Shorts = More Accessible. (Kevin Terrell - Getty Images)
Last week A.J. Smith continued his Accessibility Tour by going on the XTRA Sports 1360 AM's World Of Sports with Chris and Ben. You can listen to the interview via the radio stations podcenter by clicking here. The content was interesting even after hearing some similar questions answered in a previous interview. A.J. delves more into the details of free agency and finally reveals the defensive stat that eats at him. Here's a recap of what was discussed:
- Where's the team is at: Phase 1 of free agency done, moving onto Phase 2.
- Peyton Manning coming to the division: Bring your A game.
- Free Agency this year a departure from normal: No. Different because this was the "Biggest, best and deepest" free agent class due to the 1 year contracts that came with labor dispute. Also, players happened to accept their offers. Robert Meachem was working with Buffalo on a deal, but signed with San Diego. Worried about Royal reuniting with Mike Shanahan in Washington, but accepted the Chargers' offer (later he mentions that Royal went to Virginia Tech and has family in that area near the capitol, but didn't like the rookie QB situation).
- Robert Meachem details: Talks about how agents like to use team visits to create a panic mode in the market. The Chargers research said that Meachem wouldn't sign with Buffalo, so they stayed alive in talks even during his visit there and he ended up signing. He's not big on trips. Their strategy is to present the contract and sell on the role and situation.
- Pierre Garcon: Was another consideration along with Meachem, wanted one of the two. Garcon was gone quickly, so they focused on Meachem.
- Running Backs: Would have loved to have Mike Tolbert back, but he mentions that Tolbert wanted to be closer to home. They have 4 running backs they are looking at, but they are going to be patient with it. McClain is supposed to be the fullback, but if the situation calls for it he could carry the ball.
- Jarret Johnson: Started targeting him back in the fall. Known as a run defender, but "he can set an edge" and is a "mean, nasty guy". He's not a speed pass rusher, but he can "bring the heat". He's a compliment to some speed pass rushers. He thinks Johnson will be a fan favorite.
- Targets for the draft: "I wouldn't assume anything" was his response when asked if they would target defense. They will take the best football player either on offense or defense.
- Top priorities: Looking for depth. "I've said this a million times. Until we fix our defense and have a dominating, dictating defense, which we've failed to do on a consistent basis over the years, we're not gonna win any world championship." Working on this. Could come through the draft, or free agency or cuts by other teams. The thing they need to fix is 3rd downs. They were worst in the league in that category and it needs to be addressed.
- Charlie Whitehurst and Billy Volek: Lucky to have all 3 at one point. With Whitehurst, Seattle "basically gave me an offer we couldn't refuse." Really believe in Whitehurst "in our system, for us."
- Biggest hole that's been created: "The one that made me nervous was Vincent Jackson". Calls him a great football player, with work ethic, "a great kid". Couldn't come to a "value agreement" with his two agents, who he mentions by name. Wished he would have returned, but when he didn't they had to react and "we did that".
- Meachem a #1 WR: Likes him as a #1 as well as Malcom Floyd. Sees the wide receiver corp as a package deal with Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal as well.
A.J also asked Chris and Ben what they think of the division. Chris thinks the Chiefs are the team to catch. A.J. asked them to rank the division. Chris: KC, San Diego, Denver, Oakland. Ben: (after talking up KC and stroking A.J's ego) Says that you can throw a blanket over the division. Win the games in the division and you're in, otherwise it'll be the Chiefs or Broncos.