full-time defensive line coach.

Pleasant is a disciple of the defensive system that Crennel is teaching, having played in the actual scheme some 12 of his 14 professional seasons. Pleasant even played under Crennel during his NFL career. Pleasant knows the defense and has experience implementing the technique that players can relate to.

“Anthony is a good young coach with a bright future and puts into it and he cares about it, and that’s what I like to see,” head coach Todd Haley said.

But the Chiefs didn’t stop with adding Crennel and Pleasant to help elevate the Chiefs front seven. Kansas City also hired the part-time services of one of the most successful Taekwondo experts in the United States (Insider Blog: Calling on the Master).

GrandMaster Joseph E. Kim, also known as a “pass rush guru,” is back in St. Joseph this week working with the front seven in hand-to-hand combat technique.

“Joe helps with our hands in the pass rush that that helps me out a lot,” Dorsey said. “He knows what he’s talking about and we’ve watched film on guys that he’s taught.”

There isn’t much to figure out when it comes to the Chiefs plan in improving its run defense and overall defensive ranking. If the Chiefs are going to improve defensively in 2010, it will be because of its young players ascending their game across the board.

There isn’t a position group that the player development philosophy is more evident than with the Chiefs defense linemen.

“It’s equally big for all those guys, first, second and third-year guys,” Haley said. “I cannot stress it enough, those are the guys that have take that next step, whether they're back-ups that become starters, starters that become stars or third-teamers that become back-ups. Those guys have to take steps and have to make that next step, and that will help us.”

That quote blankets each of the seven defensive ends currently on the Chiefs roster. The message speaks for itself. An off-season commitment has been made to this position group and that message hasn’t’ been lost in St. Joseph.

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