5 Questions Kansas City Chiefs Must Answer During Training Camp
5 Questions Kansas City Chiefs Must Answer During Training Camp
And that 2-14 finish wasn’t a fluke either, they earned that record with a league worst -13.4 average scoring margin. They didn’t end up with a league-worst record and a no. 1 overall pick by losing close games and getting unlucky — they earned it the hard way.
But this is the same team that showed so much promise the last few years, going 17-15 combined the previous two years and making the playoffs in 2010. They've built a solid core of good young players including running back Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry.
They added to that core this past offseason by bringing in upgrades at the three most important areas of their team. They hired Andy Reid as head coach, traded for Alex Smith at quarterback and drafted Eric Fisher first overall to play left tackle.
Those additions, especially at those three most critical positions, make it clear that Kansas City doesn’t plan on a long rebuilding project. They believe they have a team that can contend for a playoff spot right away, and after seeing the turnaround that the Indianapolis Colts made last year, they have reason for that belief.
The Chiefs will be one of the most interesting teams to watch this season. They have talent and now they have leadership, and if they can make the pieces work on the fly, they may just find themselves still playing this coming January.
5. Was Eric Fisher The Right Pick At Number One Overall?
Picking first in the NFL draft is a double-edged sword. On one hand it means you have the chance to pick a player who should be a cornerstone of your franchise for years to come. On the other hand, if you pick the wrong player you could relegate your team to the bottom half of the league for just as long.
Usually first-overall picks are quarterbacks because they're the toughest players to acquire once they've entered the league. Of the last 10 Super Bowl winners, only one, the 2009 New Orleans Saints, had a starting quarterback that wasn’t drafted by their team.
That means anytime you have the no. 1 pick and don’t take a quarterback, you'd better be sure that the player you did take is a superstar one day. Left tackle Eric Fisher could be just that. He plays the second most important position in the league — the one that protects those all important quarterbacks.
Fisher doesn’t have to be the best in the league at his position this year, but if he doesn’t show that kind of potential early on, the pressure on him to live up to his draft position will increase exponentially.
4. Can The Run Defense Stop Anyone?
A lot has changed about the NFL in the last decade or so. The passing game has become the most important aspect of winning and losing, but one thing that remains the same is that if you can't stop the other team from running you don’t have a chance to win.
Of the 10 best rush defenses in the league last year, six of them made the playoffs. Of the 10 worst, only one made the postseason, and that was the Indianapolis Colts, who lost big in the first round. Defense may not win championships anymore, but run defense is a prerequisite to even being in the conversation.
Kansas City upgraded their linebackers by signing Zac Diles and Akeem Jordan as free agents and drafting Nico Johnson out of the University of Alabama in the fourth round of the draft. But, it may be the upgrades on offense that are more important to stopping the run than the upgrades on defense. If the Chiefs' offense can keep them in games, or even get them some leads, opposing teams won't be able to run the ball late in games to burn the clock.
Last year, the Chiefs finished 27th overall in the league against the run. If they can't improve on that, they won't have a chance to be competitive.
3. Is Jamaal Charles An Elite NFL Running Back?
Jamaal Charles has been one of the most productive running backs in the league for the past four years (well three of them at least, not counting his 2011 campaign that was cut short by a torn ACL in week two).
There were plenty of questions about whether or not Charles, a smaller back that gets by on his elusiveness, would come back in 2012 as good as he was before the knee injury.
He answered those questions last year with 1,509 yards on 285 carries, both career-highs. Those numbers made him one of the most productive backs in the league last year, but with so many carries, he was bound to rack up the yards. 2013 will be the year that Charles shows the league if he belongs in the conversation with the great backs in the NFL.
The addition of Andy Reid and his west coast offense should help him do just that. Reid is great at finding ways to get quick backs in space, and Charles could be the next to take advantage of the opportunities the now old-school offensive system provide to running backs.
2. Is Alex Smith A Franchise Quarterback?
The Chiefs have had a revolving door at quarterback since the team traded Trent Green following the 2006 season. Since then they've had the most success with Matt Cassel, but he, much like Green before him, was good but not good enough to get the Chiefs to where they wanted to be.
This year the Chiefs will try Alex Smith as the answer at quarterback. The former first-overall pick comes with plenty of baggage, having been benched last season for Colin Kaepernick just one year after leading the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC championship game.
The jury is still out on whether or not Smith has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback. Once almost considered a bust, his career was given a second life by his performance, or more accurately his team's performance, in 2011.
Now he's been given a third life and a fresh start in Kansas City. If he can lead the Chiefs to the same kind of success he had in San Francisco, then we will know he wasn’t just along for the ride with the 49ers.
1. Can Andy Reid Recapture His Philadelphia Magic?
Andy Reid has been one of the most successful coaches in the NFL during the last 15 years. His Philadelphia Eagles teams went to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl during his tenure. That said, the last few years didn’t go well in Philly, where it was seen as Reid's fault that a talented roster underachieved.
Reid was once seen as a dynamic offensive coach. He championed the then-innovative west coast offense when he came to the Eagles, and had plenty of success with it once upon a time with Donovan McNabb. But that was a long time ago in NFL years, and whether not his offense is still capable of being effective in the league is now, for the first time, truly up in the air.
In the end, the success of the Chiefs in 2013 may come down to whether or not Andy Reid has lost touch with the current NFL, or if he can recapture the magic he had back in Philadelphia all those years ago.