Friday, May 23, 2014
Have the Chiefs really improved?
By Adam Teicher
I’ve finished my analysis of the Kansas City Chiefs' various position groups and whether I think the player additions made those positions better or worse. I also considered returning players and whether I thought they would significantly improve or regress in making my calls.
I broke the roster into nine position groups and determined the Chiefs would be better at six of them and worse at three. You can find all these breakdowns here.
But does that mean the Chiefs as a whole are better?
Whether Eric Fisher can replace departed tackle Branden Albert is among the questions facing the Chiefs after a busy offseason.
"We’ve improved the Kansas City Chiefs," general manager John Dorsey said shortly after the conclusion of the draft. "We’ve created that competitive depth that we continually talk about.
"We’ll see. Right now we feel pretty good about where we are at this stage. Any time you have a chance to add the quality of players that we added through this draft class, I feel pretty good here."
The Chiefs took heavy losses in free agency. They watched as seven players who were regulars at one point or another last season walked out the door.
That is not the part that concerns me, and it obviously doesn’t concern the Chiefs. They had done a nice job of building depth at some spots, particularly on the offensive line, and in many of the cases they can replace their departed free agents with players they had drafted in recent years. Where they can’t, they filled in adequately by signing players like defensive lineman Vance Walker and linebacker Joe Mays.
Just because they adequately plugged holes doesn’t mean the Chiefs are better. In a couple of areas, the Chiefs can only be hopeful they don’t take a large step backward. One is the offensive line, where they lost three players who were regulars last season. The big loss was left tackle Branden Albert. He will be replaced by Eric Fisher, who will eventually become as good a player as Albert was last season.
But anyone who watched Fisher’s rocky rookie season last year can’t think that day will come soon.
Another position of concern is wide receiver, where the Chiefs had one of the league’s least productive groups of players last season. Between a bounce-back season from Dwayne Bowe, development from A.J. Jenkins and contributions from other young and unproven players, the Chiefs seem confident here. I wonder whether the Chiefs can continue the progress they made in their passing game toward the end of last season without some receiving help.
"It’s not over yet," Dorsey said about the possibility of acquiring another wide receiver without acknowledging the need. "There are still opportunities to acquire the type of player you’re looking at, if in fact you want to go in that direction."
For the Chiefs, free agency was about finding solid role players, but not impact players. Their draft might eventually prove to be a good one, but looks short on players who can help immediately. First-round outside linebacker Dee Ford has a pair of Pro Bowl players ahead of him at his position.
The Chiefs have some intangible things going for them. The biggest is continuity on the coaching staff. They will have the same offensive coordinator for a second straight season for the first time since 2007.
That will count for something. But not enough to help them be a much better team than they were last season.