Thursday, September 05, 2013

Hope Springs - Again

Chiefs Prospects 2013-14

Another year – another chance to be optimistic, or possibly realistic, for the latest incarnation of the 65 Toss Power Trap – and if you don't know what that is then you had better find out quickly or you are no Chiefs fan!

First let's look at the team from the top down. A new General Manager – and long overdue. We shall not mention the previous incumbent except to say that his football career is over. Scott Pioli is currently an NFL informationalist for NBC Sports' Football Night in America and NBC Sports Network's Pro Football Talk. Nuff said?

John Dorsey is now the man. Hid credentials are impressive. He has overseen the draft and free agency. Now he will be judged on results.

New coach – Andy Reid – he was not my choice and I still feel that the Chiefs rushed into hiring him. He has a winning record as an NFL head coach. He has had many months to evaluate the team and oversee the draft and training camp. He must now prove that he is not a stop-gap. Poor old Romeo Crennel. I can't find his current employment on the net. He was a proven NFL coach with experience. He lost 14 games last season. Reid cannot do worse. Or could he? If he does he will be a one-hit wonder and gone before you can say Hank Stram.

On to the team – for it is the players who play, the coaches just coach.

On offense we start with the QB. One thing we did learn last season is that without an NFL QB you are not going to win games of football. To their credit the management took this on board and brought in Alex Smith from the 49ers. He is a proven QB. With the right weapons and the right system he will prosper. We all have high hopes and hopefully he will deliver. But, if not, there are some intriguing subs in the frame. Chase Daniel was brought in to be the back-up and the Chiefs ditched Ricky Stanzl – who never took an NFL snap – to sign and keep as number three QB Tyler Bray. One for the future? Apparently he is making great strides and impressing the coaches. Could be very interesting if Smith gets injured. Bottom line – the Chiefs have rightly concentrated on upgrading the QB position and have, on paper, done a good job. Unfortunately, the game isn't played on paper.

Next to the QB the most important part of the offense is the O-line. Chiefs were dreadful – if even that good – last season as the years and lack of talent caught up with them. So, they quite rightly drafted tackle Eric Fisher as the Number 1 pick in the NFL draft. Then they promptly moved him to right tackle to accommodate the returning Branden Albert. ??

The rest of the personnel are adequate. The Chiefs have to run the ball. The O-line has to be able to run block and also protect Smith. They look better. The guards look ok-ish. The center is ok-ish. The depth is a concern. If they miss out on the injury stakes and Fisher develops they could be a force in the AFL West. Fingers (and toes) are crossed.

Running back – we have a premier NFL running back in Jamaal Charles. The back-ups are beginning to look better and better. The full-back has been strengthened. If Charles stays healthy and does not have to have 25 touches a game then things look rosy in the garden.

Receivers – much has been made of the Andy Reid-type passing game, where, apparently, a nine-yard completion is a long-gainer. We may be in for a surprise. But, apart from the enigmatic Dwayne Bowe the rest of the corps looks unimpressive. Jon Baldwin – a former number one pick – never settled and departed. I can see struggles ahead for this group.

Special teams look good – possibly very good. A new coach and an emphasis on this phase of the game has brought rewards in the pre-season. Colquitt is a class act and Succop is ok – remembering that the life of an NFL kicker is fraught with crises. Look forward to a big improvement in the return game.

On to the defense. Last year they struggled simply because they could not get off the field and the offense was a “three-and-out-machine”. Improved offense will sort that one, so what are the prospects?

The front three now look more like it. Poe in the middle should benefit from a year's experience. The line-backing corps now has some depth and some skill. Look for a big improvement here as well. The Chiefs spent some time and some effort on the secondary which has been revamped. New personnel must get quickly and get better fast. The pass rush was almost non-existent last year. If this season is no different then 8-8 might be a pipe dream!

Bottom line? Chiefs will be better on defense. That's not saying too much since they could hardly be worse.

Prediction time.

NFL pundits have the Broncos as the class act in the AFL West. Some think the Chiefs might make a wild-card spot. Some see 8-8 and some improvement.

Chiefs fans are always optimists. Don't forget by finishing 2-14 we get an “easy” schedule. Manning could be over the hill? Or get injured? We need to get out of the blocks fast and see where that leads us.

Win the first two and go from there.

Hope – again – springs eternal.

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