Saturday, May 31, 2008

Up To Speed- KC Chiefs

Things actually started out pretty well for the Chiefs last year. They headed into a mid-season bye week with a 4-3 record, surprising the hell out of me and in first place in the AFC West.

When they came back from that bye week, the wheels fell off. They lost about 24 games in a row and ended the season nowhere near the top of the AFC West or any other division other than the Complete Frigging Mess Division.

By the end of the season, the Chiefs stunk in every area. The running game struggled even before Larry Johnson was lost for the season, and got even worse after. The defense, which had been pretty stout before the bye week, not allowing more than 20 points to everyone, suddenly started playing like it was Tecmo Bowl and they consistently picked the wrong play, and the other team had Bo Jackson. They ended the season giving up 131 rushing yards a game, ranking 28th in the league.

The passing game was bad too. Damon Huard was unable to replicate his inexplicable 2006 magic, and gave way to young Brodie Croyle, who was even worse (7 passer rating points worse) than Huard. There were a couple of bright spots in that future HOF TE Tony Gonzalez had a huge rebound season with 1172 yards, and rookie Dwayne Bowe just missed a 1000 yard season, both feats made more impressive when you consider who they had throwing to them.

Given all this, headed into the draft you would think that the 2 areas the Chiefs needed to address desperately were the interior defense line (to shore up that dreadful run defense), and quarterback. Then, days before the draft, the Chiefs traded NFL sack leader Jared Allen to the Vikings for the 15th pick in the draft. Allen became a very rich man after the Vikings gave him a new contract, and the Chiefs found themselves with another need area, but 2 first round picks with which to address them.

1st round pick #1, the 5th overall, will do nicely. The Chiefs decision was made for them when the Falcons took Matt Ryan with the 3rd pick, and the Raiders took Darren McFadden with the 4th. DT Glenn Dorsey fell into their laps at #5, and is exactly what the Chiefs' defense needed. He'll be the run stopper, and has pass rushing abilities that could help remove some of the burden of replacing Allen off the shoulders of 06 1st round pick Tamba Hali, who had 7 1/2 sacks last year and figures only to get better.

The Chiefs used that 15th overall pick to make a needed upgrade their offensive tackle position, taking Virginia's Brandon Albert. He's a long, athletic type who actually played interior line in college. The Chiefs want him to be a tackle though, so there may be a learning curve for him.

Ty Law's replacement at corner was found in the 2nd round, with the Chiefs taking Va Tech corner Brandon Flowers in the second round. Flowers will start immediately at corner. The book on him is that he's strong and a good press corner but lacks speed. That's fine, but at 5-10 I have to wonder how effective he can be in the NFL as a press corner.

The consensus was that the Chiefs hit a home run in this year's draft. Of course, with 2 of the top 15 picks, it's hard not to give the impression that you had a good draft. We all know that high draft picks don't always play as well in the pros as they did in college.

Glenn Dorsey is the right player on the right team, and Albert, if he's good as the Chiefs hope he is, will start for the next 10 years. The Chiefs also have Larry Johnson coming back, hopefully healthy, hopefully happy, and Bowe and Gonzalez as 2 other potent weapons. The bad news is, Brodie Croyle is still the quarterback, and while the defense and running game should be better than last year, they won't be good enough for the Chiefs to cancel out having a zero at QB.

Progress will be made this year, and the Chiefs will win more than the 4 games they did last season, but they'll miss the playoffs again and will have to address the QB situation in the next offseason. Now you're up to speed on the Chiefs.

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