With the majority of pieces in place, fans can begin to discern what portrait the puzzle makes.
Some key off-season acquisitions are sure to change the makeup of Kansas City’s offense. There are two in particular that fans will get to know very quickly.
Acquisition 1: Dexter McCluster
The most appealing thing about McCluster, his versatility, can also cause him to get lost in the shuffle.
He reminds me of the Dick Vermeil/Al Saunders offense that drafted Kris Wilson, an undefined H-Back/fullback/tight end hybrid. Wilson is a very different athlete than McCluster, but the offense saw him as a dynamic player to be incorporated into an offense unconventionally.
With the retirement of Vermeil and departure of Saunders, Wilson proved an expendable commodity who has since faded into relative anonymity. Some fans and critics of the Kansas City draft fear a similar fate for McCluster.
However, the big difference between McCluster and Wilson is the concern over McCluster’s diminutive size. If McCluster were an anticipated number one receiver, it’s true he may only survive in the NFL if the season was four games long. However, as a slot receiver, McCluster provides a potential cutting-edge prototype.
Wes Welker revolutionized the slot receiver position and made it a prominent target. The emergence of the slot receiver can lead to a diminished role for the tight end, as the slot becomes the primary target on underneath and out routes.
Without a clear starting tight end, Kansas City is well-served to feature three-receiver sets prominently and it will be difficult for nickel corners and linebackers to match up with McCluster.
Given the ball in space, McCluster’s background as a running back will make him hard for corners to bring down. Moreover, with some grooming, his cutting ability will benefit his route running.
I like McCluster in this offense. He was an intriguing pick and should contribute prominently to the 2010 offense.
Expect McCluster to have somewhere between 35-40 receptions for roughly 500 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Acquisition 2: Thomas Jones
The New York Jets turned some heads with the release of Thomas Jones, who is coming off of a career-best rushing performance and a spot in the Pro Bowl.
Meanwhile, Kansas City is riding the Jamaal Charles wave. Charles is being touted on NFL.com as a 2010 breakout player, and ballyhooed as Kansas City’s running back of the future...today!
However, the propensity of teams to employ two-back systems led to the acquisition of Jones, who uses a different, complimentary running style.
These two will split carries and it’s generally assumed they will split snaps. However, Chiefs fans may be excited to see both backs lineup in the same formation.
The two-back backfield can be made most dynamic by having Charles and Jones on the field at the same time.
Defenses won’t be able to anticipate who gets the ball. Misdirection plays will thrive as defenses have to account for both players. Additionally, either player, but especially Charles, can be sent out to wide receiver via motion.
Charles was cited as having the best pass-catching talents of any Kansas City player with regularity last year. Kansas City can utilize this talent without giving anything about their play away by having him on the field with Charles.
Expect Jones to get double-digit carries each game, but especially to make a difference on short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Even more exciting is how the presence of Jones opens up the playbook for Charles.