Kansas City Chiefs: Tempering Expectations for 2009
The Chiefs' offseason began with a big bang. No, they didn't sign any big-name free agents; instead they traded for the hottest name on the trade market, Matt Cassel.
By now, everybody reading this already knows that Cassel, despite not starting a football game since high school somehow led the Brady-less Patriots to a 11-5 record.
Now the expectation is that he will do that for the Kansas City Chiefs. No, he won't have Randy Moss to throw to, but he will have a group of talented young receivers led by Dwayne Bowe and added a veteran presence with Bobby Engram.
The Free Agents
The Chiefs signed a number of veteran free agents this year, led by widely known LB Zach Thomas, WR Bobby Engram, and OG Mike Goff.
Rookie GM, Scott Pioli, thought he would help this very young team out by injecting it with veteran players who have been there and done that.
Thomas will step in as an immediate starter as an inside linebacker in the newly forming 3-4 defense. Engram will start at WR, most likely in the slot, in new Head Coach Todd Haley's wide-open offense.
Mike Goff will fill the huge void the Chiefs had last year at RG, where Goff, the consummate pro, has played for the last 12 seasons.
Bill Belichick could not be more proud of the way the Chiefs' draft went. The only thing that was missing were the trade-downs on draft day. There was nothing flashy, but positions that needed to be filled were filled with quality players. Not only this, but all the players drafted can do multiple things for the team.
Some of the "experts" think Tyson Jackson was a reach, but Pioli knows how important the lineman are in a 3-4 defense: All three starters on the Patriots' defensive line were first-round picks.
The Chiefs desperately needed 3-4 defensive linemen, and Jackson will step in to start from day one. He will play all three downs in the 3-4, and in the 4-3 will play on the outside on first and second down, and move inside to tackle on third down.
Magee was a known run-stuffer in college, and played both inside and outside on the defensive line at Purdue, which will give the Chiefs the same freedom with Magee they have with Jackson.
Donald Washington, out of Ohio State, not only has a chance to play in the nickel immediately this year, but he also is a very good special teams player.
Colin Brown, from Missouri, was drafted as a right tackle, but also has the ability to play guard if needed. He is a 6'5", 330-pound behemoth with quick feet.
The '09 Season
Everything from the offseason seems like the Chiefs are primed for a run in 2009—especially since they play in the AFC West, one of the NFL's weakest divisions. The Chargers won the division last year with a record of 8-8.
Two main things will hold the Chiefs back this year. The first is their new, young defense. The second, and the one probably overlooked by most, is their schedule.
The Chiefs play one of the hardest schedules this upcoming year, including an opening week game at Baltimore. Other tough road games will be at Philadelphia and Jacksonville, and they will have the Giants and Cowboys at home.
All of this is going to lead to a 6-10 record for the Chiefs this year. This will equal the previous two season's win totals, but still will be a disappointing season for Chiefs fans, many of whom are hoping the team will finish .500 or better.
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