Is this premature? Yep. Could the Chiefs still turn this season around? Yep. Do I care? Nope. I'm writing this because I have seen a trend. The last two seasons have started out absolutely horrid for us. Throw your reasons out the window, because it's just flat out unacceptable. So what do we do to change this? We move forward. We make tough decisions. We re-direct the wayward ship. Now, for argument's sake, everything after the jump is based on Scott Pioli remaining as GM (which I think is very likely).
1. New Coach - Unfortunately, it doesn't appear as though Romeo Crennel has the respect of this team. Sure, they love him. But that isn't the same thing. He doesn't have a strong hold on them to where they are putting everything they have on the field. What we need is a coach who expects this team to perform well, and gets pissed when they don't, but also rewards when they excel. This coach needs to be a disciplinarian, but have a resume that makes players believe in him. And, when we have that new coach, we have to bring in a defensive coordinator to handle the play-calling.
Answer: Bill Cowher and Jim Tomsula (SF D-Line Coach): Obviously, Cowher is the HC in this scenario. He has the fire and disciplinarian attitude to get this team back on track. But, he isn't a Haley-type of coach who is over-bearing and keeps people from doing their jobs. He even has a KC connection that could be motivation to take the job. Jim Tomsula is someone I think we should be keeping our eyes on. He is the current D-line coach for San Fran (which has had a helluva a D-line for several seasons). He was also the interim HC for the 9ers at the end of 2010, and was a HC in NFL Europe.
2. New Defensive Scheme - The 3-4 has been an abject failure here in KC. There is virtually no pass rush, especially from the d-line. It takes longer for our young players to get up to speed. And there is a higher percentage of failure amongst players because they simply aren't able to adapt. Look at Glenn Dorsey. He could be one of the better DTs in the league, but we'll never know because he's been stuck at a position where he just "eats up blockers". This team needs to get back to a 4 man front base defense.
Answer - 4-3 (4-2-5) defense: With Cowher and Tomsula, we have the ability to switch back to a 4 man front. Tomsula has coached the 3-4 and 4-3, so that should make the transition pretty smooth. We have the personnel. Bailey-Dorsey-Jackson-Hali would be a pretty solid front and also allows for Poe to step in for Dorsey, or continue to develop. That puts Houston-Belcher-Johnson as LBs. Again, that's pretty solid. And it is easier to switch up personnel if we have to go to a Nickel or Dime defense when the opposition is running hurry-up attacks. This can help our pass rush and interior run defense.
3. QB - Yeah, it's time to move on from Cassel, and this appears to be Pioli's best opportunity to do that. If the Chiefs continue as they have, we should be looking at a high draft pick. That in itself says that Cassel isn't getting it done, and Pioli can justify moving on. However, it doesn't mean that Cassel has to go. It's possible that our new QB will need time to develop, so Cassel could be a valuable asset in that scenario.
Answer: Tyler Wilson (Arkansas): A big-armed QB who has shown he can perform against the best in college football. Concerns are there with his height and now a concussion, but he is still the best QB in this draft class. He can make the downfield throws that will allow us to finally open up our offense. That added dimension should be what we need to see our offense play at the level we know they are capable of.
4. WR - Dwayne Bowe is already half-way out the door...and that might not be a bad thing. The Chiefs lack a true burner on the outside. A guy who can force DBs to play 10 yards off the line. This isn't Bowe's fault. He is the best WR for what our team has at QB. We also need to get away from Terrance Copper. I get that he is valuable on Special Teams, but no valuable enough that the unit is performing better. And, he is kind of a liability on offense. We need someone who is reliable on offense, and can also play Special Teams.
Answer: Kenny Stills (Oklahoma) and Tori Gurley (MIN Practice Squad): Kenny Stills is a shifty speedster who has had a very good career for the Sooners. He is a 1st rd prospect that will be available in the 2nd because of off-field issues. He can stretch the field on most DBs and also get underneath when defenders play off of him. Tori Gurley might be one of the most underrated guys in the NFL. Every time he touches the field, he impresses people. However, he only touches the field late in preseason games because there was 0 chance of him making the Green Bay WR corps. Chiefs fans should remember Tori well. He's made our secondary look pretty stupid a couple of times. He's a strong WR who positions his body well between the ball and defender. He has solid hands and isn't afraid of contact. These two guys could really round out what could be an amazing WR corps if Baldwin takes the next step.
5. Trading Jamaal Charles - I know, I know. Most of you were probably on board until just now. But before you get the pitchforks and torches, hear me out. With the changes I've listed, KC now has a big-armed QB and an upgraded (overall) WR corps. Jamaal is a great RB and the most dangerous part of our offense, but we can't even keep him on the field for a majority of our offensive plays. That is what keeps him from being a Ray Rice or Arian Foster. He can't carry the load. On top of this, we have seen some flashes from Shaun Draughn and the team appears to be high on Cyrus Gray and Nate Eachus. And by trading Jamaal, the Chiefs could end up with an additional 1st rd pick.
Answer: Already on the roster: Draughn, Gray, and Eachus are young and talented. Also, talented RBs are easy to find in the draft. Guys who would've been top-15 picks just 5 years ago are now going in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
6. O-Line - Ryan Lilja has been an abomination this year. He just hasn't been getting it done. Missing blocks, not checking defenders, and a general slowness are really hurting us. He doesn't even appear to be the leader we thought he was. It's clear that this line misses Casey Wiegmann more than we thought they would. Also, we need to consider moving on from Branden Albert. Albert has been an average to slightly-above average LT the past couple of years, but if we want to become a team that can compete with the best in the league, that just isn't good enough. Albert gets beat too often by edge rushers. He is a little slow off the ball, and that's going to end up being a serious problem as pass-rushers become more and more prominent in this league.
Answer: Jeff Allen (on the roster) and Luke Joekel (Texas A&M): We've all been excited about Jeff Allen. He's shown that he can do the job physically. Now we just need to see if he is ready to take on the full load. Remember when I traded JC for that 1st rd pick a minute ago? Here's why. Luke Joekel is going to be a stud. He does everything you want a LT to do. He's got a ton of experience already including making the 2010 Big XII All-Freshman Team. The best thing for him is that the Aggies have moved to the SEC. Competition-wise, this makes him the most well-rounded OT in the draft. He's faced the best of the Big XII and now faces the best of the SEC (and so far has looked pretty good). He's a technician with excellent athleticism which should help make him one of the better LTs at the next level.
So there it is. A lot of big changes. Now, I'm not foolish enough to think that these changes make us instant contenders. No, we're probably looking at a couple years of finishing towards the bottom...but how is that any different than what we are doing now? Unfortunately, it feels like this team has peaked with its 2010 season. That's not a very comforting feeling. That's why I feel it's time we wipe the board clean and start again, this time building around a franchise QB and a strong coaching staff.