Will The KC Chiefs Really Be Better In 2012?

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Are the 2012 K.C.Chiefs better than the 2011 edition? The Chiefs offseason has been stellar in many ways but, you may be surprised that they didn’t improve at certain positions!

Here’s a position by position analysis.

The Defense

Defensive Ends
Tyson Jackson is said to be bigger and stronger coming into camp. He’s also getting ready to go into a contract year. On the other side Glenn Dorsey is in a contract year and if he wants to see big money offered in the off season by either the Chiefs or in Free Agency, he ‘dbetter play lights out too. ProFootballFocus says they were tops in stopping run last year. They’ll be better than last year as they enter their prime. Back-up 6-8, 315 Ropati Pitoitua is an experienced DE and will help give Dorsey and TJ an occasional rest — and they’ll be better for it. The defensive end position will be improved!

Nose Tackle
Anthony Toribio is getting the first starting assignment of his career. Last year NT Kelly Gregg manned the NT position and while he did  an admirable job during the first half of the season — the last half of the season is the reason they didn’t bring him back for another go. Toribio came out of Carson-Newman college in 2008 as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins. He also spent time on The Green Bay Packers practice squad from 2008-2010 which enabled the Chiefs to pluck him up. It’s apparent he was wasn’t going to unseat any of the Packers DTs from their starting roster spots with B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Howard Green manning their middle. Consequently, many people think Toribio could be a diamond in the rough. However, there aren’t many nose tackles who come into the league and blow the doors down in their first campaign. Dontari Poe and Jerrell Powe should get into the rotation to get some needed reps but, I’m not expecting Poe to be the big success, in his rookie season, that many people may want him to be. Opposing teams will likely target running up the middle on the Chiefs and may have success in the first half of the year. The second half of the season should improve as their young bucks get the important experience they need early on. The nose tackle position will not be improved this season.

OLB
It’s been suggested that Justin Houston could outshine Tamba Hali this season. I’d like to believe that — and while I can buy into the idea that the outside linebackers position will improve this season — it’s hard to imagine anyone on the Chiefs defense outshining Hali. Hali is not only an excellent player he is a workout warrior and a quiet team leader. If Houston outperforms Hali then the Chiefs will have a top five defense this season. When I counted the number of teams who needed a high performing quarterback during the 2011 off season the number was higher than it is now.  I didn’t imagine that the 49ers Alex Smith would improve quite as much as he did or that rookies Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and even Vikings maturing QB Christian Ponder would come in and play at a high level. In other words, the number of teams needing a high performing QB are going down and consequently the league will become a passing league to an even greater degree than it has ever been before. If the Chiefs Justin Houston can play anywhere near to Hali’s level — the OLB position will be better this year.

ILB
Derrick Johnson is Derrick Johnson. He will be a Pro Bowler again. It’s the other ILB who concerns me. Sometimes a player comes into camp and surprises you — simply because they went undrafted. Jovan Belcher did that a few years ago, and you get the feeling Dexter Heyman will be that guy this year. Every bit of information about him from data — to videos — to interviews — to opinions of anyone who has seen him play, indicates he is a keeper. Brandon Siler, who is returning from injury, got a vote of confidence months ago by being offered another contract from the Chiefs without playing a down for them a year ago. He may unseat Belcher who comes in as an average ILB. Siler has more speed than Belcher, who runs an unimpressive 4.88- 40. Then again, ILBs don’t always need to be super fast — unless they are coving players like tight-ends Antonio Gates or Tony Gonzales — which they’re going to have to do plenty of this year — beginning week one. Belcher should continue to progress against the run and Siler should improve the pass defense. Heyman may help out later in the year. The ILB position will be better this season but, not by much.

Cornerbacks
Brandon Flowers could make a Pro Bowl this year. I expect him to do that at some point. That might happen if new CB Stanford Routt doesn’t play up to expectations. If other teams throw in Routt’s direction and have success, Flowers may see fewer balls and consequently he could look a lot better even though the team suffers. I continue to see negative comments about GM Scott Pioli because fans feel it was his fault that Brandon Carr didn’t sign with the Chiefs. I’ve heard multiple interviews with Carr and he says he always dreamed of playing for the Dallas Cowboys. I’m convinced that if Pioli had offered the same money — or even slightly more — to Carr, as what the Cowboys had offered, he would have still signed in Dallas. So, Carr is in Dallas and there’s a strong possibility Routt is not going to play up to Carr’s level. Second year corner Jalil Brown comes to camp with a bigger body and had a strong set of OTAs. Brown should help in passing downs and get some time covering the slot. The cornerback position will not be improved this year.

Safety
The return of Eric Berry and the addition of Abram Elam instantly makes this position better. The safeties the Chiefs now have on their roster will make their pass defense better and their run defense better. The safety position will be much better this year.

