The 2010 NFL football season is upon us. With that, many teams hold high hopes for a shot at the playoffs, and some, the Superbowl.
Some teams are looking to just place themselves back on the NFL map. One of those teams is the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs.
After a ruckus 2009 season in Kansas City, the Chiefs came into the 2010 offseason fully prepared to do whatever they needed to do to turn this franchise around.
First thing is first, Scott Pioli and his New England connections decided to put the band back together (minus Bill Belichick). The Chiefs hired former Notre Dame head coach and Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to help run the offense, and to develop Matt Cassel into a solid quarterback.
Next, the Chiefs targeted former Cleveland Browns head coach and Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to come in, and take hold of this Chiefs 3-4 and make it his own. Crennel has been a master of the 3-4 defense for the past 30 years, and looks to make his mark on a defense that ranked just 30th last year in total yards allowed.
Scott Pioli and Todd Haley made the right calls during the draft, selecting All-Pro Tennessee Defensive Back Eric Berry with the fifth overall pick. Berry should prove to be a fantastic selection for a young up-and-coming secondary and has shown up well throughout training camp thus far.
Despite the 2009 Chiefs draft class at this point being a huge failure, the Chiefs did something that nobody expected them to do in 2010. They targeted playmakers on both sides of the ball. Guys that can score from any distance, at any second.
Chiefs slot receiver/half back/offensive weapon, second round pick Dexter McCluster, has put on a show throughout training camp, getting the biggest praise from the crowd every time he touches the ball. He's already broken three pairs of shoes in just one week of practice from his electric cuts and lightning fast jukes.
The other second round pick was Alabama Nickelback, or "star" as Alabama calls it, Javier Arenas. Arenas has drawn comparisons to Ronde Barber, a former Buccaneers cornerback that could not only cover extremely well, but blitz and disrupt an opposing quarterback at any moment.
Arenas closed out his Alabama career as the best punt returner in NCAA history.
The Chiefs only added one significant piece during free agency, and it came from a position that nobody expected. Yes, I'm talking about Thomas Jones. Jones was second in the AFC in rushing yards in 2009 and has been one of the top performers in the league since 2007.
Why would the Chiefs, who have an ultra talented running back in Jamaal Charles want to add another top notch running back to the mix? It's simple really.
Jones, 31, has come in and taught the Chiefs offense how to work, how to compete, and how to be a leader. Jamaal Charles during the second half of 2009 was driven to the ground on a weekly basis because the Chiefs didn't have a quality backup to come in and spell Charles when he needed it. With the addition of Jones it opens up this offense in a variety of ways.
Kansas City can now line Charles up in the slot, in the backfield with Jones, and possibly even use Charles as a kick returner where he excelled at in 2009 in limited duty. It's the possibility of everything that made this a great addition.
Over the last eight games of the 2009 season the Chiefs improved in 25 categories from their first eight weeks. Had the Chiefs started Jamaal Charles from Week 1, we would be talking about an offense that finished in the Top 15 of the NFL in total yards. The Chiefs improved from averaging 260 total yards per game to 346 yards per game over the last eight games.
What is more, the offensive line allowed a disastrous 30 sacks through the first eight games of 2009, yet with the infusion of Jamaal Charles, teams could no longer consistently blitz Matt Cassel with the fear of a draw play, therefore the offensive line only gave up 15 sacks during the second half of the season.
With that improvement over the last six games of the season, left tackle Branden Albert stepped up his game and didn't allow a single sack, including frustrating NFL sack champion Elvis Dumervil in the 2009 finale.
Defensively, the only major piece the Chiefs added was rookie playmaker Eric Berry. The defensive as a whole will be depending on better play from the players that were already in place and a huge morale boost from having Romeo Crennel as defensive coordinator. But not only did the offense improve as the season extended in 2009, the defense also stepped up their game.
Through the first eight games of the season, the Chiefs were only able to haul in three interceptions, a number that a college football team could have gotten. Yet over the second half of the season, players stepped up their game and brought down 12 more interceptions. Equate that to a full season and the Chiefs are ranked in the Top 5 of interceptions.
With an easy schedule, great coaches all across the board, and star talent from the young players the Chiefs should have no problem winning eight games in 2010, which would be considered a success when compared to their recent records.
Young players have shined during training camp, and the rookies will play a huge role in the success of the 2010 season—more so than any other team, most likely. Eric Berry will be asked to patrol the deep secondary, while Dexter McCluster will be in a role that gets him the ball in open space to make plays and confuse the defense.
The Kansas City Chiefs have done as much in one offseason as anyone could ask. Don't expect playoffs from this group, but don't be too surprised if they find a way to beat some dominant teams and capture the sixth seed playoff spot either.