QB Matt Cassel, QB Matt Gutierrez, WR Bobby Engram, WR Amani Toomer, WR Ashley Lelie, TE Sean Ryan, G Mike Goff, G Andy Alleman, C Eric Ghiaciuc, DE/OLB Mike Vrabel, ILB Zach Thomas, ILB Corey Mays, ILB Monty Beisel, CB Travis Daniels, FS Mike Brown.
DE Tyson Jackson, DE/DT Alex Magee, CB Donald Washington, OT Colin Brown, WR Quinten Lawrence, RB Javarris Williams, TE Jake O'Connell, K Ryan Succop.
QB Damon Huard, WR Will Franklin, WR Jeff Webb, TE Tony Gonzalez, G Adrian Jones, DE Jason Babin, DE Brian Johnston, OLB Rocky Boiman, OLB Donnie Edwards, ILB Pat Thomas, CB Patrick Surtain, CB David Macklin, S Oliver Celestin, K Connor Barth.
2009 Kansas City Chiefs Offense:
Last year, the Chiefs seemed like they were destined to maintain one of the worst offensive units in NFL history. Save for an improbable victory against a lethargic Denver squad, Kansas City scored 10, 8, 14, 0 and 10 points in its first six games.
Then, something changed. Fortunate to see Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard go down, Chiefs fans watched third-string quarterback Tyler Thigpen lead the team to 21.6 points per game. The Chiefs won just one game with Thigpen at the helm, but that was thanks to a horrific defense that allowed 28 or more points eight times in 2008.
However, Thigpen was simply a system quarterback who could only play in a spread offense out of the shotgun. With a new regime in town, the Chiefs were targeting a new signal caller, apparently unimpressed with a quarterback who couldn't thrive under center. So, Kansas City went out and got... umm... another spread quarterback who can only play out of the shotgun. Whoops! But hey, at least Matt Cassel is taller than Thigpen. That has to count for something, right?
Fantasy players are familiar with Cassel, and thanks to ESPN, he's very overhyped. After all, Cassel threw for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns and just 11 picks in relief of Tom Brady. But anyone who is expecting similar numbers this season is in for a rude awakening. Despite his problems with drops, Dwayne Bowe is a talented receiver (86 catches, 1,022 yards, 7 TDs in 2008). However, he's no Randy Moss. Neither Mark Bradley nor the 36-year-old Bobby Engram is Wes Welker. And Tony Gonzalez was traded to Atlanta, so Cassel doesn't nearly have as much to work with as he did in New England.
Making matters worse, Cassel is prone to taking a lot of sacks; he went down 47 times in 2008 behind a decent offensive line. Imagine what's going to happen behind Kansas City's mess of a front. Left tackle Branden Albert gave up just 4.5 sacks as a rookie, but reported to minicamp at 345 pounds, 30 above his playing weight. Right tackle Damion McIntosh, who just turned 32, has allowed 14.5 sacks the past two years. Left guard Brian Waters, also 32, has been a great Chief since taking over as a starter in 2001, but he's disgruntled and has demanded a trade. Right guard Mike Goff, 33, was one of two weak links on San Diego's line last year; he allowed 4.5 sacks. Meanwhile, Rudy Niswanger and Eric Ghiaciuc will compete for the starting center spot. Niswanger struggled in 2008, while Ghiaciuc has been known by Bengal fans as "Eric Ghiasuck."
With such a pedestrian offensive line, it's amazing that Larry Johnson was able to rush for 4.5 yards per carry last season. Johnson compiled 874 yards, but was limited because of his 416-carry campaign back in 2006. It's really too bad that Herm Edwards ruined Johnson's career. Second-year runner Jamaal Charles looks promising, but at 5-11, 199, he can't carry the load; he's a change-of-pace, third-down back (357 rush yards, 272 rec. yards in 2008). Still, look for him to take more of Johnson's carries this season.
2009 Kansas City Chiefs Defense:
When I say Kansas City's pass rush was a joke, I'm not kidding. I made fun of the Chiefs' sack total every week in my 2009 NFL Mock Draft during the regular season. For weeks, Kansas City's sack number couldn't move off six. The team somehow finished with 10 sacks on the year.
