Five Players to Make Romeo Crennel Successful in 2010
Romeo Crennel will already have his hands full by becoming Kansas City's defensive coordinator as he attempts to revitalize a squad which surrendered 26.5 points per game, which ranked No. 29 in the NFL.
Fortunately for Crennel (and by extension, the Chiefs), Kansas City has a number of talented players already in place that, should they continue to improve, can make the job a bit easier.
When Texas star Derrick Johnson dropped into Kansas City's lap with the 15th pick of the first round in 2005, Chiefs fans were dancing in the streets. In the months leading up to the draft, Johnson was considered to be one of the best defensive prospects, but since then has not lived up to the billing.
Dropped from the starting lineup in 2009, Johnson still showed some of his big-play ability, particularly against Denver in the final game of the season. Johnson can build on that final game should his coaches continue to push him to become more of a student of the game rather than relying on talent alone.
If that happens, Kansas City should have on their hands an elite, sideline-to-sideline inside linebacker to make quarterbacks and coordinators alike hesitate before calling plays to the middle of the field.
Considered a stretch at the third overall pick in the 2009 draft, Jackson was an unglamorous pick for an unglamorous position. Defensive ends in the 3-4 don't normally rack up the numbers people love; they simply manhandle the opposition's tackles and free up linebackers to make the plays.
That being said, Jackson still has a lot to prove, as Kansas City's run defense gave up a staggering 4.7 yards per carry. Jackson has the tools to excel in the 3-4 scheme, but needs an experienced defensive line coach and/or a solid veteran to mentor him to the next level.
Having moved from a 4-3 defensive tackle to 3-4 end, Dorsey effectively just completed his second rookie season. Considered to be the top defensive talent in the 2007 draft, Dorsey (much like Johnson) came in to Kansas City amid much fanfare.
Changing schemes alone takes time to adjust to, let alone changing positions altogether. And while there have been rumors that head coach Todd Haley talks up Dorsey's performance this year simply to increase his trade value, the drop in Kansas City's production against the run with Dorsey out of the lineup is hard to ignore (200 yards against Buffalo and a nauseating 351 yards by Cleveland).
Besides, if Dorsey was not to be part of Kansas City's plan for the future, he would have been traded in 2009, with Atlanta supposedly offering a first round pick in exchange for his services.
Regardless, Dorsey has been regularly praised throughout the season for his ability to adapt and excel in his new position.
And so long as he maintains his weight and fitness (unlike the previous off-season), Dorsey should pick up where he left off and help solidify the Chiefs defensive line.
The feel-good story of Kansas City's 2009 defense, Tamba Hali has not only adjusted to his new position in the 3-4 defense, he's thrived. Hali posted career best numbers in both tackles and sacks, coming back from a less-than-stellar 2008 season with a vengeance, leading the Chiefs with 8 1/2 sacks on the season.
Already a high-motor player that always moves to the point of attack, Hali was even faster after dropping a few pounds and shifting to outside linebacker. A threat to slip into the backfield on any given play, opposing offensive coordinators are now devoting large portions of their game preparation to stopping the elusive number 91.
Expect Hali to continue developing not only as a player, but as a leader on a defense which will capitalize on his consistent pursuit and burst at the point of attack.
Former Virginia Tech standout Brandon Flowers was able to improve on his rookie season, pulling in five of Kansas City's 15 interceptions on the year.
At 5'9", Flowers is a smaller cornerback but plays big, often leading teams to throw to his counterpart, Brandon Carr (who, despite a rough game against Denver, is a solid if unspectacular defender in his own right).
Already drawing comparisons to former Chiefs Pro Bowlers James Hasty and Kevin Ross, Flowers is an instinctive and physical player who should continue to improve - especially as Kansas City brings in a position coach solely assigned to the secondary.