The Chiefs Then And Now: Beyond Comparing And Back Again

With the induction of Willie Roaf into the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame, much is being said about him being the best ever at left tackle. No argument here. What I’m wondering about is how today’s Chiefs stack up against the Chiefs of a decade ago — a team that many thought would not only make it to the Super Bowl — but, take it all the way.

So, here’s the 2002 Chiefs vs. the 2012 Chiefs.

Obviously, Willie Roaf is a supreme being when compared to Branden Albert… or anyone else for that matter. Will Shields started 223 straight games and will undoubtedly be the next KC Chief to go to the HOF. Both Shields’ and Roafs’ stats are embarrassingly good and makes a comparison sound moronic. Consequently, it’s probably not even appropriate to mention Branden Albert or Ryan Lilja’s name in the same paragraph. However, Albert has established himself as a solid LT for the Chiefs and Lilja will long be known for helping to successfully protect one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game, while in Indianapolis.

At Center, Casey Weigmann has been the Cal Ripken of Centers as he didn’t miss a snap from 2001 through 2011. Weigmann’s 175 consecutive starts places him third on the all-time list among Centers (only Mick Tingelhoff with 240 and Jim Otto with 210, have more). Casey eventually made the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2009 and has long been regarded as one of the better centers in the league. He doesn’t appear to have enough cred to ever be considered for the hall but, there is no denying his strong leadership at the point of attack. Rodney Hudson hasn’t snapped the ball in a regular season game yet so, we’ll have to wait-n-see.

If Brain Waters is not on the top ten list of undrafted free agents who had great careers, he should be. Waters had a significant career with the Chiefs winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2009 and he has also been the only offensive lineman since 1992 to win the Offensive Player of the Week award for a game he played in 2004 when the Chiefs scored 8 touchdowns in a game. He’s gone to the Pro Bowl five times with the Chiefs and again with the N.E. Patriots in 2011. Jon Asamoah had a strong season in his second season in the league, first as a starter. Asamoah has the capability to be as good, or better, than Brian Waters and the Chiefs made the right decision in allowing Waters to leave in 2011, so that Asamoah could begin his career as a starter.

Eric Winston v. John Tait gets interesting. Winston is currently one of the best, if not the best, right tackle in the game today. John Tait was drafted by the Chiefs in 1999 and played for them for 5 seasons. Five years later he signed an offer sheet with the Chicago Bears, which the Chiefs didn’t match and he retired from the league in 2009. Tait had a strong career and at the height of his career he was likely just as good as Winston is now. However, the edge goes to Winston here because he’s only 28 and looks like he will continue his dominance at the right tackle position for some time.

Eddie Kennison had 906 yards in 2002. Kennison had good speed and ran enough goes and posts to create space for Priest Holmes to run, that his purpose was expanded in that way, in that scheme. Except for 2009, when Dwayne Bowe only started 9 games, he’s had 4 seasons in which he gained more yards receiving than Kennison had in 2002. Not only is Bowe a better receiver but, he may possibly be the best receiver in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs organization. In 11 seasons Otis Taylor had 7603 yards receiving for the Chiefs. Bowe has 4,927 in five years. Bowe has average of 985 yards per year, which would be tops among all Chiefs receivers. Taylor only broke the 1,000 yard mark twice in his career. The chief of Chiefs, Pioli, needs to show Bowe what he knows is a good long term contract.

At running back Priest Holmes was the man in 2002. His 2,287 total yards and 24 TD’s rushing & passing place him in elite company. Jamaal Charles is special but, is actually at the beginning of his career. By comparison, in 2010, Charles’ 1,935 total yards and 8 TDs was excellent — which puts his and Holmes numbers into perspective. Holmes > Charles.

Tony Gonzales is one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. He shared TE duties with Jason Dunn who was an excellent blocker. However, Gonzo only had 773 yards receiving in 2002 and Dunn had a total of 16 yards. Which leaves the door open for Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss. Both Boss and Moeaki are good strong blockers and each is a way above average receiver. In fact, both Boss and Moeaki have the ability to make highlight reel catches. While I still like seeing photos of Gonzo in red-n-gold, I’m going with Boss and Moeaki because new OC Brian Daboll will be ramping up the passing game like we haven’t seen in ten years. I wouldn’t be surprised if both of the Chiefs tight ends surpass Gonzo’s 773 while paving the way for JC and the ex-Madden cover boy, Peyton Hillis.

