The 2014 Kansas City Chiefs will be better than the 2013 Chiefs.
That’s what we’re all hoping, right? The more you look at the choices and trends of this organization, the more you will be convinced, the Chiefs are going to be better than they were last year. It’s alright if you don’t “believe” but, I’ve got a gut feeling the Chiefs will be better and that’s all that matters to me.
You can call it a four year plan if you like. We all want to be convinced the Chiefs are making progress towards arriving at a Super Bowl just like the Seahawks did after they changed GMs and head coaches four years ago. The Chiefs are one year along their journey.
However, I’ve got a feeling it isn’t going to take that long.
The first challenge of course is improving the roster. One of the reasons Andy Reid chose to come to Kansas CIty is that the Chiefs already had a terrific foundation with 7 Pro Bowl players in 2012. The team improved upon that number in 2013 but likely will be losing a couple of those players in LT Branden Albert and KR/WR Dexter McCluster. After considering the loss of those players it doesn’t look like the Chiefs will be diminished much… if at all.
That may be a somewhat shocking assessment to some but, considering the players the Chiefs have available to step in or the choices they have available in the draft, the team could actually be better at LT and KR/WR in 2014.
LT Eric Fisher appears to still have a ways to go before realizing his potential as as starting LT but Donald Stephenson has replaced Albert admirably in each of the past two years and in 2014 will be beginning his 3rd year in the league.
You may have heard me say before that I see Andy Reid as a “QB Whisperer.” He’s also a bit of an “OL Whisperer.” Linemen who play for him always seem to elevate their game. Of course… it goes hand-in-hand with improving your QB. If you can make one better, the other will likely follow suit.
Another reason the offensive line will be just as good (if not better than) as it was in 2013 is consistency. The same playbook, same line coach, offensive coordinator, same QB, same head coach for two years in a row… and this will help as much as anything to stabilize the O-line no matter where the individual players my land along the line.
Elsewhere on offense you can expect definite and decided improvements.
Will Alex Smith be better? Check.
Will Jamaal Charles be better? Check.
Will Dwayne Bowe be better. He should be after a down year. Check.
Should the 2nd WR position be better? Donnie Avery provided 37 yards receiving per game and plenty of dropped balls. If he returns… he should be better than that (he had 781 yards in 2012). If someone else replaces him — based on his limited contribution — WR2 should be better. Semi-check.
Will the TE position be better? While Sean McGrath may be a little better (he doesn’t project to have a huge upside) the other players on the roster (Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano) are iffy because of injuries. TE could be a big position of improvement but may remain a big need.
On the defensive side of the field it may actually be easier to project the Chiefs will be better than on offense. The reason for that is the poor play at Safety in 2013. In other words, almost anyone who GM John Dorsey and Andy Reid eventually bring in, could probably do better than S Kendrick Lewis did in 2013. The same can be said of CB Dunta Robinson.
One giant encouraging sign? Dunta is already dumped and Kendrick Lewis is on the outside looking in.
The only problem with feeling encouraged about this is… Clark Hunt, John Dorsey and Andy Reid. I’m including Clark Hunt here because he’s said he talks daily over every major decision with his head coach and general manager both of whom now report directly to him. They’re the one’s responsible for signing CB Dunta Robinson just one year ago and according to Andy Reid “everyone” on the roster was evaluated last off season making the poor play of Kendrick Lewis as much John Dorsey and Andy Reid’s fault as Kendrick Lewis’.
So, do we trust H, R&D (Hunt, Reid and Dorsey) who signed Alex Smith, Mike DeVito, Sean Smith, Sean McGrath, Marcus Cooper, Husain Abdullah, and Quintin Demps… or do we trust the H, R&D who signed Dwayne Bowe, Anthony Fasano, Donnie Avery and Dunta Robinson all to a bad contracts?
