AFC West: Ricky Stanzi

Gud Bradley, Andy ReidAP PhotoGus Bradley and Andy Reid are looking to get off to fast starts with their new teams.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Fans know a lot about their favorite teams, but they don’t have the same depth of knowledge of the 31 other teams in the NFL. That’s not going to be a problem any longer.

Each week the NFL Nation writers will team up Q&A style to help you get a handle on each team. Today, Kansas City Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Jacksonville Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco help break down Sunday’s matchup.

Michael DiRocco: Is Alex Smith really an upgrade over Matt Cassel?

Adam Teicher: He had better be or the Chiefs are in some trouble. Cassel and Brady Quinn turned over the ball far too many times last season. One thing we know about Smith is that he hasn’t thrown many interceptions. He threw just 10 in his last 25 starts with the 49ers. So he’s been a quarterback who protects the ball, and if he can just do that, he’s already an upgrade over Cassel and Quinn. Another thing: Andy Reid’s West Coast offense will succeed if the quarterback completes a high percentage of throws. Smith completed 70 percent last season. If he can get close to that number this season, he’s even more of an upgrade.

Teicher: How patient will the Jaguars be with Blaine Gabbert on Sunday and this season?

DiRocco: This is a make-or-break season for Gabbert, who must prove he’s capable of being a franchise quarterback. That’s the team’s No. 1 goal for the season, so there will be a certain amount of patience. It does no good to give him a half or one game and yank him because the team will essentially be where it was heading into the season. That being said, if Gabbert really struggles during the first two months of the season, then the team will have its answer and may turn to Chad Henne or the recently signed Ricky Stanzi for the remainder of the season.

DiRocco: What’s the biggest change Andy Reid has brought to Kansas City?

Teicher: It’s a change brought by Reid and John Dorsey, the new general manager. Everybody seems to be pulling in the same direction. The Chiefs went through plenty of infighting the past few years and it was dragging them down. People often had their own agendas or felt they had to align themselves with one person or another. Dorsey and Reid swept that out the door. Winning looks to be the only goal and it certainly appears everybody is on board with that. Of course, it’s easy for a new administration to have everybody on board when it’s undefeated. So it’s an issue to keep an eye on once the Chiefs start losing some games.

Teicher: What are the biggest changes Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell have brought to the Jags?

DiRocco: On the field, it’s on defense, where Bradley is implementing a more aggressive attitude and trying to rebuild the secondary with bigger, more physical cornerbacks -- essentially what he did in Seattle. Off the field, Bradley and Caldwell have changed the culture in the locker room. There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm around the franchise even though everyone knows that the talent level needs a significant upgrade and the team likely isn’t going to reach .500. It was a much-needed boost, because the atmosphere around the team the past few seasons under Jack Del Rio and Mike Mularkey had become somewhat stale.

DiRocco: Some NFL experts have pegged the Chiefs as a playoff team just one season after finishing 2-14. What are a few things that have to happen for that to become a reality?

Teicher: They have many good players, but from the GM to the coach to the coordinators to the offensive and defensive system to the quarterback to 29 other players who didn’t play for the Chiefs last season, there’s a lot new here. How quickly Reid and his staff can pull everything together will be a key. The Chiefs have a favorable schedule the first half of the season and they need to take advantage because it gets more difficult after that. On the field, the Chiefs have to fix a turnover differential that was minus-24 last season. Their defense and special teams have to do a better job of providing better field position for the offense. This offense won’t make a lot of big plays, and if it has to go 80 yards on every possession, it will be a struggle.

Teicher: What are realistic expectations for the Jags this season in terms of number of wins?

DiRocco: I kind of let that slip in my earlier answer, but a six-win season would be the best-case scenario for the Jaguars. Four or five victories seems more likely, though, especially considering the team has back-to-back road games on the West Coast, plays San Francisco in London, and has to play at Denver, Indianapolis and Houston.

