Now this is the fun part. I’m just completely jacked up about this year’s Kansas City Chiefs D. In fact, I think the unit has a chance to be among the best in the entire NFL. A few things have to fall into place for that to happen, but I honestly do think this defense is going to be our best in a decade.
The D-line should be vastly improved. Both Jared Allen and Tamba Hali will have another year under their belts. The duo should be one of the most disruptive defensive end combos in the league. Alfonso Boone, James Reed and Ron Edwards will all be serviceable defensive tackles. Jimmy Wilkerson rounds out the veterans worth mentioning, and he will spell both the ends and tackles from time to time.
Two rookies — Tank Tyler and Turk McBride — are why I’m really excited about this group. Tyler has a chance to come in and be our most dominant interior defensive lineman this season. He has the size and talent to be the player we all hoped Ryan Sims would turn out to be. He would have gone much higher in the draft if it wasn’t for a few character concerns. McBride is a versatile player that will mostly likely play outside on rushing downs, and then inside on passing downs. Like Hali, he has a non-stop motor. What I really like about McBride is that for a DT he has amazing speed (4.8 40). His presence should give the Chiefs an interior pass rush, which will make Allen and Tamba even more effective. The big question with these two is just how much they will see the field as rookies. I think they’ll both perform well in camp, something that will set both players to play extensively during the regular season.
This is easily my favorite part of our defense this year. With three burner backers — Derrick Johnson, Donnie Edwards and Napoleon Harris — Herm Edwards has probably the best Cover 2 linebacking corps in the game. Johnson had a helluva season last year, and would have received much more pub had it not been for missing three games due to injuries. We all know about Edwards and how great of an outside backer he is, but what about Napoleon Harris? Well, he’s a pretty damn good player, too. Plus, he has great wheels for a middle backer and is accustomed to playing Cover 2. These three definitely won’t lead the league in sacks, but don’t be surprised if they rack up more INTs than any other LB group. Additionally, all three are smart, fly to the ball and tackle. The biggest negative with these three is that they all have the tendency to depend too much on their superb athleticism, running around blockers instead of taking them on. That shouldn’t be too much of an issue, though.
Kendrell Bell, Keyaron Fox and Rich Scanlon will all see some playing time. Even though Bell is a former standout, Fox has shown the most promise over the past few seasons. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham might even use Bell as a down pass rusher in order to best utilize his talents. No other linebacker is worth mentioning (sorry, Beakers, not even Nick Reid).
First off, the cornerbacks. If Pat Surtain and Ty Law haven’t lost any speed, then we should be fine starter wise. That is, if those two senior citizens can stay healthy. Law and Surtain are two of the savviest CBs in the league, though, and playing in the Cover 2 will make up for their lack of elite speed. Out of all the other CBs, only Benny Sapp and Marcus Maxey are likely to see significant burn. While Sapp is used primarily as a blitzer, Maxey actually could become our nickleback. He was talented enough to start for more than a season at The U, and has the physical attributes to compete at a high level. It’s just depends on whether Maxey can put everything together and perform with consistency.
Next up, the safeties. According to Chiefs fans, Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page are already Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. While I’m extremely high on both players, I think we should all temper our expectations just a tad. I think that eventually both players can be standouts, but each will experience some growing pains during the ’07 season. I think Page is a talented enough coverage man to play some nickleback, actually. Why would he be able to do that? Because of Jon McGraw, who has plenty of NFL starting experience himself. In fact, I expect McGraw, not Greg Wesley, to back up both safety positions. He’s speedy, smart and a sure tackler. Besides, G-Wes might not even be on the roster come opening day. Maybe we can snake away a sixth round pick from somebody for that bum?
I feel much, much better about the defense than our offense. My biggest worry defensively is our lack of depth at corner. Let’s all cross our fingers that Law and Surtain stay healthy, and also that Maxey or another young CB can step up and fill the nicklebeck void left by Lenny Walls. If that happens, and our safeties grow up fast, then the secondary will be in good shape. Our front seven has a chance to be among the best in the NFL, but that’s only if our revamped DT group can perform well on a regular basis.
I’m pumped to see whether this group will be just good or exceptional. Let’s hope the latter, because I miss the hell out of our days of defensive domination. That swarming red storm was a beautiful thing to watch, wasn’t it?