Some call me crazy, others will call me a fool but the reality is the Chiefs are in their best position in years to win the AFC West this season. Why you might ask? They were awful on defense and inconsistent on offense last year. How can I be so optimistic? It is easy.
I have no doubt the KC defense will get much better next year even without a fantastic addition from the draft. The reason for this is what I call S2 – scheme and seasons. The seasons are easy to explain the kids got boatloads of testing in actual NFL experience last year. Carr and Flowers passed with flying colors and IMO are the best CB tandem in the NFL with under 3 years experience. Leggett played really well and should at the very least be a big contributor on special teams and a solid nickel/dime back. Dorsey was on the field quite a bit last year, some will call him a failure but I do not. DTs often show little to nothing in their first year and some of the best ever did not even start their rookie year. Glenn Dorsey dominated interior lineman at LSU. I believe Glenn learned a lot last year and will show up and begin to show why he was almost the consensus #1 guy on everyone's draft board in 2008. The scheme part may be much more difficult to explain. Most "reporters" have claimed the Chiefs will run a 3-4 next year. That would be fine and dandy if they even had two lineman that could play 3-4 positions without a doubt. It also would be fine if there wasn't so many other teams trying to move to a 3-4. I think at least 1/3 of the NFL will be running the 3-4 in 2009. The players needed to shift are in short supply with a huge demand. New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast did not run a 3-4 in Arizona. Some have called it a hybrid of a 4-3 and a 3-4. Maybe that fits and maybe it don't but that isn't important. What is important is that his style is very aggressive and should be a very stark contrast from what the Chiefs fans have been used to seeing. There have been a lot of "reporters" comparing the Chiefs lineman to that of the other 3-4 teams. I have yet to see a comparison of the players on Clancy's defensive line in Arizona and the players he has there in Kansas City. See the chart below.
What I see is players that are more or less interchangeable. Glenn Dorsey was drafted to be the player that Dockett was in Arizona's improbable run in the playoffs. Hali, at LDE IMO is a far better player than Smith. He played out of position at RDE last season and could not handle the big boy pass rushing position. It is understandable why the Chiefs tried moving him last year. Hali was the best pass rusher on the roster and it made sense to see if he could hang…He couldn't. Tank should be able to become a block eater. He has the size and I believe he has the talent. Does he have the motivation? Turk McBride is not the pass rusher one would want in that spot. One sack in ten starts says something. This position needs upgraded one way or another but with an aggressive defense, it is not imperative for success. Linebacker play needs to be better. I believe Vrabel, Johnson, and (Williams?) should perform better than the amateur hour that was out there last year. Page and Pollard will be in much better shape in an aggressive defense. Both are in their do or die season. They must play better and I believe they will. Am I claiming the Chiefs will be a top 15 D? Not at all. But I suspect they will be good enough to help win games and that is what matters.
The offense was terrible until Huard and Croyle went down injured in the same game (as it happens, I was at that whoopin' for my annual trek to Arrowhead). But then a strange thing happened. Without Larry Johnson, and without the benefit of the bye, Chan Gailey invented the ArrowSpread offense. I loved it. The most creative offensive move in years came when LJ returned and was placed in the Tomahawk (TV folks called it the pistol) formation. The offense played well, but was inconsistent. I blame that on Thigpen's inexperience. Tyler Thigpen did not even have the luxery of a modern college offense to learn from. Tyler played in an offense that was popular in the 60's in college. He also did not have top notch coaching in college. His rookie year offseason he split between the Vikings and Chiefs and spent the season as the #3 guy more than likely not getting adequate reps in practice. Tyler spent his entire second season as the Chiefs #3 guy until injuries put him in the #1 slot. Tyler might have been the least prepared guy to ever start a regular season NFL game. The right side of the offensive line is in bad shape and needs repaired. I believe if that happens, with either Cassel or Thigpen the Chiefs will be in the top half of the NFL in offense and could very well crack the top 10.
Based on what I expect from the Chiefs, you would expect an OK team but OK teams don't win divisions…Do they? The Chargers were OK and won the West last year, so I would say yes OK teams can win divisions. Here are reasons why I think the Chiefs can be that team.
SD has the talent to win 13 games and challenge for the Super Bowl. Problem is they have lousy coaching and haven't played as a team since Marty left. The Chargers have question marks with their talent: LT: has he lost a step or was last year a fluke?
Gates: Are his injuries a sign of his body not lasting?
Merriman: Can he come back and be the same guy off that injury?
The Donks are done. Kyle Orton, Chris Simms, or some rookie (a Jr. Rookie at that!). Does it matter? B-Marsh just had hip surgery and should see a 4 game suspension. They still have no defense, maybe even less than last year with the move to 3-4. They have 7 backup RBs, no starter quality, and no Mastermind running game magic.
Don't even kid me! Could nose out the Donks for 3rd place.
The Chiefs could win the West and make the playoffs. Can they win the Super Bowl? Probably not, but last December did anyone believe the Cards would still be alive in February? I am stoked and excited and sure someone is ready to burst my bubble….