Little has been said about the role, new offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll will play in the success of the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs. Since being hired by the organization in early February, he’s been able to cling to the shadows. The open period for NFL teams to designate franchise/transition players got underway exactly two weeks following Daboll’s appointment as the team’s new OC. The NFL Combine descended upon Indianapolis just days later. Free Agency began a scant five weeks after his hire date. I’m not certain that we, here in Chiefs Country, have had a real opportunity to assess Romeo Crennel’s decision to add Brian Daboll to his offensive staff.
Daboll is known to Crennel, having shared time with him in New England from 2002-2004. It’s there that he cut his teeth as an offensive assistant (wide receivers coach). He went on to become the quarterbacks coach for the New York Jets, before landing his first coordinator gig in Cleveland. The Browns, under Daboll’s stewardship, posted one of the league’s worst scoring offenses in both seasons of his tenure (29th-ranked in 2009, 31st-ranked in 2010). He was eventually hired by former Dolphins’ head coach, Tony Sparano, to spearhead a similarly woeful Miami offense. After such an unspectacular stint with the Browns’ offensive staff, no one lamented Daboll taking his “talents” to South Beach. You could make the case that Daboll’s shortcomings in Cleveland were due in part to a dearth of talent. Miami’s a much different story. There he had Brandon Marshall, Davonne Bess, Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline and Anthony Fasano at his disposal. The Phins did improve under Daboll (ten slots to the 20th-ranked scoring offense in ’11), but not enough to allay fears of continued ineptitude in Kansas City.
Can we have any confidence that Kansas City’s offense will produce under Daboll’s guidance? He has been able to assemble successful run games in the past. Runningbacks Jerome Harrison and Reggie Bush both posted career years under Daboll. I suspect that trend will continue with the addition of Peyton Hillis, the return of Jamaal Charles, and a significantly improved offensive line. The question then becomes: Can he create a respectable passing game for this football team? It should be noted that Matt Cassel is still your starting quarterback. Couple that with Daboll’s former 23rd-best, 29th-best, and 32nd-best passing game track record, and you may have found the Chiefs Achilles’ heel for the 2012 campaign.
Brian Daboll has his work cut out for him. This slow-starting team has managed to score an average of about 16 points per contest, in the opening four games of the regular season, since Cassel joined the team in 2009. That’s just one point higher than the average for Daboll’s first quarter offenses, over the same period. Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel are praying those old habits die hard. With Peyton Manning joining the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs will need a strong start to the season to contend for the division title. Daboll and the Chiefs’ offense face a stiff season-opening challenge on September 9th. The Atlanta Falcons and last year’s 6th-ranked run defense visit Arrowhead Stadium for the home opener. I’d venture to guess that the Chiefs will bring Jamaal Charles along slowly. A limited Charles might hurt Daboll’s chances of mounting a productive ground game against the Falcons’ defense. The rest of the Chiefs’ September schedule includes two consecutive road games (@BUF, @NO) and a first quarter match-up with the San Diego Chargers (at home). The Falcons have the best defense of that bunch, but the other three teams boast offenses ranked in the top half of the league in 2011. Needless to say, the Chiefs and Brian Daboll will need early success to keep the train on the tracks.
The organization needs you to be Charlie Weis (circa 2010), Mr. Daboll. If it’s not too much trouble, could you kindly accentuate Matt Cassel’s precious few positives while simultaneously minimizing his weaknesses? Use play-action and two-tight end sets liberally. Dare to be creative on 3rd-and-Long. Take care that the word “cute” is never used to characterize your decision-making on 3rd-and-Short. Lastly, while I can appreciate the fact that you’re no miracle worker, could you maybe make a man out of Dexter McCluster? No pressure, but we’re kinda counting on you, big guy.