It appears Tyler Bray will be the Kansas City Chiefs' third-string quarterback.

The team cut third-year quarterback Ricky Stanzi. Thus, Bray, an undrafted rookie from Tennessee, will be the No. 3 quarterback behind starter Alex Smith and backup Chase Daniel.

This was the expected outcome. The Chiefs are extremely high on Bray and he was brought in by this new regime. While he has an extremely strong arm, Bray’s game needs to grow from a mental standpoint. The team thinks he can learn from Smith and Daniel.

Because there is such a dearth of quarterback talent, I’d think Stanzi, who was a fifth-round pick in 2011, will get other opportunities.

Below is the list of the Chiefs’ other cuts Sunday:

Player, Pos. Ht. Wt. College

Vince Agnew, CB 5-10 196 Central Michigan

Miguel Chavis, DE 6-5 285 Clemson

Terrance Copper, WR 6-0 207 East Carolina

Ryan Durand, OL 6-5 301 Syracuse

Hutch Eckerson, OL 6-6 310 South Carolina

Otha Foster, III DB 6-0 204 West Alabama

A.J. Hawkins, OL 6-1 310 Mississippi

Rob Lohr, DE 6-4 290 Vanderbilt

Kamaal McIlwain, CB 5-10 175 Newberry College

Jordan Roberts, RB 5-10 222 Charleston (W. Va.)

Tyler Shoemaker, WR 6-1 213 Boise State

Ricky Stanzi, QB 6-4 228 Iowa

Neiko Thorpe, DB 6-2 185 Auburn

Braden Wilson, FB 6-4 256 Kansas State

Chiefs have work to do on offense

August, 17, 2013
Random thoughts from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 15-13 home loss against San Francisco on Friday night:

The Chiefs experienced adversity for the first time this summer. The first-team offense wasn’t very good. Facing his former team, new Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith played the first half (including some against San Francisco’s second unit) and struggled. He completed 7 of 16 passes for 62 yards.

Smith was good last week in New Orleans and he has had a strong training camp. To pin his woes against San Francisco all on him would be misleading. He was under constant pressure. He was sacked three times. Kansas City’s offensive line is beat up a bit, but more is expected from it and it will be focal point of practice next week. Smith was also the victim of some drops. Plus, the team was playing without star running back Jamaal Charles, who has a mild foot strain. He will be back for the regular season.

Still, the Chiefs have to dig deep and work on the offense as the preseason rolls on. Otherwise, it was a good night for the Chiefs. The special teams were unbelievably good and the defense was solid.

New special-teams coach Dave Toub came over from Chicago with a sterling reputation. He is building upon it.

The return game was great last week and terrific against the 49ers. Quintin Demps had a 104-yard kickoff return for a score and Devon Wylie had a 52-yard return. The Chiefs also had a blocked extra point. That type of dominance on special teams could win a lot of games.

Defensively, the Chiefs had four sacks. Young starters Justin Houston and Dontari Poe looked good in limited roles.

Receiver Jon Baldwin, the team’s 2011 first-round pick, continued to struggle. He had a drop and looked lost. You have to wonder if the light is ever going to come on for him.

Rookie running back Knile Davis, who started for Charles, had his moments as he had 37 yards on 10 carries. He looks like he is ready to contribute.

It seems like Tyler Bray is moving away from Ricky Stanzi for the No. 3 quarterback job. Stanzi did not play. Backup quarterback Chase Daniel was terrific as he completed all six of his pass attempts.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The biggest knock on Tyler Bray when he entered the NFL out of Tennessee was questions about his preparation and playbook study.

It is a primary reason why the strong-armed Bray went undrafted and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent.

However, preparation may no longer be an issue for Bray. Kansas City coach Andy Reid credits those around Bray for helping bring him a long.

