As the final seconds ticked off the clock at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Kansas City Chiefs second half — of the game and the season — collapse was complete, there were more questions than answers. The biggest question of course, was what needed to be addressed first?
The initial reaction by many Chiefs fans was to call for the head of defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. Once the dust settled and the smoke cleared most advocates for that course of action realized it probably wasn’t the best idea. From there, it was only a natural progression to find the root of the problem. On the defense, one of the biggest roots of that problem is free safety Kendrick Lewis.
Lewis was drafted by the Chiefs in fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Perhaps the biggest flag that stood out with Lewis was his 40-yard dash time. Even as a rookie coming out of college he ran a 4.73. That’s pretty slow, especially for a defensive back. Looking back at game tape, he continually takes bad angles on ball carriers and isn’t a very impressive tackler.
The best thing about the 2013 season coming to an end in regards to Lewis is, his rookie contract expires on March 11, and the Chiefs won’t have to worry about losing any “dead money” by cutting him. They can simply let Lewis fade away and potentially — suckers — be signed by another team.
However, should that happen, the Chiefs will have a hole in the free safety position. While Lewis had a terrible year and was the reason the Chiefs got beat deep a lot, he still held that position as a starter in the national football league. One could surmise from that, that there isn’t anyone else currently on the Chiefs roster that can play the position better than Lewis. That’s a scary thought.
Many think that when Sanders Comings — ironically another fifth-round draft pick — returns to full health this off
season he will be the natural replacement for Lewis. Others believe that the answer for the Chiefs at free safety lies in free agency or this year’s draft with the two biggest prospects being Jairus Byrd who hits free agency with the Buffalo Bills — but will be looking for a huge pay day — and Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix the top-15 prospect out of Alabama. Either way, Kendrick Lewis has likely — hopefully — played his last down of football for the Chiefs.
On the other side of the ball, the biggest question mark at the end of the season was the #2 wide receiver position. During this last off season, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey brought in Donnie Avery to compete for that position. Obviously during preseason former Chiefs wide receiver Jon Baldwin held down the position across from Dwayne Bowe but when he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers Avery stepped into the position.
When Avery scored the first touchdown of the season for the
Chiefs by catching a ball from Alex Smith on an out route and breaking a tackle to find the end zone, many thought Avery was what everyone hoped he would be. But as the season marched on, the stone hands and drops that plagued Avery in Indianapolis became more and more evident. Even though Avery became the “go-to guy” on third-and-forever plays when he miraculously was able to pick up first down yardage on a short slant route, he was never able to be consistent enough to take pressure off of Bowe.
With Dexter McCluster potentially leaving the team in free agency, Avery could potentially be headed to the slot position held by DMC this season. Still, the Chiefs still need a solid #2 receiver. The Chiefs still have A.J. Jenkins on the roster who they received from the 49ers in the Baldwin trade. While he was widely considered a bust in San Francisco and he took a bit to catch on with the Chiefs offense, he started coming on at the end of the season.
Jenkins has the speed to “take the top off” the defense, which seems to be a prerequisite for a #2 receiver, but his route running ability — other than the fly — and hands are still suspect.
Still, the Chiefs also have a couple of other prospects on the roster to do an internal hire. Junior Hemmingway and other former 49er Kyle Williams are also on the roster and could show some promise. If the Chiefs look to free agency, big names such as Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, and Eric Decker are at the top of the wish list. Should it be the draft that the Chiefs use to fill this hole, they will have the choice between names like Mike Evans or Odell Beckham Jr.
So which is it, Addicts? What’s the biggest need for the Chiefs this off season? Sound off below.