How does that happen, by the way? Ten sacks... 10 freaking sacks. You'd think they could get at least one per week based solely on luck. But outside of Tamba Hali (3), Derrick Johnson (2) and Jason Babin (2), no Chief had more than a single sack. And unfortunately for Kansas City fans, the team's production in 2009 could be identical.
If you haven't heard, the Chiefs are moving to a 3-4 defense. This is a pretty big problem because the defenders Scott Pioli inherited were made for the 4-3. Glenn Dorsey is too small for the 3-4 scheme. Tamba Hali is undersized for a 3-4 lineman and too slow for a rush linebacker. Tank Tyler, currently penciled in at nose tackle despite weighing just 306 pounds, will be debacled by opposing offensive linemen.
Unlike Josh McDaniels, Pioli actually drafted players to fit his system; his first two picks, Tyson Jackson and Alex Magee, figure to be the two 3-4 ends eventually, which leaves us to guess as to what's going to happen with Dorsey, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. Nevertheless, Dorsey and Tyler don't fit the scheme, and both Jackson and Magee are both rookies, which means inside linebackers Derrick Johnson and the fossilized Zach Thomas will have to take on tons of blockers this year. That should make it pretty obvious that the Chiefs will struggle immensely versus the run, but you can just look at their 30th ranking in that department in 2008.
Meanwhile, Hali and Mike Vrabel figure to be the rush linebackers. As mentioned, Hali isn't quick enough to play the position. As for Vrabel, he turns 34 in August and is coming off a four-sack campaign. Vrabel struggled with the Patriots last year, and there's no reason to believe that he'll be anything more than a locker room guy.
With absolutely no pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, Kansas City's talented, but thin secondary will once again get torched. The Chiefs were 25th versus the pass in 2008, which is a shame because with a decent pass rush, Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard could be much more effective.
2009 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule and Intangibles:
Kansas City has the largest disparity of weather in the NFL. In September, it's scorching hot and dry, while in December, it's very cold and wet. These factors added up to an outstanding 71-25 home record between 1995 and 2006. But that has all changed. Under Herm Edwards, the Jets always played better on the road and usually struggled as hosts. The Chiefs' 3-13 home record in 2007 and 2008 would indicate how much he influenced this team. Hopefully Todd Haley will be able to turn things around.
More Edwards Ineptness stats: The weather disparity in Kansas City was the reason the team was at its best in September and December (28-16 and 30-22 from 1995 to 2006, respectively). The Chiefs were 3-5 in September the past two seasons, but finished with an 0-9 December. In fact, Kansas City won just one game since Sept. 28. Hey Herm, I thought you play to win the game? Hello!?
The Chiefs had nothing in terms of a punt returner last year, but Dantrell Savage averaged 24.3 yards per kick return. He didn't score, but clearly was effective. Kansas City allowed one touchdown on special teams.
Rookie kicker Connor Barth hit 10-of-12 attempts in 2008, but was just 1-of-2 from beyond 40 yards. The Chiefs drafted South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop in the seventh round. The battle between Barth and Succop figures to be legen - wait for it - dary.
At least the punter is OK. Dustin Colquitt maintained a 44.4 average and nailed 27 kicks inside the opposing 20.
Besides the Broncos and Raiders, the Chiefs have a chance of beating: Jacksonville (Week 9), Buffalo (Week 14) and Cleveland (Week 15).
2009 Kansas City Chiefs Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2009 Kansas City Chiefs Analysis: The Chiefs are easily one of the worst teams in the NFL. They should be able to keep their fans entertained by averaging about 18-20 points per game, but the defense is still light years away from being at least mediocre. It's going to be yet another long autumn in Kansas City.
Changing the defense to a 3-4 when the team had predominantly 4-3 personnel was strike one. Investing a lot of money and faith into a shotgun system quarterback was strike two. The 2009 NFL Draft was strike three.
My draft grades aren't so much about the players. Instead, they're more about the positions each team addressed; whether a team gave up too much in a trade; or whether each franchise followed the blueprint it needed to follow.