“We have a very smart quarterback room,” Reid said Tuesday. “Alex Smith sees everything at the line of scrimmage and he is a very smart quarterback. So are Chase (Daniel) and Ricky Stanzi. They are smart guys. It is unbelievable how far Tyler has come along working with those guys.”

Bray has looked good in training camp and he is currently leading Stanzi in the race to be the No. 3 quarterback. Unless he totally bombs in the rest of the preseason, it would be an upset if Bray doesn’t stay on the 53-man roster because of his long-term potential.

Credit goes to him for challenging himself and working on the mental side of the game since joining the Chiefs.
Manti Te'o's march to be in an instant NFL starter has taken a slight detour.

San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy said Saturday the middle linebacker will not practice for the next week -- and not play at Chicago on Thursday night -- because of a sprained foot. Te’o was hurt Thursday night against Seattle. He was in a walking boot Saturday.

The injury is not considered serious. It is important that Te’o, a second-round pick, recovers and gets back on the field to play in the Chargers’ third preseason game, Aug. 24 at Arizona. The third preseason game is the game where starters play the most. Te’o started against Seattle and is expected to start the season opener, Sept. 9 against Houston.

In other AFC West notes:
  • Kansas City coach Andy Reid said No. 1 overall pick, right tackle Eric Fisher, will practice Sunday. He suffered a minor hand injury at New Orleans on Friday.
  • Reid said Tyler Bray will remain the No. 3 quarterback in the Chiefs' second preseason game. Ricky Stanzi will remain the No. 4 quarterback. It is another sign that bray is leading the race.
  • Max Starks rotated with King Dunlap at left tackle in San Diego on Saturday. Dunlap is still the favorite based on him having a better camp.
  • Undrafted rookie running back Michael Hill was working with the Chargers' second team Saturday for this first time. Danny Woodhead is the main backup when healthy.

Alex Smith shines for Chiefs

August, 10, 2013
Random thoughts about the Chiefs’ 17-13 loss Friday night at New Orleans:

The game was a success in Andy Reid’s first work with his new team. The Chiefs led a good team on the road, 10-0, after the first quarter. That’s impressive.

The Chiefs will be fine if they get good quarterback play. In his first game as a Chief, Alex Smith was terrific. He completed 7-of-8 passes for 68 yards on a 14-play, 80-yard opening drive that netted a touchdown. The Chiefs had big trouble scoring on their opening drive of games last season. It’s a big reason why there was change at coach and at quarterback.

Smith looked completely comfortable working in Reid’s offense. It’s just one game, but it’s a good sign.

Reid loves to get his running backs active in the passing game. That was evident as star Jamaal Charles caught three passes for 27 yards. That will be a big part of the Chiefs’ offense.

Right tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall draft pick, had a scare with a hand injury. But it is not considered serious.

The Chiefs had success in the return game. Rookie Knile Davis had a kickoff return for 79 yards. Dexter McCluster had a 55-yard punt return and Devon Wylie added a 31-yard kickoff return and a 22-yard punt return. That’s a dynamic group.

The race for the No. 3 quarterback job between undrafted rookie Tyler Bray and third-year veteran Ricky Stanzi didn’t change much. Both players were just so-so. The competition will likely continue for the rest of the preseason with Bray being the favorite.
The Tyler Bray-Ricky Stanzi battle to be the No. 3 quarterback in Kansas City is far from over.

The final determination will be made based on performance in the four preseason games. However, we clearly have an early favorite: the rookie Bray.

The Kansas City Star reported that Bray will play before Stanzi late in Friday’s preseason opener in New Orleans. Bray will play in the third quarter and Stanzi will work the final quarter.

It is significant because it means the Kansas City brass thinks Bray, an erratic, but strong-armed undrafted free agent from Tennessee, has done enough to play ahead of Stanzi, a third-year player with little experience.

