One thing Scott Pioli was never able to bring to New England was a solid starter at the FS position. While the acquisition of Rodney Harrison bolstered the SS position for a while Tebucky Jones, Eugene Wilson, Antrell Hawkins, and James Sanders all played at a mediocre level at best next to him. Having guys like Asaunte Samuels and Randall Gay to cover up the lack of presence at FS definitely helps. Pioli missed on both Eugene Wilson and Brandon Merriweather (although he's showing promise at SS he was originally drafted to play FS) in early rounds of the draft in New England lucky for Pioli he walked into a pretty ideal situation in Kansas City with Jarrad Page the ball hawking former 7th round pick. If Herm Edwards deserves credit for anything it would be recognizing talent for the secondary in later rounds. Page was one of Herms first picks as the Chiefs head coach and there is plenty of reason to believe Herm will be in his ESPN desk this season watching his product play at a pro bowl level.
Nicknamed "The Raider Killer" the Oakland native has shown a keen eye for dismantling key drives against our most hated rival. Beyond that Page has been nothing short of spectacular in the secondary. His four interceptions last season is good for 13th in the league amongst all players and 5th amongst FS in the league. Which Brings us to case one.
An Improved Front Seven
Note that Page had a stellar season in 08 despite being on the wrong end of the turf that fielded the leagues all time worse sack defense every week. Heck if you go back to game tape of 08 QB's practically felt no pressure at all, you'd be hard pressed to find a game where the QB was at least forced out of the pocket more than five times.
This is where Pioli comes in to save the day. The 3-4 is the flavor of the month as far as defenses go. It's a confusing defense designed to crush the pocket, see KaloPhoenix's post for elaboration; While it's pretty obvious I disagree with his stance on our transitioning to the 3-4 the information is accurate. To fill the holes Pioli went defense in the draft early. It's funny how the Chiefs are getting dissenting draft reviews after spending two of their top three picks on on DE's following the most dismal sack season posted by a defense in NFL history.
We have the obvious 3-4 personnel in our front seven in Mike Vrabel, Zach Thomas, and Tyson Jackson. But seeing as that's only three of seven we have a lot of front seven personnel in transition for the new 3-4. Word out of camp is that Tamba Hali is working hard and is a lot further ahead than expected.We haven't seen Glenn Dorsey line up across of Tyson Jackson yet but if he fits his resume at all Dorsey should make some noise playing at DE. Tank Tyler is moving back to his college position and the most important part of the 3-4 equation, NT and it seems no news is good news out of Chiefs camp seeing as there hasn't been full contact drills and the 3-4 NT doesn't exactly make headlines on defense. As far as depth goes Pioli did a pretty good job, players such as Alex Magee, Monty Beisel, Demorrio Williams, and Turk McBride should suffice in the injury or failed transition of any of the above listed. With guys like Vonnie Holliday, Travis LaBoy, and Marcus Washington on the market we could scrape by until next off season.
With more pressure on opposing QB's and newly acquired Tyson Jackson's keen ability to tip or knock down passes expect more arid or tipped balls headed in Page's direction consequently expect to see Page's interception count to make a big leap in 09'. With a sured up front seven our secondary will have a lot less pressure on them not like they couldn't handle it though.
The Strongest Aspect of Our Defense Heading Into 09' is Page's Territory
It's no secret (among KC fans) that KC's secondary is good scraping greatness. Brandon Flowers excelled against top level talent last season as the starter and Brandon Carr surprised all the draft pundits that called him a reach in the 5th by solidifying the spot opposite of Flowers. Maurice Leggett a mid-season free agent acquisition won the KC rookie of the year award for his big play ability, talents that we are hearing a lot of out of Kansas City's off season program. Bernard Pollard, known for his big hit capability has to be reminding Pioli of Rodney Harrison and I'd assume Clancy Pendergast will use him in a similar role. On top of all of the talent returning we have solid depth coming off season acquisitions in Donald Washington and Travis Daniels and returning talents like DaJuan Morgan. The strength of our cornerbacking core is short range zone coverage. Hopefully a solid secondary and a recovering front seven will result in a lot of third and longs. If Mike Brown is brought in as a situational player as many speculate a QB will have a hard time deciding which poison to pick when passing.
All signs point to a killer season for one our favorite success stories and I'm hoping Page continues to improve on his vast potential. Don't be surprised to see Page jump into the top three among FS's in picks but get cut short of a pro bowl seat in favor of some big name like Renaldo Hill or Michael Griffin.