A disappointing 2011 has this year's edition of the Kansas City Chiefs ready to rebound like Wilt Chamberlain. An infusion of promising free agents and healthy starters lost to various injuries is contributing to the Chiefs' perception as a young team on the rise.
Six Chiefs in particular are looking to come back from second-rate 2011 seasons. If they're able to put their substandard past years behind them, they will be major contributors to a talented squad.
Take Riggs away from Murtough, separate Hall from Oates, break up Bert and Ernie. That’s the kind of impact taking Jamaal Charles out of Kansas City’s offense had on their hopes of contending in 2011.
His ACL tear in Week Two against Detroit, which may or may not have been caused by the Lions' mascot, Roary, deprived the Chiefs of their electric super weapon and fifteen spots in the rankings of overall offense. The drop from the 12th in total offense to 27th was appalling to watch, but a rally from Charles would set Kansas City back on track to a having a lethal attack.
If you have any doubts concerning Charles’ knee holding up, he certainly doesn't.
"When I touch that field again, you're going to feel my pain," Charles told the Kansas City Star. "You're going to go through what I went through. It's going to be that way for me the rest of my career."
If he keeps this attitude going into autumn and his knee feels as good as he says it does, this could be a special rebound season for Charles.
Don’t call it a comeback.
It wouldn’t be the greatest career move.
After over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2009 and 2010, Boss’s production dropped to 28 receptions for 368 yards with three scores in 2011. Considering the state of disrepair and constant change in Oakland’s offense, it’s remarkable he got that much.
While he won’t light the world on fire in Kansas City, he should return to the productive play he enjoyed in New York.
With experience as a starting tight end and working behind ball hawk Tony Moeaki, he should find that more than enough footballs are coming his way out of two tight end sets the Chiefs are sure to use.
It's incredible what leaving Oakland can do for a career.
With a talent like Nnamdi Asomugha playing beside him in 2010, Routt was as solid a second corner a defense can ask for with thirteen passes defended and two interceptions.
And then Asomugha left for seemingly greener pastures in Philly. Left on the same island Asomugha was able to hold down, Routt suffered on the 29th ranked defense in the NFL. Leading the NFL in penalties with 17 last season, Chiefs fans were understandably concerned when free agent Brandon Carr was replaced by the slightly older Routt.
But his situation is going to significantly improve now that he's escaped the Bay Area. Surrounded by superior talent, Routt can return his comfort zone working behind primary corner Brandon Flowers.
Finding himself plugged in to a better secondary, the dirty laundry thrown his way should be significantly reduced.
Matt Cassel is like peanut butter. By himself, he's nothing special and won't satisfy your hunger for touchdowns. But put the right ingredients around him and you can get a decent meal out of it. And that's exactly what Kansas City did this offseason.
The greatest blow to Matt Cassel last season was losing the grape jelly to his peanut butter, Jamaal Charles. Without the primary weapon, Cassel was left to shoulder the load on offense and the results weren't pretty. A season-ending hand injury only made matters worse for Kansas City's offensive attack.
But Kansas City went grocery shopping this spring. And, as a result, Cassel should return to 2010 form.
With the additions of Boss, Peyton Hillis and the wide receiving corps at full strength, Cassel has more ingredients for a potent offense than most passers in the league. With Rodney Hudson and Eric Winston upgrading the "bread" of the offense, he will have plenty of time to whip up a good touchdown sandwich in the pocket.
And if he doesn't succeed, there aren't any more excuses for him.
The great radio voice Mitch Holthus once likened Peyton Hillis to a big, pimply eighth grader with a beard that developed before all the other kids as he bashed his way through Kansas City's defense.
As humorous as that description of the Conway Cannonball's power was, it's spot on. The Arkansas native is a juggernaut more fit for an era when the single-wing was the dominant formation and the spread was decades away.
During a disappointing 2011 that saw his rushing yards drop from over 1,100 to just over 500, it was reported that Hillis thought retirement and joining the CIA was a better option than to continue playing for the Browns (although that's probably a given).
Now paired with Jamaal Charles and reunited with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Hillis is going to bounce back with a vengeance.
Daboll, Cleveland's offensive play caller in 2010, knows better than anyone how to get the most out of the backfield beast. As I said in an earlier article, the mere presence of Jamaal Charles commanding a share of the defensive attention opens the running game up for both of them.
To the tune of 1,000 yards each.
This brute is going to have to build himself a vacation home in the end zone, he's going to be spending a lot of time there come fall.
This is no mistake. Romeo Crennel is ready to make a comeback season of his own.
After his success as a defensive coordinator in New England, Crennel took over in Cleveland in 2005 in hopes of transplanting the Patriot Way in a losing culture.
It didn't work. With a lone winning season in 2007, Crennel compiled a 24-40 record and was dismissed in 2008, joining a long list of accomplished coordinators that fizzled out as head coaches.
He's ready for redemption in his second go-round. With a bevy of talent on his defense he should have much more success on that side of the ball than he did in Cleveland. And with the addition of Daboll, he has an offensive coordinator he trusts that knows how to spread the ball around.
His record against Peyton Manning will certainly come in handy as well.
Crennel is a coach that endears himself to his players and gets the very best out of them, as evidenced by the unlikely win against Green Bay during his interim period last season.
A deep playoff run would be a nice comeback for RAC to show the rest of the NFL he's still got it, and he has all the tools to do so in Kansas City.