Thursday, June 25, 2009

Premature Evaluations 2009 - Kansas City Chiefs



For all of the attention given to Josh McDaniels's arrival in Denver, perhaps we're all missing on the true establishment of the Patriots West movement because, as they say, real bad boys move in silence and violence. For the Kansas City Chiefs, silence is certainly nothing new. Nothing interesting has happened in Kansas City since LJ was a shiny new toy that Herm Edwards had not yet broken. This is different, though. That silence was an end product, the result of a lack of innovation or talent. This silence feels more like a system in and of itself, not a boring office job but life at the KGB. You can thank Comrade Pioli for the new attitude. For the most part, Belichick's disciples have sought to imitate the least important aspects of his persona, choosing his system over his ability to create systems that match talent. Judging from his moves this offseason, Pioli gets it. The swagger isn't the result of some formula; it's what allows the formula to be created.

Not that Pioli is the only new arrival on this team to have some juice to throw around. Todd Haley is fresh off of turning a team with a so-so defense and no running game into a conference champion . Matt Cassel, meanwhile, evolved faster than any first time starter in recent memory, leading the Pats to an 11-5 record and showing flashes of the same smug resentment that turned Tom Brady into TOM BRADY. If this isn't a match made in heaven, I'm not sure what is. Haley created a spread offense second only to the 2007 Patriots, and his current team has the kind of underrated receiving talent that the Pats used to win championships with (Bobby Engram is perpetually underrated, and Dwayne Bowe only gets overlooked because he entered the league with Megatron). Sure, Denver may have gotten the man who created the system, but Haley is the next best thing, and potentially better thanks to the constant lack of any sort of running game.

The defense is equally intriguing. True, it's a bit of a mish mash of personnel, with DT Glenn Dorsey not built for a 3-4 system and rookie Tyson Jackson seems built to pass rush in the 3-4, but judging from Pioli's track record (and picking up vets like Zach Thomas and former Patriot Mike Vrabel are nothing if not a throwback to the glory days) the new GM has a knack for constructing systems to make the most of freakish, if mismatched talents. Dorsey, touted as the best player in last year's draft, is nothing if not freakish, and the possibility of a defensive attack showing varied looks with this mix of savvy and sheer athletic ability could make for one of the most interesting defenses in the league for sheer novelty.

And yet with all of the changes, this season will be won or lost with a look to the Chiefs past. At the center of this team's hopes for this season is Larry Johnson, still crazy after all these years. For all the evidence to the contrary, there's no denying that Johnson has proven he can be the kind of elite back that Pioli, Haley, and Cassel have never really worked with. In 2005, he rushed for 1750 yards on a stunning 5.2 yards per carry. In 2006, he rushed for 1789 yards and broke the record for rush attempts in a season, consequently ruining himself for the next year. But despite what you've heard, Johnson isn't gone past the point of redemption; he still managed a healthy 4.2 yards per carry when healthy last season with no credible passing game thanks to the QB shuffle of mediocrity Herm Edwards utilized. The new kids in town are great, but for the Chiefs to be anything other than a rebuilding project this year, they need to make sure that in


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

That in what?! The suspense is killing me!

Cian said...

seconded...

a minor add point on dorsey, he's got clancy pendergast as a coordinator, he gets a chance to be a better darnell dockett... and you know how much i love dockett's play.