One of our many series that may or may not finish, I'll be taking a look at what I think to be the most interesting individual match ups next season. First up in Week 1, the New England Patriots.
With a new starting cornerback, a second year player in the nickel spot and two safeties with combined experience of four years, the easy answer this week is say watch the Kansas City Chiefs secondary compete against the record setting, All World, yada yada yada New England Patriots offense. I'll admit if the Chiefs are able to at least feign containment on Brady and Moss in Week 1, I'll be impressed. And I do that that would at least vaguely point to developing talent in our secondary if they performed well against the best. But if the Pats destroy the Chiefs secondary, then what will we say? That's what we expected?
That's why I'm going to tell you to watch the Chiefs' Jared Allen-less defensive line against the Patriots' foundation, their offensive line.
Right at the beginning of the season, the Chiefs will have a difficult test to gauge how far (or how steady) the team's 2007 strength has fallen. The Patriots offensive line, while a fantastic unit, is more dependent on the influence of Brady and Moss in that offense than the actual skills of their entire line. For example, only left tackle Matt Light and center Dan Koppen were cemented in their positions last year, with the guards and other tackle able to interchange quickly.
So, if the Chiefs are able to develop a successful pass rush during the game on September 7th, we'll know we have something to build upon.
Frankly, it's time for Tamba Hali to either become a pass rushing force or relegate himself to the "Also played" category of NFL players who had a couple of decent seasons. We will see in Week 1 if Hali is a player on his own or if he needed those dozen or so sacks by Allen the last two seasons to skate under the Chiefs' radar.
The same goes for the defensive tackles in Week 1. Glenn Dorsey gets a big time NFL test in his first game and we hope, we hope to see progress from Tank Tyler or Turk McBride, or both.
In other words, the Chiefs will get to see how immediate of an impact their '07 and '08 draft picks will have.
I know this is a lot of hot, hypothetical air over a game the Kansas City Chiefs will likely get whooped up so bad in that we won't be able to glean any lessons from it. But you see where I'm going with these? As this team changes and grows, what will be revealed to us this season about our current condition? We may lose, but what are we learning? Who can't cut it anymore? Or never could?
Because if you're not a Chiefs fan who is thinking in terms of two to three years down the road, you're setting yourself up for angry disappointment.