From the FanPosts. -Chris
Now that we have determined who the offensive breakout player will be for 2011 let's take a look the the defensive side of the ball. There is no question that the defense made the biggest stride of any one aspect of the Kansas City Chiefs last season as they led us to the biggest turnaround in team history with a division title and playoff appearance.
The scoring defense went from ranking 30th in the NFL in 2009 at 26.5 points per game, all the way to ranking 11th in the NFL last season at 20.4 points per game, via ESPN. 5 of the top 8 teams in scoring defense last season are on the Chiefs schedule in 2011, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, finishing one and two in the NFL in this category respectfully. It's not a coincidence that these were the two teams competing for the Superbowl. If we want to win a Superbowl it's going to be based on a dominant defense.
We already have some of the pieces that it will take to build this defense to elite status and with a little development we could go a very long ways sooner rather than later. Some of our players are already considered "broken out", and for the consideration of this prestigious title we will not let those players be a part of this voting process. Players that are considered "broken out" already would be Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry and Glenn Dorsey.
All of the other players are fair game for this title. Here are 5 players that could be poised for a "breakout" season in 2011 on defense for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The first player is Wallace Gilberry. He finished the 2010 season with a surprising 7 sacks last year in a very specific pass-rushing role. Now it does have to be told that 3 of those sacks came in the St. Louis Rams game but it's still pretty impressive what Gilberry has done and how he flourished last season as a pass rusher. Pro Football Focus even listed Gilberry as one of their "Secret Superstars" in their offseason series about players that might not be getting the recognition across the league that they rightfully should. The knock on Gilberry is whether or not he would be able to hold up against the run. It's obviously something he could develop on if he wants to be more than a situation pass-rushing defensive lineman.
If Justin Houston is our breakout player for 2011 that would mean very good things for our defense. Getting another consistent pass rush opposite of Tamba Hali would make this defense very scary for opposing offenses to deal with every week. There has been a lot of recent talk about Justin Houston and one thing is for certain, he has the physical talents to be an outstanding NFL football player. Now it's up to our coaching staff and veteran players to develop this kid into the kind of player that Pioli envisioned him becoming when he drafted him. According to the stat gurus over at Football Outsiders, Justin Houston is supposed to out-perform a lot of the OLB's and DE's that were drafted much higher than him.
You all knew he was going to be on here so let's get to it....
I have every expectation that Tyson Jackson is going to be the "breakout" player for our defense next season. It's in our best interests as a football team that Jackson consistently plays at the level he has shown flashes of over the last two seasons. I think he'll do that and I think he'll be a big part of the future of this defense. I wanted to consult our resident defensive guru on a few games but I found a great post that anyone who has not yet read it, should. MN does a great job breaking down Jackson's season and using Kalo's metrics shows us that when Jackson was on the field (not injured) he was very good. I expect that to continue next season and for him to become that dominating player we really need him to become.
For anyone else that was hanging on every pick in the draft as I was this year I really hope that Jerrel Powe becomes a solid Nose Tackle for us because I'd like to justify how absolutely thrilled I was with this 6th round pick. I don't know if I'll ever get as excited for a 6th round pick as the pick is made ever again. If Powe becomes that guy that clogs the middle for us over the next 7-9 years I don't think there is any question that he will eventually make his way to the "breakout" player of the year at some point. Whether or not it's as a rookie remains to be seen. I'd personally like to see him mix in on the rotation with a veteran nose tackle, and then take over the position when he is ready. But if he can step right in and make a difference at the most important position to our defense as a rookie there is a very good chance he could become the "breakout" player for next season.
The last pick may be a wildcard but I think Kendrick Lewis has a chance to be that "breakout" player next season on defense. I think with the immense talent we already have in the secondary it should push Lewis to become that much better and there is no doubt that he will have his opportunities to make plays for the defense next season. If teams are looking at what part of our secondary that they want to attack I don't think it'll be at Flowers or Berry. That leaves a good amount of action that will find Lewis and that could be a good thing for the Chiefs. The team was no-doubt better when Lewis was on the field and if he progresses like everyone else on the defense hopefully will, we could have a whole lot of players entering the primes of their careers all at the same time. That means nothing but good things for the Chiefs and their fans, namely....us.
I am very much on the philosphical side of creating a dominating defense if you want to win a Superbowl and I think we are very close to having the personnel required to develop that level of a defense. We might be "One-bay-area-Nose-Tackle" away from really getting after it on defense but we will still have a great defense next year nonetheless. We were going to be better whether we added a single player in the draft or not. The reason why is that our best players are entering their primes and they will be better next year than they were this past year regardless of whether or not we added anyone. The two positions most people felt we really needed to address in this past draft we did, and we did it with very good players and fantastic value where we found those guys (Houston-3rd round, and Powe-6th round). Good things are coming with this defense, good things.
So who did I leave out this time?
Which of these players has the best chance to break-out next season?
Which of these players won't break out next season? (if you can answer this question without using the players name that rhymes with Maji...you win a prize)