With all of the talk about how good the Chiefs roster was in 2012 and how it was Matt Cassel and Romeo Crennel carried the blame for Kansas City’s terrible 2-14, John Dorsey has quietly revamped the Chiefs starting lineup for the 2013 season.
Chiefs fans like to hear media members and other front office people talk about how strong the 53-man roster is and how a simple change at quarterback and head coach could make all of the difference. This may be true on some level – Kansas City was better than a 2-14 team last season – but it wasn’t like the Chiefs were a good team outside of the quarterback position, even with the six Pro Bowlers.
Consider this: The Chiefs are looking at potentially 11 new starters heading into the 2013 season with five new starters on defense and potentially six new starters on offense. Turning over half of a team’s starting 22 doesn’t sound like a roster that was only a player and a coach away from competing to me.
The biggest move of the offseason was to trade for San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith, who is an immediate upgrade at the position even if he is a flawed player. Much has been said and written about Smith and whether or not he can be the answer for the Chiefs in the short-term, but we can all agree we would choose Smith over Cassel, Brady Quinn, Tyler Palko, Kyle Orton, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, and Damon Huard. Yes?
With the release of Eric Winston we know we will have at least one new starting tackle. Who that ends up being will be reliant on whether or not the Chiefs trade current starting left tackle Branden Albert, something that seems more and more likely as the odds of the Chiefs being able to trade out of the number one overall spot decrease. It wouldn’t be surprising if Kansas City is looking at two new starting tackles to open up the season.
Many have also speculated that Geoff Schwartz will be the new starting left guard this season to replace Jeff Allen. Allen was okay last season filling in for Ryan Lilja who had to move to center because of an injury to Rodney Hudson. There are those that think Schwartz could be a Pro Bowler at the guard position and would represent an upgrade along the interior offensive line. This would mean Kansas City has a strong possibility of having three new starting offensive linemen for next season.
Further, the Chiefs signed Donnie Avery and Anthony Fasano to be receiving threats for Smith. While Avery would seem to be a lock for the second starting wide receiver position unless Jonathan Baldwin decides to have a breakout performance in training camp, the same cannot be said for Fasano who will be in a competition with oft-injured Tony Moeaki. Moeaki has been somewhat of a disappointment given the lofty expectations placed on him by fans but he still has a great deal of natural abilities that could lead to a breakthrough performance next season. If not, Fasano is there to take his spot.
To recap, the Chiefs will see new starters at quarterback, wide receiver, and right guard for sure. They are also highly likely to have a new starter at left guard, too. Depending if Albert is traded the Chiefs will have a new left tackle, and they could have a new starting tight end if Moeaki cannot stay healthy or has a decrease in performance. Then there is the revolving door that is the fullback position.
Equation: Four new starters (QB, WR, RT, LG) + two potentially new starters (LT, TE) + fullback position (kinda counts) = six new starters and the existence of a fullback
If you were not a Pro Bowler on defense last season or if your name is Branden Flowers or Dontari Poe, then you’re probably getting replaced.
Kansas City will for sure have two new starters at middle linebacker and on the defensive line due to Glenn Dorsey leaving for San Francisco and the tragic circumstances with Javon Belcher. The Chiefs also added Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson to improve the secondary. Smith will for sure be the second starting cornerback, the question is whether Robinson will be the third corner or a cover safety. There is a strong chance Robinson could replace Kendrick Lewis in the starting lineup but nothing has been officially determined.
Mike DeVito appears to be the replacement for Dorsey at defensive end but the draft could really change the perspective of the defensive line. DeVito spent a lot of time as a nose tackle and defensive tackle in New York with the Jets and may be set for a move inside if the Chiefs decide to draft a defensive end early in the draft. Moving Poe to defensive end wouldn’t be out of the question either given his size, speed, and strength. How the Chiefs decide to play that out will be very interesting.
Oh, and don’t forget about Tyson Jackson. Do the Chiefs want to replace him on the defensive line or do they like what they saw at the end of last season?
The Chiefs will be flipping a third of their starting defensive lineup and could do more depending on how the draft goes. It would not be out of the question if the Chiefs decided to replace both defensive ends and not just one of them, and if that is the case then the defense will have seen almost as much change as the offense.
Equation: Three new starters (CB, ILB, DE) + one probable new starter (Robinson) + potential Jackson replacement = five new starters
I understand there is no guarantee Albert will be traded or Robinson will be moved to safety or Jackson will be replaced. Those are three starting positions that I am counting that are in no way assured of changing. But when reading the stories coming out of Arrowhead it is hard not to think at least one of those three things will happen, and when you add them with the other seven certain new starters you begin to see the Chiefs have quietly overhauled the top of the roster.
And to think, we still have the draft.