AFC West: Al Harris

What Sean Smith signing means

March, 14, 2013
The Kansas City Chiefs made a big deal Thursday in signing Sean Smith. Smith was one of the best cornerbacks available, and it was another nice move by the Chiefs.

Both Denver and Kansas City have made strong plays in the free-agent market, while the Raiders and Chargers are looking for some bargains because of salary-cap restraints.

Some thoughts I have regarding the AFC West after this signing:

Great passing-game battle twice a year: The Smith signing gives the Chiefs a cornerback trio of Brandon Flowers, Dunta Robinson and Smith. Robinson, signed Friday, will likely play a lot of nickel and could play safety in some situations.

I asked Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. if this is the best trio of cornerbacks in the NFL. This is what he had to say: “What stands out right away is just how physical these three are. Flowers certainly can mix it up versus the run or pass. Smith is gigantic and can really bang receivers around in press and through the route. Robinson is a big hitter who is quick to insert in the run game and throw his body around. I see Robinson in somewhat of a Charles Woodson cornerback/safety hybrid -- and he could do that very well. I wouldn’t say that overall this group has great speed, but it is tough to come up with another cornerback threesome that is their equal off the top of my head.”

Of course, the Chiefs finalized this group after Denver sealed what is likely the NFL’s best receiving group when it added slot star Wes Welker to its already effective duo of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.

So the NFL’s best receiving trio will face perhaps the league’s best group of cornerbacks twice a season. How fun is that going to be?

Don’t call it a dream team: Detractors are comparing the Chiefs’ offseason to the “dream team” new Kansas City coach Andy Reid assembled two years ago in Philadelphia. The Eagles spent wildly and it didn’t work. This is different: None of these deals is out of whack. The Chiefs are spending smart and building a roster -- doing it the right way.

Raiders can get a solid cornerback: The Raiders were the last team to drop out of the Smith sweepstakes before the Chiefs signed him. There are still some good cornerbacks out there; Oakland’s pursuit of Smith shows that it is open to spending big on a cornerback despite other needs.

Smith connection in Kansas City: One of the reasons why Smith was attracted to Kansas City was the presence of former NFL player Al Harris on the Chiefs’ coaching staff. He was on the Dolphins’ staff last season with Smith.
Romeo Crennel might soon be back in the NFL.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the former Kansas City head coach might join New Orleans’ staff as defensive coordinator or in another role with the team. I was told recently that Crennel, 65, is still interested in coaching and would put off retirement if the right job comes up. Perhaps it will be in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs added former longtime NFL defensive back Al Harris to their staff as an assistant secondary coach. Harris played in Philadelphia for new coach Andy Reid, and he played in Green Bay with new Kansas City general manager John Dorsey.

The Chiefs also added Mark DeLeone as a quality control coach and kept assistant strength and conditioning coach Brent Salazar.

In other AFC West news:

The Raiders have filled their coaching staff with the hiring of longtime NFL assistant Bob Sanders as linebackers coach. He was Buffalo’s linebackers coach last season, and was Green Bay’s defensive coordinator from 2006-08. This hire gives Oakland’s staff more experience. This year’s staff, as a whole, is more experienced than last year’s staff.

Kansas City Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt told the Kansas City Star he wants to stay with the Chiefs. Like Oakland punter Shane Lechler, Colquitt is a free agent. Right now, the general consensus is Colquitt has a stronger chance of returning to his team than Lechler does.

GQ Magazine has a look at former Raiders’ defensive lineman Anthony Smith, who is accused of multiple murders.

The San Francisco Chronicle offers a transcript of a radio interview conducted by Oakland coach Dennis Allen.

Evening AFC West notes

November, 8, 2010
Once again, San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner defended special teams coach Steve Crosby. This time, according to the San Diego Union Tribune, Turner put blame on the players, not on their coach.

“You know, there are about five guys I’d let go before him, and that would be the five guys that have had mental errors and giving up blocked punts,” Turner said. “He’s not out there doing it. He gets them ready to play. I can put a tape on Friday of a guy doing it right, and then not doing it right on Sunday. That is not Steve Crosby. He does a great job getting these guys ready, and we’ve had some issues. It has been different guys. In two or three cases, it has been a guy that has been put into a new position because of an injury, and they haven’t handled it very well.”

If that is not a rousing endorsement of a coach I don’t know what is. San Diego has had special teams issues all season. Sunday, it essentially had its fifth punt of the season blocked. But it officially goes down as a deflection because it traveled 1 yard. Whatever. It was a blocked punt. There have been five other blocked punts in the entire NFL this season.

Turner vowed that the issue will be fixed between now and the Chargers’ next game, Nov. 22 against Denver.

“Over the next five (practices), we are going to fix the issues we have in the punting game,” he said. “We will not have another punt blocked for the rest of this season.”

Turner is usually not one for blustery talk, so for him to make this claim, he must believe it.
  • Meanwhile, San Diego no longer leads the NFL in total offense and total defense. It is still No. 1 in the NFL on offense, but it fell to No. 2 in total defense.
  • Green Bay parted ways with veteran cornerback Al Harris. He must go through waivers. The four AFC West teams are pretty set at cornerback. If I had a guess, I’d say his best chances of landing in the division are Oakland or San Diego as a backup, but I don’t feel very strongly about either landing spot.
  • Oakland offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s name has already surfaced on a list of potential hot coaching candidates. After the job he’s done in the past few weeks in Oakland, he deserves to be on the list.



Saturday, 12/20
Sunday, 12/21
Monday, 12/22