This our 2nd reader submission article. As you know, we are searching for a new staff writer or two. Over the next few days, I will be posting submissions of writers I am considering. Please take a look at the work and let them know what you think in the comments. What you guys think matters to me because these people will be writing for AA. This is your chance to weigh in so please do so.
Submissions are currently closed. I am still sorting through them. If we don’t find what we are looking for we may reopen submissions so keep an eye out.
Thanks to all who have already submitted. I really appreciate your work. We have gotten a lot of great stuff and it is very competitive. More submission posts are forthcoming.
The article was submitted by Matt Finucane.
Since the draft, the defense has been getting the lion’s share of my Chiefs-related daydreams. That always seems to be the case this time of year. A natural consequence, I suppose, of spending a top five pick on that side of the ball the last three years. Tyson Jackson isn’t the type of player I should be wondering about on June evenings as I walk my dog, but he was picked third, so here we are. It’s impossible to separate players from expectations. It’s equally impossible to separate a Chiefs fan from his memories of the 90s. We grew up on good defense, and we miss it. We’ve been waiting ten years for the D to show some signs of life, and it may start soon. So yes, the defense, in particular the recent draft picks, are always on my mind. But if the Chiefs contend for the division, it won’t be because of breakout seasons from Eric Berry and Glenn Dorsey. It will be because the offense put up a lot of points.
I’m as excited for Eric Berry as anyone, but I’m also realistic about his probable impact. He’s a rookie safety playing behind a bad front seven. He’ll be an improvement, and he’ll be fun to watch, but the defense will probably still struggle to stop the run and rush the passer. This isn’t a 90s resurgence, at least not yet. Our only chance at success is to turn back the clock to a more recent epoch. The 2010 Chiefs can’t play Martyball. They can maybe pull off Vermeilball.
That’s not to say Vermeilball is ideal. I remember its limitations all too well. I’ve still got beef with Greg Robinson and I can’t even remember what he looks like. I’m talking about our chances this year. The defense remains a work in progress. The Chiefs seems content to improve the unit slowly, through the draft. Long term, it could work. Short term, we have the same defense as last year plus a few rookies. Drastic improvement shouldn’t be expected. A baby step is likely, but that won’t win many games.
The offense, on the other hand, could make great strides. Unlike the defense, the offense was improved primarily through free agency. Free agency is designed to pay dividends in the here-and-now, rather than in the future. Thomas Jones, Ryan Lilja, Casey Weigmann and Jerheme Urban should all contribute to an improved offense this year. If not as starters, then as quality depth. Add that to a solid core of high-upside young players in Jamaal Charles, Branden Albert, Dexter McCluster* and Dwayne Bowe, and there is reason to be optimistic.
*It is early to be putting McCluster in this group, and I don’t think he’ll be as good as the other three. But he should be useful, especially considering the roster spot he takes is probably Lance Long’s. And his upside, at least on a per-touch basis, is high.
Of course, the most important piece is Matt Cassel. If he isn’t good, the offense won’t score many points, no matter how many running backs we have. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, we can admit that Cassel looked pretty bad last year. There are plenty of excuses, and some of them are perfectly valid. But the bottom line is that in most cases a team’s offense is going to be about as good as its quarterback’s numbers. Last year, Cassel’s numbers weren’t very good.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), those numbers are a reflection of much more than just Cassel’s performance. They tell us how good the passing game is, not how good the quarterback is. Last year, the passing game was bad. This year, it figures to be better, and I think Cassel will be a part of that. I look at him and I see a younger Trent Green*. Maybe not a star, but a smart, competent quarterback. Don’t forget, Green was bad at first too. He threw 24 interceptions his first year here. But then the running game took off, the line got better, and he was given respectable (though not spectacular) targets to throw to. All of the sudden, Trent Green looked like a pretty good quarterback.
*if nothing else, the circumstances behind Cassel and Green’s acquisitions are remarkably similar.
This situation obviously isn’t exactly the same. That team had Tony Gonzalez at tight end, this one has Lenny Pope. That team had Willie Roaf, Will Shields, and a young Brian Waters. We don’t have any of those guys. But our receivers are better than that team’s and our running backs are just as good. Charlie Weis fills the Al Saunders role nicely. This offense won’t set records, but every part of it got better this offseason. It stands to reason Matt Cassel will benefit from that. I expect him to take a step forward this year, much like Green did in his second year in KC. If I’m right, our offense will probably be pretty good. Good enough to carry this team to a division title? Doubtful. Good enough to carry us to a few more wins and some entertaining games? Absolutely.
At the very least, we should be able to outscore a team quarterbacked by this asshole: