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Old 01-11-2014, 04:05 PM  
Mr. Laz Mr. Laz is offline
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Chiefs’ offseason report card: Which positions need upgrades?

CHIEFS
Chiefs’ offseason report card: Which positions need upgrades?
January 11
BY TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star

Rest assured, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey did not escape the widespread sting that swept Kansas City after his team inexplicably blew a 28-point second-half lead in a 45-44 AFC playoff loss to the Colts.

“Short-term, we’re all feeling a little pain there — it’s very painful,” Dorsey said. “But from a long-term perspective, we accomplished a lot as an organization and moving forward, that’s all you can (ask for). We did things that hadn’t been done before.”

Most notably: finishing 11-5 a year after going 2-14, the franchise’s greatest single-season turnaround.

But now, Dorsey says, it’s time for the Chiefs to build on the positives, learn from their mistakes and develop a plan for the 2014 season that will help them move them toward their goal of winning a Super Bowl.

“This is what we do,” Dorsey said. “This is why we chose to do this. It’s our second shot at adding another core group of players to move forward here, and now we’ll see … as we move forward here, if we can get this thing right.”

Here’s a look at each position heading into 2014, and the group’s overall grade in 2013.

Quarterback: B

The Chiefs surrendered plenty to the 49ers for Alex Smith, but Dorsey maintains Smith is everything they thought he’d be. Smith, 29, started slow but came on strong toward the end of the season as he got more comfortable within the offense. With one year left on his contract, the Chiefs have to decide whether to let him play out the string or extend him.

Backup Chase Daniel hasn’t had much game experience, but he seemed impressive in his first career start, Week 17 against San Diego. Undrafted rookie Tyler Bray is a developmental prospect who logged only a handful of practice squad snaps during the season. This will be an important offseason for the talented Bray, who must show greater command of the offense.

Running backs: A

In running back Jamaal Charles and fullback Anthony Sherman, the Chiefs boast one of the league’s best backfields. Charles led the team in both rushing and receiving while Sherman emerged as the highest-graded fullback in football, according to Pro Football Focus.

Third-round rookie Knile Davis emerged as a competent backup for Charles, and his ceiling is even higher if he continues to make strides with his ball security. No. 3 back Cyrus Gray spent most of his time on special teams. The Chiefs could try to add some insurance for Charles and Davis.

Receivers: D+

This unit, overall, lacked the kind of big-play potential Reid’s offense demands. Teammates and coaches rave about Dwayne Bowe’s unselfishness, but the Chiefs obviously need more production after signing him to a five-year, $56 million contract. This will be an important offseason for Bowe, 29, who needs to report to training camp in killer shape after one of the worst statistical seasons of his career.

Donnie Avery occasionally made big plays but disappeared more often than not. Dexter McCluster posted career highs in several receiving categories but was more valuable on special teams, where he returned two punts for touchdowns. He is a free agent, but the Chiefs will likely make an effort to bring him back. Junior Hemingway flashed some potential, and the same can be said for A.J. Jenkins, who gained confidence as the season went on.

Anthony Fasano and Sean McGrath proved to be adequate at tight end, but that unit needs more. Perhaps third-round rookie Travis Kelce or talented undrafted rookie Demetrius Harris, who both ended the season on injured reserve, can provide it. But an upgrade is likely coming.

Offensive line: B-

It took a while for one of the youngest offensive lines in the NFL to mesh, but it got better as the season went on. The Chiefs have to make a decision on left tackle Branden Albert, 29, who was franchised this season and will again be a free agent. Whether he’s back depends on the market, but long-term, the Chiefs didn’t draft Eric Fisher No. 1 overall last season to be a right tackle. Fisher needs to get stronger and improve his technique.

Donald Stephenson and Geoff Schwartz proved be valuable swing players. Schwartz is a free agent but there’s mutual interest in a return. The coaching staff was happy with Rodney Hudson’s development at center, though the team drafted a project in Eric Kush last offseason.

Left guard Jeff Allen battled through injuries but got healthy and played better as the season went on. Jon Asamoah lost his starting right guard job to Schwartz and is a free agent. Guard Rishaw Johnson flashed some ability in his start against San Diego.

Defensive line: B

This was a group that needed to generate more of a pass rush, but was strong against the run and fairly consistent. Nose guard Dontari Poe is the star of the group; he emerged as one of the dominant run stuffers in football. Run-stuffing defensive end Mike DeVito was exactly what the Chiefs expected after they signed him to a three-year deal last offseason.

End Tyson Jackson posted a career-high in sacks with four and was also strong against the run, but he’s a free agent. Allen Bailey was a pass-rush specialist who also had some moments against the run. Rookie end Mike Catapano and second-year tackle Jaye Howard each received spot duty and need strong offseasons to stick around.

Linebackers: A-

Outside linebackers Tamba Hali, 30, and Justin Houston formed one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league, combining for 22 regular-season sacks. Both are Pro Bowlers this season, while Derrick Johnson, 31, quietly posted one of his best seasons on the inside.

The other starter at inside linebacker, Akeem Jordan, was solid against the run but came off the field in passing situations. He’s a free agent.

Fourth-round rookie Nico Johnson got injured in camp but hardly played once he recovered. He needs to take a big step forward this offseason; when the Chiefs played their backups against the Chargers, second-year linebacker James-Michael Johnson, a post-camp waiver claim, earned far more playing time.

The Chiefs could also use more pass rushing from their backup outside linebackers, as Frank Zombo, Josh Martin and Dezman Moses combined for only two sacks (both by Zombo) in 586 snaps.

