2013 season previews: Kansas City Chiefs

kc-chiefs-Helmet2013 Season Preview
Kansas City Chiefs

After the Kansas City Chiefs suffered through a 2-14 season (which ties the franchise for a record in futility) there is nowhere to go, but up in the win column. There is no way they can have another season  like last year, the team made a lot of changes. They fired head coach Romeo Crennel, but they kept general manager Scott Pioli, which was a bit surprising because of the awful season they endured.

They brought in veteran HC Andy Reid in January and by March they had a new quarterback when they traded for Alex Smith. Reid’s known for his passing attack and it wasn’t much of  a surprise he traded for Smith.

Smith is a definite upgrade over Matt Cassel, he is a better game manager than Cassel who is more careless with the football. In 9 games, Cassel threw 6 TD’s to 12 INT’s (plus 3 lost fumbles) and just 6.5 yards per attempt (28th in the NFL). Smith threw just 5 INT’s last year in 59 fewer passes than Cassel and no lost fumbles. So, in that aspect he is already better than Cassel. However, he’ll be in yet another new offense, he struggled with the 49ers until Jim Harbaugh became the HC.

What will Smith have to work with on offense?Bowe

Dwayne Bowe is the most talented wide receiver Smith will have ever played with in the NFL, but he just signed a huge contract in the offseason after an average campaign. It’s possible he may not play as hard now that he’s gotten a huge contract.

Bowe only had 59 catches (which led the team) last year for 806 yards, but he had 11 plays of at least 20 yards, and 3TD’s. The 11 plays of at least 20 yards show Bowe is a playmaker when he is healthy and focused, but the other WR position isn’t exactly solid.

Donnie Avery had 60 receptions, but he also had 12 drops too. He is probably best suited to being a 3rd WR/return man, but he will be starting for the Chiefs. Steve Breaston was a total bust during his time in KC, so Dexter McCluster saw a lot of action last year. McCluster caught 52 passes (in 78 targets) for 452 yards (8.7ypc) and had a 4 plays of 20 yards or more. Any injuries to a position that lacks depth and they are in serious trouble.

Tight end Anthony Fasano was signed as a free agent from the Dolphins and he could benefit from a lack of quality WR’s. Smith had a quality TE during his tenure in San Francisco in Vernon Davis. Fasano had a career high 41 catches with Miami and their rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. Smith has more experience and will target an experienced TD like Fasano. Rookie Travis Kelce will there to pounce if Fasano can’t produce or shows he is in decline.

KC has a great RB in Jamaal Charles (1,509 yards, 5.3 yards per carry, 62 first downs, and 5 rushing touchdowns), but he strained his foot at the end of training camp. Never a good sign for a running back, but when he gets back he will see fewer carries and more passes thrown his way since Reid is a believer in the passing game. The Chiefs will need Charles to be healthy because they don’t have a lot of quality backups available. Knile Davis is a rookie that was drafted in the 3rd round from Arkansas. Cyrus Gray is a 3rd year player that has carried the ball a total of 7 times in regular season games. Anthony Sherman will be the fullback.

The offensive line is solid after allowing 40 sacks last season. The tackle positions are the strength of the OL with the addition of Eric Fisher at right tackle and Brandon Albert at left tackle. Eventually, Fisher will take over at left tackle if the unhappy Albert leaves after being franchised, but for now he gives KC a couple of excellent tackles.  Rodney Hudson returns after missing last year with a broken leg to get the ball to Smith as the center. The guards are the weakest links on the OL, Jeff Allen and Jon Asamoah. Expect the sacks to decline because the tackles are strong, the center is steady and Smith can scramble a little bit to buy some time.

The Defense

Reid’s loyalty to Juan Castillo may have cost him his job in Philadelphia, but he has a new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton who will be going with an attacking 3-4 defense. Sutton spent the last 13 years with the New York Jets. His last position with the team was assistant head coach/Linebackers coach, something that bodes well for a team that  had 3 Pro Bowlers at LB.

