Here We Go Again!
Well, here we go again. The roundabout that passes for professional football in Kansas City is about to hit the road again. What are the chances that come next January we will be anticipating a run to the Super Bowl? Or, what about another year of “if only” for the Arrowhead faithful?
2017 follows 2016. (Brilliant insight!)
Lots has happened since that most forgettable night when holding all the cards and with home field advantage the Chiefs stumbled and coughed their way out of the play-offs against the Steelers. Some old wood has been burned. Most notably, both Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Macklin have been unceremoniously dumped. Another draft class had arrived, and with it a new QB – Patrick Mahomes, fresh out of Texas Tech. But, and this is a big but, Alex Smith remains the MAN.
So, how do we progress?
The offence looks better. Tyrek Hill is now installed as a receiving threat from day one – and not just a bit player – hence the departure of Macklin. Chris Conley has another year under his belt and should provide stability along with Albert Wilson – whose stock is always low but always finds a way to get on the field. D'Anthony Thomas rounds out the group. The truth is this bunch will scare no-one and is still a weakness compared to other NFL squads.
Riches are found at tight end. Travis Kelce is teamed with Gavin Escobar (he could be the find of the season!) and Demetrious Harris ( a solid performer). We may see they all on the field at the same time in the three tight-end formation so loved by Andy Reid.
The games is build on the O-line and they should be better. No great upgrades here but no glaring weaknesses either. Can they stay healthy? If the back-ups have to stand up then the season looks a lot dimmer.
Alex Smith is the QB (from last season's report - “As usual, the rock is on Alex Smith's shoulder. He was brilliant in Week One and very ordinary in Week Two. Consequence? We are one and one.”)
It's sameo – sameo. Alex probably knows this is his last season to be the starter. Rookie Mahomes backs him up with Tyler Bray for cover. Will this spur Smith to greatness or burden him with a monkey (or perhaps if Bray plays a donkey) on his back. My take -
Alex has four or five games to achieve a good start before the calls for him to step down are so loud they can be heard all the way to Wroxham. I hope he takes the Chiefs to the heights, but like many fans I think he is approaching his sell by date.
Last year I said, “Running backs should be the strength of the team. Anthony Sherman is a mainstay at fullback. Jamaal Charles is still a class act. Spencer Ware is getting a lot of snaps. Chacandrick West is a capable back-up.”
Today, Sherman is still the fullback. Ware has a season-ending injury. West is serviceable. Rookie back Kareem Hunt may well get the starting job with import CJ Spiller spelling him. An upgrade? From Jamaal Charles? You have to be joking me. One thing is for sure a good running back is the QB's best friend. Whoever is the signal-caller they will need a running game as they can't do much if they are flat on their back. I'm not very confident.
The defence may well have to carry the team. The good news is that they may well do it.
Gone is the Memphis Mauler (aka Dontari Poe). This one is such a classic. When he was a Chief the man was the best thing since sliced bread. Now that he is gone, his replacement, Bernie Logan is according to the press reports a real upgrade at nose tackle. We'll see. LB's Justin Houston and Tabma Hali are back, healthy and ready to wreak havoc. They are spelled by former number one pick Dee Ford and Ramik Wilson (who may well be the starter with Hali to come off the bench).
Chris Jones anchors one end with Allen Bailey on the other side. They are good. Their back-up's are serviceable to good as well.
DBs are a class above the rest of the Division with Peters, Parker, Gaines and Nelson all able to contribute. Eric Berry is Mr KC at safety and Daniel Sorenson is better than he gets credit for.
Special Teams is a trademark and marquee class for the Tribe. They are always better than most of the league.
Time to sum up: if Alex Smith rises to the challenge and stays healthy he may well be leading the team into the play-offs. Most pundits are predicting a winning season. How many? Anywhere from nine to eleven.
My guess – somewhere in between. We win 10 and just make the end-of-season party.