The news cycle about the Kansas City Chiefs is interesting at times. Early in training camp it was Dwayne Bowe's fast start, then it was Dexter McCluster's quickness, then Brandon Carr's struggles and the third quarterback battle.
Now we sit at Tyson Jackson and Wallace Gilberry. Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said this week that Jackson and Gilberry are in an open competition for a starting job. That alone shouldn't have surprised a lot of folks because Haley always says that about nearly every position (except quarterback this year).
But this week in practice the Chiefs have also put Gilberry on the first team at times. That's something we haven't seen before.
Maybe it's a motivational move by Haley. Maybe Gilberry gives them the best chance. Whatever it is, it could result in some big movement along the defensive line. With the Chiefs investment in Jackson, they had to be banking on him becoming a long-term starter.
Now, Haley doesn't (or shouldn't) worry about a lot of the money. That's where GM Scott Pioli comes in. He's the one who negotiates contracts and determine the dollar amount each player is worth to them.
Pioli talked on 810 WHB's The Program on Wednesday about both Jackson and Gilberry. While he didn't address their position battle specifically, he was asked about his thoughts on each player and I found them both interesting.
On Tyson Jackson:
"Yes he is [improving]. What the evaluation is and what we're looking for, what the expectations are and playing within this defense. Not only from a production standpoint, but a big part of that position is playing the scheme and playing things right. Sometimes at his position, their production level and stats don't add up to what the fans want to see on a fantasy football stat sheet, but if they're doing their job, it allows other players to do their jobs and make the tackles.
"Sometimes it's a job that's unsung. Unless you're paying attention to the player's technique, occupying blockers and whether he's doing it the right way. There has been improvement. It's going to get better. We're confident. It will be just like the jump from Glenn Dorsey last year and we're seeing another good jump from him this preseason."
On Wallace Gilberry:
"I think he can have an important role on this football team. He's a guy that really tries to play the techniques well. For a guy who's undersized, playing two-gap defensive line, is a difficult thing. However, he has picked up the techniques. His hand use, his ability to release from things and his hustle have really helped him.
"He's similar to players I've been around in the past, like Anthony Pleasant, our defensive line coach. I don't think Anthony was over 280 pounds in 14 years in the NFL. Bobby Hamilton is another player who played this specific defense and I don't think Bobby was ever over 275. But what they had was good leverage, they had good technique, hand use and they were savvy and smart enough to know when to disengage from blocks and how to disengage from blocks. I think Wallace has a lot of those skills that are continuing to get better. He's a hard worker."
I find it interesting that when asked about Jackson, Pioli goes off onto how difficult it is to evaluate someone and didn't address Jackson specifically. But with Gilberry he was willing to dive right in and talk specifically about some of Gilberry's strengths.