So, with that in mind, I was a bit baffled by Scott Pioli's draft choices. Taking Tyson Jackson, a projected lesser talent, over Aaron Curry, the consensus top defensive player in the class, could haunt the Chiefs for years to come. Neither Jackson nor Curry offered much in positional value, so the latter was a no-brainer. Jackson was projected to go 9-12 until rumors surfaced that Kansas City was interested in him. Curry, meanwhile, reportedly was the fallback option to go No. 1.
Getting off the Jackson issue, the Chiefs surrendered 37 sacks last year and garnered only 10 of their own. Pioli did absolutely nothing to help either category. No rush linebackers. No nose tackle. No offensive linemen until pick No. 139. Instead, Pioli decided to draft a third 3-4 end and a nickel corner before touching the offensive line. It's beginning to sound like Pioli's plan for Kansas City doesn't involve protecting Matt Cassel or getting to the other quarterback.
Grade given on 4/27/09: D
2009 NFL Draft Picks:
3. Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Neither 3-4 end or linebacker offer much in terms of positional value. So, the Chiefs had to take the best defensive player on the board. Instead of Aaron Curry, the consensus No. 1 defensive player, they drafted Tyson Jackson, a much lesser prospect in terms of overall talent. This is yet another instance where Scott Pioli proves that he has absolutely no clue. Trading for a system quarterback with no arm strength should have been a sign that he'd mess up this pick. (Pick Grade: D)
67. Alex Magee, DE/DT, Purdue
I guess Scott Pioli plans on playing with as many 3-4 ends as possible. I'm all for acquiring defensive line depth, so I'm not giving the Chiefs a terrible grade, but they have so many other needs. Are the Chiefs going to eclipse 10 sacks in 2008? I'm not so sure. (Pick Grade: B)
102. Donald Washington, CB, Ohio State
The Chiefs have so many big needs. Corner isn't one of them. Donald Washington is solid value, so that saves this from being an F. You can never have enough cornerbacking depth, but Kansas City doesn't appear interested in addressing some of its needs. (Pick Grade: C)
139. Colin Brown, OT, Missouri
Scott Pioli lives up to his reputation of taking inferior talents over superior prospects. This was a pretty big reach, but at least it addresses a need. (Pick Grade: D)
175. Quinten Lawrence, WR, McNeese State
The Chiefs needed a guy to play across from Dwayne Bowe. Scott Pioli, of course, doesn't take the best player off the board. (Pick Grade: C)
212. Javarris Williams, RB, Tennessee State
I actually think this is great value for the Chiefs. Javarris Williams was arguably a mid-round prospect. If Larry Johnson leaves in the next year or two, Williams will be a nice complement to Jamaal Charles. (Pick Grade: A)
237. Jake O'Connell, TE, Miami of Ohio
A tight end to help replace Tony Gonzalez. I'll go out on a limb and say Jake O'Connell doesn't do that. No value here. (Pick Grade: C)
256. Ryan Succop, K, South Carolina
Scott Pioli sticks to his guns - taking less talented players at the position (or side of the ball). Graham Gano? Maybe Pioli knows something I don't. (Pick Grade: C)
Despite the team's horrendous 2-14 record, I thought the Chiefs played really well down the stretch. Ever since Tyler Thigpen took over at quarterback on Oct. 26, Kansas City was competitive in all but one contest. They won just a single game, but their margin of defeat in that span was: 4, 3, 1, 10, 23, 7, 1, 7 and 10. The Chiefs have a young team, so even though they won just two tilts, the fact that they were competitive bodes well for the future.