QB Trent Green had a very good career and his best years came with the Chiefs. He threw for a total of 28,475 yards and threw for more than 3,400 yards 6 times in his career. Matt Cassel has 11,699 yards in about 3 1/2 seasons. However, Matt has only thrown for more than 3,400 yards once. Green threw for more than 4,000 yards three years straight with the Chiefs — with fewer weapons than Cassel has now. I’m going Green for now — but I reserve the right to change QB’s — if Matt gets phat.

While the offensive side of the ball belongs almost exclusively to the 2002 Chiefs it’s hard to come up with one position player on their defense that would be better than anyone on the 2012 squad. In 2002 the Chiefs finished dead last in defense in the NFL giving up 390 yards per game. If they could have somehow married the 2012 defense to the 2002 offense the Chiefs would have won a few Super Bowls of their own.

Mike Maslowski, Scott Fujita (both pictured, centered above) and Marvcus Patton were the defensive core at the linebacker position. While Maslowski led the team with 94 tackles that season you’d have to say that every single LB on the Chiefs current roster is better than every single LB in 2002.

As for the defensive line: they gave up 2,067 yards rushing. However, last season the Chiefs gave up 2,112. You can say the Chiefs defense is better this season but, in the rushing D-department they were virtually the same, giving up 2.8 more yards per game.

The defensive line was anchored by DE Eric Hicks who had 9.0 total sacks to lead the team. The rest of the defensive line included Eric Downing, Gary Still, Duane Clemons, Derrick Ransom and John Browning. I recall having such great hope for this crew: to no avail. Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson get credit for stopping the run outside but, since the Chiefs gave up more yardage last season on the ground than they did in one of their worst defensive seasons ever, you have to be somewhat unimpressed. Much of the yardage the Chiefs gave up last season was up the gut. Still, I’d take Dorsey, T-Jack  and the current crew over the 2002 D-line any time. Add in the emerging Allen Bailey, Amon Gordon, Ropati Pitoitua, Anthony Toribio, Jerrell Powe and rookie first rounder Dontari Poe — and this group has more potential than the D-line ever did ten years ago.

Although the 2002 team had names you’d recognize well in the defensive backfield, their outcomes were miserable. Greg Wesley, William Bartee, Eric Warfield, Shaunard Harts, and Jason Belser gave up 4,181 yards through the air — and 27 TDs. Wesley had 6 picks but, it was for a worthless cause. Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis, Stanford Routt, Javier Arenas, Abram Elam, Jalil Brown and Travis Daniels make a much superior coverage team.

Morten Andersen was 42 years old when he kicked for the Chiefs that year. I’ll give him the edge over Ryan Succop. Dan Stryzinksi punted for the 2002 team but, Dustin Colquitt is one of the better punters in the league right now and so he gets the call. Dante Hall was probably the best return man the Chiefs have ever had so, no combination of punt returners, or kickoff returners, that the Chiefs currently have this season is going to take that away from him.

I loved Dick Vermeil. He is one of my all time favorite coaches. Why — because he was emotional and could cry on cue. Romeo Crennel may be a better all round coach so I’ll take Crennel over Vermeil but, I still love that man to death. Can we change the subject — I’m getting verklempt.

It’s taken some time to adjust to Scott Pioli but, I wasn’t much of a Carl Peterson fan during his last ten years. When KC Star staff writer Jason Whitlock pegged Peterson as “King Carl” it was funny at first. However, over time it made me feel a defensive for Peterson because I thought Whitlock became mean spirited about it. Defensive or not, I’ll go with Pioli because he’s had a greater overall positive effect on the organization.

I loved and reverenced Lamar Hunt throughout his lifetime as the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. Hunt’s historical importance to the NFL is well chronicled and his old fashioned approach to the game of football was endearing. Sonny boy will have to go some — including a Super Bowl win — before I can say he’s a better owner than dear old dad.

Ten years goes by fast. Here’s a toast to the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs team: best of luck men — wear the red and gold proudly and remember — this is not your father’s Chiefs anymore.

Go Chiefs!

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