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Kansas City Chiefs: The Right Support

You hear the word “support” used frequently in the field of sports. When you look at the 2012 edition of the Kansas City Chiefs from the perspective of “support,” it’s very easy to understand how multiple media outlets are predicting them for a season of great accomplishment

A prime example of this expanding support system can be seen by simply examining the three year history of QB Matt Cassell with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the bulging support the Chiefs are experiencing goes way beyond the QB position.

At the beginning of the 2009 season, head coach Todd Haley fired offensive coordinator Chan Gailey and with Haley at the helm himself, Matt Cassell had a less than stellar season, with the team following suit. With Coach Haley serving as both head coach and offensive coordinator, Matt Cassell had very little support to be successful in the Chiefs offensive system.

In 2010 the Chiefs hired a bonafide, stand alone, stand-out offensive coordinator in Charlie Weiss. Not only did the team’s record improve dramatically but, Matt Cassel also made the Pro Bowl. Consequently, you’ll frequently hear people say, “if Matt Cassel gets the right kind of support, he can be a very good quarterback.”

The record seems to bear this out.

The importance of a solid support system is in evidence for this current edition of the Chiefs and it’s reached epidemic proportions throughout the team.

Not only will Matt Cassel have an offensive coordinator whom he is familiar with, he actually knows him well, having worked with him in New England: calling Brian Daboll. Familiarity breeds efficacy (the power to produce effects), not contempt. Also, the QB coach will be with the team for another season. The importance of Jim Zorn’s decision to stay in Kansas City should not be overlooked. He will provide much needed cohesion and stability to the quarterbacking unit.

When you think about it, the Chiefs have support out the wazoo and we haven’t even moved past the subject of the QB position yet. With Jamaal Charles returning and Peyton Hillis providing a significant amount of punch that Thomas Jones hasn’t had in years — except in the locker room (pardon me, Jon Baldwin) — you can see that the strength of each position surrounding QB Matt Cassel is going to make his job ever easier than in any previous season.

The evolution of Jon Baldwin will help Matt Cassel, too. In the past Cassel would attempt  to make a play he’s not capable of or try and make a throw his arm is not meant to make. With Baldwin, there are going to be down-and-distance, as well as field position, situations and Matt will be able to just toss the ball up — like a referee in basketball throwing up a jump-ball — and Jon Baldwin will be able to go up and get it because of his height, hands and ability to leap.

The overall strength of the wide receiver core is a plus for Cassel too. Dwayne Bowe (assuming he returns), Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston, Dexter McCluster — are all playmakers. Beyond that, one of the most intense and interesting competitions in training camp will be for the remaining WR spots and each of the candidates looks very strong. Strong enough to see them winning time on the field at some point during the season. Consider: this may be the best wide receiver core the Chiefs have ever had.

Are you beginning to feel the support yet… at least for Matt Cassel?

Beyond that, there are many fans who are excited to see what the back-up quarterbacks have in their arsenal. So, if Cassel goes down, we can be reasonably sure that the Chiefs will be better off than the Palko or the Croyle fiascoes of recent and previous seasons.

The biggest chink in the chain of the circle of trust for Matt Cassel may be the center position. For the past couple of seasons Cassel could completely rely upon the wily veteran center Casey Wiegmann to call out protections and provide stability that comes with being there for every single snap for years on end. 2011 second round selection Rodney Hudson looks like he’ll do very well but, the reality is: he’s never snapped the ball from center in his professional career. Not in a regular season game. Not as a starter.

With that said, it should be noted that the great vacuum that used to occupy right-tackle for the Chiefs is sitting at home while one of the best right-tackles in the league will be blocking for Mr. Cassel’s non-blind side. There are now going to be instances when Cassel has time to call out for pizza… and likely time to enjoy it.

Support, support, support. Miracles never cease to amaze.

Remember how good Derrick Johnson was last year? Think how good he’ll be with a mammoth NT in the form of Dontari Poe eating up a couple of linemen at a time. Think Tamba Hali is good now? What if he continues to get the kind of support he got from Justin Houston during the last several games of last season? Johnson, Houston and Hali are going to have to be careful not to give each other a concussion in the opponent’s backfield, because they should be meeting there with some frequency this season.

One of the most exciting positions that has improved this off-season is that of safety. With Eric Berry tabbed to return and Kendrick Lewis developing out from under Berry’s shadow last season, the position looks strong considering who is starting. The support last season fell flat because with Berry out and Lewis being the only one who could pull a full load, the opposition exposed the Chiefs down the middle of the field enough for fans to be embarrassed. Now, with seven year veteran Abram Elam available to enter the rotation — and the return of Mr. Everything Berry — the safety position looks like it will be one of the strongest positions on the field for the Chiefs. And the seven years of experience that Elam has will provide even more support to the position that hasn’t been there for quite some time.

While head coach Romeo Crennel also serves as defensive coordinator, his depth of knowledge is often overlooked — but not by his defensive players.

That’s because they can “feel” his support.

The one position on the team where I don’t know if the Chiefs have enough support is… special teams. However, that may be the case on most teams right now because the players chosen for special teams are often the players who are taken from the bottom of the positional depth chart and in many cases, we just don’t know who those players will be yet.

All right then, Addict fanatics — where do you think the Chiefs need more support?

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