Kansas City Chiefs: Areas the Chiefs Will Excel in 2012
The Kansas City Chiefs have spent a lot of their resources this offseason bringing in what they need to succeed in 2012.
The Chiefs should be held to high standards and it is fair to expect them to be one of the best in certain categories among all 32 teams.
In this slideshow, I will break down the areas where the Chiefs will shine, helping them to compete for a division title in 2012.
Matt Cassel has no excuses this season. Even if he is learning a new offense, he managed to lead his team in 2010 when learning Charlie Weis' new offense.
Cassel has offensive tools everywhere and should find a lot of success.
- Running Back: Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis
- Wide Receivers: Dwayne Bowe, Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston, Dexter McCluster and Devon Wylie
- Tight Ends: Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss
With an improved offensive line, many quarterbacks in the league would take advantage of the tools that the Chiefs currently have. If Cassel stays healthy and gets better protection from the offensive line, 2012 is a season in which Cassel will catch the eye of many football fans in and outside of Kansas City.
It was two years ago when Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones teamed up to run all over opposing defenses to finish first in the league in rushing. This year, Charles has a chance to regain that title with Peyton Hillis.
The Chiefs will have a couple of new faces on the offensive line as they try to help Charles and Hillis find holes and break free.
Charles and Hillis are both bouncing back from injuries, but will create an interesting dynamic as both halfbacks are different in their own way, giving the Chiefs versatility.
Even as the lone pass rusher on the team, Tamba Hali created havoc for opposing quarterbacks. Many offensive tackles struggled picking up Hali. Hali's ability to apply pressure last season helped the team compete in low-scoring games with a thin offense.
This year, Hali is not alone and the Chiefs should improve as a team.
Justin Houston finished second on the team in sacks during his rookie campaign, helping Hali in improving a defense that got off to a rough start.
Hali will continue to apply pressure and register knockdowns, but statistically, his sack total may take a small dip for good reasons now that Houston can help him.
One of the best ways to build a strong defense is by having a strong group of pass rushers. Since the Chiefs have that, you can expect quarterbacks to throw ill-advised passes, creating a jump-ball situation for Chiefs defenders.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a great core of defensive backs heading into 2012. Along with their defensive backs, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson has contributed in creating takeaways.
The Chiefs tied for sixth in the league with 20 interceptions last season. With Eric Berry returning and Stanford Routt joining a defense coordinated by Romeo Crennel and assisted by Emmitt Thomas, offensive coordinators must spend countless hours preparing for the Chiefs if they want to avoid trouble.
Interception Return Yards
Along with the interceptions, the Chiefs have players with great speed who can take advantage of a couple of blocks and find a big hole. This will either allow the Chiefs to take the field with great field position, or better yet, the defense will come up with a score of their own.
The Chiefs finished in the top 10 in interception return yards twice in the past three seasons and are capable of staying in the top 10 for the second straight season with Berry returning.
If the Chiefs excel in this area better than any other listed, the Chiefs as a unit will come away with a lot of wins this season.
Ryan Succop got off to a slow start, missing two of his first four field goals of the 2011 season. Succop turned things around in Week 4 against the Minnesota Vikings, connecting on all five field goals with two of them coming from 50 yards out.
Succop carried over the streak through Week 16, making 21 consecutive field goals. If Succop can stay in this form and have a better beginning to the season, his name could be placed among some of the best kickers in the league today.
Despite being nicknamed "Mr. Irrelevant" after being selected last in the 2009 NFL draft, Succop was certainly relevant during his hot streak.
With a better offense that will likely bring the ball further on the field, Succop will have a shot at attempting more field goals. This gives him a great opportunity to improve from ranking 17th in 2011 for most makes with only 24.
The toughest part about 2011 for Kansas City was finishing last in the league in red zone efficiency. Many will argue this was due to a thin offense after Cassel, Charles and Moeaki suffered season-ending injuries at one point last year.
This time, the Chiefs will have those players back along with Hillis and Boss as new targets.
Now that the Chiefs have a three-dimensional offense, the passing and running game will help the Chiefs improve not only in the red zone, but also in scoring after finishing second to last.
The best part about the Chiefs defense is having Hali and Houston as their pass rushers. With Berry returning from injury, the Chiefs defense has a great core and should find themselves in the top five in total defense.
Along with Berry's return, the Chiefs signed Routt and drafted rookie Dontari Poe to help the Chiefs defense. Despite losing a strong No. 2 cornerback in Brandon Carr, it may not hurt the team during the season as much as it does now on paper.
It seems Succop found a rhythm during his third season with the Chiefs. General manager Scott Pioli was impressed and locked him to a long-term deal, keeping him through 2016.
As for the return game, there is still a big question mark, but the Chiefs have a lot of options to explore during training camp and the preseason.