Eye On Kansas City
Jun 5, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid speaks to media after the mini camp at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
An anomaly I always found very odd was that the lower San Diego region was infested with Kansas City Chiefs fans. I’ve experienced watching three childhood friends move to Kansas City. Whatever it is, I’m sure much like myself, there are plenty of transplant Chargers fans scattered throughout the nation, possibly in Kansas City too. Nevertheless, the Chiefs managed to lose their way into becoming cellar dwellers four times in the last six years which leads to high draft picks. Despite their 2-14 record, the Chiefs have a loaded roster and have the potential to break out. They upgraded their head coaching position with long-time Eagles head coach Andy Reid and their new quarterback Alex Smith will be taking over for Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn.
First, let’s examine their deep defense. Eric Berry when healthy is a legitimate threat at safety, even when he didn’t deserve nor played as respectably to Eric Weddle, he still received the nod to the pro-bowl. Joining him in the backfield are new comers Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson, not to mention Brandon Flowers. In the 2008 draft, the San Diego Chargers were projected to select Flowers at No. 28 in the first round, but instead chose Antoine Cason. It’s unknown what the Chiefs will do with the two high-profile cornerbacks when they already had one on the bench. Likely, Robinson will rotate in or play the nickel since he’s the oldest of the three. Having three reputable corners is never a bad thing. Rounding out the free safety position is Kendrick Lewis, not that it matters!
At linebacker, they have Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson, just a few household names. Thanks to the draft, the Chiefs could very well have shaken up their left inside linebacker position currently held by former Charger, Brandon Siler, to newly drafted Nico Johnson. Both Hali and D. Johnson made the pro-bowl but it was Houston who led the team with 10 sacks. They have a tough group of linebackers, it is to be seen whether they match up to the Chargers core of backers.
The weak link, the defensive line consists of Tyson Jackson, Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey. The first two men are former first round picks, the first, Jackson has been a disappointment to Kansas City, while nose tackle Poe won the team “Rookie of the Year” and expected to be a breakout star. It’ll be up to our new guards and incumbent center to keep these three at bay, aside from Poe this shouldn’t be too much trouble.
On offense, the Chiefs are slightly less stacked. They have arguably the best running back in the AFC West in Jamaal Charles and did themselves a huge favor by drafting Knile Davis. Davis will be taking over for Peyton Hillis who didn’t live up to the hype he brought with him from Cleveland.
Alex Smith is an upgrade at the quarterback position but it remains to be seen if Smith was a product of a Jim Harbaugh’s system. Smith didn’t truly flourish until his sixth season in San Francisco and even then he was still only a mid-level quarterback. Smith averages 6.6 yards per attempt, never thrown for more than 18 touchdowns in a season, and has a 38-36, win-loss record. Without Steve Breaston, the Chiefs will be back to relying upon Jon Baldwin to pair up with Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster. Will Bowe, McCluster and Baldwin be an effective combination to slow down opposing defenses? In my opinion, Bowe is highly overrated, he’ll get the job done, but shouldn’t be mentioned in the circle of elite receivers.
At tight end, they have Tony Moeaki and newly drafted Travis Kelce. Moeaki hasn’t had the most exciting career since being drafted in 2010 but really took a solid step forward as the third leading receiver behind only Bowe and McCluster. Kelce will be replacing Kevin Boss, who was supposed to have shared the starting role with Moeaki, unfortunately he didn’t start past two games. Kelce will be an immediate upgrade to start along side Moeaki.
The obvious, the Kansas City Chief did themselves a huge favor by taking the best player in the draft at the first pick, Eric Fisher. Fisher will start at right tackle since a certain veteran Brandon Albert refuses to leave his seat at left tackle. Their bookends are solid and Fisher would eventually swing over to his natural position at left if Albert doesn’t get a long-term deal in the next year. The Chiefs will also have to crown a new center with the retirement of Ryan Lilja. While at guard, Jeff Allen, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz will all compete for the two starting jobs. None of these players come with any real shock value, yet can be immediate starters.
Mostly importantly, what will make this team look different from what their record suggests will be indicative of its newest addition, Andy Reid. Andy Reid coached the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 season, winning 1 NFC Championship, appearing in 5 NFC Championship games and 9 playoff appearances. Reid capped off his tenured in the city of brotherly love with his worse record to date as a head coach at 4-12. Whether Reid still has what it takes to win games is in question, but nobody should underestimate his football aptitude and knowledge of the game. It was Reid who made the blueprints to nearly stopping the 2007 Patriots, with a backup quarterback named A.J. Feeley. Before the Eagles met the Pats in game 11, the Patriots had dominated their first eight opponents by 20, sometimes 30 points. The Eagles, under Reid’s command took the lead twice in the game, the first and only team to do so in the 2007 season. After Reid’s Eagles lost by three points, three more teams used those same blueprints and would go on to keeping the score close before New England finished the regular season at 16-0. Andy Reid is not to be overlooked or laughed at, his new team could possibly creep up on the division. Reid came into this team with a loaded roster and soon we’ll see what the old dog has left up his sleeve!
Do we have what it takes to go pound for pound against the Chiefs? We have a strong defensive line and linebacking core. With the exception of Eric Weddle, the defensive backs are a bit shaky and unknown. The O-line isn’t largely repaired but will do for now. Rivers finally has an arsenal of receivers and running backs to make huge play. Lastly, I have good feeling Antonio Gates will return to form.