There were early reports that new Kansas City coach Andy Reid was higher on Stanzi because he grasped Reid’s system so well. However, I think Bray will win this job barring a complete meltdown in the preseason because of this: He has the potential to start someday. Stanzi likely does not. Thus, there is little chance Bray will be exposed for other teams if the Chiefs like him coming out of camp.

In other AFC West notes:

San Diego receiver Vincent Brown is back practicing after missing a week with a hamstring injury. Brown is expected to be a vital part of the Chargers’ offense after missing all of last season with a broken ankle.

San Diego running back Danny Woodhead is missing his third straight day of practice.

San Diego defensive back Marcus Gilchrist also may have trouble playing Thursday night against Seattle because of a hamstring issue.

Will Eric Fisher sign next?

June, 23, 2013
The framework is set for Eric Fisher to officially become a Kansas City Chief.

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed tackle Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall NFL draft pick. Fisher, a tackle from Central Michigan, was the No. 1 overall pick.

With Joeckel signed, the Chiefs and Fisher have nothing to wait for in the negotiations. Joeckel signed a four-year deal worth $21.2 million with a signing bonus of $13.799 million. There is no offset language and all the money is guaranteed.

With the rookie contracts slotted, Fisher and the Chiefs should be able to easily come to an accord soon. There are only five rookies who are unsigned in the AFC West.

Meanwhile, free-agent linebacker Desmond Bishop is reportedly going to choose between the Chiefs, Vikings and Giants. Bishop visited the Chiefs on Thursday. He also visited Minnesota since being cut by the Packers on Monday.

Here is some word that third-year quarterback Ricky Stanzi may have the edge to make the Chiefs' roster over undrafted free agent Tyler Bray. I think this competition will be played out in the preseason and if Stanzi wins the job, I could see the Chiefs trying to keep Bray on the practice squad. He is an interesting prospect.
Second-year Kansas City offensive lineman Jeff Allen is showing his versatility.

The Kansas City Star reported that Allen worked with the first unit at center for a few plays during Wednesday's organized team activities (OTAs). Allen worked with the first unit at tackle earlier this offseason when Branden Albert was away.

Allen, a second-round pick in 2012, started the final 13 games last season at left guard. He is expected to compete with free-agent addition Geoff Schwartz there this season. Allen has a bright future, and the more versatility he can show, the more valuable he can be to the team.

In other Chiefs OTA notes:

Undrafted free-agent quarterback Tyler Bray continued to get most of the third-string snaps over third-year quarterback Ricky Stanzi. Bray was expected to be a mid-to-late-round pick in April's draft. He has big ability but needs to refine his game. Unless he completely falls apart in training camp, it would be a surprise if Kansas City keeps Stanzi over Bray.

Pistol offense consultant Chris Ault is working with the team this week. He will be with the Chiefs periodically to help both the offense and the defense adjust to the scheme.
Mid-week mail call:

Rick Johnson from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., wants to know why quarterback Ricky Stanzi may be on the outs in Kansas City.

Bill Williamson: He was a low-round pick of the previous regime. He hasn’t shown much in two years in the program and the new regime is looking for its own young quarterback to develop. The Chiefs signed the intriguing Tyler Bray out of Tennessee as an undrafted free agent. I expect Andy Reid and his staff to try to develop Bray. If Stanzi impresses, he has a chance, but I think Bray has the edge to stick around over Stanzi.

Rick Cole from Kansas City wants to know how long I think Peyton Manning will play in Denver.

BW: I think we should start with two more years and see how it goes. Manning is 37. He has four more years remaining on his contract.I expect him to play at a high level for another two years. I bet the situation is re-evaluated after the 2014 season. If Manning is still playing at a high level and he feels good, I could see him returning in 2015.

Ibetonart from Oakland wants to know if the Raiders could ever trade Terrelle Pryor to Philadelphia.

BW: Well, I think that wouldn’t happen until 2014. Pryor seems to fit Chip Kelly’s offense and Kelly did try to recruit him to Oregon several years ago. But Kelly is loaded at quarterback. I would think if Kelly doesn’t have his answer at the position next year and Pryor is not in Oakland’s plans, perhaps the idea could be broached.

