When Andy Reid came in as the new head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, his first task was to evaluate the 2012 season and the entire team on paper. This was a good way for him to get to know the players before meeting the squad at offseason activities.
Reid knew last year's team fairly well and had to make decisions as to which players he wanted to keep and which to let go.
The Chiefs have some big pieces to the puzzle in certain spots on both sides of the field, but they need some others to step up to help complete the team, thus turning them into one of the more competitive units in the NFL.
In this slideshow, we will touch on eight players who must step up this year to help the Chiefs.
With Kansas City set at the running back spot, it needs help from its receiving corps in order to have a three-dimensional offense this season. But behind Dwayne Bowe, there isn’t another player on the roster who is viewed as a threat.
Jon Baldwin, who was taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, has been limited in his success since joining the NFL.
If Baldwin can improve, and perhaps reach his potential, the Chiefs offense will move the ball more and see a lot of success—and touchdowns.
Dexter McCluster received a lot of hype going into his first year in the NFL. He opened up the first three games of his career with a bang, scoring a touchdown on special teams and another on offense.
But since then, McCluster’s been quiet. His speed can be used to Kansas City’s advantage, but it hasn’t worked so far.
With a new coach and new quarterback, the new offense is a fit for McCluster, who should find more success.
Fans were raving about Tony Moeaki throughout his rookie season, making the loss of Tony Gonzalez almost forgettable at the time. But injuries have derailed Moeaki’s three-year career with the Chiefs.
Moeaki missed all of OTAs and minicamp this past spring and is getting his first set of repetitions this year in training camp. When healthy, Moeaki has the ability to make big plays for his team.
If healthy, Moeaki could develop chemistry with Smith and bring flashes of Vernon Davis, a tight end who Smith threw to in San Francisco.
Coming out of Florida State, Rodney Hudson was named First Team All-ACC three times and First Team All-American twice. So far, none of that has translated into professional success.
Hudson has a lot of upside and could be a big asset for the Chiefs. He started one game in 2011, when he was primarily a backup. As the new center of the Chiefs, Hudson started only three games before going down with a leg injury.
Hudson looks to bounce back in his third year in the league and hopes to gain significant playing time for the first time in his career.
Tyson Jackson had his best season with the Chiefs last year after coming up with big defensive plays to help the team compete in some close games. It was hard to notice, but Jackson’s improvement pushed him to third on the team in sacks.
With Jackson trying to remove the bust label from his name, the Chiefs will need him to turn his flashes into consistency during their bounce-back season.
Brandon Flowers has been a reliable cornerback throughout most of his time with the Chiefs. At the same time, Flowers has some room for improvement.
Flowers has yet to be recognized as a Pro Bowl or All-Pro cornerback and has averaged three interceptions a season.
The Chiefs have a strong defensive front with Tamba Hali and Justin Houston applying pressure and forcing quarterbacks to throw passes sooner than they want to. This gives Flowers a good opportunity to come up with more takeaways than he generally does and possibly surpass his single-season career high of five interceptions.
Despite being taken in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL draft, Kendrick Lewis quickly became a pertinent part of Kansas City’s defense when Jon McGraw missed time due to injury.
Lewis stepped up his second season, when Eric Berry missed the year with a knee injury, coming up with three interceptions for 119 return yards.
Last year, however, was a step back for Lewis. He was available for just nine games and saw a career low in tackles, pass deflections and interceptions.
With Romeo Crennel out, Lewis will go into training camp with a new defensive coordinator for the first time. Under Bob Sutton’s defense, Lewis must be better in coverage. Like Flowers, the opportunity to get some interceptions will be there.
Berry came off a season where he was invited to play in the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career, but that may be misleading to those who didn’t follow the Chiefs closely.
Berry finished the season with less production than what he concluded his rookie season. In the end, based on name recognition, Berry was able to get another Pro Bowl invite. Reid has been in the league long enough to know that many unworthy players make it to the Pro Bowl each season. After evaluations, Berry knew he had to step up after struggling last year.
If he returns to his rookie form and excels, he will be one of the top defensive backs in the league for years to come.
For now, the Chiefs need Berry to play to his potential. Berry has shown off his ability to cover and blitz the quarterback. If the Chiefs get that from Berry this year, the defense could be one of the best in the league this season.