Secondary: D+

After an impressive start, competent offenses eventually exposed this unit’s communication, talent and technique issues once they countered the Chiefs’ pass rush. At safety, Eric Berry was productive, as he did a little bit of everything. He hasn’t reached his ceiling yet, but he needs to improve his cover skills and play recognition if he wants to live up to his 2014 base salary of $8.4 million.

The other starter at safety, Kendrick Lewis, got off to a strong start but his tackling and coverage tailed off as he battled through injuries. He’ll be a free agent, along with backup safeties Husain Abdullah and Quintin Demps.

Abdullah is a dependable player who contributes on special teams and was even voted a captain by his teammates. It’s easy to see him coming back. Demps had a nice season as a kick returner and led the team in interceptions with four, but made some mental mistakes and will be looking to capitalize on a career year. Fifth-round rookie Sanders Commings was hurt most of the year, but the team remains high on his potential.

At cornerback, Sean Smith has some physical gifts but needs to be more consistent. Brandon Flowers made the Pro Bowl for the first time this year but battled though some injuries and struggled while playing nickel corner for the first time in his career. He and Smith should be entering their primes, however. Rookie Marcus Cooper has good size, is competitive and fits the scheme but his inexperience and technique issues were exposed by the end of the year. He still has upside.

Dunta Robinson, 31, signed a three-year contract before the season but was benched for the majority of the year. His lack of speed was exposed by Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton in the playoff loss. It’s hard to see him returning. Cornerback Ron Parker was a mainstay on special teams and had a knack for making plays in the limited playing time he received on defense.

Special teams: A

Special teams coach Dave Toub’s units led the league in total return touchdowns with four. They also recovered a muffed punt for a touchdown against Tennessee. Kicker Ryan Succop was consistent, for the most part, and punter Dustin Colquitt turned in another good season.

Coaching: B

Andy Reid won over the locker room by treating his players like men and took a team that won two games last season and won 11. His offense improved despite having only legitimate weapons in Charles and Bowe. Toub also did a fantastic job with special teams, but defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s defense fell apart against good quarterbacks. Injuries and talent played a role, but the Chiefs could have also shown more creativity, scheme-wise.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor .
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:14 PM   #2
Chocolate Hog Chocolate Hog is offline
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Sign Tate draft Ebron watch this team average 28 points a game
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:24 PM   #3
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C- for O-line and c+ coaching , it would have been a B, but sutton sucks.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:43 PM   #4
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WR, S, CB, interior OL, DL,

probably in that order too....though I was just naming them off the top of my head.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:47 PM   #5
Mr. Laz Mr. Laz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoMoChief View Post
WR, S, CB, interior OL, DL,

probably in that order too....though I was just naming them off the top of my head.
i'm not sure we need Oline interior anymore, backups looked pretty good against the chargers starters.

replace OL with TE and i agree
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:05 PM   #6
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I wonder what Reid and Dorsey think about the late season D collapse. Either major personnel changes or major coaching changes have to be made, I'd think. The way we jumped on guys after the cuts -- I'm thinking they'll be a lot of changes.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:06 PM   #7
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Sign Tate draft Ebron watch this team average 28 points a game
28?

They were scoring 34.5 in the last 7 games (including the 7 point turkey against the Colts at Arrowhead and 24 with the back-ups at San Diego) with crap at WR and TE.

Get a real #1 receiving threat, a real slot receiver, and a real receiving TE and this offense could put up 35+ consistently.

Of course our real issue is at WR, FS and CB and, to a lesser extent, at DE.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:08 PM   #8
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I wonder what Reid and Dorsey think about the late season D collapse. Either major personnel changes or major coaching changes have to be made, I'd think. The way we jumped on guys after the cuts -- I'm thinking they'll be a lot of changes.
New FS, new CB, rotate Poe and Powe, and maybe bring in a real threat at getting to the QB at DE and you're set IMO. We're not that far away.

Hell, we were one play from winning both Charger games, the Bronco game at Arrowhead, and the Colts playoff game. One play. We get markedly better at WR, TE, FS, CB, and DE and we will win those games.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:08 PM   #9
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:23 PM   #10
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WR,S,TE,DLine, OLine,CB
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:36 PM   #11
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Dropping Dunta Robinson saves us $3.3 Million off the cap - dude is gone.

Other than that, I can't really see where we are going to save money to really make a splash in free agency.

Our best savings would be Alex Smith, Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali, and Eric Berry... and frankly I don't think losing any of them is going to in any way help this team.

Bowe's contract totally ****ed us.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:00 PM   #12
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On defense, we need pass rushers, a free safety, and someone to take some snaps from Poe.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:01 PM   #13
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Should the Chiefs try and upgrade both sides of the ball equally or should they focus more on one side of the ball? I'd like to see them try and build a Great D. IMO we should use the majority of our available assets on D. FS, CB, DE and then WR. Watching Seattle dominate at home is making me jealous. That's how the Chiefs and Arrowhead should be.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:02 PM   #14
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A hugely backloaded Berry contract really opens up some options. Tamba Hali, likewise, could be restructured or traded.
I think my top five free agent targets in no particular order, would be Byrd, Rodgers-Cromartie, Vontae Davis, Lamarr Houston and Emmanuel Sanders. You are going to have to rely on the draft to fill some holes, though.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:26 PM   #15
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On defense, we need pass rushers, a free safety, and someone to take some snaps from Poe.
This. This. This. This. This.
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