Chiefs cut YouTube star QB

May, 2, 2013
Alex Tanney may be able to hit a moving truck from his living room, but he won’t be connecting with receivers at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs cut four players including the quarterback. Tanney was on injured reserve last year after being signed as an undrafted free agent. He was never considered a NFL top prospect. Tanney, though, was a national curiosity because of a YouTube video that created a star. Tanney is a trick-shot artist and the video showed him making several incredible passes.

But that doesn’t mean anything in the NFL world.

With Tanney gone, former fifth-round pick, Ricky Stanzi, may be next on the chopping block. The Chiefs have four quarterbacks on the roster; Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Stanzi and undrafted free agent Tyler Bray. If Bray performs well in training camp, he is expected to be the No. 3 quarterback.

The Chiefs also cut fullback Patrick DiMarco, offensive lineman Bryan Mattison and linebacker Cory Greenwood.

In another AFC West note:

In an Insider piece, Chris Sprow thinks Insider Oakland and Kansas City could be in the market for a top quarterback in the draft. I’d add the Chargers to that list if Philip Rivers has a bad year.
I like the Kansas City Chiefs’ move to get Chase Daniel to be their backup quarterback.

With the Alex Smith trade official, the Chiefs are in much better shape at quarterback than they were a year ago. Smith and Daniel are big upgrades over Matt Cassel (who should be cut any time now) and Brady Quinn. Ricky Stanzi is currently still the No. 3 quarterback in Kansas City.

Daniel -- a former star at Missouri -- like Smith, is a good fit for Andy Reid’s West Coast offense. Daniel was sought after in free agency and I consider it a coup for the Chiefs to get him.

The Chiefs probably don’t need to address the quarterback position in the draft this year, at least not in the high rounds. I’m not saying the Smith-Daniel combination will solve the Chiefs’ quarterback issues for the next several years. But it is an upgrade at the most important position on the field.
» NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Welcome to Eight in the Box, an NFL Nation feature that will appear each Friday during the offseason. This week’s topic: How each AFC West team needs to address the quarterback position.

Denver: A year ago, the Broncos' brass was quietly putting together a plan to court Peyton Manning and rid itself of the albatross known as Tim Tebow. The plan worked perfectly. Manning agreed to join the Broncos on March 19, and Tebow was traded to the Jets two days later. It was the story of the 2012 NFL offseason. The Broncos will make no such dramatic quarterback headlines this year. They are set with Manning as their quarterback and second-year player Brock Osweiler as backup. The Broncos love Osweiler and think he will be ready to start when Manning retires in two or three years. Thus, the Broncos are set here.

Kansas City: The Chiefs’ quarterback situation was as murky as any in the NFL, but the issue has been solved. The team has agreed to trade for former San Francisco starter Alex Smith. The Chiefs targeted Smith, and I think it was a smart move. First, he fits the team’s West Coast system, and he is game manager who doesn’t turn the ball over. He should fit with this roster and give the Chiefs a chance to improve. Also, Smith was the best option in a bad year to pick up a quarterback. Smith is far from great, but he is more than serviceable. The Chiefs could do a lot worse. Perhaps backups Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi could be brought back, but there will be a new starter in Smith as Andy Reid begins his Kansas City tenure.

Oakland: The Raiders plan to go to training camp with Carson Palmer as the starter. Third-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor will be given a chance to be the backup; Oakland will be looking closely to gauge whether he is ready to push Palmer. The Raiders say it will be a competition, but coach Dennis Allen has said that Palmer will go to camp as the starter. The Raiders liked Pryor’s poise and command in a Week 17 start in place of an injured Palmer but still think Pryor is raw. Still, Palmer is 33 and not getting better, so Pryor will get his chance at some point. But for now -- assuming he restructures his contract from its current $13 million-plus salary-cap number -- Palmer is the starter.

