Quarterback already under focus for Reid in KC

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 09, 2013
(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.) By DAVE SKRETTA AP Sports Writer The Kansas City Chiefs haven't hired a general manager to make crucial personnel decisions. Andy Reid hasn't hired a single assistant coach. That hardly seemed to matter. The pressing concern, at least for those who attended Reid's introductory news conference Monday, was what the longtime Philadelphia Eagles coach plans to do at quarterback. The Chiefs' biggest area of need coincides with the most important position on the field. It's the biggest reason why the Chiefs went 2-14 last season, and why Reid was hired to replace Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs were looking for a new general manager. ''The quarterback position, I'm going to dig in and look at that and we'll build that thing,'' Reid said. ''We'll see how that works out, but I need to spend some time to look at that.'' Reid plans to start by analyzing the quarterbacks on last season's roster - Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi - though it likely will be discouraging. Cassel, who has two years left on a six-year, $63 million deal, dealt with a variety of injuries the past couple seasons, including a concussion this year. He was 1-7 as a starter before being benched in favor of Quinn, after throwing six touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. Quinn fared little better, throwing two touchdown passes and eight interceptions while also going 1-7 as a starter. Stanzi, a former fifth-round pick, was so poor during preseason that he never got on the field even when Cassel and Quinn struggled. Altogether, the Chiefs' quarterbacks directed an offense that was last in the NFL in scoring at 13.2 points per game, and failed to score an offensive touchdown six games. ''Clearly,'' Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said, ''better quarterback play is a priority in 2013.'' That's one of the reasons that Hunt targeted Reid to be the Chiefs' next coach. When he inherited the Eagles in 1999, they were coming off a 3-13 season in part because of their own shaky quarterback play. His options at the time were Koy Detmer, Bobby Hoying and Rodney Peete - not a whole lot better than what the Chiefs had to work with this season. But the Eagles' poor record meant they had the No. 2 pick in that year's draft, and rather than spend it on Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams or fellow running back Edgerrin James, Reid decided that the most important upgrade he could make would be at quarterback. So he weighed several who were available - Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown - before settling on Donovan McNabb, who was perhaps the least-regarded of them all. McNabb wound up going to six Pro Bowls, led the Eagles to the Super Bowl and is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in the franchise's history. The Chiefs don't have the No. 2 pick in the draft, of course. They'll be picking No. 1. That doesn't mean that Reid will spend it on a quarterback, like he did that first season in Philadelphia. There is no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III this year. But there are still a handful of quarterbacks who have shown some talent despite weak arms, inaccuracy and other red flags that come with picking them with the most valuable choice in the draft. West Virginia's Geno Smith is widely considered the top quarterback available. Southern Cal's Matt Barkley has injury concerns, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib are garnering more attention, and North Carolina State's Mike Glennon has all the right physical tools. Only Reid knows whether one of them will be his guy. ''You have to make sure you do the right thing and pick the right guy, not necessarily the quarterback,'' Reid said. ''You don't want to force anything at that point. People who do that get in trouble. We'll sit there and we'll evaluate and we'll get it right, wherever we go.'' The Chiefs haven't selected a quarterback in the first round since 1983, when they picked Todd Blackledge with the seventh overall pick. And while players such as Joe Montana and Trent Green had good years for them, they haven't had a true franchise quarterback in decades. Maybe going all the way back to Hall of Famer Len Dawson in the 1960s and `70s. ''The first thing Andy's going to do is evaluate the talent on this football team and where they need help,'' Dawson said. ''That's the glaring one, because the quarterback is the one handling the ball all the time and he's the one who throws the interceptions and fumbles, and things of that nature. That's a very important part of the puzzle.'' Reid understood that long before the countless questions about quarterback were asked on Monday. He said that he'll pursue every avenue for upgrading the position, from the draft to free agency to making a trade with another team. Then he looked into the crowd during his introductory news conference and spotted Dawson sitting a few rows back from the stage. ''I need to find the next Len Dawson, doggone it,'' Reid said. ''It might be right here, but it might not. I need to dig in.''
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