Derrick Johnson will be 1 inside linebacker and is coming off an excellent season (125 tackles and 2 sacks). He may benefit from Sutton’s tutelage the most. The other inside LB’er will be free agent Akeem Jordan. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles the last 5 seasons ands will be replacing Jovan Belcher. Belcher was a solid player who committed suicide in the parking lot of the Chiefs facility last December after murdering his girlfriend.  Former coach Crennel and Scott Pioli were present and trying to talk him out of killing himself.

The outside LB’ers are a pass rushing dynamic duo of Justin Houston (66 tackles, 10 sacks and 6 passes defended) and Tamba Hali (51 tackles and 9 sacks).  Both players are young and should be an excellent pass rushing tag team for a long time to come, the strength of the defense is definitely the LB position.Eric Berry

The other Pro Bowler from the defense was strong safety Eric Berry. Berry had an excellent season (86 tackles and 10 passes defended) and continues to be an excellent run stuffer. His 10  PD’s were also a nice surprise for a player whose primary job is to provide run defense.  Free Safety Kendrick Lewis is expected to bounce back after an injury plagued season last year. Cornerback got upgraded as well. The Chiefs brought in free agents Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson to play opposite Brandon Flowers. The secondary is a strength and the defense will be vastly improved.

The defensive line is the weakest part of the defense. Dontari Poe spearheads the defensive line as the starting defensive tackle after Glenn Dorsey signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Poe needs to improve against the run.  The defensive ends will be Tyson Jackson (43 tackles and 3 sacks) and Mike Devito (52 tackles and 1 sack). Jackson needs to step up and show he is the player they thought he was when they drafted him 3rd overall in the 2009 draft.

Special teams

Ryan Succop will be the kicker and was the main source of offense last year for the Chiefs. He made 28 of 34 FGA’s (82.4%) and nailed all 17 of his PAT’s.

Dustin Colquitt had a net punting average of 40.8 yards and 54.2% of his punts landed in the 20 yard line.

McCluster is the primary kickoff and punt returner. He averaged 22.3 yards per kickoff in 2011 and 15.5 yards per punt return in 2010. McCluster has serious speed and is capable of returning a kickoff or punt return for a long gain every time he touches the ball. Last year, he saw more action as a receiver than as a return man.

Outlook

The Chiefs have a lot of talent for a team that finished 2-14 last season and they added  more. Reid’s first season will be a rough transition as the players learn his system. I believe they will win 5 or 6 games, but anything more than that is asking too much. Charles is already banged up, Smith is in another new offense, Bowe is inconsistent, and they lack depth at WR. I just don’t see them improving enough to be a contender for the playoffs like I have seen other people predict. This is a team that will be a threat in 2014, but not this season.

 Second Look: David Snipes

I understand why the Chefs are picked to improve so much, I mean they added a great coach, they signed some big help to a defense with 6 pro-bowlers, and got a number 1 overall pick to match a number 1 overall pick.
Uh, but we have problems here.

Andy Reid overstayed his welcome in Philly by at least 2 years, and Philly is also expected to improve by having a new coach. If the Chiefs are supposed to be so much better, then why is Philly better for the same reason? I understand Chippy is a great college coach, but this is the NFL, and he doesn’t have Northeast Idaho A&M to practice on, or Nike money to bolster his talent level.
Those 6 ProBowlers? – Lets be honest, they were DEAD LAST in the NFL in takeaways, 27th vs the Rush and next to last in Sacks.

I do like the additions, but again, none of them were exactly pined for the way Manning was last year. They have not had a single TD in special teams since 2010. I would look at getting this team to middle of the pack as a victory, don’t look for playoffs, unless everyone was wrong in SF by a HUGE margin.

One final note, they might have a great pair of Tackles (One wants to leave, the other a number 1 pick rookie) but the middle of that line is going to get a lot of push up the gut. Charles took a lot of punishment last year- and he weighs less than 200 pounds.

 

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Big time sports fan of the Lakers, Raiders, Angels and Dodgers. From 1990-1995, I worked at the Glendale News-Press and I had a blast. I covered mainly high school sporting events and Glendale Community College athletic events, but also attended Dodgers, Raiders, and Rams games. I also write for Joel Huerto (former co-writer and editor at the GNP) at onemanfastbreak.net. I watch a lot of sports on TV (basketball, football, usually just postseason MLB) and UFC.

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