San Diego: The focus here is making Philip Rivers a top-level quarterback again. Both new coach Mike McCoy and new general manager Tom Telesco said the presence of Rivers was a major selling point for their respective jobs with the Chargers. Rivers, 31, has been subpar the past two seasons -- though he has lost a lot of weapons and his offensive line has been a shambles. The Chargers believe Rivers will be fine if they build around him. That will be the focal point of the offseason. Charlie Whitehurst, a favorite of the previous regime, was Rivers’ backup last season. It remains to be seen how this brass feels about Whitehurst. I wouldn’t be shocked if San Diego looks for another backup in someone like Matt Moore (who was in Carolina with McCoy) or in the form of a developmental quarterback in the draft.

Once again, the Kansas City Chiefs have opted against going for a homegrown quarterback.

The team agreed Wednesday to trade for San Francisco’s Alex Smith in a deal that cost the Chiefs the No. 34 overall pick this year and a conditional midround pick in 2014.

For the foreseeable future, the Chiefs are choosing to go with a veteran quarterback as their starter. Smith will be 29 in May. The trade for Smith means the Chiefs will not use the No. 1 pick on a quarterback. There was a thought Kansas City would use its second-round pick on a quarterback in a class that is considered pretty weak. Now, that option is gone.

Thus, it appears a long streak will move forward. The last time the Chiefs won a game quarterbacked by a player the team drafted was in 1987 when 1983 first-round pick Todd Blackledge led the team. It is the longest such streak in the NFL. The Chiefs have since drafted 10 quarterbacks who have failed to win a game -- the last being 2011 fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi, who is currently the No. 3 quarterback.

Smith will likely be the Chiefs' quarterback for three years or so, and the Chiefs will likely grab a quarterback in the draft in the next few years.

It is not out of the question that Kansas City drafts a quarterback this year. The Chiefs could trade down from the No. 1 pick and acquire a second-round pick or take a quarterback in the third round.

But for now, the emphasis in Kansas City continues to be on veteran quarterbacks.
Standout Denver guard Chris Kuper and returner Trindon Holliday did not practice for the Broncos on Wednesday as the team prepares to play Kansas City this weekend with the possibility of a first-round bye at stake.

Kuper has missed the past three games with an ankle injury. Holliday suffered an ankle injury in Week 16. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos try to get by this week with those two players on the bench in an attempt to get them completely healed for the playoffs.

In other AFC West news:
  • The Chargers made some more late-season roster moves. Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin (knee) and safety Brandon Taylor (knee) were put on injured reserve with one game to go. Franklin had a nice first season in San Diego. Taylor, a promising rookie, tore his ACL against the Jets. Cornerback Greg Gatson and safety Sean Cattouse were promoted from the practice squad to take their roster spots.
  • Defensive lineman Richard Seymour (hamstring), guard Mike Brisiel (concussion) and safety Tyvon Branch (foot) were among the Oakland players who didn’t practice Wednesday. Seymour has missed the past several games and there is no reason to believe he’ll play Sunday at San Diego unless he dramatically improves. Seymour is a free agent and he is not expected to return.
  • UPDATE: The Raiders indicated that Brisiel was limited in practice.
  • As expected, Brady Quinn will start against Denver. Ricky Stanzi was the third quarterback behind Quinn and Matt Cassel at practice Wednesday. Stanzi, a fifth-round pick in 2011, clearly has no support from the franchise or he’d get a chance to play Sunday. I’d say his chances of having a future in Kansas City are nil regardless of who is running the team in the future.
  • The Chiefs are being hit by the flu bug. Running back Jamaal Charles, linebacker Tamba Hali and tackle Donald Stephenson did not practice Wednesday because they are ill. Defensive end Tyson Jackson (toe) and tight end Tony Moeaki (head) also were among the Kansas City players who didn’t practice.