“Visions of sugarplums danced in their heads” ~ The Nutcracker
You’ve probably seen such comments mentioned recently: “Brian Daboll has a lot to work with in K.C..” ” The Chiefs have one of the best rosters in the league right now.” ” Brian Daboll has a lot of toys to play with.”
These “toys” of course are players in his new “Nutcracker” offense. Now, it’s up to new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to choreograph, and pull the right strings, to get the most of a talented troupe.
So, how much has the Chiefs offense grown just since the end of the 2011 season?
1. New Offensive Coordinator: Brian Daboll
2. Replaced RB Thomas Jones with Peyton Hillis
3. The return of RB Jamaal Charles
4. The return of TE Tony Moeaki
5. The return of QB Matt Cassel
6. The addition of TE Kevin Boss
7. The addition of back-up QB Brady Quinn
8. The addition of RT Eric Winston
9. The drafting of slot WR Devon Wylie
10. The drafting of OG/OT Jeff Allen
11. The drafting of OT depth Donald Stephenson
12. The drafting of RB Cyrus “Cy-Fi” Gray
13. The drafting of WR Junior Hemingway
14. The franchising of WR Dwayne Bowe
When you make a list, it’s immediately apparent that the Chiefs loaded up on offense this offseason. Why? One possible explanation is that the two teams in the Super Bowl had horrible overall defenses last season… and still made it to the biggest game of all. The lesson to be learned from this: a potent offense wins championships. Well, at least the current formula for winning a championship has temporarily become slanted that way.
So, what will a Daboll “championship” troupe have to offer this year?
- Running back by committee? √ Check. Ivory Thunder and Ebony Lightning are going to make it difficult for teams to weather the Chiefs storm.
- A wide open passing attack? √ Check. In theory. The contingent component here is QB Matt Cassel’s timing and accuracy.
- Two tight end sets? √ Check. Going to help passing and running games.
- Multiple slot receivers with “kwiks?” √ Check. Dex and Wylie… a la Wes Welker… will wow the audiences.
- Speed for the deep ball? √ Check. If Cassel can get the long ball to JBal with the requisite distance and consistency?
- Passing over the middle with success? √ Check. Not only Bowe but now there’s Boss and Wylie plus Moeaki is back.
- Strength at the point of attack to punch it in near the end zone or grinding the clock down late in the game? √ Check. Improved line play plus Peyton Hillis and Cyrus Gray. Here they come to save the day!
The list is imposing enough but, perhaps the list should be called “What will Pioli offer to Daboll this year?
So, what would you imagine that Brian Daboll could do with all these top notch options? Creating mismatches should be near the top of his list.
In a recent post by Nicholas Alan Clayton called “Peyton Hillis: The Chiefs’ Best Signing of 2012”, he points out that,
When we face teams with heavy-footed, run-stuffing linebackers, we can let Charles dance around them or burn by them. If we’re up against a finesse team with coverage linebackers, we can let Hillis run them over.
Peyton Hillis is the original Mr. Ground-and-Pound himself. If you’re privileged enough to have been a Chiefs fan in the early 1990s then you may recall a young man named Christian Okoye. Christian was 6-1 and weighed 253 lbs. Hillis goes 6-2 and is 250 lbs. and can bring it like Okoye did but, he also likes taking it to the open field and has the speed to do that.
Whether Peyton’s difficulties last season were real or perceived, we do know Mr. Daboll used him effectively in 2010 (1,654 combined rushing and receiving yards). That alone will boost Hillis’ confidence enough for Daboll to get a max effort from him. With Hillis under a one-year contract, I’d be reasonably surprised if he didn’t rush for 1,000 yards in 2012.
Wondering what Brian Daboll has in store for Jamaal Charles? Think Reggie Bush. Bush gained 100 yards or more in five out of his last nine games, was a regular receiving threat out of the backfield and ended up with more than a thousand yards on the year. Daboll knows how to get players like JC and Dex into space, where they can use their crowd pleasing speed and elusive-butterfly-of-love abilities.
“I think with all the players, your job as a coach is to see where they fit.”
~ Brian Daboll
How about the Chiefs new tight-ends-duet, Kevin Boss and Tony Moeaki? Pro Football Focus said of Boss and Moeaki,
“… if the Chiefs are getting the TE (Boss) who finished as PFF’s No.3 TE in 2009 (+17.4), they’re getting a real weapon… (he’s) in the same category as players like Kellen Winslow and Heath Miller… In the last 10 years only a handful of TEs have hit 500 receiving yards in their debut seasons (556). Moeaki was PFF’s No. 6 TE in 2010 and posted strong peripherals across the board. If healthy, he will outperform his ADP by a wide margin.
Has Daboll been around long enough to evaluate his current roster? Does he know what he has to work with? “Skill-wise, I think we have some stuff to work with.”
Daboll describes Moeaki as a “very skillful tight end.” The two tight-end sets that New England has popularized and taken great advantage of in the past two seasons should become a staple of the new Daboll offensive machine.
And Brian Daboll knows about WR Jon Baldwin: “the Baldwin kid from Pittsburgh, big, he can make acrobatic catches.”
In a Q&A with the Chiefs new puppet master he goes on to explain,
I think that your job is to go through… the different practices and get a bird’s-eye view of the 11 guys, or the 15 guys with the different personnel groups that you’re going to be in and out of, and determine who’s the best and will give you the best chance to win.
Trick plays? Daboll once used prized OT Jake Long as a tackle-eligible and then split him out wide. He said it “didn’t work” but, that it “looked good.”
It means that Brian Daboll is ready, willing and able to place his new toys in a position to win.
I sure do wish it was time to play with the marionettes right now.
So, you can call it “the Chiefs offense” but, I like to think of it as “Daboll Toys, Inc.”
Any string you can’t wait to see pulled?