Kansas City Chiefs: 8 Things to Address Before Next Season
This team has a number of holes to fill and questions to address before football starts again.
General manager Scott Pioli will have to make a number of transactions once the lockout ends.
Head coach Todd Haley has some questions to answer and decisions to make before the season starts.
Let's take a look at eight things the Chiefs need to address before the 2011 season eventually begins.
8. Find a More Consistent Passing Game
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Despite Matt Cassel's Pro Bowl 2010 campaign, he was actually a bit frustrating to watch week-by-week.
His would perform heroically one week, then atrociously the next.
Somehow, his team would still help him to victory on a fairly consistent basis.
Cassel's completion percentage was 58.2 percent, up from 55.0 percent in his first season with the Kansas City Chiefs. There was no doubt he improved from year one to year two.
Still, his struggles showed on paper as the Chiefs ranked 30th in passing yards per game.
This team needs to find more consistency in the passing game as a safety valve for the running game.
It may be through the improvement of Matt Cassel, solidifying the offensive line, or even developing the receiving corps.
However they do it, head coach Todd Haley needs to find a more consistent groove through the air.
7. Continue to Develop the Cornerbacks
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At times in 2010, the two "Brandons" in Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr, were renowned as one of the best cornerback duos in football.
Flowers turned into a standout defensive player, while Carr remained steady as one of the best in man coverage.
The team ranked 17th in opponent passing yards allowed last season at 219.9 yards per game.
Still, it felt as if these cornerbacks could a play or two more per game to take this defense to the next level.
Whether it was a dropped interception or missed tackle, these cornerbacks continued to prove they still have room for improvement.
They need to continue to develop and become undoubtedly one of the best cornerback duos for the entire season in 2011.
6. Replace Mike Vrabel
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Mike Vrabel has retired from the NFL for new career ventures, which leaves a hole in the Chiefs 3-4 defense.
Vrabel was the weaker of the two outside linebackers on the defense last season.
Tamba Hali turned into one of the most feared 3-4 pass rushers in the AFC.
Still ,Vrabel provided an irreplaceable veteran presence in the locker room and stable play on the field.
His projected incumbent is Andy Studebaker, who is similar in stature but lacking consistent experience.
Studebaker is still unproven, but may get his chance to start this season.
It may be best for general manager Scott Pioli to grab a viable insurance policy via free agency after the lockout ends.
Studebaker may be the answer, but it is never a bad idea to back up an unproven player with a capable veteran.
5. Find a Consistent Nose Tackle
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Ron Edwards has slowly turned into a staple of Kansas City Chiefs defenses.
He has been with the team since 2006, filling up holes and allowing for the more physically gifted players to accumulate stats via tackles and sacks.
Edwards has been a part of some pretty horrific defensive units, but he played very well for a solid squad last season.
He is set to be a free agent this year, leaving the Chiefs with only rookie Jerrell Powe as the only true nose tackle on the roster.
General manager Scott Pioli could decide that Edwards is the answer in the middle for another year or two.
He could also scan the free agency market for a new option in the middle.
If he cannot find an elite option that is guaranteed to upgrade the position, Edwards should be able to give interior offensive linemen headaches for at least another year.
4. Get Eric Berry a Viable Free Safety Sidekick
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Eric Berry has turned into one of the most exciting safeties in the NFL after only a single season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
He helped the Chiefs make major strides in improving both their pass and rush defenses in 2010, despite having a rotation of mediocre safeties as his partner in the secondary.
Jon McGraw eventually became the go-to free safety for the defense, playing in 12 games.
McGraw is, by no means, an above average safety in the NFL.
Berry needs a more capable sidekick so that he can fly around and make plays.
If young Kendrick Lewis is not the answer, this team needs to find a replacement for McGraw via free agency.
3. Find a Second Receiving Option
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The Kansas City Chiefs surprised most people with their first round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Jonathan Baldwin was an extreme talent at the University of Pittsburgh, but was projected to go in the second round.
When the Chiefs selected him, it was a bit of shock not only because he was taken so early, but also because most thought the Chiefs would take a receiver in the later rounds.
Still, their roster clearly shows a gaping hole at wide receiver, so this pick may make more sense than it initially appeared.
Baldwin may turn into an instant success in the NFL as the number two receiver for the Chiefs.
He may also enter head coach Todd Haley's doghouse and fail to see consistent playing time.
Either way, the Chiefs need a solid second receiving option next season, and they are at least hoping that Baldwin is the answer.
2. Sort out the Offensive Line
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Brian Waters has been one of the more impressive football players and people the NFL has seen in a long time.
There is no doubt that the Kansas City Chiefs organization has been extremely lucky to have such a high-character player with such talent on the roster.
He has been with the Chiefs his entire career.
It is currently unclear whether the team will retain him for next season. They have drafted a number of solid gaurds in the past couple of years that may be ready to play, including Jon Asamoah from Illinois and Rodney Hudson out of Florida State.
Despite the young talent, Waters is a key part of this offensive line, and it would take a step back without him.
Another question on the offensive line is at the tackle position.
Ryan O'Callaghan has proven to be an average to below average player that should be replaced as soon as possible.
If there are legitimate options, someone like Matt Light, on the free agent market, then Scott Pioli needs to address this position.
If these two issues are resolved, then the Chiefs offensive line should be just as good in 2011 as it was in 2010.
1. Feed Jamaal Charles
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Last season, head coach Todd Haley decided to not overuse fantasy football sensation Jamaal Charles.
Charles took the league by storm with his agility and top-end speed.
Still, Haley was a little cautious in using him. In fact, Thomas Jones was considered the starter for the Chiefs even though he carried the ball only 15 more times than Charles.
The problem is, Charles averaged 6.4 yards per carry while Jones only averaged 3.7.
This caused the media and fantasy football owners alike to question Haley's tactics.
Still, he may have been smart to minimize the carries of Charles, who has had an injury-riddled past.
Chiefs fans remember when Herm Edwards ran Larry Johnson into the ground with over 400 carries in 2006. Johnson was never the same player after that season.
Nonetheless, Haley needs to make sure that Charles gets far more carries than Jones next season while maintaining his strategy to avoid injuring Charles.