Going into the 2011 season Chiefs fans were optimistic about the potential of our offense. We were coming off a playoff berth, had a "pro-bowl" quarterback, the NFL's second best rushing attack, and had just assembled the Killer B's. Excitement was rampant. Sure there were some chinks in the armor (our quarterback backed into the probowl only after Tom Brady decided he'd rather stay home with his hot wife and the Ravens made us look like a pee-wee team in the playoffs), but most of us were willing to overlook this and focus instead on what we could become. Now with the 2012 season approaching and the power of hindsight it's clear that we weren't there yet.
This offseason with a new head coach and offensive coordinator and brilliant moves by our GM we've retooled our offense more than you might think. Franchise quarterbacks don't grow on trees and while we wait for that guy to come along, one thing is clear- we're going to need a great running game. With this defense our team can be very successful if we can run the ball down the other team's throat. This offseason we've finally fixed many of those critical flaws rather than brushing them under the rug. We've begun to establish the "Speed and Bleed" offense. (H/T to whomever came up with that moniker of course)
The 2010 and 2011 Chief's offense was centered around speed. We had Jamaal Charles and his Olympic caliber speed, which coupled with his outstanding balance and vision make him one of the most dangerous threats in all of football. An athlete like Jamaal can cover up a lot of holes. They can make a scrub at QB look decent and they can make the most of what their midget sized o-line gives them. The problem? The Lions were able to find Jamaal's kryptonite, in the form of a dorky mascot and out of bounds marker. Without Jamaal those holes were exposed and offense at many times became the picture of futility.
It's clear that the Chief's already have the speed component. In fact, with athletes like Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster (if used properly) we're quite possibly the best in the business. The problem? The old adage "Speed Kills" isn't true. You can't do it with speed alone. You need a compliment - you need the "Bleed" that can come in and smash the opposing defense in the face. You need the physicality.
"The Bleed" in 2010 and 2011 took the form of the less than intimidating duo of "Two Yard Thomas" and Jackie "Not Nearly as Intimidating as I Look" Battle. Needless to say the only defense these two struck fear into the hearts of is drafting first overall. The Chiefs needed to bring in some nastiness, some mean SOB's, some enforcers, we had to get more physical.
Enter the Don. This offseason Pioli has addressed "The Bleed" component from two directions: the backs themselves and the guys in front of them. Pioli's focus this offseason has clearly been on bringing in physical guys with mean streaks, let's look at each of those additions.
Rodney Hudson: Hudson has spent a year on the bench learning from one of the masters. Casey Wiegmann is a great Chief and competitor but the time has come for him to hang up the cleats, he's just gotten to old and is too small to hold up in todays NFL. Enter Rodney Hudson. The talented young lineman out of Florida State. At 6'2" 300 lbs Hudson may not be the biggest but he still dwarfs Wiegmann and has youth on his side. Hudson filled in well when called upon in 2011 and should be a important cog moving forward.
Eric Winston: The Chief's right tackle position has been a huge gaping hole ever since the departure of John Tait. Barry Richardson did his very best impersonation of revolving door when on the field and only ever showed a mean streak towards his own coaches. Enter Eric Winston. After Winston was unexpectedly cut from the Texans for money reasons, Pioli swooped in, fed the man, and signed him up. Winston is one of the top right tackles in all of football and a punishing run blocker. This is a huge upgrade.
Kevin Boss: Leonard Pope was Barry Richardson's only challenger to the penalty crown last season. Together this less than dynamic duo did their very best to shoot the offense in the foot at every turn. In this league you have all around tight ends, blocking tight ends, and receiving tight ends and then you have the Leonard Pope's who aren;t real great at anything except being really freaking tall. Enter Kevin Boss. Boss isn't only a big target with good hands he's also a very good blocker. The addition of Boss and the return of ToMo gives the Chief's a very talented pair of tight ends who can both block and catch.
Peyton Hillis: Last but certainly not least is Mr. Hillis. Hillis is the poster boy for smash mouth physical running. This juggernaut thrives on contact and puts the hurt on any defender stupid enough to get in his way. Hillis brings a new element to the Chief's run game with a physicality and nastiness we haven't had for years.
We're Not Done Yet
We've made a great start so far this offseason in establishing our "Speed and Bleed" offense. We've added some versatile O-Linemen who are athletic and agile enough to run the zone blocking scheme under which Jamaal Charles thrives but still strong and mean enough to blow open holes for the juggernaut Peyton Hillis, but Pioli's not done yet. Before the start of next season look for the Chief's to complete the "Speed and Bleed" with two more additions.
David Decastro: The free agency moves the Chiefs have made have given them tremendous flexibility on draft day. Filling so many holes in free agency allows the Chief's to go BPA. The best player available just so happens to be an extremely talented offensive lineman who perfectly fills the Chief's last remaining whole on the offensive line. Guard David DeCastro fits the Chief's of very physical players who can still move and gives the Chief's one of the top offensive lines in the league.
Mike Tolbert: While Tolbert is still on the market the Chief's clearly pulled out all the stops to make an impression on him. I think we are very much still in play for Tolbert. I think that Pioli made it very clear that he would like Tolbert to be a Chief and also made him a very fair offer. Tolbert is doing the smart thing and feeling out the rest of the market, seeing if he can't get someone to give him crazy money (ala John Carlson). Tolbert is getting less interest than he might of anticipated and when it's all said and done their's a good chance he's wearing red and gold next season. Tolbert is a bowling ball who is very hard to bring down. He's also a punishing blocker, adept receiver, and solid special team's player. Both Tolbert and Hillis have the ability to crossover and play some full back giving the Chief's the versatility to put both these battering rams on the field at the same time.
The Backup Plan
Pioli's never been the type to put all of his eggs in one basket and so it stands to reason that there is a plan in place if Decastro is already gone in the draft or if someone else throws crazy money at Tolbert.
Wisconsin Beef: If Decastro goes before pick 11 it means that some top flight talent has fallen, like Trent Richardson or one of the pass rushers. Either of these or QB Ryan Tannehill become ideal trade bait for Pioli. Pioli is then able to trade back and stock pile picks (move up for a QB next year) and still draft some Grade A Wisconsin Beef to fill the guard position in either Peter Konz or Kevin Zietler.
So there it is your 2012 Chief's offense: The "Speed and Bleed". Donks, Dolts and Faiders take notice the AFC West runs through KC.