If you’ve ever started your own organization from the ground up — and I have, twice — you know that your first year is totally a learning experience. By the second year you begin to know what practices and procedures you do and don’t want to repeat or continue. Call it rookie mistakes. That may be the case for John Dorsey but, Andy Reid knows better.
Then again, Andy Reid may have been dealt a mixed hand of cards and told, “Make the best of it.” And… I’d have to say, he did!
Those mistakes should become lessons learned and hopefully be minimized this offseason. So, I expect Clark Hunt, John Dorsey and Andy Reid to be better in 2014.
At this point of the offseason, if you were to make a list of the reasons that the Chiefs would not be better in 2014, a “difficult schedule” would likely be the answer of most fans.
With that in mind — and the idea that this is now a “passing league” — I put together a chart of the teams the Chiefs faced last season and will face next season and compared their passing rank in the league. The first charts look like this,
The second chart showing the passing rank of the teams the Chiefs will face in 2014 looks like this below,
The chart on the top shows the passing rank of every team the Chiefs faced in 2013. The average passing rank of all teams the Chiefs faced was 14.4 last year.
The chart on the bottom shows the passing rank of every team the Chiefs faced in 2014. The average passing rank of all the teams the Chiefs will face 2014 is 17.25 next year.
When so many fans look over the schedule of opponents for 2014, without exception, they say the Chiefs have a harder schedule next year. From a passing standpoint, that would appear to not be true. So, the Chiefs may actually do better next season? Well, hold one a minute.
The charts below show the passing defensive rank of each team the Chiefs faced… and will face.
The second chart show the defensive passing rank of every team the Chiefs will face in 2014 and looks like this below,
So, the passing defenses the Chiefs faced in 2013 were not as good as the one’s they’ll face in 2014… but only by the slimmest of margins. The main difference in the “sets of charts” is that there’s only one yard per quarter that separates the teams between the 22nd and 19th rankings (on the second set of charts) while the charts at the top show almost 15 yards per game or 225 yards per year difference.
Coach Reid is frequently saying that the margin between victory and defeat is very small. The above charts are a favorable sign for the Chiefs. At least I have a gut feeling that they are.
One telltale sign that you’re going to have a very good team is… if you have a Pro Bowl caliber QB/RB combo. The Chiefs should feel very good about those two positions going into 2014.
In the past eleven seasons, 9 QB/RB combos have made the Pro Bowl together in the AFC alone. One glaring and a bit shocking name that’s absent from this list is Tom Brady. I guess that’s why I’ve almost always felt that Brady was a better QB than Manning… he’s always been achieving his success without the level of support Manning has gotten, especially at the RB position. Here’s the list of those who made the Pro Bowl as part of an AFC QB/RB combo,
- Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith in 2014.
- Matt Schaub and Arian Foster in 2013.
- Ben Roethlisberger and Willie Parker in 2008.
- Joseph Addai and Peyton Manning in 2008.
- LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers in 2007.
- Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James in 2006.
- Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James in 2005.
- Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005.
- Trent Green and Priest Holmes in 2004.
Is it more the case that … if you have a Pro Bowl caliber QB then your RB is more likely to be Pro Bowl caliber too? Or, it is more the case that… if you ahve a RB who is Pro Bowl caliber then your QB is more likely to be a Pro Bowl caliber player? While I can make a case that Peyton Manning has made it to the Pro Bowl with two different RBs you could also argue that since Tom Brady has made it to the Pro Bowl with no Pro Bowl level RBs during this time period it’s not the RB who is the linchpin in this process.
When you look to an organization like the Minnesota Vikings and see the number of years Adrian Peterson has under his belt without the benefit of a Pro Bowl caliber QB it should prove a valuable lesson for Chiefs fans. These years with Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles together in the backfield should be cherished. They’re special. And… it should give you a good feeling right in the pit of your stomach.
Better known as, your gut.
It’s a big reason I have a good feeling about the Chiefs in the coming months and years. Especially 2014.
Okay Addict fans. What’s your gut telling you about these 2014 Chiefs?