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Linebacker Corps: This groups is just insane. And it starts with Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston. Do not be surprised if these guys are both All Pro this year. DJ looks refocused and intent on proving himself. Houston doesn’t appear to have lost a step or his edge.
The Chiefs seem intent on mixing it up with Tamba Hali and Dee Ford. I would like to see them both on the field more often, but mixing them up can also keep defenses very off balance. Ford needs to work on his finishing technique. Quarterbacks have been able to slip away from him so far this preseason, though to be fair, he hasn’t been going up against guys who are statues in the pocket. Tamba may have lost a step…but not by as much as some people think. The guy was 16th in the NFL in pressuring opposing quarterbacks last year. The real reason he saw his sack numbers dip? Because Justin Houston was getting there first.
Justin March may be a very nice surprise for the Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Behind those two and Houston, the Chiefs are still very talented at outside linebacker. So much so that Frank Zombo has been moved to inside linebacker because he can’t get any work in on the outside. Dezman Moses and Josh Martin have looked solid. Martin has more upside, though both are young, but I like what Moses has been doing this preseason. Either guy looks to be a viable fill in option in emergency situations.
Ramik Wilson is probably the surprise of the preseason. The fourth round pick out of Georgia has already exceeded expectations. The young man is a playmaker. Some question his ability to take on and shed blockers…this is warranted. However, it’s important to remember that Wilson was never billed as a “thumper.” He is far better suited to be the eventual heir to Derrick Johnson. Wilson and DJ play a very similar game that is predicated on getting to the ball quickly before guys get their hands on you.
The rest of the inside linebackers have shown up well too. Frank Zombo is a strong addition to the group and he should be a solid backup. Justin March has flashed signs of excellent talent, and I think he may wind up starting next to Ramik Wilson in a few years.
DJ Alexander looks the part of a rookie, but has a good shot at the roster via special teams. Oddly enough, it’s the incumbents, Josh Mauga and James Michael Johnson, that I think may be on the cutting block at this point. It is altogether possible that the Chiefs will be cutting linebackers that may end up starting for someone else.
That’s the end of my round up on the preseason. I won’t be looking for much in the final preseason game. It’s really just a chance for teams to get a look at what might be available for future considerations. Try and see if another team missed on something.
So what do I think of the what the Chiefs have shown? I think they look like a very good team. The kind of team that can make some real noise this year. Anything less than winning in the playoffs should be a disappointment to this squad. It’s time to win…
But I’ll get more into that next week when I present my 2015 NFL season predictions!