The time is upon us, Addicts!
The Kansas City Chiefs are slowly filing into St. Joseph, Mo. for training camp. Yesterday Andy Reid, Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Ricky Stanzi, Tyler Bray, and other members of their 2013 draft class reported to Missouri Western State University (the team’s training camp site). Six months after owner Clark Hunt brought head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey to town, this is the moment Chiefs Kingdom has been waiting for.
Camp officially opens on Friday of this week. The team will have just two weeks to get ready for their preseason opener at New Orleans (August 9th). Five days following their road trip to Louisiana, Kansas City breaks camp on August 14th. That’s just under three weeks to complete the foundation for the new regime. They won’t waste time, neither will I. Let’s get started with the discussion about what needs to happen in St. Joe.
Objective #1: Stay healthy
Reid should start his first Chiefs’ training camp by placing a moratorium on any and all personal skills competitions (see: the Jamaal Charles-Knile Davis foot race). Staying healthy is the prime objective for every NFL team, but it’s especially important to the reloaded roster in Kansas City. Tony Moeaki, Donnie Avery, and Shaun Draughn were all nicked up at one time or another during the spring.
Players need as much time in the new offensive and defensive systems as possible. Missed reps only retard the maturation process for the new-look Chiefs. It should be noted that Kansas City’s new head coach prefers a more physical brand of camp than some of his players are used to. Reid and Dorsey have done a great job of shoring up the roster, but the Chiefs still have several vulnerable spots where they can’t afford an injury.
Objective #2: Develop an offensive identity
We’ve heard player rumblings all offseason about how dynamic Reid’s hybrid WCO/Pistol/Spread offense is going to be. New offenses take time to install and assimilate. It could take the team half of the season to fully grasp the system and execute at optimal levels. It’s important that Reid establishes a base offense that can be effective to start the season. Kansas City faces three teams (Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Dallas) in the first quarter of the season that surrendered 25 or more points per game in 2012. The Chiefs need to be able to put points on the board and exploit those defenses.
Jamaal Charles will obviously be a major part of the offense in the early going, but what will the passing game look like? Alex Smith is one of the best play-action passers in the league so that will be an option with a successful run game, but what happens when the Chiefs can’t run the ball or fall behind on the scoreboard? Andy Reid, Doug Pederson, Chris Ault, and Brad Childress are all tasked with answering that question during camp.
Objective #3: Challenge Jon Baldwin
It’s now or never for the Chiefs’ #1 draft pick in 2011. Baldwin enters his third NFL season with more questions than career touchdown catches. The former Pitt Panther had an impressive training camp in 2012, but his progress proved to be an apparition. The regular season came and Baldwin’s disappearing act was a ghastly reminder of how big a hole the Chiefs had at wide receiver behind Dwayne Bowe.
Andy Reid should make St. Joseph “three weeks of Hell” for Baldwin. He should be jammed, double teamed, and interfered with. Make him run with the second team. Make him run laps. Make him do coffee runs. Whatever will unlock the potential we all saw in him when he was drafted. It’s time the organization got a return on their investment. Hopefully Reid’s newest coaching staff hire, former Bills receiver Andre Reed, can help manage his underperforming portfolio.
Objective #4: Have an open competition
As much as fans might want to see veterans win out at the positions where there is no incumbent starter, the Chiefs are likely to reap long-term benefits from having open competition. If I had to guess, the most notable spots up for grabs in camp will be: left guard, inside linebacker, and tight end. The players who’ll be competing for those jobs are either veterans with previous starting experience (Geoff Schwartz, Akeem Jordan, and Anthony Fasano) or recent draftees (Jeff Allen, Nico Johnson, and Travis Kelce). If the young guys earn first team reps, coaches shouldn’t hold their inexperience against them. Even if they don’t ultimately win those jobs, those opportunities to play with the 1′s will aid their development.
These four items comprise my unprofessional opinion about what this team needs to get accomplished during training camp. I’m not pompous enough to think I’ve compiled a complete list of objectives for the Chiefs. There are several other attainable goals this team could and should have for themselves. We’ll have to wait and see the fruit three weeks in St. Joseph will ultimately bear though.
What say you, Addicts? Do you think there are any specific things this team needs to do to set themselves up well for the regular season? Use the comment section below to tell us about it. As always, we appreciate your support and readership!
Until next time, Addicts!