Eagles sign TE Tony Curtis
Chiefs acquire G Andy Alleman and G Ikechuku Ndukwe from Dolphins for late-round pick
Chiefs sign WR Ashley Lelie
Titans sign OLB Rocky Boiman
Dolphins sign K Connor Barth
Chiefs sign QB Matt Gutierrez
Chiefs cut TE Tony Curtis
Chiefs sign WR Amani Toomer
Eagles sign DE Jason Babin
Chiefs cut K Connor Barth
Broncos sign WR C.J. Jones
Chiefs sign FS Mike Brown
Chiefs cut WR C.J. Jones
Chiefs cut DE/OLB Darrell Robertson
Chiefs re-sign S Jarrad Page
Lions sign DE Brian Johnston
Chiefs cut DE Brian Johnston
Texans sign G Adrian Jones
Chiefs sign C Eric Ghiaciuc
Chiefs sign TE Tony Curtis
Chiefs re-sign C Rudy Niswanger
Falcons acquire TE Tony Gonzalez from Chiefs for 2010 second-round pick
Chiefs sign TE Sean Ryan
Chiefs re-sign WR Jeff Webb
Lions sign WR Will Franklin
Chiefs cut WR Will Franklin
Chiefs sign ILB Zach Thomas
Chiefs sign G Mike Goff
Bills sign ILB Pat Thomas
Chiefs cut CB David Macklin
Chiefs sign WR Bobby Engram
Chiefs sign ILB Monty Beisel
Chiefs sign ILB Corey Mays
Chiefs cut QB Quinn Gray
Chiefs sign CB Travis Daniels
Chiefs sign DE/OLB Darrell Robertson
Chiefs re-sign S Jon McGraw
49ers sign QB Damon Huard
Chiefs acquire QB Matt Cassel from Patriots for the 34th overall pick
Chiefs acquire DE/OLB Mike Vrabel from Patriots for an undisclosed pick
Chiefs cut CB Patrick Surtain
Chiefs cut QB Damon Huard
Chiefs cut OLB Donnie Edwards
Chiefs cut TE Mike Merritt
Chiefs hire HC Todd Haley
Two Rush Linebackers: It was a running joke in my 2009 NFL Mock Draft that the Chiefs couldn't get any sacks. They were stuck on six sacks so long that when they finally managed their seventh, I said that there was going to be a parade in Kansas City. Tamba Hali was moved back to left end during the season, so the Chiefs have to acquire a potent right end who can get to the quarterback. This could be someone like Michael Johnson, Paul Kruger or Connor Barwin atop Round 2. If the Chiefs move to the 3-4, they'll need two rush linebackers. Traded for Mike Vrabel; signed Darrell Robertson
Nose Tackle: Glenn Dorsey struggled in 2008, so hopefully he'll improve. Tank Tyler, meanwhile, could be upgraded. This has become a top need with the expected move to the 3-4.
Inside Linebacker: This can be a strongside or a middle linebacker, depending on the scheme the Chiefs use, who's available and where Kansas City wants to use Derrick Johnson. Several mocks have the Chiefs taking Aaron Curry, but linebackers simply aren't drafted in the top three. Click here for a history of the Top Three NFL Draft Picks. Signed Zach Thomas, Monty Beisel and Corey Mays
Center: Rudy Niswanger needs to be upgraded along with more than half of Kansas City's offensive line. Re-signed Rudy Niswanger; signed Eric Ghiaciuc
Right Tackle: Damion McIntosh, 32 in March, gave up seven sacks last year. Drafted Colin Brown
Right Guard: No surprise that the combination of Adrian Jones and Wade Smith didn't work at right guard. Yet another position that must be addressed. Signed Mike Goff
Wide Receiver: This depends on whether or not the Chiefs decide to go with Tyler Thigpen next year. Mark Bradley works as a WR2 in the shotgun spread offense, but he'll need to be upgraded if Kansas City decides to return to a pro-style attack. Signed Bobby Engram, Amani Toomer and Ashley Lelie; drafted Quinten Lawrence
Cornerback: Depth is needed behind Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. Drafted Donald Washington; signed Travis Daniels
Running Back: Jamaal Charles is a nice change-of-pace back, so the Chiefs will need an every-down runner to replace the lethargic Larry Johnson. Johnson's pretty much done and I wouldn't even deal a late-round selection for him, but hopefully Kansas City will find a dumb general manager as a trading partner.
Quarterback: I like Tyler Thigpen. He has some detractors because he's a shotgun spread quarterback, but the fact remains that the Chiefs averaged 21.6 points per game with him at the helm. I want to see him have a shot in 2009. However, I'll concede that Thigpen's lacking arm strength means that his ceiling is Chad Pennington - which isn't that high. The Chiefs will look at Mark Sanchez with the third-overall pick, and considering that they have a new coaching staff and front office in place, it appears as though the USC product will be the selection. Traded for Matt Cassel
Special Teamers: The Chiefs surrendered a touchdown, 23.6 yards per kickoff and 9.3 yards per punt return. Those numbers aren't awful, but they can definitely improve.
