From the FanPosts. -Chris
Back on February 7th I made a post titled "History Defines the Path"; in which I mentioned a possible follow-up piece still to come. Now that we are part way into the offseason and the draft is less than a month away I think the timing is right to continue where I left off.
To start with, if you haven't read my previous post then you're likely to argue with the starting point of this post. As the previous post set up this starting point and i don't really want to spend any time replying to questions concerning the base of my pyramid please review if you don't remember the original post.
Here's the list of absolute needs for the future Chiefs:
I'm going to take these one at a time. I'll define what I think it will take to accomplish these goals, what positional spots the team has needs in to achieve the goal, what we have done so far in the off-season, and what we might want to look toward in the upcoming draft. As you may already know, I don't write short posts. Get your coffee brewed, or grab your laptop and head to the toilet for an extended session of AP reading.
And now it's time for the line of all stars we've come to refer to as 'the jump'.
These NEEDS are going to come in no particular order. The order I choose to address them has nothing to do with the level of importance that I believe they deserve. Nor does any statistical data I've gathered suggest that one is more important than the other. So let's get started:
- The Chiefs NEED to have a balanced offense
The offensive game plan is a puzzle. You have to choose plays that exploit the holes in the defense while at the same time staying true to your game plan instead of selling out on side of the offense. You have to balance the run and the pass. 3 yards and a cloud of dust offenses where you hardly ever pass the ball have not worked for the Chiefs in the past, and pass happy attacks that forget about the run game have not resulted in any more success. The key is to balance the 2 sides and complete the puzzle.
Balance of the offense means being able to do both things well. The Chiefs can't afford to put all their eggs in one basket. Adding 5 receivers without addressing the running back position is the wrong way to go, and focusing on the skill positions without building the line is the worst way to go. As a coach like Mike Shanahan (no matter how much you hate him) has proved year after year, you don't need big name running backs if you have a solid offensive line. You can also make a mediocre quarterback look like a potential star behind a brick wall of man flesh.
It's not flashy but it's the truth. Weather you want to run the ball or pass the ball it all starts with the O line. The O line is the biggest positional need to improve our balance over last season. In 2009 the Chiefs threw 536 passes and had 438 run attempts. They could do a better job of balance. Granted, they only caught 296 of the 536 passes that were thrown so it may not have looked 100+ plays lopsided, but it was. After the O Line the next biggest need is a RB to share the carries with Charles. After that comes a slot receiver that can run crisp routes and make catches in traffic to move the chains. And lastly would be a long range big receiver with speed that can stretch the field and go up and fight for the ball.
Here is a pic of the Chiefs 2006-2009 offensive line, size-adjusted to show their effectiveness. Behind them we see the defensive front 7.
So far this off season we've done a decent job of improving our ability to balance the offense. We've added a quality guard that I believe will end up playing RG, a C that were all familiar with to push Rudy for the job, a possible solution at slot receiver, resigned 2 WR's, and added a RB to share the load. I'm fairly happy with all these additions. Moving forward into the draft I'd be looking to add (in order of what I think is important):
RT, LG, WR, C, TE, RB, LT (go ahead uptman, boo me for thinking LT is still the strongest position on our line. I can take it)
In 2009 the Chiefs defense gave up 2504 yards on the ground. That's a full 700 yards more than we've ever given up in a winning season. Say all you want about the NFL being a passing league, but that number is atrocious. Stopping the run requires playing hard nosed football at the point of attack. It's not nearly good enough to make the tackle 5 yards down the field. Sure, a CB or a S could come up and play the run or blitz, but that's the LAST line of defense against the run. Stopping the run starts with the front 7. In a 3-4 defense that means the NT and the ILB's for middle runs (where we gave up the most) and the DE's and the OLB's on outside runs.
The Chiefs have added a stop gap of a NT to the team so far in the off season. That's it! We have done nothing else to address the issue of stopping the run. In my view the positional needs to stop the run remain (in order): ILB, NT, OLB, S, ILB2, DE
I'm not going to spend a lot of time here.In 2009 the Chiefs ran for 1929 yards and allowed 2504 yards. I think we've covered everything already in the 2 previous categories. I'm just going to rank the positions of need in order as I see them to accomplish the goal of running for more yards that we allow others to run on us taking into account the off season moves we've already made.
RT, ILB, NT, S, LG, RB
Here we are again, right back to playing solid defense. In 2009 the Chiefs defense gave up 424 points while the offense managed to score 294. Is anyone seeing a trend yet? In order to hold opponents to <333 point per seaosn the Chiefs have gotto be able to defend the pass and the run. They can't give up the big plays over the top, and they cannot have a soft underbelly. The defense has to be able to stuff the run game and make tackles in the back field and also rush the passer and force bad decisions.
So far this off season the Chiefs have addressed this need by......ummm.......signing a stop gap NT. (Kinda makes you wanna cry doesn't it?)
