Kansas City Chiefs 2010 Season Preview: Building Brick By Brick
The first year of the Scott Pioli/Todd Haley era got off to a bad start when the pair emphasized veterans over youngsters in their effort to jolt the franchise back to life. It didn't work and the Chiefs finished 4-12, the third straight year with fewer than five wins for Kansas City.
They've shifted gears for 2010 by focusing on young players and letting them work with a pair of highly successful assistants who flopped royally as head coaches. If Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis weren't too shaken by their experiences as the man in charge, the Chiefs could finally see the end of their walk in the football wilderness.
Offense -- Not all the Chiefs moves emphasized the younger set. They signed Thomas Jones after the Jets sent him packing, a curious move given the fact that Jamaal Charles was one of their bright spots last season. Charles should be the focal point of the offense along with a passing game that should be improved as Weis gets his hooks into Matt Cassel. The addition of Dexter McCluster to Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers gives the Chiefs a lot of weapons in the aerial game. If a questionable offensive line can give him time to work, Cassel should be much better in his second K.C. campaign. Unfortunately, that's not a great bet. Heat Index: 5
Defense -- Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson both did something right in college in order to be selected at the top of the draft in 2008 and 2009. It's just hard to remember what it was when watching them in the NFL. Crennel's got as good a chance as anyone to get them on track but it's probably going to take some time. The entire front seven is going to be a big project and it stands as the biggest reason for pessimism about the Chiefs. At least the secondary, with cornerback Brandon Flowers and first-round safety Eric Berry, is promising. Heat Index: 4
Special Teams -- With Charles needed on the offense, the return game needs a boost. Enter McCluster. The Ole Miss product is shifty, slithery and a million other things you want a kick returner to be. Kicker Ryan Succop was Mr. Irrelevant in 2009, but he proved to be a savvy choice by Pioli, and Dustin Colquitt did a fine job as punter. All in all, this should be a strength for the Chiefs in 2010. Heat Index: 7
Coaching -- Haley had a rough first year. Most of that was due to an undertalented roster, but he didn't do a particularly good job of managing some of his better players. The first part is a work in progress and the addition of Crennel and Weis should enable Haley to concentrate on the big picture things that should be on the head coach's plate. This year will be a good test of how successful he'll be in that role. Heat Index: 5
Intangibles -- The Chiefs selected five college captains among their seven draft choices. Leadership abilities won't trump talent, but it will help as the team tries to build a winning team over the next few years. Getting the attitude in place now will help with some of the heavy lifting down the road. Heat Index: 6
Total Heat Index: 27/50 -- The AFC West is down this year and the Chiefs are on their way up, but there are still a few too many missing pieces to predict big things for them right away. They should win a few more games, though, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Chiefs as one of the hot teams heading into the 2011 season.