Why Charlie Weis Will Make the Kansas City Chiefs Contenders Again in 2010
The embattled former head coach at Notre Dame brings to Kansas City as impressive a resume as any coordinator in the NFL today. Most notable are the three Super Bowl rings he earned as the Patriots offensive coordinator during his five-year stint in New England from 2000-2004.
Earlier this season, Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley released Chan Gailey from his duties as the team's offensive coordinator because of fundamental differences in philosophy.
When it comes to Weis, Haley couldn't find a coach in the country with a more similar offensive philosophy. Of course, that only makes sense since these two are close friends who shared a small office together for three years as members of Bill Parcells' staff with the New York Jets.
Including those three seasons in New York and five more in New England, Weis has spent eight years as an offensive coordinator in the NFL. His offenses in those eight seasons averaged 23.7 points per game. Compared to the 2009 Chiefs squad who averaged just 18.4 points per game, it's reasonable to expect a marked improvement in 2010.
Of course, to see that type of improvement on offense, Weis will need to be instrumental in the continued development of quarterback Matt Cassel. By far, the player who has the most to gain from having Weis calling the plays in 2010 is Cassel.
Cassel threw just as many interceptions in 2009 as he did touchdowns (16), but will now have an opportunity to be mentored by the same coach who helped Tom Brady ascend to the status of future NFL Hall of Famer in the past decade.
Let it also not be forgotten that Weis played an integral role the last three seasons at Notre Dame in developing likely top-10 pick Jimmy Clausen. Clausen is regarded by most draft experts as either the first or second best quarterback prospect in the draft, and this has to be due in part to the tutelage provided by Weis.
Another thing Weis, Haley, and General Manager Scott Pioli will need to address is the state of the Chiefs receivers. Assuming the team can re-sign Chris Chambers, the Chiefs should have a solid one-two with Chambers and Dwayne Bowe.
However, in the type of offensive system that both Weis and Haley want to run, they desperately need a playmaker at the slot receiver. This past season, Haley tried Bobby Wade, Lance Long, and others in the role, but no one could consistently provide the production Haley expected from the position.
To be successful offensively in 2010, Weis will need to find a solid slot receiver, something that can likely be found in the draft. Assuming the Chiefs decide to draft defense with their first overall pick, as many mock drafts predict the Chiefs to select safety Eric Berry from Tennessee, the Chiefs could find the right receiver for their offense at the beginning of round two.
Then again, many mock drafts are predicting that the Chiefs will take Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung in the first round. If that happens, it would seem more likely that defense would be the focus for the Chiefs in the second round.
Consider this, however—the combination of Weis and Pioli drafted together from 2000-2004 in New England. In the 2000 and 2001 drafts, the Patriots were in dire need of help at the offensive tackle position, similar to the need the Chiefs have this offseason.
During those two drafts, New England spent four draft picks on tackles, but none was drafted higher than the 46th overall pick, midway through the second round. During their final three seasons together, the Patriots did not draft another offensive lineman in any round, choosing to address any needs via free agency instead.
The moral to the story is: Expect this Chiefs' front office to address offensive line needs via free agency or after the first round of April's draft. With the depth of offensive line talent in this year's draft, there's no reason to think that the Chiefs can't find a starter with their second pick (from Atlanta) midway through the second round.
Now, assuming the Chiefs go defense in round one, there are several position players that should be available when the Chiefs make their first selection in round two that could help this offense in 2010.
One player that stands out, and could be very effective in a Wes Welker-type of role is wide receiver Jordan Shipley out of Texas. Shipley is quick, runs great routes, and is sure-handed, which, after this season, should make him a favorite of Haley's on draft day.
Another player that could be available early in the second round is someone Weis recruited to Notre Dame in All-American wide receiver Golden Tate. While predicted in most mock drafts to go in the latter half of round one, it's not beyond the realm of possibility for Tate to fall to the Chiefs with the fifth pick in round two.
One thing is for certain going into this offseason: The Chiefs have hit a home run in their choice for their offensive coordinator. A fanbase that has been indifferent, at best, the past couple months now has reason to be optimistic heading into 2010.
Next up: Hiring another former New England coordinator to run the defense. Let's hope that press conference happens on the heels of the one to introduce Weis.
James Adkins is also a syndicated writer for the Sports Page Network. To see James' recent stories, please visit: http://kcsportscentral.sportspagenetwork.com/Default.aspx.
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