Now that Free Agency and the draft are over and our beloved chiefs have signed their UDFAs, we can now focus on how much our team has actually improved through the draft and these signings. While many here on AP thought Scott Pioli would draft defence-heavy, he actually got the best of both worlds. Through the draft/FA the Chiefs have pick up two starters and four backups on offence. Those being Casey Wiegmann, Ryan Lilja, Jon Asamoah, Thomas Jones, Tony Moeaki and Dexter McCluster, respectively. On Defence we have two starters and three backups. Those are Eric Berry, Shaun Smith, Kendrick Lewis, Cameron Sheffield, Javier Arenas. Arenas also fills the position of KR/PR, which he excelled at in college. All those additions are clearly improvements over who ever previously held the position and in some cases, huge improvements (Eric Berry over Mike Brown). So what position's of need have not been improved and what positions have?
Our secondary was a joke last season. They couldn't stop a big play if there life depended on it. The main culprit was Mike Brown and we are happily are rid of him. But other player's like Brandon Carr and Maurice Leggett need to improve their game. Javier Arenas is no Brandon Flowers, but the fact that Pioli drafted a CB in the second round should alarm Carr and Leggett to the fact their position isn't safe. Arenas wasn't bought in to replace Carr but to put pressure on him to keep improving and become the good CB he can be. Eric Berry will also be a huge improvement for our horrible secondary and make the kind of plays Brown couldn't. Kendrick Lewis is similiar to Arenas. He was taken to put pressure on Jarred Page so that he will continue to improve. Couple those things with Hall of Fame CB Emmitt Thomas now being the Chiefs secondary coach, the Chiefs secondary is vastly improved and will make us look respectable again.
Our front seven, other than Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson(when he felt like it), were very average. When you rank 31st against the run, something must be done with your front seven. Strangely though Pioli only added two players to our front seven this offseason, free agent NT Shaun Smith and OLB Cameron Sheffield, a fifth round pick out of Troy. Now why would Pioli not adress the front seven with a high draft pick or a high profile free agent? Currently the Chiefs have four 1st round picks in the front seven; OLB Tamba Hali, DE Glenn Dorsey, DE Tyson Jackson and ILB Derrick Johnson. Now when you have four first round draft picks in the front seven and you rank 31st in run defence and 31st in sacks, their is a HUGE level of under-achievement happening. Scott Pioli knows that these players are not playing at their full potential and when they do our run defence will be a very good one. He knows that Romeo Crennel can turn this front seven around. Derrick Johnson is the main concern and is skating on very thin ice at the moment and must play good consistant football soon or he will find himself on the trading block.
Jamaal Charles is an excellent RB who last year showed his break away speed and awareness to make big plays. He is, however, vulnerable. As the only RB on the list last year that could make big plays, he was forced to do the majority of the carries. He did it for half the season and faired pretty good, but Pioli won't want to risk running Charles all year long. That's why he bought in a powerful, experienced RB like Thomas Jones to take some of the stress off Charles. Our runnign game goes from great to awesome.
The Chiefs problem, offensively, was Matt Cassel being protected. Rudy Niswanger cannot be a starting center against 3-4 NT's. He just gets mauled. That's why Pioli bought pro bowl center Casey Wiegmann back to Kansas City. Our RG position wasn't much better. With the departure of Mike Goff and Andy Alleman, Pioli went to bring another former Chiefs player back to Kansas City to solidify our OL, Ryan Lilja. Lilja has a Super Bowl ring and knows how to protect his QB. Just ask Peyton Manning. With Brian Waters getting old Pioli went and got another Guard. This time through the draft. Jon Asamoah was considered the second best guard in the draft and will be a perfect replacement for Waters in a year or two. Our OL is set now and will allow Matt Cassel time to find his WR's. Which brings us to the next offensive problem for the Chiefs last year.
The WR play last season was horrible. Drop balls were our cyanide. While we found good production from free agent Chris Chambers, Bowe had regressed in his development. Even when he was not suspended, his play was very shabby. All other WRs were just as hopeless. So what did Pioli do? He bought in Jerheme Urban for depth and drafted Dexter McCluster to play the slot. While McCluster is naturally a RB, he showed he can be a competent slot WR at Ole Miss. With Bowe primed for a breakout season and exciting players like Chambers and McCluster at WR, This offence could be damaging
So what exactly is holding the Chiefs back from being a force in 2010? The secondary is markedly better, our WR corps are primed for a good year, the offensive line is strong, the special teams is awesome. The only problem is the front seven, which I have no doubt will be in for a good year with an excellent defensive coordinator like Romeo Crennel.
2010 will be the year of the Chief, MARK MY WORDS. While we may not make the Super Bowl, We WILL be in the playoffs. Haley and Pioli will lead us to the promise land.