Again, I'm going to list what I consider to be the biggest positional needs to hold opponents to under 333 points on the season. Keeping in mind that in 2009 we gave up 25 passing and 18 rushing TD's on defense. (We scored 18 passing and 8 rushing TD's ourselves).
OLB, S, ILB, NT, CB
- The Chiefs NEED to end with more sacks than they allow
In 2009 our Chiefs sacked the opponent's QB 22 times. That's a huge improvement over the 2008 10 sack year, but still ranks near the bottom of the NFL. By contrast, Cassel and Croyle were sacked a combined 45 times. Needless to say the Chiefs have a long long way to go in order to accomplish the NEED of tallying more sacks than we allow.
We all saw far too much of this:
And not nearly enough of this:
Fixing this lopsided statistic is going to require work on both sides of the ball. Our O line has got to get better at pass blocking, the TE's will have to do a better job in max protect, the RB is going to need to be able to pick off a rusher. The WR/Slot/TE/RB will all have to recognize when the QB is in trouble and break off into a hot route or make something happen to get open. And of course, on the defensive side, we've got to have push in the middle of the field to collapse the pocket in order to help out OLB's to do more than pressure the QB. The OLB/S are going to need to make things happen on blitzes, and the ILB has to step up his game and shoot the gaps on passing plays.
So what have we done so far in the off season to address all these problems? Well, we added an OG and a stop gap C. Cottom is due back from injury to block in max protect and run routes. Pope was added later in 2009 to assist in blocking. LJ was dumped off the team (he couldn't block effectively for a pillow fight). Urban was brought in to try out for the slot job; maybe he can get open for a hot route if Cottam can't. On the opposite side of the ball, in order to get more sacks for our team we've.....you guessed it.....added a stop gap NT and......well......nothing. (I feel those tears coming on again)
What do I think we need to address in the draft in order of importance? OLB, NT, RT, S, ILB, WR, C
This brings us to our last category of need:
- The Chiefs NEED a +5 or better turnover differential Simply put, the Chiefs need more stuff like this:
And less stuff like this:
In 2009 the Chiefs ended with a +1 turnover differential. They threw 17 INT's and lost 10 fumbles; while recovering 13 fumbles and picking off the ball 15 times. Limiting our turnovers comes down to stopping sacks and hurried passes, as well as tuckingthe ball away on runs and not trying to do too much. The far bigger piece of the puzzle is to force more turnovers away from our opponents. Sacks and hurries are a good place to start, but with all the rules protecting the QB from just being 'lit up' to cause then to drop it the focus should be on tacklers stripping the ball, and secondary and LB's picking off passes just as much as it is on sacks. It also wouldn't hurt our turnover ratio if our receiver would 'Catch the DAMN BALL' once in awhile instead of tipping it up in the air to be picked off.
So far this offseason we've addressed the O Line in 2 places, and added another solid (all be it ageing) RB. Hopefulywe continue to work with Charles and Cassel'sball security. We've also added a new slot receiver and resigned 2 WR's in Chambers and Copper. And on the defensive side of the ball, you ask? Well, specifically to address creating turnovers we've added......umm........have ya guessed yet? ......... a stop gap NT. (I'd cry, but my tear ducts are empty)
So how do I rank the remaining team positional needs specifically geared to the turnover differential:
S, OLB, RT, ILB, NT, CB, QB
So now lets break those down and rank them to see how it all looks when it's put together.
Balance Stop Run Run More than Opp Limit Points More Sacks than Opp Turn Over Diff
1) RT ILB RT OLB OLB S
2) LG NT ILB S NT OLB
3) WR OLB NT ILB RT RT
4) C S S NT S ILB
5) TE ILB2 LG CB ILB NT
6) RB DE RB WR CB
7) LT C QB
Assuming we set a point value of 7 votes for rank 1's, 6 for rank 2's, 5 for rank 3's etc... (wholly unscientific, but its my method so deal with it). The following are the field positions followed by the number of need votes. QB/LT:1, DE:2, TE:3, RB:4, CB/C:5, WR:7, LG:9, RT/NT:24, S/OLB:25, ILB:28
Now I was not adding as I went along making this post. I didn't kow the total until I added them up to type them out. I ranked positional values without considering any individual players available in FA or the draft. My intention was to put together a positional chart of NEED headed into the 2010 NFL draft. Does this mean we should draft solely based on need? No. I'm not saying that. I'm simply trying to define the NEEDS of the team, as I see it, that would best allow the Chiefs to fulfill the previously defined 6 categories from my Histoy post.
Just to put it out there in plain text; This is my conclusion for team needs in order of importance.
2) Tie: S/OLB
3) Tie: RT/NT
6) Tie: C/CB
I've never bothered to do a mock draft, because I've never set a board or a plan for team needs ahead of time. I don't really put a lot of stock in following the daily trend from the the so-called experts. I tend to like to formulate a plan first, and then consider my options at the positions. Maybe I'll sit down and think about a mock draft now that I have my plan in place.
Hope you enjoyed the read, and as always.....tear this post apart in the comments.