10 Reasons the Chiefs Will Be Better in 2009August 15th, 2009 by Lee Eldridge
Tonight is the Chiefs’ first exhibition game as we begin the Todd Haley / Scott Pioli era. It’s difficult to take much out of a preseason game that’s meaningful. Play is typically sloppy. There’s no game planning. And half the game is played by people who won’t make the team. Personally, I want to see how the offensive and defensive lines hold up. I’m pretty curious as to how the new 3-4 defense will take shape. And looking forward to seeing our new quarterback.
I expect the Chiefs to be a better team this year. Though it may not lead to many more wins. Pioli is not looking for the quick fix. Don’t expect a Miami Dolphins type turnaround. Pioli and company are building for 2010 and beyond. If the Chiefs win 6 games this year, I think we should be pleased that we’re headed in the right direction.
Here are some reasons I expect the Chiefs to be better in 2009:
1 – Herm is Gone – I was OK with the hiring of Herm. Didn’t love it. But I was OK with it. Herm’s a good guy. I think he’s a pretty good evaluator of talent. But he’s one of the worst game day coaches I’ve ever watched. His teams were often unprepared to compete for 60 minutes. And his clock management skills were atrocious. I don’t blame him for the shambles that the Chiefs were in last year. I lay the blame for the failure of the team squarely on the shoulders of Carl Peterson. However, I don’t think Herm’s the type of coach who will ever take a team to the Super Bowl. So with Pioli as general manager, Herm had to go.
2 – Matt Cassel at QB – After watching Huard, Croyle and Thigpen last year, I was very pleased to see Pioli make his first order of business getting a legitimate starting quarterback. Cassel has the physical and mental tools needed to be successful in this league. If he remains healthy, Matt should be our quarterback for years to come. Getting Thigpen some experience and having him come off the bench is nice. I like for a backup QB to be mobile.
3 – Mike Vrabel at LB – Vrabel will be the quarterback of the defense. Didn’t have one last year with Donnie Edwards out much of the season. Vrabel lead the Pats in sacks twice, and will bring much needed intensity to that side of the ball. I know he’s getting up there in age, but I think the leadership we’ll see from Vrabel, and hopefully Zach Thomas if he’s healthy, will be a big help for this defense.
4 – No More Cover 2 – While it will take some time to transition to the 3-4 defense, I’ll be very happy if I never again see the Chiefs in a Cover 2 as their base defense. Without a threat like Derrick Thomas or Jared Allen rushing from the outside in a 4-3 defense, the move to the 3-4 should allow the Chiefs to create pressure through a variety of packages. It will take a couple years to get the right pieces in place to run the 3-4, so expect some inconsistent play from the defense.
5 – The Offensive Line – While Chiefs fans remain unhappy and skeptical, the offensive line is not that bad. We’ve become a bit spoiled with great line play during the Marty and Vermeil years. The Chiefs upgraded the line with the signing of Mike Goff to play right guard. Brian Waters will still be at left guard. Branden Albert and Rudy Niswanger are now in the second years as starters. Albert should be the anchor of our line for many years to come. Damion McIntosh is the biggest question mark, though I think we’ll see improved play from him. This is his second year at right tackle, and he’ll be playing next to a much better guard with Goff. We’ll be fine up front.
6 – Youth – The Youth Movement is one year older. Whew!
7 – Chan Gailey – Last year Chan completely revamped the offense around Tyler Thigpen halfway through the season. Impressive work. This year he’s got a real QB. With Gailey and Haley brainstorming for the offense, I think we’ve got some hope that they’ll find a way to get production out of these players.
8 – The Secondary – Brandon Carr, Brandon Flowers and Maurice Leggett are coming into their second years. They played well last year as rookies. If the front seven can get some pressure on the quarterback, it will make life a bit easier for our young corners. And I like the addition of Mike Brown at safety to push Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page. We probably have more talent in the secondary than anywhere else on the team.
9 – Carl Peterson – Yep, after about a hundred years at the helm, Carl is gone. Carl did many good things for the Chiefs and for Kansas City. But it was time for a the change. Thank you Clark Hunt.
10 – Herm – And did I mention that Herm is gone?