Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Weekend mail call:
Camron from Dover, DE: Through 2 games, it seems like Denver has gone away from their signature running game and gone to the air. DO you think this will continue as Cutler gains confidence?
BW: Mike Shanahan will always run the ball. But with all of his passing game talent, Shanahan has to be a pass-first offense. But again, the threat of the running game will help the Denver air game.
Matt from San Diego: Bill, I think the Chargers still have all the tools of a good D, but I'm a little worried that their injury/age/suspension concerns wreck their current scheme. Jamal Williams is getting old, Shawne Merriman is out for the season, and Matt Wilhelm and Derek Smith don't look like the Chargers' answer at ILB (though Cooper is a bit better, when he comes back... and gets up to speed). However, they have good depth along the d-line, even if they lack a clear successor on the nose (3-4 NTs are a rare breed). Does this portend a shift to the 4-3, or at least more 4-3 formations in the mix, over the course of the season? If not, what are they doing to account for the lost beef in the Merriman/Tucker equation and prep the DL for life after Williams?
BW: You hit all the problem areas, Matt. There are some league observers who are worried about Williams wearing down because of injury. The run defense starts with him. If he falters, the Chargers are going to be in trouble.
Patrick from Colorado Springs: Bill, The thing I have not seen discussed at all is the fact that just as the players on the field are human so are the officials. Players make penalties and mistakes all the time, but the officials are infallable? Why don't the Charger fans excoriate Cromartie for TWO personal fouls that assisted in Broncos points? There were 15 penalties, dropped passes,and interceptions by the players, while there were only two clear mistakes by the officials (the other being the non-reviewable interception). To err is human and there are 29 humans on the field for every play. Sometimes it is the official, but most often it is one of the players (don't you think Cutler wanted that interception back from the previous drive?) who "err." Just my 2 pennies. Patrick
BW: You make good points, Patrick. Human error will always play a part of all sports. Ed Hochuli made a mistake and it was a bad one. But it wasn't the only determining factor of the game.
Kansas City: What was the reasoning behind the Chiefs having the one of the lowest payrolls to go along with one of the youngest teams? Is Clark trying to bang a few bucks out of Kansas City or make them so bad he can move them?
BW: Youth and low payroll goes hand in hand in the NFL. The reason why the Chiefs' payroll is low is because they have so many younger players. Younger players make less money as a rule.
Big J from Sacramento: B-dub, I'm all for the youth movement in KC, but I'd like to see Clark Hunt come out like the Rams owner and let it be known that this type of play(Raiders week) is unacceptable. Is it me, or does it seems like Herm is not concerned about winning this year AT ALL?
BW: I think the Chiefs' brass understand how young this team is and Herman Edwards is safe. However, he does need to win some games. After losing 11 in a row, he does have to lead his team to at least a few wins this season or a change could happen simply because coaches who finish 1-15 or 2-14 rarely ever are retained.
Mark from Wilmington, DE: Bill, Fantastic job covering AFC West....As tensions mount in Oakland, any chances of Big Bad Al bringing in Dennis Green in any attempt to resurrect any chances of bringing Oakland back to the glory days?
BW: Thanks, sir. That's an interesting call. There have long been rumors that Al Davis could hire Green. And he is certainly available.
Eddie from Lawrence, KS: Bill - Do you think that if the Chargers had been able to stop the Broncos from scoring a touchdown that we would still be talking about the bad call by Hochuli? Also, for all the bellyaching the Chargers and their fans are doing, that call decided only one thing - that the Broncos kept the ball. They Chargers had just as much opportunity to win after that than they did to lose it.
BW: Had Denver, which had three offensive plays after the fumble call, not scored, the mistake would be an afterthought. Hochuli would have gotten downgraded by the NFL still, but there would be no media coverage and his good name would not have been dragged through the mud. Very good point, Eddie.
Mike from MD: Just curious if you know how the NFL determines when divisional rivals will play? The Broncos play the Chargers twice a year, except it seems like the Chargers visit Denver early in the year and the Broncos visit SD late. According to ESPN.com, Broncos home games since '02 have been Sept 14, Oct 7, Nov 19, Sep 18, Sep 26, Nov 16 and Oct 6. SD home games have been Dec 28, Dec 24, Dec 10, Dec 31, Dec 5, Sep 14, Dec 1. I find it curious that Denver hasn't had post-Thanksgiving Day home game vs the warm weather Bolts in a years. It seems like that type of thing should even out and SD should have to play a cold weather game in Denver around half the time.
BW: There really is no rhyme or reason to how the NFL schedules games. However, it does seem like the league likes to schedule rivalry games at the beginning and end of the season and on special games like Monday nighters and holiday games. Mike, I covered Denver the past four years. It got kind of old going to San Diego every December. Mixing in a September trip would have been nice once in a while.
Andrew from New York City: Hi Bill, I know its a long way away but who do you see the Chiefs going after in the off-season to play QB assuming Brodie Croyle isn't the answer. I'm thinking they may try for Brady Quinn but will Cleveland give him up and is he worth it? I don't see anyone emerging in the draft (at least as obvious as Matt Ryan was last year). What do you think? Also I know its a rebuilding year but are Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards on the hot seat if its another 4-12 year and seats are empty in Arrowhead.
BW: Did you see that there is a Web site urging the Chiefs to trade for Quinn. Funny stuff. Yes, I think Quinn could be an option if the team decides after this season that Croyle is too prone to injury to be the quarterback of the future.
Thanks and keep them coming.