A reasonable conclusion
The reality is that this season will likely turn out to be somewhere in the middle of all that we’ve discussed.
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Kendall Fuller is motivated in a contract year and that almost always equals high levels of production, if healthy. We’ve also seen enough of Fuller to know that he has it in him if he can adjust to Spagnuolo’s scheme. Ward was also trusted with not only starters reps but playoff starters reps last year, and that’s good reason to believe he can turn the corner if given a full offseason to study and train with the team. As for Breeland, there’s a lot of hope there, but no one should pin any savior label on him just yet. Remember the history of one-year secondary signings here from the last couple years.
That said, a few things are at work in and around the cornerback position in particular that should yield more positive results overall.
- Bob Sutton is gone. Certain players clearly were not performing well within his system and there’s a sense that Spagnuolo is going to play to the strengths of the roster. Hopefully the game plan will be more adaptive and let players move from cerebral to instinctual. The coordinator switch alone is reason for hope.
- The talent in the secondary is light years from what it was. This year’s starting safeties are Juan Thornhill and Tyrann Mathieu, a dynamic combination that could be among the very best tandems in the NFL by season’s end. Mathieu in particular is already a vocal leader and is ready to wear that mantle on the field. Thornhill comes in as a highly regarded rookie who can lock down the free safety role. The ceiling on this pair is so much higher than anything the Chiefs have trotted out in 2017-18 due to Eric Berry’s failing health.
- It’s also important to note that another move might be coming. Veach is well aware of the needs on defense more than any of us, and the Chiefs have some real money to play with in terms of player acquisition. Patrick Peterson has been mentioned in trade rumors, and the Minnesota Vikings also have some very, very real cap space needs along with an impressive cadre of corners in house. Xavier Rhodes or Trae Waynes make a lot of sense for K.C. if the price is right.
One more import would put this unit over the top and provide some very real security for the most uncertain part of the team. That said, they could likely get by with what they have given the new talent in the secondary. Can Ward thrive in Spags’ system? Can Breeland reward Veach with a low-risk, high ceiling investment? Will Fuller take his game to the next level? And can Fenton and/or Smith give the Chiefs some real developmental talent for the years to come? Let’s certainly hope so.