As the unmistakable signs of the lockout ending get stronger and more frequent, let’s take a look ahead a what effect this lockout has on the Chiefs. Veteran teams, without a lot of turnover are teams that will survive the lockout better than younger teams going through a transition. Teams that are bringing in a new head coach or changing offensive or defensive schemes are teams that are more affected by the lockout. How do the Chiefs rate on these measures?
Offense: The Chiefs did lose offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss, but the system hasn’t changed. Todd Haley will probably call the plays. What effect will this have on the Chiefs? There will be a change going from Weiss to Haley. The playbook really hasn’t changed, but the play calling will. The playbook continuity will be of great benefit. What about the players? Rookies are at the greatest disadvantage during the lockout. Even if they have playbooks, it’s a pale imitation to the minicamps and OTA’s under the supervision of the coaching staff. People will focus on Jonathan Baldwin, and with good reason. The Chiefs need him to be a viable threat opposite Dwayne Bowe. However, Baldwin is not my focus, Rodney Hudson and Casey Weigmann are. With the lockout, it’s even more important that Weigmann plays this year. Offensive line continuity is vital to the success of a team. The Chiefs should do everything short of kidnapping Weigmann to ensure he plays next year for the Chiefs. Without his leadership, the Chiefs are going to struggle along the offensive line. Also, long term his help grooming Hudson will be invaluable. For a comparison, consider the effect that Mike Webster had on Tim Grunnard. Weigmann could provide Hudson with a similar benefit.
Defense: Unlike the Offense, Romeo Crennel is back calling the schemes. However, problems lie just below the surface. Romeo’s scheme is a more cerebral scheme than many defenses. It takes time and many reps to learn how to play it effectively. This makes it harder for rookies to make an impact right away. The lockout only makes this worse. Specifically, Romeo’s linebackers need to be well schooled and disciplined. Fans that are expecting Justin Houston to step right in opposite Tamba Hali. It was always a stretch starting the season, but the lockout makes it worse. I am expecting Houston to work his way later rather than sooner. I would not be shocked to see the Chiefs open with Andy Studebaker at outside linebacker. Jerrell Powe will be less hurt than Houston. The demands on the nose tackle are less mentally taxing than out outside linebacker. Also, Powe will probably be brought along slowly anyway.
Overall: The Chiefs are a younger team that is still looking for good contributions from their rookie class. The lockout will effect them more than veteran teams like the Packers and Steelers. It would be wise to dampen expectations for rookies like Jonathan Baldwin and Justin Houston. Baldwin is such a physical freak he could do well. However, Houston has a lot to learn to succeed under Romeo Crennel. The development of Rodney Hudson is also set back. With proper seasoning, this class could still be a good class as sophomores. However, it make take half a season to see these many of these rookies start to make an impact this year. Expect most rookies to start as role players. Baldwin is the rookie with the best shot to start right away.