Kansas City GM Scott Pioli has bet a lot on QB Matt Cassel but didn’t give up an arm and a leg to acquire him. Even though Cassel never started at USC and had one good year behind a group of pro bowl players, Pioli had very little to lose. The Chiefs needed a QB and Cassel’s question marks are far fewer than any rookie he could have gotten in the second round.
Cassel is a slightly above average QB in the Pat style O that KC will implement. However, he needs to be more accurate in the red zone to help the pathetic O of the 08 Chiefs claw its way to the middle of the pack. He will need an improved running game and a lot more protection from the line to make the Chiefs competitive.
The success of the running game depends on RB Larry Johnson staying healthy and focused all year. He is still capable of pro bowl level play but injuries and demands for a new contract or a trade have prevented him from showing it over the last two seasons. There is nothing behind him comes close to quality depth.
Cassel will miss the speed of Randy Moss—he’ll even miss the speed of Wes Weilker. What he has is a group of inconsistent less than average speed WRs that tend to drop as many balls as they catch. Both projected starters Dwayne Bowe and Mark Bradley fall into that category. The one hope for the team is vet Bobby Engram is he is healthy. He hasn’t been for the last several years.
Don’t expect any help from the TE. Pioli traded all pro Tony Gonzalez. Now Cassel will have one of the following candidates at the position: Brad Cottam, Sean Ryan, Tony Curtis, or maybe Jake O’Connell. The reason you haven’t heard of most of these guys is they have yet to do anything to get noticed.
In what can only be described as the Bill Belichick way, Pioli and the new head coach Haley managed to piss off one of their best players G Brian Waters over his off season conditioning. Haley wants to have a lighter more mobile line. Waters doesn’t fit that mold. The rest of the line is good and bad. UFA G Mike Goff is solid and is a natural leader. The Chiefs can use all the leadership it can find. LT Branden Albert has a lot of talent and is starting to show it. C Rudy Niswanger and RT Damion McIntosh are very average hole fillers with a little up side. They will get better or get replaced next year. There is not much on the bench to help should someone go down.
On the D line the ends could be very good to outstanding. The problem is finding a NT. The switch to the 3-4 moves DT Glenn Dorsey to DE. He is outstanding when healthy and motivated. Having one of his running mates at LSU on the line may help. I really like rookie DE Tyson Jackson. Jackson did not have as good a year in 08 as he did in 07 because he was double teamed every play. He needs to be more effective at splitting doubles and getting into the backfield. Either Ron Edwards or Tank Tyler will be NT. Neither is capable of being effective at the spot. The depth is inconsistent and lacks athleticism.
OB Mike Vrabel came to KC in the Cassel trade and will be the director of Defense for the team. He knows the D and provides leadership on that side of the ball. UFA MLB Zach Thomas provides leadership as well. IB Derrick Johnson has spectacular ability. The team just wishes it showed a little more often. Projected starting OB B Tamba Hali and reserves Turk McBride and Andy Studebaker are former DEs trying to figure out how to play their new spot. Reserve Monty Beisel is a capable fill in.
At least the DBs know each other and what they are supposed to do. CBs Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr have upside and were decent last year. Flowers needs to tackle a little better. SS Bernard Pollard and FS Jarrad Page start their 4 year together and should be getting better. 08’s performance didn’t show much improvement. Mike Brown and Jon McGraw are vets that can play and 4th round pick Donald Washington has potential.
OVERALL: The only thing that will keep the Chiefs out of the AFC West basement is the Raiders. They have the potential to get better but it won’t happen this year.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .