Chiefs mailbag: Quarterback decision rapidly approaching

The looming quarterback decision headlines the mailbag less than two weeks from the first roster cuts of 90 to 75 players on Aug. 26.

The 2014 NFL Draft offered a lesson in reality.

It’s never a matter of what the media or fans see in a player; it’s what the coaching staff sees.

Of course, that’s referring to the wide receiver position when virtually everybody on the planet called for or projected one in the draft. But the Chiefs chose to ignore the position based on a comfort level of the roster.

As to Chase Daniel, coach Andy Reid sat down with Mitch Holthus for a one-on-one interview on Aug. 5 and discussed the backup quarterbacks (1:33 mark).

“Chase, obviously, is ahead right now,” Reid said. “He’s having a real good camp. The other two young kids (second-year pro Tyler Bray and rookie Aaron Murray) are just competing every day trying to get better. It’s fun to watch. They’re both doing a nice job.”

That interview came two days before the preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Daniel made a horrible decision on the pick-6. But he rebounded nicely on the next possession with a 15-yard scramble for a first down and threw an 18-yard completion to wide receiver Kyle Williams. Daniel capped off the night with a 69-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce.

He finished the game completing 8-of-10 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown against the interception for a 112.5 quarterback rating, adding 17 yards rushing on two carries.

The key thing with Daniel is his experience in the league, not so much his game experience where he has one career start.

The former Missouri Tigers star spent four seasons, including the 2009 practice squad, with the New Orleans Saints. He watched and learned how to be a professional from Drew Brees, one of the league’s best quarterbacks.

Daniel, a sixth-year pro, knows how to approach a game, an attribute quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy touched on during training camp.

“The one thing that you take from Chase – and it’s awesome – is that he prepares day in and day out like he’s the starter,” Nagy said. “Last year, going into that San Diego game, it was old hat to him. It wasn’t new to him just because he was starting that game, it was the same deal. He’s in there on Monday in the morning just like Alex (Smith) is.”

And that brings this discussion to another area.

Going back to Reid’s first year with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, the current Chiefs head coach often had at least two veteran quarterbacks on the roster, regardless of playing and/or starting time.

Reid in his first season with the Eagles had then-rookie Donovan McNabb, veteran Doug Pederson, now the Chiefs offensive coordinator, and Koy Detmer, then a third-year pro.

And from Jeff Blake, Jeff Garcia, Trent Edwards, Vince Young to Michael Vick, Reid’s history offers numerous examples of a veteran next to the clear starter, and then a young developing signal caller.

If Daniel’s contract doesn’t come into the play, it’s difficult to see the Chiefs going with a second-year pro and a rookie as Smith’s primary backups.

See response above for my thoughts on Chase Daniel, so this will come down to Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray.

There’s clearly a dilemma because four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster adversely affects what the team carries at other positions. Is a fourth quarterback worth sacrificing an extra running back, wide receiver, offensive lineman or cornerback?

The Chiefs kept Smith, Daniel and Bray on the active roster last season. Any hope of stashing Bray or Murray on the practice squad carries significant risk if the current depth chart holds with Smith and Daniel as the top two.

Short of a player landing on injured reserve, the Chiefs would have to waive one on the final day of roster cuts. Doing so subjects the player to being claimed off waivers by another team before the practice squad is set the next day.

The Chiefs like all four quarterbacks, and that’s a good problem to have.

That is, until decision time.

Now this scenario is not based on fact and is purely a best guess. But it wouldn’t surprise if somebody lands on season-ending injured reserve with an “injury.”

The Chiefs in 2012 under a former regime placed quarterback Alex Tanney on injured reserve with a finger injury after the final preseason game.

Lean heavily to yes.

As noted in my story for The Associated Press, second-year pro Josh Martin is turning heads in training camp.

The 6-3, 245-pound Martin trained with outside linebacker Tamba Hali during the offseason and the Chiefs like Martin’s speed.

Of note, Martin is part of the “dog front,” not veteran Frank Zombo, who is listed ahead of Martin on the depth chart at left outside linebacker behind Justin Houston.

But the depth chart is a mirage of sorts.

Martin typically lined up on the right side in place of Hali with the second team during training camp. Rookie Dee Ford or Zombo, mostly Ford, manned the left side with the second-team defense in place of Houston. Ford is listed as Hali’s primary backup, so go figure.

