Things I want to see the Chiefs have in 2012:
1. A better quarterback. As a long-time Cassel-doubter, I have no confidence in his ability to ever be more than a game manager. He’s a back-up, period. My first choice would, of course, be Manning. I wouldn’t mind taking a chance on Tannehill if he fell far enough to make the risk worthwhile (2nd or 3rd round), but barring that, I think we need to retain Orton. He’s a better pocket passer than Campbell or Henne and, despite his mobility problems, gives us a much better chance to use the receivers we have than the other free agents I’ve seen suggested here. Again, I don’t care how this is addressed, as long as it is addressed.
2. A new Right Tackle. Richardson is a backup player. He does not have the necessary repertoire of skills to consistently resist pressure as a pass blocker, and is only serviceable on run plays. I really don’t care if we take a free agent or a draft selection here, but this need must be addressed before the third round.
3. O-line depth. I’m hoping most of our young guns will develop into starting roles y the end of preseason, but I’d like to see Pioli acquire some insurance in the form of a solid free agent and one or two good draft prospects.
4. A new starting nose tackle. Gregg was an adequate stop-gap but he’s old and slow and not as strong as he used to be in a Raven uniform. Let the man retire. We have three players behind him on the depth chart. If one of them is not ready to be a started (I’m looking at you, Powe) then trade them for someone we can use and pursue a strong free agent. I don’t think it’s worth tying up as much money as Solieri will demand when the rest of the defense is looking so strong, but the spot must be improved.
5. A new tight end (maybe even two new tight ends!). I’d love to see Moeaki come back and have a great, injury-free season, but I’m not about to bet this will happen. Our TE play was pathetic last year—maybe because we were spoiled so long by having Gonzalez and then Moeaki. This cannot happen again this year.
6. A new RB. Thomas Jones is done. He was great for a little while, and now he isn’t. Jackie Battle failed to fill the void, so he should stay where he is as a special teams player and back-up RB, or be released to free agency. I don’t care who we get as long as he is a serious upgrade on what we have.
7. The return of Jamal. It may be too much to expect that Charles comes back at his former level, but even 90% of Charles is better than 100% of most other RBs. If we address needs on the o-line and QB, he should remain the second most significant part of the offense. However, I will be quite upset if Cassel is again under center and we are relying too much on one player (no matter how well Charles does on his comeback) to carry the load.
8. Vast improvement in half-time adjustments. Last year it seemed that the Chiefs were the only team in the league that sucked so badly at this. Even Romeo wasn’t very good until late in the season. Now I know there are many reasons why it’s much easier to see opportunities than to actually exploit them—our talent deficits being chief among those reasons—but there is so much room for improvement here. And this includes changing up play calls, mixing up snap-count cadence, and widening the variety of plays out of formations. The offense in particular seemed to be so predictable that even armchair amateurs like me had no trouble calling out the play as soon as the offense lined up.
9. More red in Arrowhead. I don’t have a season ticket, and couldn’t fly the several hundred miles to enjoy them if I did, but I would if I could! I spend money on Sunday Ticket every year so I never miss a Chiefs game. So it pisses me off to see all those empty seats at Arrowhead—especially that stupid yellow stripe around the center—and not see several false start penalties on the opposition because they can’t hear the snap count over the crowd. Fans will again pack the place if Pioli and Hunt make the moves to become contenders NOW. And the fierce glory of Arrowhead will once again intimidate opponents who dare to enter.
10. A playoff win. Nothing else will do. This team needs a post-season win worse than Peyton Manning needs an extra-deep helmet. I don’t care if we don’t make it to the Super Bowl this time, but we just have to done more than the one-and-done pattern of too many years past. This still young team needs momentum, and nothing short of playoff success is going to sustain that.
And one last thing that has been nagging at me since Crennel was named head coach: For all his faults, Haley installed a fitness program that paid off with real results. The Chiefs (if not for the freak injuries of our Big 3) had far fewer injuries than most, if not all other NFL teams. I worry that Crennel will let this slide (he’s not exactly a model of personal health) and the Chiefs will suffer more injuries and fourth quarter fades.
That’s my short list of football dreams. I know you’ve heard much of this before from others, so let me know if you are upset that you took all this time to read this and didn’t learn anything new. I’ll be happy to suggest something more erudite for you to peruse. And I’m not going to indulge in the often entertaining speculation on this site about who will be drafted or acquired. I’ll leave that to the experts. As long as these issues are addressed, I’ll be a very happy camper.