The 2014 Chiefs season has finally come to an end. A team that fought their way back from an 0-2 start ended the season with a whimper at 9-7. The Chiefs 2014 schedule was a great opportunity to evaluate how the Chiefs compared against playoff caliber teams. A lot of questions about the roster were answered about the needs entering the 2015 offseason. Here's my take on the Chiefs top five needs this offseason.
The team must address this situation head on in the offseason. The Chiefs lack maulers in the middle that can get those tough fourth and inches. Two powerful guards would help secure an opportunity to step up in the pocket. Alex Smith was hit entirely too much this season and the guard play was a big culprit. The team was overpowered with bull rushes, unable to recognize stunts and correctly pass them off down the line and at times the guards would open up rush lanes for defenders to sprint through by turning themselves sideways. Guards caught their opponents too many times instead of delivering jarring punches that stonewalled defenders. The Chiefs struggled with their ability in the run game because of their guard play. They lacked the ability to get out on the perimeter in pulling situations. The guards are crucial for pulling, the screen game and maintaining the integrity of the pocket. One of the guards may already be on the roster but this position needs to see an upgrade in some way.
Eric Fisher will get another season to see what he is capable of. The Chiefs need to find a tackle on the opposite side of him. The tackle needs to be athletic and a guy who can ride out his opponent but also recognize proper adjustments on stunts. Offensive linemen need a desire to dominate, plant their opponent in the dirt and go head hunting if there isn't a defender to block. This position needs to find more attitude, explosive hips and a powerful punch to stun the pass rushers.
Kansas City must find explosion from their receiving corp. The Chiefs need to find savvy route runners that are able to get clean releases and explode in and out of their breaks. The receivers need to be able to make adjustments based on the coverage and sit down in between zones when necessary. They must also understand where the sticks are and run routes past them to convert first downs. Blocking is also a must for this position. Added late in the year, Jason Avant showed how effective a blocking receiver could be downfield. The position will need players who can get open quickly, catch the ball and get up field for explosive gains.
The Chiefs can't completely bank on the return of Derrick Johnson, who tore his Achilles in September. They must plan for his potential loss. The Chiefs need to find an aggressive and explosive backer that can get downfield quickly. He needs to be able to correctly diagnosis plays and perform his responsibilities in gap control. The backer must be able to disengage from blocks quickly and be good enough in zone coverage. This position needs more infusion of attitude to go along with Joe Mays. This will help the problems the Chiefs had with stopping the run last season.
Backup Nose Tackle / Defensive Line Depth
This may not seem like a big need at the moment but Dontari Poe has been worn down the past two seasons. He rarely sees breaks in his snaps until it is too late in the season to make a difference in his explosion. This isn't a knock on his conditioning. Not many players his size in the NFL have his explosion. The Chiefs need to protect that explosiveness when its crunch time in November and December when Poe obviously wears down. Otherwise the Chiefs need to find a new starting nose tackle that can take the wear and tear of double teams and allow Poe to play a five tech in the 3-4 system if Mike DeVito can not return in 2015.
These are my primary needs headed into the 2015 offseason. The Chiefs must address the offensive line and receiving corp if they want to compete this upcoming season and have a legitimate shot at taking the AFC West crown away from Denver.