Which Chief Will Take The Next Step?

The time for joyous hope is upon us. Yay for training camp!!!! A time when the milk and honey flows, the music is playing, and the women are plentiful.

We've all heard some very positive stuff coming out of camp this year, and that's great. You know what the only problem is with all this real football news? It's deprived us of the meaningless speculation that the offseason is supposed to be about!

(Well, other than all the theories on Bowe. Why is Bowe not at camp? Should we trade Bowe? Does Bowe want to leave? Is Bowe great or not? Is Bowe's holdout the worst atrocity committed against mankind since the advent of the Bye Week and worthy of revoking his "Chief" status? Are we all way to quick to judge Bowe? Bowe Bowe Bowe Bowe Bowe?)

So in the spirit of the offseason winding down, I'm going to give meaningless speculation some mouth-to-mouth (no hom... you know what, never mind) and bring it back for one last fling (I think I just made an analogy where I bring someone back to life to sleep with them. That's not OK).

So.......... who on our roster will take the next step this year, and what will it mean to the team? In another vein, who will take a step back this year or remain stagnant that we're hoping willimprove (if I have time to get around to that anyways. It seems less joyful and awesome)?

Eric Berry

I have no idea if he should qualify here, since he's already a certified stud. But you know what? Doubters remain. There are some who look at his first 5-6 games of 2010 and claim he sucks at coverage. There are those who worry he won't be the same guy after that ACL tear, given how violently he plays.

You know what? They're wrong. Berry is NOT weak in coverage, and he's NOT going to be slowed down. Need some proof? Look here (h/t whoever took the vid. Names escape me...)

That's not a dude who's about to take a step back or remain stagnant. That's a guy ready to take over the league. And it's not just about the play, either. Yeah, he ran stride-for-stride with a big, fast receiver and made a great play to knock the ball away. But it's what he does AFTER the play that's got me fired up. Watch again Watch him stand over Baldwin for a second and stare down at him.

"Yeah, punk, you're owning training camp. Good for you. But this is MY field and you're in my way. Bring it harder if you want to beat me. By the way, in case you didn't notice... I'm awesome."

(I admit, my smack-talk is rusty. Just go ahead and insert your own words into those several seconds he stands over Baldwin and looks down at him)

Berry's ready to step up and be a leader on this defense. He's the most intense guy on the field, and our D is going to take it's cue from him and start PUNISHING people.

Tyson Jackson

Yeah, that's right. You think I won't put my boy here? Here's what we know about T-Jax...

1) He's gotten better against the run and against double teams every year, and not in small amounts

2) He's made it a point to say that he's spent this offseason focusing on getting better (most would say "able") at rushing the passer

3) Point 1 leads me to believe that when T-Jax focuses on getting better, he succeeds

4) He's been working with Master Kim on his handfighting

5) He's been on the sideline BETWEEN PLAYS working on handfighting with Tamba

I've already made a bold prediction in the comments, and I'm going to double down on that bold prediction (opening myself up to either lifelong adulation or eternal scorn, without a doubt. The stakes are that high)... Tyson Jackson will stun us all with 5+ sacks this season, while continuing to be a force against the run.

I don't even need to say what that would mean to the Chiefs (I mean, I'm gonna. You know that. I'm just saying I don't need to). More pass rush from our traditional 3-4 will make our entire defense less one-dimensional. Pushing the pocket will cause Hali/Houston to run right into sacks. Our secondary will see more throws in which the QB can't step into the pocket, resulting in more picks and bad passes. To quote Vince Vaughn's character from Swingers, it'll be on!

Justin Houston

This has been said a million times, so here's the short version: Houston is a really talented player. He got exponentially better as the year went on last year. He will continue to do so. It's a big deal.

(yeah, that's all. Seriously, what do you want me to say? It's all been said about him. Even I get sick of repeating myself after awhile...)

Matt Cassel

Just kidding. Can't do it yet. Sorry, before I even think about taking this guy back I'm gonna have to talk my friends and family. He's hurt me too bad. It's just too much. I can't.... I just can't...

