Kansas City Chiefs Fans Should Be Excited for the 2012 Season
The 2011 season was anything but pleasant for fans of the Kansas City Chiefs. The roller-coaster campaign started out with much optimism coming off a 2010 in which the Chiefs won the AFC West and ended with them missing the playoffs by the length of two Richard Seymour mitts.
With 2011 now in the rear view mirror, the Chiefs and their revamped coaching staff look to stamp their ticket into the playoffs once again. However, this time around could prove to be much different than the 2010 result when the Baltimore Ravens bounced them right out of Arrowhead Stadium in unforgiving fashion.
As fans, we are trapped with the blind faith that the teams we pour our hearts and souls into everyday are doing what it takes to field a successful product. And although it doesn’t seem the Chiefs have made a very big splash in the free-agency waters just yet, they have made enough subtle, but effective, moves to garner some attention, not only in Kansas City, but around the NFL, heading into 2012.
The Chiefs have addressed some glaring needs with the signing of former Houston Texans' right tackle Eric Winston to a long-term deal, while also protecting themselves at positions where injury heavily affected them last season by inking running back Peyton Hillis and tight end Kevin Boss to shorter contracts.
For the most part, the Chiefs have been able to retain their own players recently, but were unable to hold on to cornerback Brandon Carr, who signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Knowing it would be difficult to invest the money in Carr, the Chiefs were able to lure former Oakland Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt to play opposite Brandon Flowers.
What team wins the AFC West in 2012?
As it stands, the Chiefs look very similar to the product they fielded just this past season. However, early injuries to key pieces thwarted any chance at producing a team capable of a sustained run through the regular season, let alone had they been able to sneak into the playoffs.
Over its history, sports fell victim to the law of averages, and the NFL is no different. Whether dealing with statistics or the injury bug, in the case of the Chiefs, everything seems to balance itself out over time.
Injuries are certainly unpredictable, but the Chiefs were hit extremely hard last season, so it is safe to say that it borders the impossible in the eyes of the fans for it to be any worse.
Losing an All-Pro caliber running back in Jamaal Charles and a safety net type of tight end in Tony Moeaki crippled any chance of Matt Cassel—who later finished the season injured himself—of duplicating his efficient 2010 campaign in which he threw for 27 touchdowns to only seven interceptions.
Bringing in Boss to complement a healthy Moeaki, coupled with wide receivers Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin, the Chiefs showcase a very formidable passing attack to accompany a running game featuring one of the league’s best in Charles and a hungry Hillis to balance it all out.
Despite the Chiefs’ one-sided flirtation with Peyton Manning, it might not be a stretch to assume that Matt Cassel could actually produce at a more proficient rate than he did in 2010.
An upgraded offensive line and more weapons at his disposal should allow him to ease back under center with no hiccups. Throw in a revived hunger to dispel any notion that he isn’t capable of leading a team to a championship, and we could see a major leap forward in regards to the Chiefs’ offense.
Although they haven’t added much on defense, other than Routt replacing Carr at cornerback, the defensive side of the ball is where the Chiefs should focus the majority of its draft, leaving fans on edge for now.
But from the time Romeo Crennel took over as head coach, replacing Todd Haley—now the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers—the Chiefs played an inspired brand of football, particularly on defense, through the end of the season, including handing the Green Bay Packers their only regular season blemish.
Getting Eric Berry back at safety will allow this group to keep ascending as one of the better defenses in the league. And with an addition of a dominant defensive tackle, the 3-4 defense featured by the Chiefs could remind fans of how things used to be with Derrick Thomas and company back in the 1990s.
Finishing in the basement of a mediocre AFC West certainly was not the desired result for the Chiefs last season. But by doing so, they have the luxury of playing a last-place schedule, something that definitely helped their cause for a 10-6 record in 2010 following their 4-12 2009 campaign.
While some will argue that parity doesn’t guarantee anything in the NFL these days, the Chiefs certainly like their position heading into the season in regards to the schedule. And with the division decided literally by two blocked field goals in 2011, the seemingly two-game advantage in competition that the Chiefs have should provide them a leg-up in 2012.
It is often the sentiment that teams coming off of a surprisingly successful season (2010) tend to take a step backward the following year before making another leap forward the next. Well, if an injury riddled 2011 campaign in which the Chiefs finished 7-9 is considered the digression, the step forward in 2012 could make the Chiefs organization and its fans very happy.
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