In 2008, Tamba Hali will finally have the chance to emerge from the spotlight and attention of Jared Allen and be one of the featured Kansas City Chief defensive players. Entering his third season, Hali needs to show he can play at a much more effective level. If he doesn't, he runs a real risk of losing the faith of the coaching staff and the fan base. In my opinion, he's performed at about expectations in his first two seasons for the first round investment the Kansas City Chiefs made in him. I feel like I'm still waiting for Tamba Hali to arrive, if you will. He hasn't dominated a game in his career in my not-so-good recent memory.
I feel like, sure, the guy is pretty good. But great? Nah, not yet anyway. Honestly, Hali would be so lucky to even to even conceive of a season like Jared Allen had last year. I don't know. I'm rambling here but I feel like you can find my point in there somewhere.
There are a few things in Hali's favor this year, or they could just as easily not be in his favor if you so choose to view it like that.
First, the absence of Jared Allen allows Hali to take over that right defensive end spot, which rushes at the blind side of the quarterback. Naturally, the quarterback's inability to see the pass rush plays into the hands of the defensive end.
Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said, "It’s easier when you come from the right side to do that like Derrick Thomas did it and Jared Allen did it. They were coming from the quarterback’s blind side. When you come from the other side like Tamba’s been doing it, you’re right in the quarterback’s vision. That’s going to help him."
Also, you could just as easily argue that the extra attention Jared Allen inevitably drew last year led to fewer blockers to tend to Hali. Now, Hali becomes the #1 defensive end. Glenn Dorsey's presence in the middle of the defensive line should help balance out that attention though.
Can someone please explain to me why there are like a dozen pictures of Tamba Hali with fans on either side of him, just like this one? He must be out and about quite a bit.
And, Tank Tyler and Turk McBride will be entering their second seasons, so you'd assume even a marginal improvement from the two of them. On the whole line, Hali will benefit just like everyone else from the addition of experience and talent. How much that benefit will translate into play on the field, that is to be seen.
Next, and this is an assumption, Hali should be completely healthy for the start of the season. Hopefully, he can end 2008 without any significant injuries. During his first two years in the league, he had a few vagues injuries. A hip injury in 2006 and a supposed foot problem in 2007. Both injuries could be described as nagging, seeing how Hali played through them. I imagine playing defense end, having to rely on your agility and quickness, would be much more difficult with a sore hip or a sore foot. Much more difficult.
So, there's a couple of things to discuss in there. I think Tamba Hali ends up with a double-digit sack count for the first time in his career. Ten, maybe eleven sacks feels about right.
Also, did we ever settle on a nickname for the guy? Liberian Nightmare? Did that catch on anywhere?