Overall, the Chiefs defense will be better this year.

The Offense

The Center Positon
Stable journeyman Casey Wiegmann is out and Rodney Hudson is in. Rodney Hudson may be very, very good — eventually but, not in his first starting season. There aren’t many centers who come into the league and are Hercules in the their first year. I love Hudson’s foot work but, he’s going to need more than great feet to make it in the land of giants — who’ll be coming at him every down in this league. I would hope that  Hudson improves in the latter half of the season but, fans should anticipate some rough patches. That doesn’t mean there absolutely will be but, fans should be prepared. The center position will not be better this season.

Guard
Ryan Lilja has admitted he had a down year in 2011. Jon Asamoah had a good solid year for a first year starter. Asamoah will now be flanked by a first year starter at center and maybe the best right-tackle in the league on the other side. Lilja may lose his job to a rookie if he starts slowly. With so many positive changes on the offensive side of the ball — I’m not expecting Lilja to take a step backwards and if he is replaced it will be because the rookie replacing him, Jeff Allen, is really that much better.  The guard position will be better this year.

Tackle
Branden Albert is in his prime and playing way above abover average ball and Eric Winston is top shelf. The rookie tackles being developed as back-ups this season will even be better than Barry Richardson ever was — and I know this without even seeing them play a down. Tackles will undoubtedly be better this season.

Tight-End
The addition of Kevin Boss and the return of Tony Moeaki make the TE position a real strength this season. Together they will be giving opposing defenses — the MoBoss Blues! The tight-end position will be definitely be better this year.

Running backs
Everyone is assuming Peyton Hillis will return to 2010 form. I have to agree. Everyone is also assuming Jamaal Charles will return to 2010 form. I agree again. Scott Pioli has worked overtime this offseason to bring in some excellent talent. Enough for the competition at all positions, including RB, to be hot in camp this year. Rookies Cyrus Gray, Shaun Draughn, and Nate Eachus will make for a crazy good camp in 2012. The running back position will improve greatly in 2012.

Wide Receivers
If Dwayne Bowe sits out this year then the Chiefs will be worse. However, do you really think Bowe will pass up $559,000.00 per game to to sit out. If you do, think again. With the improvement of Jonathan Baldwin and the improved depth here, this is another position where  Chiefs will be getting a real treat watching the camp competition. Seventh round pick Junior Hemingway and UDFA Josh Bellamy will likely be vying for a roster spot. Both have been excellent in OTAs and it may come down to who can best be utilized on Special Teams. However, watch out for the Chiefs to take a good long look at Bellamy because he has also played some cornerback in college and you know how Pioli likes those multidimensional players. Devon Wylie should win a spot, not just because he’s got excellent quickness but because of his draft position (4th round) and you know Pioli also doesn’t like to admit he made a mistake on draft day. The wide receiver position will be improved this year.

Quarterback
Matt Cassel returns and he may — or may not — be improved. I’ve heard many say they expect Cassel to be better, or return to 2010 form (his Pro Bowl year) in 2012. An improved running game is going to help but, the challenges that Cassel has faced in years past may not get any better regardless of the — better pass protection or — the unpredictability the offemse will produce — by having a successful running game. Accuracy, going through his reads, handling pressure by sliding in the pocket — Matt Cassel will need to show progress in all these areas for the quarterback position to to improve. Matt Cassel’s passer rating has been all over the place for the past four years. That doesn’t change just because he gets an offensive coordinator he likes. I’ve not seen Cassel ever — take a game over — and since he’s never done that I don’t know why fans would expect that he’ll start doing that now. Cassel might improve his game management skills but, that doesn’t mean his overall play will improve. The point can be made that QB depth is better this year but, the reality is that Brady Quinn has very little experience and no matter how many times Charlie Weis says he could be a good NFL QB — he has played in 14 games in 5 season in the league with a passer rating of 66.8. I — hope — he’s betterthan that but, this rating isn’tbased on hope. Second year QB Ricky Stanzi may win the backup spot but, he hasn’t played a single snap in a NFL regular season game. The quarterback position was a position Scott Pioli choose not to address this offseason although he was admittedly making a play for Peyton Manning. The quarterback position will not be improved this year.

The offense, as a whole, will be better in 2012.

Special Teams
The addition of ST coach Tom McMahon should help. His ability to produce excellent ST players will make the Chiefs a better team. Dustin Colquitt is reported to be booming kicks during training camp. With the depth on the team improved — the Chiefs special teams will also be better.

Coaching
The chemistry on the coaching staff appears to be much improved from the top down. Take a look at “The Personalities Who Will Coach ‘Em Up” if you missed it. The coaching staff will be better this year beginning with top dawg Romeo Crennel.

The team, as a whole, will be better this year.

We know AA will be better this year — and FanSided will be better this year too — the big question is: will the fans be better this year? Go Chiefs!

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