Kansas City Chiefs ’09 Quick Hits
Why the Chiefs will improve in 2009.
Kansas City Chiefs
2008: 2-14 (4th AFC West)
Head Coach: Todd Haley (1st year)
Roster Quick View (*new veteran, **rookie)
Offense (coordinator: Chan Gailey)
QB: Matt Cassel*
With a $60 million contract, the Chiefs are fully invested in the 27-year-old as their franchise quarterback. Pocket presence must continue to mature. From there, accuracy and decision-making will follow.
RB: Larry Johnson
Turns 30 in November but hasn’t accumulated too much wear and tear. A monster when he’s able to run downhill.
RB: Jamaal Charles
Could be a good one. Changes directions with remarkable speed and accelerates like a Lamborghini. Chiefs need to get him at least 12 touches a game.
FB: Mike Cox
Not a pile driver, but does a good job at sealing. Probably won’t be used too often in Todd Haley’s spread offense.
WR: Dwayne Bowe
Doesn’t have the speed or quickness to get separation over the top, but has the sheer strength to be dominant in the intermediary. Must soften his hands.
WR: Mark Bradley
Injuries and inconsistency all but nullify his fast wheels.
WR: Bobby Engram*
Veteran slot receiver who can help improve this 21st-ranked third down offense.
TE: Brad Cottam
Blocking specialist who is starting because the team never had a plan for what to do after trading Tony Gonzalez. At least offers remarkable size (6’9”, 270).
TE: Sean Ryan
Scantly-used journeyman who is at his best when blocking on the move.
LT: Brandon Albert
Has outstanding natural power and shows a knack for the subtleties of pass-blocking. Diligent focus on fundamentals gives the raw second-year man very enticing potential.
LT: Brian Waters
Few players are both nimble and strong. But will his conflict with Todd Haley impact his performance in ’09?
C: Rudy Niswanger
Simply doesn’t have the strength to be a first-string NFL center. Eric Ghiaciuc could capture this job.
RG: Mike Goff*
Has started 106 consecutive games, though Chargers saw his declining mobility and were eager to let him go.
RT: Damion McIntosh
Hips are too stiff for him to survive in pass protection. Chiefs need to upgrade here.
6 OL: Wade Smith
Seventh-year veteran who can play anywhere other than LT. Not the most mobile blocker, but does a solid job at holding his ground.
Defense (coordinator: Clancy Pendergast)
LDE: Tyson Jackson**
Third-overall pick is not expected to be a star, but he is expected to make this one of the league’s best run defenses for the next 10 years.
NT: Ron Edwards
Guarantee you Kansas City will look for a new nose tackle after this season.
RDE: Glenn Dorsey
Not a lock to succeed in this scheme, but if he does, he could be the second coming of Richard Seymour.
3 DE: Alex Magee**
The 298-pound third-rounder will share time with occasionally-punishing veteran Alfonso Boone.
2 DT: Tank Tyler
Quick off the snap and has learned to play hard, but must prove his motor can hum for all 16 games.
LOLB: Tamba Hali
Dropped weight after leaving the defensive end position. High-character fighter. If the players around him perform better, he could be a genuine star.
LILB: Zach Thomas*
Turns 36 right before Week 1. Skills aren’t badly eroded, but he was definitely brought here for leadership more than anything.
RILB: Derrick Johnson
At his best when he’s able to turn and run to the ball. Will this scheme allow him to do that?
ROLB: Mike Vrabel*
Another veteran brought in for leadership.
5 LB: Monty Beisel*
Operated in this scheme as a Cardinal last season. Valuable because he can play inside or outside.
CB: Brandon Carr
Callow second-year player who shows some positive signs but still has mountains of fundamentals to learn and polish.
CB: Brandon Flowers
Wasn’t challenged too often as a second-round rookie in 2008. Plays the game with solid all-around speed.
NB: Donald Washington**
High-risk fourth-round pick who never fully converted his amazing athleticism into outstanding football skills at Ohio State. Chiefs like his dexterity in the slot, though.
SS: Bernard Pollard
Few knew who he was until Tom Brady’s unfortunate knee injury.
FS: Jarrad Page
Fairly prolific tackler, but only because Kansas City’s linebackers have been so futile. Lacks man coverage skills.
6 DB: Mike Brown*
Veteran playmaker from the Bears who, when healthy, is 10 times better than either of the two young safeties in front of him.
K: Ryan Succop**
This year’s Mr. Irrelevant. Job is not guaranteed, though.
P: Dustin Colquitt
His best trait is leaving balls inside the 20.
RS: Maurice Leggett
It could be him returning kicks and punts or it could be some other guy. Chiefs have no clue at this point.
RD PK (OVR) NAME POS SCHOOL
KEY PLAYERS ACQUIRED
LB Monty Beisel: UFA Cardinals; terms unknown.
QB Matt Cassel (trade Patriots).
WR Terrance Copper: UFA Ravens; terms unknown.
TE Tony Curtis: Not tendered as RFA by Cowboys; terms unknown.
CB Travis Daniels: UFA Browns; terms unknown.
WR Bobby Engram: UFA Seahawks; terms unknown.
C Eric Ghiaciuc: UFA Bengals; terms unknown.
OG Mike Goff: UFA Chargers; $3.5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
LB Corey Mays: Not tendered as RFA by Bengals; terms unknown.
TE Sean Ryan: UFA 49ers; terms unknown.
LB Zach Thomas: UFA Cowboys; $2M/1 yr.
LB Mike Vrabel (trade Patriots).
KEY PLAYERS LOST
LB Donnie Edwards (released/failed physical).
WR Will Franklin (released).
TE Tony Gonzalez (traded Falcons).
QB Quinn Gray (released).
QB Damon Huard (released/failed physical).
CB Patrick Surtain (released/failed physical).
LB Pat Thomas: UFA Bills; 1 yr, terms unknown.
For GM Scott Pioli and his hand-picked head coach Todd Haley, the good thing about taking over a franchise that’s won only six total games over the past two years is that you have the freedom to make any changes you want. The bad news is, you have a lot of changes to make. Credit Pioli and Haley for stepping forward with the right foot.
They got QB Matt Cassel for the 34th overall pick. His prowess in the shotgun makes him an excellent fit in Haley’s system.
A mistake that the previous regime made was trying to rebuild strictly with young players. Pioli understands that part of rebuilding a franchise is learning how to win. In order to win right away, you need some experienced veterans. That’s why he found temporary fixes like 3-4 LB aces Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas, as well as WR Bobby Engram, RG Mike Goff, C Eric Ghiaciuc and LB Monty Beisel. Most of these guys are diminishing athletically, and none will be long-term contributors. But they can help Kansas city get the losing taste out of its mouth. Pioli’s top priority, however, is remaking the culture. That’s why he traded the league’s best TE, Tony Gonzalez. It was a chance to start the whole thing out fresh.
With only two quality draft picks to work with, Pioli took the Patriot approach and built his 3-4 up front. He used the third overall pick on DE Tyson Jackson and his third-round selection on DE Alex Magee. Snagging Magee seemed excessive, given that Kansas City already had last year’s first-rounder Glenn Dorsey. But let’s wait and see where Pioli’s going with this before we judge.
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