Ah you smell that? I do. It’s the smell of optimism in the air. The Chiefs have a new regime with an experienced, successful NFL coach leading us. The holdover players are saying all the right things. People are drooling over Alex Smith’s leadership and intelligence. Jon Baldwin is reprising his superman in shorts routine from last year. The Bowe Show appears to be back and Jamaal Charles is gushing. Fans all over Chiefs Kingdom are drooling, imagining how much better player X or player Y will be in the new system (offense or defense). Yes Addicts, these are heady times. Fans have good reason to smile and dream a bit. After a two win season, it seems a virtual lock that the Chiefs will be better this season. Frankly, it’s hard to stink up the joint worse than last years team did.
However, there is one thought nagging at the back of my mind. New systems are not rising tides that lift all boats. The chances are likely that someone we are counting on will not be as good in the new system as he was in the old system. Let’s hop in the Merlin time machine for a history lesson.
The year is 1989. The Chiefs had hired (King) Carl Peterson as the GM and he brought in Marty Schottenheimer in to be the new Head Coach. OLB Derrick Thomas was drafted in the first round. The Chiefs’ linebacker corps was weak, however it was not bereft of talent. There was a very good linebacker on the team. In fact, he was coming off a Pro Bowl season. He was Dino Hackett, one of my favorite Chiefs of the time. Dino was a fun guy to watch play. He was a wild man, making plays all over the field. Therein lay the problem. Marty Schottenheimer wasn’t going to have anything to do with Dino’s freelancing. Marty put the handcuffs on Dino and he was never the same player.
So Addicts, I am raising the uncomfortable question. What current star is going to be less effective in the new system. I keep mulling over that question and I come up with one name. My answer is below the fold (yes, I am old school. No jumping here, I am folding.)
Addicts, feast your eyes on Derrick Johnson. Like Dino, he is coming off a Pro Bowl. So, why in the world would he regress? Bob Sutton is implementing an attacking 3-4 and fans are drooling over the image of a DJ that blitzes more. That seems tailor-made for someone as athletic as DJ. The answer lies not in his role, but in the role of the players around him, specifically the defensive line. In the old system, the line’s job was to occupy blockers, allowing the linebackers to flow to the play, unimpeded. That system was set up for DJ’s skills. As athletic as he is, he has never been great in shedding blockers. Now, with an 3-4 that asks the defensive line to penetrate, there will be more blockers for DJ to shed. Frankly, it’s not his strong suit. As much as I like him as a player, I can’t escape the logic. He appears to be the Chiefs star most set up for a fall.
Ok Addicts, that’s my take. What star do you think will be less effective in the new system and why?