This marks the beginning of Football Savages’ “Preview and Prediction” series. Once the season begins, I’ll break down the upcoming game each week. For now, I’m taking a look at the moves the Chiefs made in the offseason and examining the state of the team as we head into training camp. I try to stay away from too much of the analytical breakdowns and instead offer a brief overview with some opinions thrown in.
Chiefs 2013 Rankings
Only one team was better than our 2013 Kansas City Chiefs in this department. That team, the Seattle Seahawks, happened to win the Super Bowl. The Chiefs finished with 36 takeaways with 18 giveaways coming to a (+18 turnover differential). The Seahawks finished the season with a +20 turnover differential, but that’s mostly due to their hidden speakers pumping in fake noise to their “outdoor stadium” that covers 70 percent of the seats. I’m not bitter about it or anything.
The hypothesis on whether or not there is a significant correlation between a team’s turnover differential and their winning percentage is becoming incredibly obvious as the league continues to grow. The real question is whether or not a positive turnover differential is sustainable. Andy Reid‘s history as a head coach shows that he has it figured out, producing positive turnover margins 10 out of his 14 years with the Eagles according to SportingCharts.com
DT Vance Walker (via Raiders)
LB Joe Mays (via Texans)
OL Jeff Linkenbach (via Colts)
CB Phillip Gaines (via draft, round 3)
RB De’Anthony Thomas (via draft, round 4)
QB Aaron Murray (via draft, round 5)
G Zach Fulton (via draft, rd 6)
OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (via draft, rd 6)
WR Weston Dressler (via Canada)
LB Dee Ford (via draft, round 1)
It’s hard to really determine a position battle in non-contact, non-padded practices, but these are the 2 that stick out to me at this point.
- Wide Receiver – This is one of the biggest unknowns and potential weak spots of the team. Dwayne Bowe is by far the best receiver on this roster with Donnie Avery as the team’s current No. 2. That doesn’t say much for the rest of the receiving corps. The loss of Dexter McCluster means someone will need to step up to replace his 601 snaps. I’d like to say that De’Anthony Thomas will step into that role, but it’s hard to determine at this point. The Chiefs will certainly be leaning on the likes of Junior Hemingway, A.J. Jenkins or Kyle Williams. In all reality I’m expecting our leading receiver to be Jamaal again no matter what.
- Defensive Line – Dontari Poe and Mike Devito are locked in as the current starters, leaving a spot up for grabs on the defensive line after losing Tyson Jackson to Atlanta in free agency. Allen Bailey was on the field for 453 snaps last year and didn’t do a bad job. At the very least, he’s dependable against the run. The Chiefs did acquire former Raider defensive lineman Vance Walker, which makes the issue of who to start a pretty good problem to have. When you consider that Bailey’s 453 regular season snaps were the most in his three-year career, it wouldn’t be a shock to see both he and Walker play a decent number of snaps as part of the defensive line rotation. Thus far in offseason workouts, Bailey has been taking most of the 1st team snaps, so we will see how it plays out.
Biggest question mark(s)
While I believe the receiver position is a definite weak spot, I wouldn’t consider it the biggest question mark with the offense that we run. The biggest question marks for me are in the secondary. With Sanders Commings back from a season ending injury, he has seen time during practice at free safety and will likely be an option behind Husain Abdullah and when the Chiefs move to their dime package. Behind those 2 guys, it’s nothing but complete long shots at the FS position, opposite of Eric Berry.
Bob Sutton wants Safeties that can play both FS/SS in a more non-traditional position. Sutton also flips coverages by having safeties in tight and cornerbacks back deep. What I would like to see is Commings win the FS spot in our base and single high dime set, which would allow Abdullah or Berry to play the hybrid role and let one or the other roam. Berry has shown a lot of success in this hybrid role. Jinx wrote a great article on Berry that you can check out here.
A lot of fans are concerned with the CB position, and for good reason. The good news is we are deep at the position. The bad news is, we still don’t really know what we have. Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker have certainly shown some promise, but not much consistency. Cooper showed great speed and technique last year for the most part, holding his own without safety help over the top.
It will be interesting to see those 2 battle it out for the No. 2 spot. If we are able to match our pass rush that we started with last year, it will certainly take a lot of the pressure off this group. We also have to wait and see what happens with Sean Smith and any kind of suspension that might come down from the mothership for his DUI charge. The loss of Brandon Flowers is one that will likely take a couple years to recover from in my opinion. Hopefully rookie Philip Gaines can earn his keep sooner, rather than later.
2 Players we need to improve/step-up
- Tight End, Travis Kelce – Kelce was lost to a knee injury that required microfracture surgery as a rookie, but he can be just what the Chiefs need this season. I would love to see what this guy can do with a healthy season. Kelce has been compared to Rob Gronkowski, Jeremy Shockey and Jason Witten. That’s some pretty good company in my honest opinion. **HOT TAKE ALERT** He was definitely a surprise pick in last years draft, but he will certainly be worth every bit of it if he can become anything close to the tight ends mentioned above.
- Center, Rodney Hudson – The Chiefs are rolling with one of the youngest offensive lines in the league this year. It will be incredibly important for Hudson to improve and step up as a leader on this line. He’s not exactly a liability, but he tends to get over powered by guys in one-on-one situations, #pause.
Kansas City’s schedule features seven games against five playoff teams from the 2013 season, including the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. The Chiefs 2014 opponents had a combined record of 117-91 from last season.
I don’t want to dive into a game by game prediction just yet, but as it stands right now I only see 6 or 7 wins coming out of this schedule. But, with a couple of things swinging our way, we could pull off 8 or 9 wins. This will be a confusing year for Chiefs fans, as most of the schedule goes from winnable one week, to really tough the next week, to winnable the next, to really tough, etc.
Schedule info via Arrowhead Pride