The Kansas City Chiefs went from a popular sleeper pick to win the AFC West last year to the worst team in the league rather quickly. No one could have expected such a dramatic fall for a team that was filled with a surprisingly large amount of talent.
The offseason saw the firing of head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli. Now Andy Reid and John Dorsey have been charged with the task of quickly improving on a 2-14 season.
Today we'll create a plan for how the Chiefs can turn it all around in 2013.
Luckily, the Chiefs don't have much work to do in free agency, but there are a few pieces of the puzzle they'd be best to address through the free-agent market.
Two positions that stick out are offensive and defensive line. Yes, they franchise-tagged Brandon Albert, but that still leaves a problem at one tackle position (Eric Winston was cut) and offensive guard.
They could always use a draft pick to address their need on the offensive line (more on that later). However, it'd likely have to be with the No. 1 pick, and there is always some risk involved in doing that.
As for the defense, Kansas City needs to add some depth to the defensive line. It started to do that with the signing of defensive end Mike DeVito (as reported by Adam Teicher of The Kansas City Star), but they still need to add more depth.
With free agency beginning less than a day ago, the Chiefs still have plenty of time to finish this part of the plan.
2013 NFL Draft
Simply put, the Chiefs cannot screw up the 2013 NFL draft. They can't waste any picks, and they need to find players who can step in from day one.
When the Chiefs traded for Alex Smith (which was officially completed on Tuesday), they sent their second-round pick in this year's draft to the San Francisco 49ers. Not only does that leave them with one less pick, but it also makes their first-round pick even more important to nail.
The logical choice with the No. 1 pick would be for the Chiefs to draft a left tackle a la Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher. However, Kansas City also needs to think about trading out of the top spot to help stockpile some extra picks.
Whatever the Chiefs decide to do, they need to make sure that their picks aren't carelessly used.
Improved Quarterback Play
In trading for Smith from San Francisco, the Chiefs are hoping that they've upgraded their quarterback play.
Matt Cassel was all sorts of awful in 2012, and we all knew he wasn't an option to start heading into the 2013 season. Cassel finished the year with 1,796 passing yards, six touchdowns, 12 interceptions and seven fumbles lost in only nine games.
Until Smith got injured and replaced by Colin Kaepernick, he was having a solid season for San Francisco. He's definitely an upgrade, but maybe not as much as people think.
As you can see in the chart to the right from Pro Football Reference, Smith and Cassel have eerily similar statistics in recent seasons. For those that think Smith will be an upgrade in terms of turnovers, they may want to think again.
Think Alex Smith fumbles less than Matt Cassel? Not much. Smith fumbles every 49.5 attempts. Cassel 49.9 attempts.
— Christopher Hansen (@ChrisHansenNFL) February 27, 2013
The Chiefs also added Chase Daniel (according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com) as a backup just in case Smith doesn't pan out. In order for Kansas City to really improve this year, it needs to start at the quarterback position.
Despite going 2-14 last year, the Chiefs have a much easier task of turning things around than anyone thinks. They've got a great core of talented players in Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry.
They're off to a solid start in free agency and there is still plenty of time for them to continue to improve their roster through other signings. As long as they can have a solid draft and get improved play out of their new quarterback, it's not crazy to think that Kansas City could compete with the Denver Broncos for the AFC West title.