Chiefs: Getting Strong One Position at a TimeAugust 20th, 2011 by Lee Eldridge
One of the things I’ve really come to appreciate about the Scott Pioli approach is how the Chiefs identify their needs, and find the right players to fill them. The Chiefs had plenty of holes on their roster a couple years ago, and you can’t plug them all in one off-season.
Loss: Brodie Croyle
Gain: Ricky Stanzi
Summary: The Chiefs have little experience among their backup quarterbacks. Considering that Croyle had experience but had never gotten a victory, it’s hard to imagine that the Chiefs are any worse off without him. Time will tell what happens here. Many in the media believe that the Chiefs need an experienced number two, but not much out there to sign. There’s certainly some risk entering the season with Tyler Palko and Stanzi as your options behind Matt Cassel.
Loss: Tim Castille
Gain: Le’Ron McClain, Shane Bannon
Summary: Despite having the number one rushing attack in the NFL last year, the Chiefs were not very good in short yardage or goal line situations. McClain should help both as a blocker and as a threat to run and catch the ball. The Chiefs have managed to improve the best backfield in the NFL.
Result: Big Improvement
Loss: Chris Chambers
Gain: Jonathan Baldwin, Steve Breaston, Keary Colbert, Jerheme Urban (back from IR)
Summary: The Chiefs have more talent at wide receiver than they’ll be able to keep. When was the last time you could say that? My warning is that rookie wide receivers seldom make an impact. Don’t be surprised if Baldwin comes off the bench early in the season. Other than Dwayne Bowe, expect to see the rest of the receivers rotate through different packages.
Result: Big Improvement
Summary: No movement among tight ends is fine with me. If Tony Moeaki improves on his rookie performance, the Chiefs might have a star in the making. He put up better numbers last year than Tony Gonzalez did in his rookie campaign.
Loss: Brian Waters
Gain: Rodney Hudson, Jared Gaither
Summary: Despite having the best rushing attack in the NFL, I’m glad that the Chiefs continue to improve the line. I think Jamaal Charles made them look good, not the other way around. They’ve moved second year guard Jon Asamoah into the starting lineup at right guard. They’ll flip Ryan Lilja to the left side, which is where he played for the Colts, to replace Waters. Waters was one of my favorite Chiefs, but he hasn’t played at a Pro Bowl level in years. Casey Wiegmann is back at center, but he’s only holding the position until Hudson is ready. And Gaither is an interesting pickup. If he’s healthy, he should eventually start at one of the offensive tackle positions. I’m not convinced he’s healthy. Or one of the right 53.
Result: Probably Improved
Loss: Shawn Smith, Ron Edwards
Gain: Kelly Gregg, Jerrell Powe, Allen Bailey
Summary: Very happy that the Chiefs re-signed Wallace Gilberry. He was high on my list of off-season priorities. I suspect that we’ll quickly realize that Gregg is a significant upgrade over Edwards in the middle of the line. Smith played fairly well last year, and offered nice flexibility with his ability to play anywhere along the line. The key this year will be for us to continue to see improvement from Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey. Bailey and Powe will likely get playing time.
Loss: Mike Vrabel
Gain: Justin Houston, Brandon Silar, Cameron Sheffield (back fromIR)
Summary: Vrabel provided leadership, but it appeared that Andy Studebaker was already outplaying him on the field. And it appears that both Houston and Sheffield will add some punch to the pass rush.
Gain: Jalil Brown
Summary: Brown will likely compete with Javier Arenas in the nickel, but could be a long-term replacement if the Chiefs are unable to sign either Brandon Carr or Brandon Flowers to an extension.
Gain: Sabby Piscitelli
Summary: Piscitelli was brought in to create competition. Not even sure he’ll make the team. The Chiefs are set at safety with Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis. With each of them entering the second years in the league, we should see continued improvement from both of them.
Result: Improved with Age
Summary: The Chiefs appear set with kicker Ryan Succop and punter Dustin Colquit. The Chiefs would like to get more production from their returners Dexter McCluster and Arenas.
So when does a great team become a great team? Somewhere they have to transition from good to great. Is there any reason this couldn’t be the year for the Chiefs?