Chiefs fans are feeling pretty optomistic about the teams future right now. Have three straight years of top 5 draft picks have seen an influx of high potential players. But still, the Chiefs have 6 first round pick on there roster and have found themselves with very few wins in recent years. With all this first round talent plus players from later draft rounds who have played beyond expectation, many other NFL fans do not see much improvement for the Chiefs next season. I have seen some that predict we lose more games next season. The stock-standard, however, seems to be around 4-6 wins for the Chiefs next season. Let's look at each part of the Kansas City Chiefs and look where they're headed.
Clearly the secondary is the brightest area for the Chiefs. Brandon Flowers is emerging as a shut-down CB. Brandon Carr, while not as talented as Flowers, is underrated. Coaching from Hall of Fame CB, Emmitt Thomas, should correct some of Carr's minor faults. The Chiefs also have the very highly talented Eric Berry, who many have compared to Ed Reed. If Berry can live up to anything near these expectations, the Chiefs secondary should be one of the best in the league in a couple of years. One problem is the lack of another safety to go with Berry. Jarrad Page would have been an excellent partner for Berry, but recent contract disputes make his future with the Chiefs cloudy. The depth at safety is pretty poor with no clear starters available. This might force the Chiefs to throw fifth round pick Kendrick Lewis in the deep end. Having two rookie safeties starting isn't the best option, but if Lewis comes good it would have been the smartest move. That's a big if though.
This is the real weakness of the Chiefs. Last year the Chiefs were horrible against the run despite having four first round picks in the front seven. They were just as bad with respect to rushing the passer. Outside of Tamba Hali, there was no real pass rushing threat from the Chiefs front seven. Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson look like they could become good 3-4 DEs. "Could" being the operative word there. Neither have much experience at the position and both struggled to a degree in their first year in the 3-4. With Romeo Crennel, the mastermind behind the Patriots front seven during their dynasty years, as the defensive coordinator, this young, under-achieving group may be able to reach their potential. If Crennel can get consistent football out of players like Derrick Johnson, this could be a good front seven.
Is the Chiefs offensive line any good? It depends on who you ask. "experts" will claim that Branden Albert is a bad LT and that this unit is very worrying. Chiefs fans will tell you that Branden Albert was adjusting to a new zone blocking scheme last year and that he progressed through the year. They will also tell you that Ryan Lilja is an underrated free agency pick up and that the only position of concern is RT. I take the view that the starting lineup is fine and that Albert will surprise people with his performance. That being said, the depth on the line is a concern. The backup tackles are Barry Richardson and Ike Ndukwe. Neither of those are of a starting calibre. One injury and this offensive line could be in trouble. On the interior, the Chiefs have champion LG Brian Waters, Pro Bowl C Casey Wiegmann, and long time Colts starter Ryan Lilja at RG. Two of those players are on the wrong side of 30 years old and are not what they once were. They can however be good mentors to rookie, Jon Asamoah, and backup C Rudy Niswanger. This offensive line has a lot of upside that has yet to show its true potential.
This part of the Chiefs is really a flip of a coin to me. It could go either way. Matt Cassel had a terrible year last year considering what he is earning. Cassel has to start playing to level that reflects his salary. Granted last year he had a horrible supporting cast. His receivers led the league in drop passes and Dwayne Bowe led all receivers despite being inactive for 5 games. His offensive line was also pretty poor and didn't give him much protection. However, many times last season Cassel held onto the ball for too long and got himself sacked. A full offseason with his WR and the playbook should make him a better QB, But how much better? Cassel needs large amounts of improvement as there will be no excuses this season. He has been given a dynamic weapon in Dexter McCluster, some sure hands in Jerheme Urban, an improved offensive line and those points mentioned above. On the other side of it though, Dwayne Bowe also needs to be better this season. Getting suspended for four matches and leading the league in drop passes is not what one would expect from a first round WR entering his third season, especially after his impressive first two seasons. Chris Chambers must also prove that he wasn't playing for a contract last season and prove that he still has something left in the tank.
The Chiefs running game is very potent. Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones could prove to be one of the best RB duo's in the league. I choose to be a bit more conservative in my view of Jones though. While he did have 1,400 yards rushing season last year, it was behind the best offensive line in the league. Then again Charles had an impressive season behind one of the worst offensive lines. Can Thomas Jones be as good without the best offensive line in the league? I guess we'll have to wait. Jones is however 31 years old. He isn't going to be a member of the future Chiefs. Currently the Chiefs have no real option to play that number 2 RB role after Jones retires. The other RBs on the roster are mostly untried and relatively no names.
Specials teams is another one of the Chiefs strengths. K Ryan Succop had a very impressive rookie season. He tied the record for field goal percentage by an NFL rookie. Succop is a very promising talent. P Dustin Colquitt is a very good punter and one of the best in the league. The Chiefs have now completed their special teams by drafting Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas, two players who were excellent returners in college.
The Chiefs have, in my view, one of the best coaching staffs in the league. Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel were both outstanding coordinators for New England during their Super Bowl years. Defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas is a Hall of Fame CB who should be able to show our young CBs a thing or two about what it takes to be great. Finally Todd Haley is one heck of a coach who knows winning and wants winning. He has put that winning attitude into the players and it's really starting to show by their attitude when they are asked questions by the media.
While there are a lot of ‘ifs' here, I believe they will be resloved. There are still some concerns on this team, but like most teams it's not possible to be perfect in every aspect of the game. We are all humans after all, we are not perfect. We still must always be aiming for that perfection though. Will we get into the playoffs this year? We can, but probably won't. Teams like the Patriots, Texans, Bengals and Ravens are a step above us. We are still a little bit away from that. Should some of the ‘ifs' be improved this season, we should be looking at around an 8-8 season. This would be a great accomplishment. In the coming years look for the Chiefs to be the powerhouse of the AFC West along with probably the Raiders. We will again be a winning team like in the 90's and early 00's. This time however we should at least make it to the Super Bowl. Winning it would just be the cherry on top to what should be a great decade for the Chiefs.