This season has been a roller coaster ride from hell. Before the season got under way we lost Tony Moeaki a reliable set of hands for Matt Cassel. We started the season off with two of the worst losses in NFL history, by getting blown out 89 to 10 and losing Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles for the season. We battled San Diego in Week 3, but a late interception gave us our third straight loss. Then we put together a 4-game winning streak by beating the Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, and the San Diego Chargers. Only the win over the Raiders was in convincing fashion. However, the four game streatch allowed optimistism to re-enterthe beating hearts of every Chiefs fan from coast to coast, but that optimism was soon lost and we quickly bleed out as we were embarassedby the Miami Dolphins and the Denver Broncos at home, at Arrowhead Stadium. Now we are in serious shock witha weak, thready pulse about to face certain death as we go up against the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, & the Green Bay Packers. We have questions but very few answers, and the biggest question is "Where do we go from here?".
On paper the general reaction would be "Don't freak out we are 4 and 5!", BUT we have now been outscored 227 to 141 and we are about to face the 6-3 Patriots, the 7-3 Steelers, the 6-3 Bears, the 5-4 Jets, and the undefeated, 8-0 Packers. Does anyone have a positive feeling moving forward?
At the beginning of the 2011 campaign, our biggest concerns were Wide Receiver to go opposite of Dwayne Bowe, an Outside Linebacker to go opposite of Tamba Hali, a Center to replace the aging Casey Wiegmann, a Quarterback to push Matt Cassel, and a Nose Tackle to replace Ron Edwards. Did the organization effectively address the needs after the 2010 season? Lets look at each individually:
1) Wide Receiver: We brought Steve Breaston in from the Arizona Cardinals. Breaston has 33-receptions for 483-yards and 2-touchdowns. We also drafted Jonathan Baldwin with our 1st round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Baldwin has struggled since being activated, but that should be expected from rookies. I think Baldwin has shown some excitement, and I think most of us look forward to having him as an active member of our offense.
I think we have successfully filled this need from last season.
2) Outside Linebacker: We are developing Andy Studebacker and we drafted Justin Houston. Studebacker was 'developed' by Mike Vrabel by being his understudy for the 2009 and 2010 season. Studebacker has not registered a sack this season. Houston entered the NFL as one of the most feared pass rushers in the SEC in 2010, totaling 67 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He shows signs of athleticism and quickness, but he has yet to register his first NFL regular season sack. His learning curve was delayed because of the lockout, but I think Houston will exceed his expectations as a 3rd round draft pick.
I think we might have successfully filled this need for a weakside outside linebacker given neither has been a full time starter for a season yet, but I remain hesitant to say this problem has been fixed.
3) Center: Casey Wiegmann is still out there. How old is this guy? Wiegman is 38 years old and some how still playing in his 16th NFL season. How is that even possible? We drafted Rodney Hudson, but haven't seen much of this guy.
I don't think we have fixed this need, but given the direction of our season we might be able to see Hudson on the field to get a better idea going forward.
4) Quarterback: We drafted Ricky Stanzi. Ricky who? Stanzi has the potential to be a solid backup quarterback in the NFL. At least he replaced Brodie Croyle, but he could not beat out Tyler Palko to be our number 2. Matt Casselis questionable for the Patriots game with possibly a broken finger, and Cassel's current stats aren't impressive to anyone. Cassel has thrown 10-touchdowns and 9-interceptions, but has struggled throughout the season and his flashes of potential greatness are very few and very far between.
I don't think we have fixed this need, and in fact, I think this need is bigger now than it was before the start of the season. In Cassel's defense, I don't think having another, new offensive coordinator has helped, but it isn't the reason for Matt Cassel's struggles. We have an appreciation for Cassel, some of us love him, some of us hate him, but I think we can all agree that he will not be able to lead us to a Super Bowl.
5) Nose Tackle: We brought Kelly Gregg in from the Baltimore Ravens to replace Ron Edwards, and also to help in the development of Jerrell Powe. Gregg used to be a very good run-stopping nose tackle, but he is getting up there in age and is only signed through this year. Gregg has only one sack on the season. Powe hasn't been on the field much, and who knows if Gregg has showed him anything plus we are the 25th ranked rush defense and giving up an average of 134-yards rushing per game.
I don't think we have fixed this need, because we don't know the progress of our rookie, Jerrell Powe, and we won't have reliable depth after this season by possibly not resigning Kelly Gregg.
So I think we have a remaining list of needs from last year toadd to the growing list of needs from this year of uncertainty and disappointment with a few waives of optimism mixed in. I think those needs remaining from last year are the following: a starting caliber Center, a franchise Quarterback, and a Nose Tackle.
We have a 5-game series of extremely tough matchups, which might give us a sour taste in our mouth, but this stretch will show us our absolute needs as we move forward.