When Marty Schottenheimer took over as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1989, he brought along with him an unknown defensive coordinator and former NFL linebacker in Bill Cowher. Cowher coached with the Chiefs for three campaigns before being plunked by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1992, making him replacement for the legendary Chuck Noll.
Cowher thrived in the Steel City, reaching the Super Bowl twice before finally winning it in 2005. Cowher stepped away from the game in 2006 and has since been working with CBS Sports on their pregame show. On Tuesday, Cowher and I sat down and spoke about the Chiefs and what he expects heading into the 2015 campaign.
Everything begins in the division, and for Kansas City, the AFC West goes through the Denver Broncos. Denver has won the division each of the last four seasons, although things seem unsettled currently with a coaching change and the aging arm of Peyton Manning. Cowher likes the Chiefs’ chances to perhaps unseat the reigning champs.
“I think Kansas City can match up with them,” Cowher said. “I really do. I think the weapons they have on offense now, and I think Maclin, again, is huge, because he gives them an outside, deep threat. You already have a tremendous running game between Knile Davis and Jamaal Charles. Come on now, that is a pretty solid one, two. They also have one of the best tight ends in the game.
“…You don’t beat yourself, you have a great defense that can rush the quarterback and it’s one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. They are going to go 7-1 or 6-2 at home and I think it’s a team that is good enough to go .500 at least on the road. You are looking at a 10 or 11-win team and I think they can be dangerous if they make the playoffs.”
Cowher also praised the man leading the charge in the Kansas City, along with the pieces he has to work with.
“I’m a big Andy Reid fan,” Cowher said. “I think he is a good football coach. Players have tremendous respect for him. He has a very good staff. I think getting (Jeremy) Maclin was a huge acquisition in the offseason. They already have a premiere tight end in (Travis) Kelce and one of the best running backs with Jamaal Charles. We saw what the defense can do if they stay healthy”
Cowher also spoke about Arrowhead Stadium and those who populate it. Cowher was in Kansas City when the revival of the franchise was coming to be, with the team making the playoffs in consecutive years (1990-91) for the first time in franchise history.
“We know what kind of venue it is to play in Kansas City,” Cowher said. I’m excited because our first Thursday night game is them playing against Denver. I loved coaching there. It is a tremendous city. I spent three years there, and I’ll tell you, I have so much respect for Clark Hunt. I was there when his dad was there. I just think it is great ownership, a great football city, a great venue. I think they are going to be good.”
Ultimately, Cowher believes Kansas City has a great shot of playing beyond the regular season.
“I think Alex Smith is a very solid quarterback,” Cowher said. “It’s a tough division right now, but I think they are going to be there when it is all said and done, fighting for a playoff spot.”