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Tribal Warfare
06-23-2009, 01:13 AM
The Impact Players: AFC West (http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/The-Impact-Players-AFC-West.html)

by Matt Bowen
June 22, 02009
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Denver: DE/OLB

Robert Ayers

Tough to expect a rookie to make a major impact in his fist season as a pro, but the Broncos drafted Ayers for that exact reason — because their pass rush is a huge concern going into the ’09 season.

Denver gave up 28 points per game in 2008 to rank 30th in the league, and if its pass rush doesn’t improve, expect that number to stay the same — because this defense holds the key to the Broncos’ success. I’m not concerned about QB Kyle Orton’s ability to run Josh McDaniels’ spread offensive attack, but I am concerned that Orton will have to outscore teams to put wins on the board.

Ayers can develop into a classic OLB in the 3-4 system, and although he had mixed reviews coming out of Tennessee, that’s all behind him, and he should step into a starting role at the NFL level. Denver got to the quarterback just 26 times in 2008, but I like the idea of two young pass rushers off the edge in the 3-4 scheme with Ayers and Elivs Dumervil — which should help Champ Bailey return to form as one of the top corners in the league. A pass rush adds to the production of an entire defense, and the Broncos have to find ways to get to the quarterback if they want to compete with the rest of the AFC West. Lots of pressure on the rookie to perform in ’09.

Kansas City: QB Matt Cassel

All eyes should and will be on Cassel this year in Kansas City because we want to see how he plays and what type of production he can engineer without the New England offense — especially WRs Randy Moss and Wes Welker.



Those are just the facts, and outside of WR Dwayne Bowe, there isn’t a wideout on the Chiefs roster that I would game plan for. In saying that, Cassel is going to be a lot like Jay Cutler in Chicago -- lots of hype, but still some lingering questions if they can produce without top-flight talent around them. Many coaches in this league believe a good quarterback makes a receiving corps that much better, and we’ll find out when the Chiefs take the field under new head coach Todd Haley and his vertical offense — which just might suit Cassel well.

I believe Cassel has the talent to continue to develop — last year was his first as a starter in the league — but he’s going to have to spread the football around, use RB Larry Johnson and try to involve multiple receivers outside of Bowe so this group of wideouts can develop as well. As a quarterback, you want challenges, and they don’t get much bigger than the one Cassel will face in ’09.

Oakland: QB JaMarcus Russell

If Russell wants to be the quarterback of this franchise for the foreseeable future, he needs to produce, become a leader in the huddle and show the coaching staff that he’s the right choice to lead this team — in September. Because with QB Jeff Garcia waiting on the sidelines, there’s no more room for error or time to wait for Russell to develop.



We all know Russell finished strong in the ’08 season, but it’s one thing to sling it around when you aren’t playing for anything in December. The Raiders need to see Russell produce in September when this pressure is on to win — because another slow start and this franchise might think of making a change at the quarterback position. But Russell can’t do it alone. He needs some help from the backfield, and he needs his receivers — especially Javon Walker — to make some plays for him at crucial moments in the ballgame.

Rookie WR Darrius Heyward-Bey has already struggled with injuries this offseason, and although I never expect huge production from a rookie wideout, the more weapons that can show up on Sundays, the more confident Russell’s game will become. Then we’ll see why the Raiders drafted him in the first place — to take chances down the field in the vertical passing game. Big, big year for Russell in Oakland, but if he doesn’t produce, it could be his last.

San Diego: OLB Shawne Merriman



Sure, it’s easy for me to pick Merriman after the former Pro Bowl OLB missed the majority of the 2008 season -- but this defense has an opportunity to play at a very high level and lead San Diego deep into January on a long postseason run.

Merriman’s last full season was 2007, when he registered 12½ sacks after totaling 17 in 2006. But any time a player misses almost a full season due to injury, we have to question whether he’ll return as the same player. And in Merriman’s case, it’s a player who can come off the edge with speed, use his power at the point of attack and show the same ability to shed blockers and get to the quarterback — allowing the Chargers secondary to play with a ball-hawking mentality.

If Merriman can return and show us the same high talent and high energy we’re accustomed to seeing, this is a complete football team — with its talent on offense — and one of the favorites to win the AFC West and head to Miami as well.

Raised On Riots
06-23-2009, 03:27 AM
Jesus Christ I'm sick of San Diego.

KCChiefsMan
06-23-2009, 03:33 AM
Darren Sproles is the new X factor

Mile High Mania
06-23-2009, 04:29 AM
This was really an article?

Warrior5
06-23-2009, 04:40 AM
Piss on Merriman.

Coach
06-23-2009, 04:48 AM
I don't think Merriman is going to be much of a factor this year now that he can't have his meds.....

Kerberos
06-23-2009, 05:11 AM
This was really an article?

Kind of my thoughts on this as well. It almost reads like some rubbish out of WPI.

InChiefsHell
06-23-2009, 06:20 AM
Articles like this just prove that we are indeed in off season hell...