The 2010 Kansas City are much different and improved than the 2009 team. The difference-makers are one veteran running back (Thomas Jones), and two rookies (KR specialist/WR Dexter McCluster and TE Tony Moeaki), as well as their overachieving defense.
Difference-Maker No. 1
The Chiefs have rushed for 160 YPG versus 120 YPG in 2009. The 2010 running back tandem Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones have combined for 86 Rushes, 455 Yards. Providing the one-two punch with Jones’ explosiveness and Charles’ catch-and-burst styles out of the backfield, the offense is one of the more balanced and effective schemes in the NFL during the first quarter of the 2010 NFL season.
In 2009, the Chiefs relied solely on Charles. He carried the ball 190 times in 2009 for 1,120 yards while averaging just less than 80 yards per game, you can only calculate that he will provide better results than last year since the next best contributor to the run game was Tim Castille with 14 carries for 55 yards!
Jones has provided the north, south, east, and west power running, while setting up the offense for Charles to hit the outside with both his legs and hands. While they are providing the one-two punch, they are able to remain healthy while performing their duties as expected. This will reap benefits for the Chiefs in the long run and hopefully for a few more years to come.
Difference Maker No. 2
Rookie TE Tony Moeaki (third-round pick from Iowa) has 12 receptions for 123 yards and two TDs, averaging 10.3 yards per touch. He is on pace for 40-plus receptions, 350-plus yards, and eight TDs.
In 2009, TE Leonard Pope (acquired by Arizona in 2008) was Matt Cassel’s feature tight end with a total of 20 receptions for 174 yards and one TD. After four games in his young NFL career, Moeaki has sealed his spot as the feature tight end on the roster for years to come. He is tied for fifth in TDs by tight ends so far this season.
Here’s a fun fact for you: These feature tight ends that have a “reserved seat” in the NFL Hall of Fame had worse rookie seasons than Moeaki. Player No. 1 had 24 receptions, 389 yards, and two touchdowns. Player No. 2 had 33 receptions, 368 yards, and two touchdowns. Player No. 3 had 29 receptions, 340 yards, and one touchdown. Who are they, you ask? They are Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, and Dallas Clark, respectively.
If I were Tony Moeaki, I wouldn’t mind being compared to those players, who have a one-way ticket to the NFL Hall of Fame. Pope might be looking for his third NFL team in 2011 since second year TE Jake O’Connell is both younger and a better blocker than Pope.
Moeaki is signed for four years for $2.47 million. I think that the Chiefs are getting bang for their buck! Oh, by the way, Moeaki is considered the Chiefs top receiver already.
Difference Maker No. 3
In 2009, the Chiefs' top three wide receivers totaled a depressing 128 catches (Dwayne Bowe's 47 receptions for 589 yards, Chris Chambers' 45 receptions for 730 yards, and Bobby Wade's 36 receptions for 367 yards).
Those three wide receivers totaled 11 touchdowns for the entire season. That’s pretty sad when you consider eight wide receivers topped 90 catches individually last year (Wes Welker—14 games totaling 128 receptions).
Needless to say, the Chiefs had no choice but to address that area, resulting in the McCluster pick. Drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, McCluster signed on for four years for $5.5 million already has two TDs, leading his team with a fellow rookie (see below). His athleticism and electricity on special teams, and with the offense is everything we expected, and quite possibly more. Only time will tell.
Some may say a big difference is their defense. Yes, numbers don’t lie.
And for the first quarter of the 2010 NFL season, the Chiefs are the second-ranked defense in the NFL. When was the last time you could say that? 1997 is your answer!
On the flip side, they have only played three weeks, while the majority of the league has played four at this point. Kansas City is undefeated, chiefly (ha ha) due to their defense.
Although they have only faced one team above .500 last year (Week One versus the Chargers), they have still only allowed 12.7 points per game. They have also forced four turnovers and only allowed 75 yards rushing per game.
In 2009, they were ranked 31st with 156.5 rushing yards allowed per game and ranked 28th with 26.5 points allowed per game. It’s safe to say that they have made a vast improvement in this area as well.
Tune in next month for the Kansas City Chiefs 2010 First Half Report.