(breaks down)

Rodney Hudson

I love this guy. I really do. Know why? Here's why

Shameless self-promotion? Maybe. But I watched every snap this guy took, and I'm stoked. He's got everything we need in a center, including... wait for it... wait for it... WAIT FOR IT......

(OK, I'm sorry about that. I'm light on sleep)


Now, no one is going to confuse this guy for a 340-pounder. But all you have to do is look at him to see he's bigger than Ol' Man Weigs. He's going to jump in at center and not ONLY will our line not skip a beat, but it'll be better than it was last year (and as far as run-blocking goes, that's kinda a necessity. We sucked at it on the interior. Seriously, it was ugly).

I think this guy starts what could be a domino effect on our offense. Asamoah's going to look better as a run blocker with a guy who ISN'T 165 pounds (or something) next to him (well, that and natural progression of Asamoah, a promising player in his own right). This leads to us being able to actually, yanno, run up the middle. This leads to the ability to convert in short yardage and open up the playbook. This leads to more first downs. This leads to more points. This leads to more wins. This leads to AP being flooded with newbs (OK, that last part may suck just a little for a while, but the rest is good news).

Jonathan Baldwin

I think, I THINK this has been covered elsewhere. Doesn't make it less true. Carry on

Matt Cassel

But I WANT to take him back! Maybe it'll be different! He told me he loves me! No! No! I won't! I won't do it! Don't let me call him!

(gives phone to friend for "safekeeping")

Well, I seem to have less than my normal 5-gazillion words, so I'll do a little roundup of guys who I DON'T think are going to take another step forward...Oh, before I do that, let me be clear that I think we've got other guys who could well improve this next year. the one's I've named are just the ones I feel most confident about taking a very large, noticeable step forward and helping our team the most.

Anyways... onto guys who I don't see getting better...

Jovan Belcher

I'm not a Belcher hater at this point, but I've got a sneaking suspicion he's peaked. Now, he's not necessarily a glaring weakness. But his limitations in coverage are clear, and they're not likely to change at this point. And while he's gotten better every year, I felt like it leveled out a little as the year went on last year. I don't think it cripples us, but I see him as being "as is" from here on out.

Glenn Dorsey

Another guy I don't hate at all, but who has become stagnant IMO. when I broke down his film, he looked to have clear physical limitations: relatively weak arms and not very light on his feet. I think Dorsey is what he is: a decent run stopper who absolutely cannot rush the passer and struggles against double teams (at least the 200 or so snaps I watched). That's not likely to change at this point.

I REALLY hope I'm wrong on this one, but I can't un-see what I saw. I'm just hoping our multiple "potentials" at DE step it up.

(man, these ARE way less fun...)

Matt Cassel

I'm SO confused!!!!!! Give me my phone back, I need to talk to him!

(breaks down again)

Ryan Lilja

He had a down year last year, and I for one have been looking for him to rebound strong. But... I dunno... SOMETHING'S niggling at me here. Maybe it's the lack of any info from camp regarding him. Maybe the positive reports on Jeff Allen are making me hope that the rook breaks the "1 year wait-list" rule on our line and seizes the starting position. I don't know what it is, but I'm feeling pessimistic about a STRONG return from Lilja.

Now don't get me wrong, i think he may well be better than last year just based on having a bigger guy next to him (one small guy on interior line = OK. Two right next to each other... not so much). But I see him as becoming known as our weak link on the line this season, even if he's not all THAT weak a link. Which sucks, because I really, really, want to join in on the "potential top 5 OL" bandwagon


At the end of the day, all this optimism floating around is having its effect on me. I feel like it's gonna be a good year for us, and we're going to see even more the fruits of solid drafting (yeah saints, I said it. Wanna fight? 'Cause I don't. I'm tired) over the last couple of years, along with a few savvy FA moves. Can't wait until the first preseason game to change my mind on half this stuff....

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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