The Kansas City Chiefs were the bottom feeders of the NFL after getting crushed their first two games of the season. Since then the Chiefs have gone on a 3 game winning streak and are right back in the AFC West.
A lot of that has to do with these players. I wish I could be writing about Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, and Tony Moaeki but instead their teammates are stepping up without them in the lineup and playing some quality football.
I've got four offensive and defensive players that are the key to the Chiefs current season turn around. If the Chiefs take the Chargers next Monday night, it'll be because these guys have big games.
Many draft junkies were calling for the Chiefs to add a first round tackle to become Kansas City's blind side tackle and move Branden Albert to right tackle, where he would excel.
So far, Albert is making them all look foolish. Albert is enjoying a great year at left tackle, particularly in pass protection, where he has struggled the past couple of years. Albert has given up three sacks in six games, but has allowed only one quarterback hit and only two pressures. That probably speaks to Matt Cassel's early year struggles to get rid of the ball more than anything.
Albert is ranked on profootballfocus.com as the league's sixth best left tackle. However, counterpart Barry Richardson has been absolutely dreadful. There's no doubt the Chiefs need another tackle(if Jared Gaither ever puts it together, he surely will be), but it is definitely not Albert. Richardson ranks 58th among all tackles this year.
The Chiefs are fortunate to have such a low salaried roster, as locking up Bowe will take some cap space.
To put it simple: Bowe has been dominant. He has come up in the clutch repeatedly and has displayed how easily he can take advantage of mediocre corners. Bowe is a monster in the open field, as his strength and speed allow him to gain separation going down the field.
Without Bowe in the receiving game, the Chiefs would be a lost cause on offense. His 29 receptions for 496 yards and four touchdowns are only the beginning this year.
Breaston was slow to in the first two games, grabbing only three passes for 33 yards, but he has come on quickly in the last few weeks.
Breaston's 50 yard and two-touchdown game against the Colts was key to the Chiefs victory that week. He's been rock solid underneath and outside, making defenders and getting open on a regular basis.
He was a much needed addition to the Chiefs offense that lacked any dangerous receivers outside of Dwayne Bowe. Now that rookie Jonathan Baldwin is in the mix, and looked very solid his first game, the Chiefs have one of the more dangerous receiving cores in the league.
When Jamaal Charles went down for the year, I thought the Chiefs run game was doomed. The aging Thomas Jones is a shell of his former self, and Le'Ron McClain and Dexter McCluster were not exactly stellar solutions.
Jackie Battle may have had only two solid games so far, but he's saving the Chiefs running game. Without him, the Chiefs surely could've been overrun by the Colts. He destroyed the fourth quarter clock by breaking tackles and moving the pile.
In fact, he takes whatever the line will give him, and then an extra three yards. He's averaging a stellar 3.6 yards after contact on every per attempt, which puts him third in the league.
I wanted to start the defensive side off with a guy that deserves a lot of credit.
Tyson Jackson has had the bust label looming over him ever since he was drafted. He never showed he could be a true third overall pick in the draft, but he's doing his best to change that this year.
Jackson has been the best and most consistent defensive lineman the Chiefs have. He's been an absolute terror in the run game and has shown up to make huge pass deflections at critical moments. Despite being a left defensive end, meaning he isn't expected to rush the passer, he's come up with some pressure this year to boot. He's freeing up linebackers to make plays all over the field.
Speaking of which...
Wow. Derrick Johnson has gone from very good linebacker to absolute stud.
Johnson is the biggest reason the Chiefs have been playing so well against the run lately. In the game against Oakland, Johnson was able to make at least three of the four stops against Michael Bush at the goal line and get the ball turned over on downs. It was a series that exemplified his play this year, and it kept the Raiders flat out of the game from that point on.
Johnson is a very fast linebacker and moves from sideline to sideline. His pass coverage has been only average this year, but it is normally one of his forté s, and there is no doubt he will pick it back up.
Sadly, Flowers might have missed this list if not for his brilliant performance at Oakland.
He's been up and down this year, but Flowers is still one of the key reasons the Chiefs defense has been improving week to week. Some of Flowers' poor play might be attributed to his ankle injury he suffered; that would have kept lesser corners sidelined for a couple of weeks. Despite all of that, he is expected to match up with some of the toughest receivers in the league on a regular basis, and does so quite well.
Flowers now has four picks on the year. He's clearly taking more chances, and some of them have paid off. If Flowers can find a middle ground, he will continue to be spectacular, and we will all forget about his bad games against the Colts and Lions.
If the Chiefs find anyone who can rush the passer on a consistent basis opposite of Hali, then the Chiefs defense will be truly terrifying.
Hali continues to be the Chiefs' only source of pass rush. He had a great start to the season, but has tailed off a little since then, mostly due to every team double teaming him with a tackle and tight end/running back.
There's really only three things that happen when Hali rushes the passer: He gets double teamed, held, or he gets to the quarterback. It's almost maddening seeing how often Hali is held by tackles that can't match his speed on the outside.
Profootballfocus.com has Hali ranked as their fifth overall outside linebacker. He would surely be higher if Hali could get any help from the rest of the defense rushing the passer.