Welcome Total Sports Blog’s NFL Training Camp Previews. For the next 3 weeks, we will continue to preview each team, and predict their records. Up next on the docket is the Kansas City Chiefs, who are looking to improve on a solid 2013 campaign.
2013 Record: 11-5, lost to Colts in Wildcard Round
Passing Leader: Alex Smith 3,313 YDS/23 TDS/7 INTS
Rushing Leader(s): Jamaal Charles 1,287 YDS/8 TDS
Receiving leader: Jamaal Charles 73 REC/693 YDS/8 TDS
Leading Tackler: Derrick Johnson 107 TKLS
Sacks Leader: Justin Houston/Tamba Hali 11 SACKS
Int Leader: Quintin Demps 4 INTS
Key FA Losses/Cut/Released: WR/KR Dexter McCluster, OT Branden Albert, G Jon Asamoah, G Geoff Schwartz, DE/DT Tyson Jackson, ILB Akeem Jordan, CB Dunta Robinson, S Kendrick Lewis, S Quintin Demps
Key FA signings: G Jeff Linkenbach, DT Vance Walker, ILB Joe Mays, CB Chris Owens
1st Round – Dee Ford – DE3rd Round – Phillip Gaines – CB
4th Round – De’Anthony Thomas – RB
5th Round – Aaron Murray – QB
6th Round – Zach Fulton – OG/Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff – OT
The Chiefs surprised the world last year when they jumped out to a 9-0 start, but the second half of the season was a struggle for Kansas City. The Chiefs lost five of their final seven games, stumbled into the playoffs, and then reenacted the entire season in 60 minutes against the Colts in the playoffs. Kansas City jumped out to a huge lead over Indy, only to see Andrew Luck mount a historical comeback in the second half to end the Chiefs season.
Free agency wasn’t friendly to Andy Reid’s squad, which saw three starters from last year’s offensive line bolt in the first 48 hours. KC’s secondary lost three key contributors as well.
Despite the losses in the secondary, the Chiefs should still have a stalwart defense in 2014. Justin Houston and Tamba Hali form arguably the most dynamic pass rushing duo in football, and the addition of first round pick Dee Ford to that mix should only create more one-on-one opportunities on passing downs. Creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks can make up for a short handed secondary. On top of that, Derrick Johnson and Joe Mays for a solid, run stuffing interior that should negate opposing teams from pounding the rock against the Chiefs. Dontari Poe developed into one of the best nose tackles in football last year, and he’s only getting better. The Chiefs front seven is one of the best in football, which is a saving grace because the secondary is a big step behind. Eric Berry is the only proven star of the group, even though CB Steve Smith is a proven commodity. Outside of those two, the rest is a major unknown. Marcus Cooper is entering his second NFL season and his play last year can only be described as inconsistent. Elite QBs like Peyton Manning took advantage of Cooper, but he did show up in major aways early in the season, especially against the Giants in Week 4. Lining up opposite of Berry in the other safety position is Husain Abdullah, and if you’re asking yourself, “Who is that?”, don’t feel bad because we are too.
Offensively, the Chiefs are going to have to rely heavily on Jamaal Charles, again, to move the chains. Charles led the Chiefs in rushing and receiving yards last year, but with three-fifths of the offensive line gone, it’s hard to imagine Charles having the same success on the group as he did in 2013. Schwartz and Asamoah were road graders in the middle of the line for Kansas City, and their absence will definitely be felt. Regardless, Charles is an elite back and should put up solid numbers, with or without a dominant offensive line.
Alex Smith wants a big contract, but his play last year wasn’t deserving of one. If he wants to get paid like an elite QB, he needs to play like one this year. Smith’s deep ball accuracy was pathetic in 2013, and it’s an area where he has to improve moving forward. Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery both have the ability to get behind defenses, and Smith has to be able to find them. For the first time in his career, Smith will be playing behind a subpar offensive line, so it’ll be interesting to see how he reacts to that.
The Chiefs were the 2013 Cinderella team of the NFL, but I just don’t see them being able to duplicate that success this year. The team isn’t as good as it was in 2013, and KC has a really tough schedule. If playing the Broncos and Chargers twice wasn’t enough, the Chiefs face off against the NFC West, the best division in football, and the AFC East, which is an underrated division. I’d be shocked if the Chiefs find a way back into the postseason.
You can check out the rest of Mike Lucas’ work at StandingOsports.com