Kansas City Chiefs 2009 Preview

ChiCitySports .ComCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2009

CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 28: Dwayne Bowe #82 of the Kansas City Chiefs catches a pass while defended by David Jones #20 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL game on December 28, 2008 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2008 Summary:
The Kansas City Chiefs entered last season as the youngest team in the National Football League and showcased this youth and inexperience with a flurry of close games that they could not quite finish.

During the beginning portion of the season however, the Chiefs were abysmal. Many pundits thought they, and not the Lions and Rams, were the worst team in the league. Behind the potent combination of Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard the Chiefs started the season 1-5 with their lone win coming against division rival Denver.

It was then that they decided the season was obviously not going to end in a postseason run and the keys were turned over to young Tyler Thigpen, a quarterback that excelled in a spread offense but struggled mightily under center.

To Thigpen's credit, following his first action against Atlanta, the young signal caller showed a lot of progress the rest of the way and at the least made the Chiefs a difficult game on the schedule for many playoff contenders.

However, thanks in large part to a defense that was historically bad at rushing the passer—as a unit they managed only 10 sacks for the entire season—the Chiefs finished the 2008 season 2-14, with Thigpen going 1-10 as a starter.

But this 2-14 squad showed quite a bit of promise for the future as well. Young wide receiver Dwayne Bowe continued to shine on a mediocre offense, catching 86 balls for 1022 yards with seven touchdowns. And Jamaal Charles, the teams third round pick in 2008, showed flashes of his gamebreaking abilities as he averaged over five yards a carry in his rookie year.

The 2008 season ended the Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson era, and would pave the road for a familiar name to take over the front office when the so called architect of the Patriots dynasty, Scott Pioli, would take over as Chiefs GM.

2009 Free Agency Additions:
WR Bobby Engram (Seattle)
TE Tony Curtis (Dallas)
TE Sean Ryan (San Francisco)
G Mike Goff (San Diego)
C Eric Ghiaciuc (Cincinnati)
DE/OLB Darrell Robertson (New England)
ILB Zach Thomas (Dallas)
ILB Corey Mays (Cincinnati)
ILB Monty Beisel (Arizona)
CB Travis Daniels (Cleveland)

2009 Trade Acquistions:
QB Matt Cassel (New England)
LB Mike Vrabel (New England)

2009 Offseason Departures:
QB Damon Huard (San Francisco)
WR Will Franklin (Detroit)
TE Tony Gonzalez (Traded to Atlanta)
G Adrian Jones (Houston)
DE Jason Babin (Unsigned)
DE Brian Johnston (Detroit)
OLB Rocky Boiman (Unsigned)
OLB Donnie Edwards (Cut)
ILB Pat Thomas (Buffalo)
CB Patrick Surtain (Cut)
CB David Macklin (Cut)
S Oliver Celestin (Unsigned)

2009 NFL Draft:
1-3. Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
3-67. Alex Magee, DE/DT, Purdue
4-102. Donald Washington, CB, Ohio State
5-139. Colin Brown, OT, Missouri
6-175. Quinten Lawrence, WR, McNeese State
7-212. Javarris Williams, RB, Tennessee State
7-237. Jake O'Connell, TE, Miami of Ohio
7-256. Ryan Succop, K, South Carolina

2009 Outlook:

The Chiefs will kick off the 2009 season with a new quarterback under center, a new coaching staff on the sidelines, and for the first time in 12 years—no Tony Gonzalez playing tight end.

Former Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley comes over to Kansas City after new GM Scott Pioli was unable to successfully lure former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan to the City of Fountains. However, unlike his last coaching job, Haley will not have the luxury of having two franchise caliber wide receivers in his offense along with a former Super Bowl MVP at quarterback.

Instead, Haley will inherit a younger offense with new quarterback Matt Cassel running the show. Cassel, as many will remember, stepped into the limelight after Tom Brady's season was ironically abruptly ended in a Season Opening contest against the Chiefs. The former backup to Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer at USC would go on to lead the Patriots to victory that Sunday, and take his Patriots to an 11-5 record in 2008, only to fall short of the playoffs due to tiebreakers.

Cassel will have some weapons at his disposal however. Dependable veteran wide receiver Bobby Engram comes over to Kansas City to pair up with the young tandem of Dwayne Bowe and midseason surprise Mark Bradley, and will likely become Cassel's favorite target on third down - a down Engram excels at converting. The Chiefs will also have a stable of running backs to use, with former All-Pro Larry Johnson teaming up with young talents Kolby Smith, Jamaal Charles, and rookie Javarris Williams.

Free agent additions Mike Goff and Eric Ghiaciuc will attempt to help stabilize a young Chiefs offensive line headlined by their young tackle Branden Albert.

Defensively, Clancy Pendergast will take the reins and like Haley he comes to Kansas City fresh off a stint with the defending NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals. All eyes will be on the Chiefs defense and their 3rd overall pick Tyson Jackson. Jackson was considered the premier 3-4 bookend in the 2009 draft, and the Chiefs thought highly enough of him to pass on the consensus top defensive player in the draft Aaron Curry, along with other players that would have helped the Chiefs immensely. Jackson will team up with 2008 first round pick Glenn Dorsey to try and kickstart a defense that was generally miserable in all aspects of the game a year ago - most notably in the pass rushing department where the Chiefs averaged under a half sack a game in 2008.

The Chiefs also added a veteran presence in their linebacking corps by acquiring Mike Vrabel in the same deal that netted them Matt Cassel, along with signing longtime veteran linebacker Zach Thomas to man the middle of the D. They will pair up with Derrick Johnson, an underrated playmaker on the outside.

The Chiefs secondary is probably the weak spot of the defense, and they will need big years from both of their safeties Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard if they are to improve on this side of the ball. The play of young corners Brandon Flowers and rookie Donald Washington will also have a sizable impact on what this young Kansas City team can accomplish in 2009.

2009 Schedule:
09/13/09at Baltimore Ravens
09/20/09Oakland Raiders
09/27/09at Philadelphia Eagles
10/04/09New York Giants
10/11/09Dallas Cowboys
10/18/09at Washington Redskins
10/25/09San Diego Chargers
11/08/09at Jacksonville Jaguars
11/15/09at Oakland Raiders
11/22/09Pittsburgh Steelers
11/29/09at San Diego Chargers
12/06/09Denver Broncos
12/13/09Buffalo Bills
12/20/09Cleveland Browns
12/27/09at Cincinnati Bengals
01/03/10at Denver Broncos

2009 Prediction:
Unlike many of the bottom feeders in the NFL a year ago, the Chiefs have a lot of pieces in place to begin a turnaround. A weak division paired with a favorable inter-conference schedule could give this young Chiefs team a world of confidence if they start the season off hot.

It likely will all come down to the play of new starter Matt Cassel, and whether or not he is able to continue his good play from a year ago. If Cassel can give the Chiefs their first reliable quarterback in several years—do not be surprised if the Chiefs win eight or nine games and steal the AFC West. However, realistically, that's a mighty big if and this seems like a team that is still a year away from making a splash in the AFC.

Still, this is a team that should improve greatly from its 2008 display.

Predicted Finish: 6-10, 2nd AFC West
Hassellbeck - VSN Writer


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