Monday, July 27, 2009

Chiefs season preview: Part 2

In part one, I visited on the Chiefs defense and what improvements they made. Obviously a complete makeover in the linebacker positions, with the additions of Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas, and the switch of Tamba Hali from DE to OLB. All of these moves, I believe will do wonders for the Chiefs defense, mainly Derrick Johnson.

Now, on to the offense. The biggest story in the past few weeks was Matt Cassel signing a 6 year deal. But there is another story that most people have failed to pay attention to: Larry Johnson.

Let's face it, LJ has been awful the past two seasons. Sure you can give him the benefit of the doubt, as he isn't running behind the likes of Willie Roaf and Will Shields anymore. But Larry seemed to have lost his edge. He wasn't "running angry", he bought a $300,000 car and didn't show up to games when he was placed on the injured reserve.

But guess what folks? LJ is now playing for essentially the league minimum. He lost over $3 million on his contract, due to behavioral and criminal issues in the offseason. He isn't a self proclaimed superstar anymore. He's got something to prove finally. I would pick LJ as a sleeper for comeback player of the year. Plus, with Haley and Gailey's pass heavy offensive plan, the pressure will be off of LJ's shoulders. But he might be looking over his shoulder pads at Jamaal Charles at some point in the season.

The receivers aren't that great. Yeah, Dwayne Bowe had an off year last year, but you could attribute that to Tyler Thigpen only having eyes for Tony Gonzalez in the second half of the season. Bobby Engram has lost a step, but he's a guy who will go over the middle and fight for those precious yards after catches (the most underrated stat in the game of football). Mark Bradley should be a nice fit in the 3rd receiver role, but I wouldn't expect much from him. Brad Cottam will make us miss Tony G...Antonio Gates would make us miss Tony G.

As far as QB goes, what can I say about Matt Cassel that already hasn't been said? Can he be as good with the Chiefs as he was when he was throwing to Randy Moss and Wes Welker? Maybe. Or is he the guy who took an 18-1 team and turned them into an 11-5 team? Doubtful. Remember how awful the AFC East was in 2007? The Dolphins won one game. The Jets were 4-12 and the Bills were 7-9. The Pats went undefeated in their division that year. Turn the clock ahead to 2008, the Dolphins are completely remodeled, the Jets have Brett Favre, and the Bills stayed idle at 7-9. What I'm saying is that the Patriots were a morally depleted team in 2008. Their captain, Tom Brady was hurt. The division was better, Matt Cassel performed magnificently for a guy who had been riding the bench since high school.

The point is, Chiefs fans, that Matt Cassel will be a good, maybe great quarterback. Plus, with the weak defense in this division, I would go as far to say that Matt Cassel could throw for over 3500 yards this year. I expect good things from him this year, and great things in 2010 and beyond.

So, what do I think the Chiefs record will be? My head says 6-10, but my heart says 9-7. Look at what the Dolphins did last year. They completely stripped down everything, added All-Pro veterans on defense, and boom boom pow, they won their division. What did the Chiefs do this offseason? Got rid of the crap they had at linebacker, and added Pro Bowl talent to the linebacking corps and secondary. I think the Chiefs go 4-2 in the division and FINALLY win their first game at new Mile High Stadium, with yours, truly in attendance, freezing my buns off on January 3rd watching the Chiefs break the Donks for the AFC West title!

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