The chiefs still have some holes to fill and some depth to add but here are 5 areas I think the team has greatly improved this offseason. In no particular order:
1. Offensive Line
You know, the more I think about it, the more I am beginning to believe that the offensive line got a bad wrap last season. I am not saying they were great because they most certainly were not, but there were a lot of factors that lead to the line’s poor performance and not all of them were within their control. That, however, is a subject for another column.
The Chiefs are much improved on the offensive line heading in to the 2010 season. They added Ryan Lilja, who will likely become their other starting guard opposite Brian Waters.
Scott Pioli also brought in Casey Weigmann to help create competition and depth at the center position. Rudy Niswanger has not played very well but he is a hard worker and has a lot of experience. He is definitely a Pioli/Haley guy and if he can improve, I think they will let him keep the starting C spot. Having a guy like Weigmann around could certainly help Niswanger continue that development.
In the draft, the Chiefs added Jon Asamoah out of Illinois, who was regarded as the 2nd best G prospect in the draft class. Asamoah may not start right away but he is likely to see plenty of snaps. The Chiefs seem to be interested in using him at the G and C positions so his versatility will give KC much needed depth along the interior of their line.
The Chiefs appear to be happy with Albert and O’Calahan manning the tackle positions but there is some concern about the depth behind those two players. Still, the line is much improved over last season.
2. Wide Receiver
The Chiefs have done a couple of things to upgrade the receiver position and I like them all. The first and most important move was hiring Charlie Weis to be the offensive coordinator. Weiss brings big time experience and he should be able to help the Chiefs tailor the most effective game plan possible each and every week. Weis’ presence also takes some of the pressure off of Todd Haley, which will allow him to focus on the big picture.
As far as player additions go, after failing to trade for Anquan Boldin, the Chiefs were able to resign veteran WR, Chris Chambers. Chambers provided the offense with a much needed spark last season as well as an option in the deep passing game. This gives the Chiefs a one-two punch of Bowe and Chambers, both of which are capable of racking up over 1000 yards receiving.
Through the draft, KC added speedy WR/RB/KR utility man, Dexter McCluster. Dexter should be all over the field for the Chiefs offense creating match up nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators. McCluster gives Matt Cassel yet another weapon in the passing game and should help stretch the field and keep defenses honest.
The Chiefs also added veteran WR Jerhemy Urban through free agency. While not being a sexy pickup, Urban knows the Haley style of offense, having played under the Chiefs head coach in Arizona. Urban provides depth at a position that greatly needed it.
In the today’s NFL, you better have the sickest pass rush imaginable or you better have some damn good defensive backs and a lot of them. If you have both, even better.
With guys like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers chucking the ball all over the place and teams running 4 and 5 receiver sets, having just 2 good corners isn’t good enough. Scott Pioli has seen what Tom Brady can do to a defense and he is trying to make sure no one does it to the Chiefs.
KC has a potential Pro Bowler in Brandon Flowers and a very solid #2 in Brandon Carr. Carr has improved in both his seasons in the NFL and there is no reason to believe he won’t continue to get better.
Pioli drafted Donald Washington last year and Javier Arenas this year. Between the two of them, they should have the nickel corner position locked down.
Oh, yeah, and the Chiefs got that Eric Berry guy to play safety and threw in Kenrick Lewis to go along with Jarred Page and John McGraw.
The Chiefs suddenly have a nice mix of youth, speed, experience and depth in the defensive backfield. If Romeo Crennel can find ways to generate some pressure the Chiefs are going to be very difficult to throw on.
4. Running Back
The Larry Johnson show got real old, real quick in 2009. It consisted of Cassel handing Johnson the ball, Johnson running directly into the back peddling ass of Rudy Niswanger and Johnson falling down. Every one in a while, Johnson would squeeze his worthless ass through a crease and immediately fall down for a 2-yard gain.
A big part of KC’s problem last year on offense, besides Haley scrapping the entire playbook 15 minutes before the first game, was Johnson’s terrible production. He made everyone look worse.
Then, he was gone.
Jamaal Charles took over and suddenly, the offensive line didn’t looks so bad anymore. Sure, there still wasn’t much offensive fluidity but the Chiefs actually started moving the ball a little bit.
Charles made everyone look better.
Pioli must have thought to himself, “I need to get more guys like Charles who can make this team better.”
Enter one Mr. Jones, Thomas and one Mr. McCluster, Dexter.
“Slo Po” knew that Jamaal Charles was out there killing himself every game and rather than whip him like a government mule, Pioli decided to get him a little help.
Jones is a great veteran presence who will teach Charles and McCluster how to prepare the right way. He also provides a bruising, straight ahead rushing attack that is going to come in handy in short yardage situations.
Is he old? Yes. But he doesn’t have to do it alone.
Think Marcus Allen here. With McCluster and Charles in the backfield with him, the Chiefs should be able to squeeze a couple of more years of productivity out of Jones until they can find a suitable replacement.
The Chiefs went from being a one trick pony in the running game to having a seriously intimidating backfield. They have speed, power and pass catching ability and they have a lot of it.
If not for their inexperienced head coach, one could argue that Kansas City the best coaching staff in the league.
The additions of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel are going to be invaluable to the Chiefs. These guys are proven winners with big game experience and enough Super Bowl rings that they could pawn them off and pay my student loans…and between you and me, that is saying something.
I have said it before and I will say it again, I don’t think the Chiefs ever intended Clancy Pendergast to be their defensive coordinator. He was likely brought in to handle the defensive backs and when Romeo decided to stay home and nurse his hip, they had to give the job to somebody they could shit-can the following year. Clancy was a patsy of sorts. He has never had a successful NFL defense and I am not sure he ever will.
Crennel has himself a defense full of young, talented and developing players. If guys like Flowers, Carr, Johnson, Dorsey, Jackson and Page can take the next step this season, Kansas City’s D could go from playground punching bag to gym class bully in one offseason.
Weis brings not only an incredibly creative offensive mind but also a talent for developing young QB’s. Matt Cassel is at a crucial point in his career. I sort of get the feeling he could go either way at this point. Either he is going to develop into a franchise guy now or he will be on the first train to Bustsville in 2011. If ever the odds got tipped in Cassel’s favor (and I understand the irony here) it was when Charlie Weis stepped on his side of the scale.
On top of all that, Haley can now concentrate on screaming at everyone instead of designing game plans AND screaming at everyone.
In all seriousness, Haley is no longer a rookie and his year of experience, coupled with fantastic support staff, should help his coaching immensely.
Are there still worries?
Oh yeah. I’m not reserving tickets to the Super Bowl just yet but there have been a lot of positive additions to our beloved Chiefs this offseason and it is important to recognize that.
I’ll be back later in the week with my 5 areas that still need to be addressed.
Until then, let’s hear the feedback. Sound off, Addicts!