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Reluctantly Crouched at the Starting Line: Roster Analysis, Part 1
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On September 7, 2009 @ 9:45 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
In my April 24th article, Things we Lost in the Fire, I stated that I could not decipher the direction Scott Pioli and Todd Haley were taking their team. Four months later, I am no closer. The 2009 Kansas City Chiefs 53-man roster is not the type that inspires confidence in fans. Certain elements probably don’t inspire much confidence in teammates either. As the depth chart presently reads, there are six new starters on offense, eight on defense, and two new specialists. Some are markedly worse than their predecessors (Sean Ryan replacing Tony Gonzalez, for instance), but none are markedly better.
To say I see no improvement would be facetious. This is a tougher team, no doubt. Furthermore, if a team is properly coached (I stress the word “if”, because we have yet to see this team actually play), the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore, the dearth of obvious talent does not indicate certainty of an impending failing season.
Having said that, I won’t be cashing out my savings to bet on them beating Baltimore next weekend.
O faithful readers, I present to you, without further ado, the complete analysis of the present incarnation of the 2009 Kansas City Chiefs offense, as prepared by a writer whose talents have garnered the respect of literally dozens. You’ll want to print this and save it for posterity – it’s worth its weight in pyrite.
I have little to no faith in the health of a featured back who was featured more than 400 times in any season. There are some things the human body just isn’t designed to recover from, and taking that many hits in such a concentrated time frame is probably one of those things. That said, if Larry Johnson were to maintain his present pace (5.1 yards per carry), this would be his second best season to date. It’s a pipe dream to think he can do it, but I’m tentatively throwing my support behind him, provided he continues to keep his shoulder down and his personal life in check. His supporting cast is strong, however, so if he falters, the team can and will soldier on without him. This is the position where the team has its greatest depth, and they’ll need it. Here’s why:
I combine these two positions because they serve a similar, limited function in this offense. There are no standouts in this group (Mike Cox and Sean Ryan come the closest), but there are no obvious weak links either. These are B-List players for a B-List position, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. If Heath Evans, Leonard Pope, and Madison Hedgecock can help their teams get to the Super Bowl, so can these four.
I’m bewildered. It was understood this would be an area of weakness for the Chiefs this season, particularly after no substantive effort was made in the draft to shore up last season’s subpar unit. Now that Colin Brown, the too-slow-for-school right tackle turned happy accident at right guard, is on IR, there is no way to view any of the changes made as improvements. Mike Goff is not better than Adrian Jones. Ikechuku Ndukwe is not better than Damion McIntosh. Andy Alleman is not better than Herb Taylor. Ryan O’Callaghan may ultimately be better than Barry Richardson, but given that the guy couldn’t beat out Nick Kaczur for the job of Patriots’ strong side turn-style operator, I’m not holding my breath.
And then there’s Wade Smith. I’ll reiterate the point I’ve been making for over a year now. Wade Smith is not a bottom five offensive lineman in the National Football League. He’s a bottom five player at all positions combined in the National Football League. There are long snappers and punters with more refined senses of ball awareness and blocking technique. There are 31 other rosters on which he would struggle to find a spot, but on this one he may even start a game or two. His continued employment is a glaring indictment of how little progress this team has made, and if at some point this season he makes a star out of a young, inexperienced defensive tackle, not one of us should be even a little surprised.
This is the part of the roster that offers me some encouragement. Pioli and Haley made the unconventional decision to keep four. This is an indication that they understand the intrinsic complications in fielding an offense with no blockers. They understand that it will take at least four to complete the season. If it takes more than that, fear not: Kliff Kingsbury is a free agent.
Stay tuned for the second installment, coming later this week, and wish me luck on determining the best way to dispose of the contents of this bottle of Appleton’s presently sitting in front of me.
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