2009 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Matt Cassel, QB, Patriots. Age: 27. Traded to Chiefs for the 34th-overall pick
The Patriots will franchise Matt Cassel and trade him if Tom Brady's recovery isn't behind schedule. I'd be concerned with Cassel's arm strength. In New England, Cassel thrived with Randy Moss and Wes Welker as weapons. He could struggle outside of the Patriots' system.
Mike Vrabel, DE/OLB, Patriots. Age: 34. Traded to Chiefs for an undisclosed draft pick
Mike Vrabel had 13 sacks in 2007, but it appears as though age has caught up to him. Still, Vrabel is a nice transitional player for the Chiefs as they move to their new 3-4 defense. His sack total (4) in 2008 was nearly half of Kansas City's (10).
Bobby Engram, WR, Seahawks. Age: 36. Signed with Chiefs
Bobby Engram, just two years removed from catching 94 balls for 1,147 yards and six touchdowns, managed 47 receptions and 489 yards in 2008. However, at 36, Engram will continue to decline rapidly.
Mike Goff, G, Chargers. Age: 33. Signed with Chiefs
Mike "Chip & Putt" Goff has plenty of starting experience... and a cool new nickname. That's about it.
Amani Toomer, WR, Giants. Age: 34. Signed with Chiefs (1 year)
It's sad, but we may not be able to hear Chris Berman say "Well-Dressed Amani Toomer" much longer. Toomer caught 48 passes for 580 yards and four touchdowns in 2008. His last 1,000-yard season came in 2003.
Mike Brown, FS, Bears. Age: 31. Signed with Chiefs
It's a shame, but it looks like Mike Brown's career is winding down. He was an incredible player when healthy, but he spent far too many weeks on injury reports.
Zach Thomas, ILB, Cowboys. Age: 36. Signed with Chiefs
Pretty much just a veteran leader in the locker room. If anything, his teammates can use his senior citizen discount at the movies.
Eric Ghiaciuc, C, Bengals. Age: 28. Signed with Chiefs
Eric Ghiaciuc was a major liability for the Bengals in 2008. He'll sign on as a backup somewhere.
Corey Mays (RFA), ILB, Bengals. Age: 25. - Signed with Chiefs
Travis Daniels, CB, Browns. Age: 26. - Signed with Chiefs
Ashley Lelie, WR, Raiders. Age: 29. - Signed with Chiefs
Matt Gutierrez, QB, Patriots. Age: 25. - Signed with Chiefs
Monty Beisel, ILB, Cardinals. Age: 31. - Signed with Chiefs
Darrell Robertson, DE/OLB, Patriots. Age: 23. - Signed with Chiefs
Sean Ryan, TE, 49ers. Age: 29. - Signed with Chiefs
Though it was projected that rookie DaJuan Morgan would supplant Jarrad Page at free safety at the beginning of the season, Page held off the N.C. State product and played really well, picking off four passes.
Will Franklin, WR. Age: 23. Signed with Lions
New regimes mean new quarterbacks. In Kansas City, however, a new regime means complete ineptness. Why in the world would you cut a lightning-quick 23-year-old receiver with tons of potential?
Jason Babin, DE. Age: 29. Signed with Eagles
Believe it or not, Jason Babin had 20 percent of Kansas City's sack total in 2008. Babin had a whopping two sacks in the final three games of the year.
Pat Thomas, ILB. Age: 26. Signed with Bills (1 year)
Pat Thomas started nine games for the Chiefs. He could be brought back as a solid reserve, but Scott Pioli needs to find some new linebackers.
Rudy Niswanger (RFA), C. Age: 26. Re-signed with Chiefs (1 year, $1.545 million)
There's a reason the Chiefs will be targeting a center in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Divisional Rival History: Denver Broncos: The home team always wins. Well, almost always. The host has claimed 14 of the previous 16 matchups. Oakland Raiders: Kansas City has dominated Oakland the past six years, claiming 10 of the past 12 games. San Diego Chargers: The host has been victorious in 16 of the previous 22 battles, while 10 of the last 15 have been decided by five points or less. San Diego won both meetings by a single point last year.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2009 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)