In the first of my series on the other three teams in the AFC West division I begin with the team with the worst record in football last season, the Kansas City Chiefs.
They made some big changes at the top of the organization, getting rid of GM Scott Pioli and their entire coaching staff and bringing in new GM John Dorsey and former Eagles coach Andy Reid. They let QB Matt Cassel go and acquired former 49ers QB Alex Smith in a trade. It's said that you can accurately predict how an NFL team will do by looking at the coach and the quarterback. Cassel and Crennel? Blecch! Reid and Smith? Hmm.
While Andy Reid was, until his firing last season by Philly, the longest tenured head coach in the NFL, it's important to note that he didn't win bubkes after the passing of the late, great defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. With Johnson, Reid's Eagles were perennial Super Bowl contenders and very nearly won one. Without Johnson, they were NFC East doormats. While Reid's offense is certainly a potent scheme, it is not the Saints or the Patriots, and it cannot overcome a mediocre or downright bad defense.
It's also worth noting that while Kansas City's best player is clearly RB Jamaal Charles and KC's offensive line excels at run blocking, Andy Reid hardly ever runs the ball. If your QB in a pass-happy system is Donovan McNabb in his prime, you can get away with this. If it's Kevin Kolb or a deer-in-the-headlights Michael Vick, you are in trouble. Statistics have clearly shown Reid has a much better win-loss record when his run/pass ratio approaches 1 to 1, but for most of his career it's been closer to 1.3 passes to every rush.
Reid is trying to speed up Chiefs practices. This isn't really a surprise, as everyone's trying to be the Oregon Ducks. Philly's offensive line wasn't able to run at breakneck speed, but Kansas City's offensive line is extremely athletic and ought to be able to handle it. If Branden Albert can overcome his back problems, KC's offensive line will be formidable. I think Eric Fisher is the real deal, despite the lower level of competition. We have only to look at our own Jared Veldheer to know that it doesn't matter what college you went to; if you can play you can play. Read Arrowhead Pride's take on their offensive line here.
KC's receiver is Dwayne Bowe. Nobody else is worth discussing. Perhaps Jon Baldwin will one day remember he was a first round pick and begin playing well, but today is not that day. Maybe Dexter McCluster will turn into the new Brian Westbrook. Who knows? AP has some thoughts on Bowe and company.
So the offense is a question mark, with the personnel seeming in my mind to be a poor fit for the pass-happy Reid. The defense on the other hand has some serious talent, led by their secondary and safety Eric Berry, who in my opinion is the finest safety in football today. Cornerbacks Sean Smith and Brandon Flowers are solid if not spectacular in a hey-let's-sign-Stanford-Routt sort of way.
The defensive line is also a question mark, with the team having let the underperforming Glenn Dorsey go in free agency to San Francisco. Tyson Jackson, Dontari Poe, and former Jet Mike DeVito now man the line in the Chiefs' 3-4 defense. DeVito isn't much of a sack artist, but he can move the line back a few yards whenever he wants. Jackson has been a disappointment in KC so far, and will have to step up his game if he wants a big free agent contract after this season.
Linebackers are also a strength, with Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali being two of the very best in the game. Johnson went through a few years of mediocrity but has developed into one of the premier MLB in the AFC. This is a unit with few weaknesses and an abundance of talent. Click to read AP gloating over their embarrassment of riches at linebacker.
So the bottom line is that KC will have to show they made the right decisions in hiring Reid and trading for Smith, as the other units are much the same as last year. We'll just have to see, who are the Chefs?