While a lot of attention has been paid this off-season to teams like the 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos and Patriots, for a lot of different reasons, a team that has surprisingly slipped under the radar is the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs might actually be the best story of the off-season.
First, the Chiefs upgraded their head coach, bringing in the long-tenured Andy Reid after his dismissal from the Philadelphia Eagles. Reid comes to Kansas City looking to prove that he still has a lot to offer a franchise.
Here’s a look at the new pieces coach Reid will have to work with, as the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs look to improve their position in the AFC West.
Alex Smith went down with a concussion midway through last season and found himself losing his job to Colin Kaepernick, who eventually led the 49ers to the Super Bowl. An off-season trade has put Smith back into a position to succeed, and if recent history is any indicator, Smith has matured to a point where he can be a difference maker. After nearly leading the Niners to the Super Bowl in 2011-2012, Smith was completing over 70% of his passes and had a quarterback rating over 100 at the time he went down with the concussion, including a TD/INT ratio of 13/5. Smith was good and getting better, and now has an opportunity to start fresh with a Chiefs team that has lacked stability at the quarterback position for several years. Smith’s game is similar to long-time Eagles quarterback, Donovan McNabb, and that may go a long way to helping Reid implementing the kind of offense that he was used to running in Philadelphia.
In addition to Smith, Chase Daniel comes in as a free agent signee to serve as the backup. The quarterback position in Kansas City is the most solid it has been in a long time.
To help protect Smith, the Chiefs bulked up their offensive line. First overall pick, Eric Fisher figures to start right away, and veteran guard Jeff Schwartz figures to help bulk up an offensive line that had some significant holes last season. If the line, led by Fisher, Brandon Albert and Schwartz, can get Smith some time and protection in the pocket, the Chiefs will easily exceed last year’s, NFL-worst, 2-14 record.
The Chiefs made some significant upgrades on defense in the offseason, bringing in a new pair of cornerbacks (Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith), linebacker Akeem Jordan and defensive end Mike DeVito. The Chiefs were a league-worst -214 in terms of points scored vs. points allowed last year and gave up 425 total points. Jordan gives the Chiefs a compliment to middle linebacker Derrick Johnson and DeVito improves the team’s pass rush, while Robinson and Smith figure to help break down opponents’ passing games.
The Chiefs added some depth at receiver as well, giving Alex Smith plenty of targets to throw at, as he attempts to reverse the Cheifs’ fortunes. Donnie Avery will help compliment Jonathan Baldwin in the receiving corp. and tight ends, Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce could combine with Tony Moeaki to give Smith some quality targets over the middle and in the red zone.
The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs will be a team full of fresh starts. With a quality veteran quarterback who has proved himself to be, even at his worst, an effective game manager over the past two seasons and a veteran head coach with tremendous football knowledge, who is seeking to prove that he can still be a successful coach in this league, look for the Chiefs to improve significantly over their 2-14 finish last year and try, to contend for a playoff spot this year.