My Chiefs Cup is Half FullJanuary 10th, 2011 by Lee Eldridge
If last August I had told you that the Chiefs would finish the regular season 10-6 and AFC West Champions, and would lose at home to a very good Baltimore Ravens team in the first round of the playoffs, would you have accepted that? Would you have been excited by that?
I think most of us would have exuberantly said “YES!”.
Don’t be down today. Yes, the Chiefs were outclassed yesterday. Yes, the Chiefs made plenty of mistakes. But look at where we’ve been, and where we’re going. The Chiefs are clearly on the right track. And here are the biggest reasons to be optimistic that things will continue to get better for the Chiefs.
1. Matt Cassel: If you’re going to win consistently in the NFL, you MUST have stability and production from your quarterback. At the beginning of the year, most Chiefs fans were down on Matt Cassel. Matter of fact, I wrote this article asking if Cassel had run over your dog. Matt played very well most of the year. He dramatically improved his TD/INT ratio. He improved his accuracy and fundamentals. And he won over his team with his leadership. He’s still an inexperienced quarterback. He’s young, he’s good, and he’ll only get better.
2. The Draft: I had some concerns about general manager Scott Pioli’s ability to draft after watching his 2009 draft picks contribute little last year. I liked his 2010 draft from the start, and am even more pleased after watching them play for a season. Eric Berry is going to be a star.
3. Coaching: Todd Haley is growing up as a head coach. While he’s been ridiculed for his fourth down gambles, statistics seem to back him up that these are solid decisions. And he’s built a fine staff. Even with the departure of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, I expect the Chiefs to continue to make good staff decisions.
4. Player Development: You have to draft talented players, and then you have to develop them into good players. Some of them have to become great players. The Chiefs have struggled with this for years. Since Marty left, the Chiefs have not developed very many young players. Were they just drafting bad, or were they failing to develop their draft picks? Probably both. But this year, talented players became productive players. Jamaal Charles. Tamba Hali. Dwayne Bowe. Derrick Johnson. Eric Berry. Tony Moeaki. Javier Arenas. Dexter McCluster. A couple more drafts, and continued development from within, and the Chiefs should be good for years to come.
The Chiefs first order of business now that the season is complete is hiring a replacement for offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Have seen a few names floating around out there, but not much news on this front. ESPN has reported that the Chiefs are interested in Denver’s offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
And you’d have to think the Chiefs have at least had conversations about Josh McDaniels. While I wasn’t a fan of McDaniels while he was head coach of the Broncos, he’s clearly a fine offensive coordinator. And he has a great track record with Cassel.
If the Chiefs decide to groom a younger, and less experienced coordinator, don’t be surprised if Haley decides to call the plays next year. Lots of head coaches have had offensive coordinators but still called the plays, such as Josh McDaniels and Mike Shanahan. Matter of fact, when Todd Haley was hired as offensive coordinator for the Cardinals, head coach Ken Whisenhunt originally called the plays until he was comfortable turning over that responsibility to Haley.