The 2011 season took a toll on the Kansas City Chiefs. Players were injured as the team played badly, eventually resulting in a head coaching change.
This offseason, Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli constructed a roster with a strong depth. This gives Kansas City a great shot at competing for the AFC West and perhaps getting deep into the playoffs.
Chiefs players rallied around new head coach Romeo Crennel to finish the season 2-1 after Crennel was named the new interim head coach. Crennel has the players' respect, and they are more than willing to play for him.
With no lockout preventing coaches and players from getting together, the Chiefs' offseason team activities are in full motion. Crennel and the Chiefs coaching staff are running the basics with their players on how to line up, make reads, block, run routes, coverages and applying pressure.
The Chiefs have several players returning from injury, along with some new players attending OTAs.
Matt Cassel is ready to return with Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki. Cassel also has the opportunity to meet and work with new faces in Peyton Hillis, Kevin Boss and Eric Winston.
"I’m excited about all of the additions that we have made this offseason, especially offensively," Cassel said in Tuesday's press conference. "Eric Winston is a guy that’s been a proven right tackle and has been in this league for a long period of time. And you’ve got Peyton Hillis that will give us depth at the running back position, and Boss is coming at the tight end position as well. We’ve got a great group of guys. They are hard workers, and you can tell that they are eager to get started themselves."
Cassel and his offense will also play under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. This will be Cassel's fifth offensive coordinator in four seasons with the Chiefs. However, having backup Brady Quinn, who played for Daboll in Cleveland, will help Cassel learn Daboll's terminology and make the transition easier.
"Coach Daboll and I have had a past before in New England, but we haven’t gotten any chance to really talk on the phone or spend any time together," Cassel said. "It was great from an introductory standpoint to the new offense and kind of getting a feel for him."
On the defensive side, the Chiefs are ecstatic to have Eric Berry back after he played only one game with the Chiefs last season. Berry wants to make a big impact this season, which is what he hoped to do during his second year in the league.
"I’m definitely excited," Berry said. "Especially to be back with my teammates and be in the locker room with those guys. And they make me feel good, saying they are happy to see me and happy to have me back, and that makes me want to go ever harder seeing how excited they are to see me."
The Chiefs certainly have the potential to win the AFC West this year, but they know they need some help. One of Kansas City's acquisitions was the signing of Stanford Routt, who never won the AFC West in his seven years with the Oakland Raiders and hopes to experience that this year in Kansas City.
"The way the defense worked last year and the way it will be even better this year, I think the sky is the limit," Routt said. "This team was just one game removed from being the AFC West Champions. I don’t see any reason why it won’t happen again this year."