"Next man up." "You're only a play away." "Always be ready." Feel free to insert any other cliché associated with the perpetual turn of NFL depth charts. From year to year, game to game, and even play to play, NFL line-ups are constantly changing. It's the teams that are best equipped to deal with these changes that often find success. That equipment may be a deep and talented roster or just a QB with a last name of Rodgers, Brees, Brady or Manning.
Whatever the situation may be, the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs are getting ready to find out just how well they can deal with such issues. Make no mistake; this Falcons team is as talented as any. In order for the Chiefs to obtain that "W", the following people need to turn it up a notch.
It’s time for Urk to make up for lost time. This defense picked up the slack (eventually) last year as he went down. By all accounts, it appears that the KC defense will be without much of its top talent for the season opener. It’s unclear exactly who will the take the field on Sunday for RAC’s defense, but that Falcon’s offense appears to be in full operation.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Berry in man coverage against White, Jones, or Gonzo from time to time as the game wears down. In addition to that extremely tall order, the former pro bowler will have to make an impact in the run game, as a blitzer, and just generally roaming the entire defensive backfield. In short, Berry must display the versatile dominance that made him a top 5 draft selection and sent him to the pro bowl in 2010. How Berry will be used is a terrific segue into …
I could list out the players that will have to step up in the absence of others (Elam, Sheffield, Studebaker, etc.), but it’s hard to believe that they can fill the shoes of the guys that usually play in front of them. At this point, I’d be extremely pleased if they don’t end up being liabilities. I’m fairly confident that Elam can hold his own, but I wouldn’t place any money on it.
No, I’m putting my faith in the coach on this one. A guy that has been praised repeatedly for his masterful defensive game plans and has the hardware to back it up, RAC will have to pull out all the tricks this week. I’m fully ready for the Atlanta offense to move the ball, but the Chiefs need that bend and don’t break attitude while the Falcons settle for field goals. To me, this week should give a strong hint on how Romeo can handle his new job. Speaking of new jobs…
Go ahead and pair him up with Matt Cassel for this discussion (Captain Obvious told me to mention Matthew Brennan). The two of them will have to display a high level of competence in week one. Similar to what was pointed out with Eric Berry, it’s time for someone else to pick up the slack. There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the improvement of the offense and a potential top 5 rushing attack. Well let’s see some of that.
Speed and Bleed, Beer and Weed, Lamb and Tuna Fish, Spaghetti and Meat Balls, I don’t care what you call them. First and last names usually work with me. But I think anything short of 150 yards on the ground between our running back duo is a disappointment. I know these two have the talent, but can Daboll get it out of them? This offense better be ready to control the clock and put points on the board. I’m confident that TOP will favor the Chiefs, but putting points on the board will be crucial. And I know just who can help with scoring points…
The Receiving Core
I’ll branch this one out to include anyone that has a pass thrown their way this week. I give a lot of credit of Cassel’s worst preseason game to those who let some balls hit the ground. Cassel deserves his fair share of critics, but the pass catchers need to hold up their end of the bargain. These guys are generally too talented to have these lapses in concentration. Nothing will bunch up my panties on game day more than a plethora of dropped balls (replacement refs could come close).
In addition to drops, they need be mentally sharp in all of their decisions. Proper routes and finding open areas if a play breaks down will be critical. Historically, Bowe has been pretty good at this, but who knows how advanced his roll will be. If the Chiefs don't have Bowe at full capacity, Baldwin and McCluster will have to perform at levels they have yet to reach in the regular season for this offense to have a big game.
Well, that’s all I got. I'm not breaking any intuitive barriers with this stuff. I left a few guys off of this list in order to limit the length of this post and expand the comments section. With that, AP, If you could tell someone with the Chiefs to, “Step yo game up!” Who would it be?