No, I don’t claim to be Nostradamus but, consider: no team has had a perfect season in 40 years and running. Ever since then, even the best teams have had their down moments: power outages. I just experienced one at my house this past weekend.
So, when it happens, why will it happen and who will provide the letdown? Before focusing on the inevitable Chiefs negative wattage in 2012, first look at who can be depended upon.
That would most likely be Tamba Hali. He’s been one of the Chiefs most dependable performers for years now. If he keeps up this pace you might even consider him the Chiefs all time Mr. Dependable. Not only does Hali get sacks but he rates (by ProFootballFocus) 10th in total tackles over the past three seasons and has taken more snaps than any other edge rusher during that same time period. Mr. Dependable indeed. However, there have been times when the pass rushing unit couldn’t get to the QB but, Hali almost always gets pressure.
Tamba gets my vote for Mr. Electricity.
Next would be Dwayne Bowe. Over the past five seasons Bowe has been one of the NFL’s most consistent and productive wide receivers. Some complain about his drops or his off field issues but, he’s gotten much better at holding onto the ball and can you recall the last time he was an off-the-field problem? Me either. Excluding the 2009 season when he missed 5 games Bowe has averaged 1,085 yards receiving per year. By comparison Calvin Johnson has averaged 1,175 yards per year in his first five years and he’s considered to be the best in the game by many.
Beyond Hali and Bowe everyone else on the roster is suspect. Meaning, year in and year out only Tamba and Dwayne have performed at a high level.
Since this NFL offensive game has become such a space race let’s begin with the aforementioned pass rush. The power outage there will most likely come from Justin Houston. Last season there were many times Houston looked lost or just turned the wrong way missing an assignment. With 5 ½ sacks in the last five games Houston looked like he was ready to conquer the league. Many, including myself, are excited to see what Mr. Problem-We-Have-A-Houston can do in 2012, given his late season production. However, we haven’t seen it yet for a whole season yet so, Justin is the first possible power outage.
Next, I’ll be fixing my eyes on the center of the Chiefs offensive line a lot this season because Rodney Hudson is a first time starter at one of the most important positions on the field. As a Center, Hudson will not only be touching the ball on every play and calling blocking assignments but, he’ll often times be handling the biggest defensive lineman. Making sure to consistently negotiate the QB-Center exchange is no small task when it’s a good possibility he’ll be snapping the ball with the Chiefs lined up in the shotgun formation. Also, one of the most difficult tasks an inexperienced Center has is picking up linemen coming on a stunt or a twist. When defensive linemen come around each other, offensive blocking duties have to change or the QB finds himself impaled on the turf. I’ve been reading and hearing good reports about Hudson but, there’s no replacing experience when it comes to the Center position. To quote Mark Twain, “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” In Rodney’s case, no news will be good news.
The NT-ILB Combo- Dontari Poe and Jovan Belcher “may” be the weak link in the Chiefs defense. I see Belcher as a below average ILB. His individual tackle totals have gone from 46 to 53 to 61 in the past three years. If Poe can’t provide the requisite lock on multiple offensive linemen that comes in the 3-4 defense then I don’t see Belcher improving or making the necessary impact needed for the Chiefs defense to flourish. In other words, teams will run all over the Chiefs if that happens. Undrafted free agent Dexter Heyman looked good without pads in OTAs. He’s an inch and 10 pounds bigger. CBS Sports called Heyman, “the most disruptive player on the defense leading Louisville in tackles, tackles for loss and interceptions. When he’s at his best he seems to be everywhere on the field….” Obviously, I’m expecting a “power outage” up the middle of the Chiefs defense and why wouldn’t opposing offenses plan to attack there. The Chiefs have so many other excellent players elsewhere on defense. If there’s a weak spot, offensive coordinators of the league will find it and exploit it. If NT and ILB become a strength for the Chiefs this season, I’ll be the happiest guy in town. That’s just not what I’m expecting.
The last place you might expect to see a power outage is at the second wide receiver position. Yes, I know Jon Baldwin is set to go all gang-busters this year but, as of right now Dwayne Bowe doesn’t have a contract and Baldwin had a total of 21 catches last year. Beyond that and perhaps the more important reason I’m predicting a power outage at WR2 is that as good as Matt Cassel was in 2010, he often had a tough time locating his second and third receivers. If new right-tackle Eric Winston can help keep Cassel’s uniform clean then maybe Matt will regain the confidence from his glory days. Even so, many a pundit, yours included, believe that waiting for Cassel to learn to go through all his reads is like waiting for Godot (an inane stage production about two people waiting endlessly, and with great futility, for someone named Godot).
The 2012 Kansas City Chiefs should experience all manners of success. This is likely the most anticipated Chiefs season since Montana donned the red and gold. However, I don’t want us going into the season blindly expecting only unparalleled achievement. Yes, there should be boat loads of electrifying moments this year but, there will also be power outages.
Wel Ad icts… wha do y u thi k, w ll th re be pow r outag s th s year?