Kansas City’s 2012 season started with disappointment, but was quickly overshadowed by tragedy. It is impossible to discuss the ‘12 Chiefs without acknowledging Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide, which took last season’s campaign to a low place beyond the insignificant reality of football.
It’s hard to go from senseless death to a football team’s prospects, but the show must go on. The Chiefs will look to move beyond that incomprehensible event, and will do so with a revamped cast of characters. Let’s take a look at their chances.
Reasons to feel good
Andy Reid and his moustache have come to town, ushering in much-needed change for a team that vastly underperformed in 2012. Kansas City won just 2 games, yet somehow managed to send 6 players to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl—a mind-numbing piece of knowledge that thousands of dejected Chiefs’ fans have repeated to the man next to them at bars across America.
The Chiefs’ defense features proven playmakers including CB Brandon Flowers, S Eric Berry, and 2012 breakout-star Justin Houston, who will look to bring Kansas City back to the realm of defensive respectability. With a new regime that will focus on getting the most out of the Chiefs’ talented defensive unit, look for a rebound in ’13.
Moving to the other side of the ball, Andy Reid’s offense has always been built around quick running backs that can catch the ball, a description that perfectly matches returning RB Jamaal Charles. Reid will find creative ways to get the ball into his elusive RB’s hands, and the explosive tailback is in line for a career year.
The Chiefs’ biggest offseason acquisition—other than Reid—was former San Francisco QB Alex Smith, who brings efficient play to a team that saw Matt Cassel squander many games with head-scratching giveaways. In addition to Charles, Smith will be complemented by WR Dwayne Bowe, who inked a $56-million contract this spring. Bowe is a rare combination of size and speed that makes him nearly impossible to cover, and with a proven passer to get him the rock, the sky’s the limit.
According to Pro Football Focus, Kansas City sported the 12th best offensive line in football, despite missing two key starters. Not bad for a 2-14 team. The Chiefs drafted OT Eric Fisher with the first pick in April’s draft, and also bring back effective LT Branden Albert. Kansas City has every reason to have a top-10 offensive line, and with an impressive array of weapons, the Chiefs have reason to believe in a bounce-back season.
Reasons to feel not so good
Andy Reid and his moustache have come to town. Despite fielding a playoff-caliber team nearly every season, Reid’s Eagles managed to choke their way out of any significant accomplishment during his 14-year stint as the team’s head coach. Philadelphia may have less patience than most cities when it comes to their sports teams, but with Andy Reid, they just might have had a point.
Despite providing an undeniable improvement over Matt “Whoops I Fumbled Again” Cassel, Alex Smith is far from guaranteed to thrive in KC. This is, after all, a QB considered to be a bonafide ‘bust’ until surrounded with the NFL’s best defense and most dominant offensive line. Have you noticed that every compliment directed at Alex Smith is never associated with skill? He’s efficient; he doesn’t make bad decisions; he doesn’t turn the ball over. Even if you ask his most ardent supporter, Alex Smith’s greatest assets are all things he doesn’t do.
Speaking of players whose hype outweighs their accomplishments, Dwayne Bowe has talent that has never been matched by on-field production. Bowe has never surpassed 1162 yards, and averages less than 5 TDs per season when discounting his 15-TD 2010 campaign—a career outlier. For a player accused of not always putting forth maximum effort, $26 million in guaranteed cash may not be the right motivation.
The Chiefs bring back a talented core and made several promising additions, so even a worst-case scenario should see vast improvement on their abysmal 2-14 finish last year. The Chiefs have all the pieces to be a solid team, but don’t get your hopes up too high. Alex Smith has yet to prove that he can make big plays, and KC’s defense is talented but leaves room for improvement.
On the plus side, they play the Raiders twice.