NFL PREVIEW: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
July 18, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
NFL PREVIEW: Kansas City Chiefs
BY Kelci Baker, EIHSS SPORTS
Last year: 7-9, 4th in AFC West, missed playoffs
Ever since the overhaul of the organization in 2009, stability has been lacking for the Chiefs with the hiring of general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley. In 2010 they welcomed a new defensive coordinator and in both 2010 and 2011, they received new offensive coordinators. Promoted from defensive coordinator is their new head coach Romeo Crennel and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Although Crennel will continue to work the defense, the Chiefs are hoping they don't have a repeat of last years’ failures. In four years this team as dealt with four offenses. In nine games, quarterback Matt Cassel struggled, throwing 10 touchdown passes and nine interceptions, before breaking his right hand to end his season. Replacing him first was unproven Tyler Palko and then journeyman Kyle Orton. Three injuries took out three starters in tight end Tony Moeaki, running back Jamaal Charlies and strong safety Eric Berry. Due to the defense’s strong second half performance, they managed to produce the teams only Pro Bowl participants in inside linebacker Derrick Johnson with 131 tackles and outside linebacker Tamba Hali with 12 sacks. On the flip side, the defense and special teams added nothing to the team with no game-changing plays.
Offensive coordinator Daboll has gone with the run-oriented and two tight ends style. Cassel has valuable weapons with Charles, Moeaki and wide reciever Dwayne Bowe on the field. Better depth was lacking last season. Added to the team via free agency are power running back Peyton Hills and tight end Kevin Boss. Rookie wide out Devon Wiley should also contribute. What's unclear is how the offense will attack with Daboll calling the plays. The Chiefs will probably go at it game by game, creating a new attack each week based on the opposing defense. What they're looking for is an offense that can run the ball effectively to set up the play-action pass. They'll need Cassel, Charles and Moeaki to return to pull this off.
The return of Berry will stabilize the defensive unit under coordinator Crennel who runs a two-gap 3-4. The teams’ strongest position is at linebacker where Hali and Johnson went to the Pro Bowl as well as outside linebacker Justin Houston, was the team's top rookie. Now that four-year starting cornerback Brandon Carr left for the Dallas Cowboys, ex-Oakland Raiders starter Stanford Routt will be replacing him. What Kansas has to do is to be better at stopping the run. Last year, they averaged giving up 132 yards a game. Hoping to fix it will be nose tackle Dontari Poe, the teams’ first-round draft choice who will work alongside ends Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson. They have to find more ways to put pressure on the passer. Hali and Houston had 17.5 sacks, while the rest of the team combined for 11.5
Tom McMahon is the coordinator of special teams. He will replace Steve Hoffman as the kicking game coordinator is McMahon who is coming from the St. Louis Rams. There are several key spots on the team where the kicking game is solid which include kicker Ryan Succop, punter Dustin Colquitt, and snapper Thomas Gafford. Also firmly in place are three of the top four tacklers. Where they lack is in a reliable returner. Dexter McCluster, Charles, and other running backs have handled the returns in previous seasons but have failed to score a TD. Replacing Steve Hoffman as the kicking game coordinator is McMahon who is coming from the St. Louis Rams.
After closing out the 2011 season with a 2-1 record, Crennel keeps the top job but will get help from linebackers coach Gary Gibbs developing a new defensive plan each week. Some veterans are gone such as offensive line coach Bill Muir who is being replaced by Jack Bicknell Jr. from the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
2012 draft recap
After eight picks, the Kansas City Chief's best pick was T Jeff Allen from Illinois. He started for four years at left and right tackle. He will compete with veteran Ryan Lilka for the starting left guard job.
NT Dontari Poe. Memphis
First round. 11th pick overall.
He has the things that head coach Crennel seeks for a nose tackle but lacks experience
T Jeff Allen. Illinois
Second round. 44th pick overall.
T Donald Stephenson. Oklahoma
Third round. 74th pick overall.
A native of Kansas City he's a development project
WR Devon Wylie. Fresno State
Fourth round. 107th pick overall.
He could become the Wes Welker of the Chiefs' offense
CB DeQuan Menzie. Alabama
Fifth round. 146th pick overall.
He played opposite of Dre Kirkpatrick at cornerback. He has the type of skills where he could play either safety or be a slot receiver
RB Cyrus Gray. Texas A&M
Sixth round. 182nd pick overall.
He can run, catch, block, return, and cover the kicking game which will increase his chances of becoming a starter
DT Jerome Long. San Diego State
Seventh round. 218th pick overall.
He had 69 tackles and five sacks last season
WR Junior Hemingway. Michigan
Seventh round. 238th pick overall.
Caught two TD passes
2012 CHIEFS SCHEDULE
For all that went wrong last year, Kansas City Chiefs fans should still have plenty of optimism to believe they can reach the playoffs in 2012. Maybe Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry will have their struggles in returning to the field after both suffered ACL tears in September, but even at less than 100 percent, they are much better than their replacements from a year ago.
While Charles will still be a game-breaker, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll had great success back in Cleveland with Peyton Hillis, and should continue to do so in Kansas City. On paper, the Chiefs also have the easiest schedule to run against this year, and that is the same situation they were walking into back in 2009, when they won the AFC West.
Quarterback Matt Cassel tends to play at his best when the running game is effective. And that means good things for Dwayne Bowe, as defenses are forced to bring eight in the box, giving Bowe free releases off the line of scrimmage.
Defensive State Of Mind
The loss of Brandon Carr will hurt in the secondary, but as mentioned above, they will be getting Berry back, and Brandon Flowers is still a solid press-man corner. Adding depth up front is a must in the draft, but at least they have a good core of linebackers that can make plays at the second level.
Like all defenses, they need the offense to sustain drives, even if they're not necessarily scoring many points. And for that to happen in Kansas City, they need a strong running game. With that likely to happen, this defense should have no problems staying fresh over the course of the season. That is going to be a problem for opposing offenses coming to the always hostile and loud Arrowhead Stadium.
Week 2 9/16: Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills, 1 PM ET, CBS
Week 3 9/23: Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints, 1 PM ET CBS
Week 4 9/30: San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 PM ET CBS
Week 5 10/7: Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 PM ET CBS
Week 6 10/14: Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 PM ET FOX
Week 7 10/21: BYE
Week 8 10/28: Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 4:05 PM ET, CBS
Week 9 11/1: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers, 8:20 PM ET NFL Network
Week 10 11/12: Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 PM ET ESPN
Week 11 11/18: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 PM ET CBS
Week 12 11/25: Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 PM ET CBS
Week 13 12/2: Carolina Panthers vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 PM ET FOX
Week 14 12/9: Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns, 1 PM ET, CBS
Week 15 12/16: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders, 4:15 PM ET, CBS
Week 16 12/23: Indianapolis Colts vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 PM ET CBS
Week 17 12/30: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos, 4:15 PM ET CBS
KANSAS CITY ROSTER