With the lockout moving towards an end, it’s time to focus more on the 2011 Kansas City Chiefs. The retirement of Mike Vrabel sparked a thought in my mind. When you have a young, improving team, it’s easy to fall into a trap. That is, assuming that things are always on an upswing. The Chiefs really don’t have many key older players and a nice core of good, young talent. The future looks bright, but all is rarely well. I started to speculate. What positional grouping will take a step backwards this year? Yes, I know it’s not a comfortable question to ask. However, to be a fair and realistic fan, it needs to be asked. One positional group came to mind immediately. This group in particular is overrated due to the soft schedule of last year and the special talent of a particular player. What is that group? My thought is after the jump.
The offensive line is tailor-made for a step backwards this year. I have several reasons for coming to this conclusion.
- Assuming Casey Wiegmann is resigned and starts, this unit is counting on two starters (Wiegmann and Waters) whose best years are behind them. Age is a cruel mistress and eventually wins over any player. Wiegmann’s smarts and leadership was huge last year in the line improvement. It looks like he will return to the Chiefs for what probably is his final season. He wore down last year and I don’t see him playing at a high level for an entire season. Rodney Hudson will be groomed to start and he should be a good player. However, changing centers is a big adjustment for the entire line. The Chiefs should take a step backwards just on this factor alone. However, I have more reasons.
- Jamaal Charles hides deficiencies on the offensive line. Charles is a special player. His skills allow him to be very shifty and fast. He can create his own holes. His style helps the offensive line look better than it really is. Look at the decline of Thomas Jones for a counter example. Part of his decline is a result of the offensive line. Jones does not make his own holes and he declined a great deal last year.
- The Chiefs line was exposed, especially late in the season. When matched up against a big, physical offensive line, the Chiefs fared poorly. The Ravens game was the prime example of this. The offensive line just could not handle the Ravens defensive front seven. The Chiefs need a bigger, more physical offensive line. That’s why I loved the drafting of Jon Asamoah two drafts ago and was less thrilled with the drafting of Rodney Hudson. I hope I am wrong with my concerns that Hudson just will be too light to be a very good NFL center. It’s why I look at players like Casey Wiegmann and Ryan Lilja and have the same concerns. It’s hard to play well at under 300 lbs in today’s NFL. This thought puts me at odds with Todd Haley. He prefers a quick, agile line. That can work well, but I wonder about how well that line can handle physical defenses and work effectively in goal line and short yardage situations.
OK Addicts, that’s my case. I am open to thoughts and counter cases. Anyone think a different unit is more likely to take a step backwards? Do you think the offensive line will improve, decline or stay the same?