Heading into this offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs had many things to be optimistic about, even after a losing season.
The '11 campaign brought out many positive things with this team, including an emerging defense and a new leader in the locker room in the form of head coach Romeo Crennel.
Here are 10 reasons why we should be optimistic about this team heading into the 2012 season.
One of the biggest things that hampered the Chiefs play last season was the loss of their star players earlier in the season.
RB Jamaal Charles, S Eric Berry and TE Moeaki were all done for the year by the end of Week 2 of the '11 regular season.
Not having Charles and Moeaki really hurt KC's offense and Berry's loss in the secondary was felt on many occasions throughout the campaign.
Next season should be a completely different story as all three of these young, talented playmakers should be back on the field to help lead this team to another AFC West title and beyond.
A couple of years ago, the wide receiver position was one of the weaker links on the Chiefs team.
Heading into the '12 season, it should be considered one of their strengths.
Assuming that Pro Bowl wideout Dwayne Bowe re-signs with the team this offseason, he and second-year receiver Jonathan Baldwin will give Kansas City two very solid weapons on the outside, while veteran Steve Breaston is another solid weapon to have as well.
Even if Bowe leaves KC, Baldwin and Breaston will still give Chiefs fans something to look forward to as far as the passing game is concerned.
Crennel has one of the best defensive minds in all of football and has a history of being very successful at calling plays for NFL defenses.
He already has five Super Bowl rings under his belt and has the skills as a defensive coach to back it all up.
It will be exciting to see what 64-year-old Crennel will design for his defense from week to week next season.
The Chiefs currently possess one of the most talented secondaries in the league.
Cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr have really stepped up their game over the past two seasons, and second-year safety Kendrick Lewis emerged as a playmaker last season for this defense.
There is a chance that Carr will not be re-signed this offseason, but even if that were to happen, this unit should still be in good shape for next season with the likely return of stud safety Eric Berry.
If Carr does decide to stay in Kansas City, this KC secondary will be solid for a long time.
With the season-ending injury to RB Jamaal Charles in Week 2 this past season, the Chiefs were short on offensive playmakers other than wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.
After weeks of searching, they seemed to have found one in second-year RB/WR Dexter McCluster.
McCluster racked up 844 yards from scrimmage for the season and scored two touchdowns along the way.
He also turned in several big plays, which the Chiefs will need out of him next season for this offense to become a more dynamic unit overall.
There was no one on this defense that was playing better than rookie Justin Houston down the stretch.
The former Georgia Bulldog had 5.5 sacks in his last six games of his rookie year and looked very solid in run support as well.
Considering that he had to deal with the lockout his first season in the league, I expect much better numbers and a significantly higher sack total for him next season.
It appears that the Chiefs might have finally found another talented pass-rusher opposite Tamba Hali.
Derrick Johnson was easily the MVP of this team last season.
He had a career-high 131 tackles, while picking up two sacks, nine pass deflections and two interceptions as well.
Johnson was even named to his first ever Pro Bowl for his efforts in 2011.
However, the best thing about DJ is that he is already locked up for the long-term in Kansas City and will be a force in the middle of this Chiefs defense once again next season.
The Chiefs have one of the better outside linebackers in the AFC in Tamba Hali.
Over the past two seasons, Hali has averaged around 13 sacks per year and has made the Pro Bowl in both of those campaigns.
He is a relentless pass-rusher that contains a motor that never seems to stop.
Chiefs fans should be very excited about the prospect of Hali doing the "Tamba-Hawk" many more times next season.
For any NFL team, this is something that usually brings optimism from season to season.
The Chiefs have been able to get contributions from several rookies in each of the past two seasons, including a Pro Bowl selection from Eric Berry back in 2010.
They shouldn't expect it to be any different this year.
The '12 NFL rookie draft class is loaded with talent, and KC could end up selecting several players that might impact this team as early as their first season in the league.
What could be better than a fresh, new season to start a new beginning for this team?
They will surely need one after their disappointing 7-9 season in 2011, even though they were just a made field goal away from making the playoffs.
Next season will likely bring a new set of expectations for this organization, and it all starts with their new head coach Romeo Crennel.
If Crennel can find a way to motivate his players like he did in the last three games of this past season, then the sky is the limit for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012.