So it begins.
Reid and Dorsey inherited a roster that went 2-14 but also had six pro-bowlers, plus former pro-bowl wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Most interpreted this as a good roster with a bad quarterback and coaching situations.
Dorsey and Reid apparently felt differently.
The 53-man roster has 30 new players, including eight new starters. The defensive secondary has seen the most change with Brandon Flowers being the only returning cornerback from last year’s team. This would make sense given that the Chiefs allowed 7.2 yards per passing attempt last season.
What do we make of all of this change?
For starters, the Chiefs should be a team that fits a more modern view of football. Kansas City invested in a better secondary to defend against the pass, while employing a new scheme that is more aggressive about getting to the quarterback.
They should also be a team that uses the pass more, especially “pass as run” situations. The Chiefs will try to go downfield more, but they will also throw short passes on running downs in an attempt to reduce the amount of hits Jamaal Charles takes.
Reid will also speed up the temp of he offense, with the occasional use of the no huddle to take advantage of certain matchups.
These are things NFL teams have been doing a lot of for the last five years and the Chiefs never caught up to for one reason or another.
But with all of the changes – new coaches, scheme, roster – it is going to take a while before all the players are in sync. This is where the soft early schedule helps the Chiefs.
Nine of Kansas City’s games are against Oakland, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Tennessee, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and San Diego. All of those teams finished with seven wins or fewer last season, with five of them having six wins or less.
A weaker schedule should help the Chiefs’ learning curve. How advanced the Chiefs get into that curve is the unknown, and what makes predicting this season so difficult.
Kansas City has clearly upgraded across the board, from coaching to the roster, to the scheme. But having all of those pieces come together can take time.
In addition to this, the Chiefs still have holes on the roster. Wide receiver is going to a problem for the Chiefs after Bowe. Avery is an okay third or fourth receiver but he will be asked to be Bowe’s wingman. Dexter McCluster is back for another year of doing whatever it is he does, and after that the Chiefs have a bunch of wild cards.
On defense, the Chiefs still lack a pass rushing defensive end. Tyson Jackson took a $10 million-plus paycut just to remain on the roster – and he’s a starter. Mike DeVito is more of an inside run defender who will play on the outside.
Dontari Poe has shown promise during the preseason, and the Kansas City will count on him to provide some of the pass rush they are currently lacking. The chances KC gets anything on the outside from the defensive line is very low. This makes Tamba Hali and Justin Houston‘s job more difficult as well as irreplaceable.
The sum of all of this, on paper, is an 8-8 season. This should be seen as a success as it constitute a six-win improvement from last season.
There is upside to this team if they can stay healthy and grow quickly. The soft early schedule plus the weak AFC should give the Chiefs a very solid shot at a playoff spot, which could be had with just nine wins this season.
Considering Alex Smith and Andy Reid’s playoff record, a playoff win isn’t out of the question either.