Still, Martin running behind Hali makes sense because the Chiefs need a replacement for Dezman Moses, who was waived following an elbow injury that required surgery. Moses backed up Hali in 2013.

Martin can also contribute on special teams, and this coaching staff covets versatility.

Second-year pro Demetrius Harris has an excellent shot to make the final 53-man roster.

He’s been one of the few players to carry the momentum from organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp into training camp when the pads came on.

Harris continued to display the athleticism that turned heads during the offseason, producing head-turning catches and showing growth from last season as a raw project.

“He was a basketball player when he got here and he’s transformed into a football player,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “There’s something that goes with that. There’s that physical part, not that basketball is not, this is even another step up. You have to do it day in and day out and that he’s done.”

The Chiefs kept three tight ends on final roster cuts last season, and it would be downright stunning if Harris doesn’t make it this season.

He’s no secret, so the Chiefs can’t hope to sneak the 6-7, 256-pound tight end through waivers with a view to the practice squad.

And even if that unlikely scenario happened, the Chiefs leave Harris vulnerable to another team signing him from the practice squad to its active roster.

There’s a safe place for Harris, and that’s on the final roster.

Second-year running back Knile Davis is atop the depth chart as the kickoff returner, but how many carries he receives as Jamaal Charles’ primary backup remains to be seen.

There are mixed signals surrounding Davis’ role.

The first arrived during the offseason when it appeared the former Arkansas Razorback would help ease the heavy load the Chiefs place on Charles. That area was addressed in a previous mailbag

But then offensive coordinator Doug Pederson indicated during training camp the team would continue to feed Charles.

“He may not necessarily get more touches,” Pederson said on July 25. “He may get more plays. We just pick our spots. Again, there’s going to be certain plays for Knile, and there are certain plays for Jamaal.”

Those certain plays could be short yardage and goal line duties if training camp is an indication. It wasn’t uncommon to see Davis lined up in the backfield with the first-team offense for goal line power formations during 11-on-11 drills.

Isn’t there some law preventing a media member from asking another media member a question for a mailbag?

But this question is difficult to ignore since it originates from a good pal, the great Joel Thoman, aka The Blogfather of

Take the over. But Dwayne Bowe, who will serve a one-game suspension to start the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, won’t find an easy path to the 1,000-yard mark.

Meanwhile, the only people who seem to get worked up over Bowe’s individual statistics are those into Fantasy Football or the NFL version of sabermetrics. And neither counts for much on a real football field.

So, for anyone – especially Fantasy Football enthusiasts – expecting the 2010 version of Bowe to step on the field: Stop. Take a deep breath. Hold it. Hold it. Exhale slowly. Feel better? Good.

Here’s a required reminder: Coach Andy Reid had just three wide receivers hit 1,000 yards or more in his version of the West Coast offense during 14 seasons with the Eagles, and they are Terrell Owens (2004), Kevin Curtis (2007) and DeSean Jackson (2009-10).

Even in his prime, Bowe is no Owens. Bowe also lacks the explosiveness Jackson brings to the table.

Reid’s system is not designed for a single wide receiver to dominate in the mold of a Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, as former Eagles players have shared with me in numerous articles since the Chiefs hired Reid.

What I know of this offense from talking to the likes of quarterback Koy Detmer, wide receiver Todd Pinkston, three-time Pro Bowl tight end Chad Lewis, tight end Luther Broughton and tight end Jackie Harris, who played for Reid in Green Bay, is this system is very tight end friendly.

Reid mentioned that aspect the final week of training camp.

“This offense has been tight end friendly over the years,” he said. “So to have three, four or five of them that can play for you out here is a good thing.”

Long-time readers should already know how important the tight end position is to this offense. And injuries affected that element of the passing game in 2013.

For new readers, feel free to start with this article, which contains links at the bottom to other related stories.

Ultimately, this offense when running on all cylinders will feature running back Jamaal Charles, a healthy tight end corps with Travis Kelce back provides the boost missing in 2013, and the passes will spread among the wide receivers.


Have a Chiefs-related question? Tweet them to @HerbieTeope. But note only my Twitter followers will get questions featured here.