When asked off the top of my head to name my biggest turnaround team, with no time to really mull it over, the Chiefs are who I came up with.
Aside from a talent aspect, most good teams start up top, and let’s face it, I think the Chiefs are in good shape there with Pioli running things.
The coaching staff Todd Haley has assembled is almost a who’s who. Two pretty big architects as assistants in some Super Bowl teams, though not nearly as successful in their head coaching endeavors, will be part of the Chiefs staff with Charlie Weiss and Romeo Crennell. If I’m not mistaken, Gary Gibbs, Maurice Carthon and Emmett Thomas are all also apart of this staff. Not a bad assembly of coaching talent, and in this league, that can be a huge difference.
The Chiefs biggest weakness, to me, is going to be up front on defense. If Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson can be what they were supposed to be when drafted, or just come relatively close, I think it changes the entire outlook of this team. I think Eric Berry becomes a difference maker in the secondary, and the linebacking corps, while not great, I think is solid. I think it was hurt by an under-performing defensive front a year ago. I also think that contributed to some problems in the secondary.
Offensively the line gelled once Jamaal Charles became THE guy. Now they have Thomas Jones to spell him, a proven back, who should reap the benefits of that improved line play. Charles is explosive, and I see him having another big year.
The receivers have some questions, but this is where Dexter McCluster, in my opinion, makes the biggest difference. He might have been listed as a running back, but I think he’ll line up everywhere, and they are going to just find ways to put the ball in his hands, and when that happens, big things will happen. This should ease some of the pressure of Dwayne Bowe, who has the potential to be a really good receiver.
Quarterback is still a quandary. Matt Cassell is the third highest paid quarterback in the league this year, so they will give him every chance to prove it, or earn some of it. He, in the right situation, can thrive. I think the pieces surrounding him this year are better suited to provide that situation, especially the coaching staff, and that new toy in in McCluster. Adding Ryan Lilja to the offensive line doesn’t do anything to hurt matters either.
Their return game could be deadly, as Javier Arenas, McCluster, and Berry will all vie for the honors of making game-breaking special teams plays.
I just think that with Oakland being Oakland, Denver not sure where exactly they are going, at least in my view, and San Diego losing a lot of talent and having the potential loss of Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson, not to mention Norv Turner still being in charge, there is a potential window for the Chiefs to slip thru this year, and if not this season, certainly in 2011.