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The Sun Rises in the West in 2012
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On March 21, 2012 @ 9:09 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
Before exploring into the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs, and the new environment of the AFC West, I would first like to congratulate former Chiefs’ guard, Brian Waters, on his first Super Bowl appearance. Waters spent 11 progressive years with the Kansas City Chiefs before moving on to the New England Patriots in 2011. Waters blocked for the likes of Larry Johnson, Priest Holmes, and Jamaal Charles during his tenure in Kansas City. Chiefs Nation will always miss you Brian, as well as Tony Gonzalez (Falcons), and Jared Allen (Vikings).
Currently, as the facelift of the 2012 Chiefs is being constructed, so too is the entire AFC West division. The players are getting younger, faster, stronger, and setting their own new trends. The division is becoming more competitive, and more explosive. One example of this is that the AFC West now in possession of three of the best quarterbacks in NFL history with Peyton Manning (Broncos), Phillip Rivers (Chargers), and Carson Palmer (Raiders). And although many transactions have already been made by every team in the division, there are still many more to come.
There have been quite a few coaching and roster changes throughout the AFC West. The first occurred immediately following the end of the 2011 season when Raiders new General Manager Reggie McKenzie fired head coach Hue Jackson. Two weeks later, McKenzie hired Dennis Allen as the Raiders new head coach. Allen is the first coach in Raiders history that won’t have to answer to the ultimate boss of bosses, former Raiders owner the late great Al Davis. Also this season, the Raiders will have a better prepared Carson Palmer, who will definitely cause problems for division rivals. That’s not a roster change, but it is a change that the Chiefs must consider.
Last season Palmer was lifted up off of his couch at home, and dropped off inside of the Black Hole in a week‘s time. One can only assume that this season will present better opportunities for the 32 year-old, who will at last have the privilege of attending a training camp complete with OTA‘s. The other quarterback, Jason Campbell, has left the city of Oakland to be a back-up to Jay Cutler in the city of Chicago.
Remember, we are still a month away from the 2012 NFL draft. So although the Raiders haven’t been very active at this point in the off-season, they still have plenty of time to make a number of changes by the start of mini-camp. Sadly, the Raiders have already given up most, if not all, of their 2012 draft picks. The Raiders first pick (17th overall) goes to Cincinnati (Carson Palmer), the second pick goes to New England, the third pick has been forfeited after the Raiders selected quarterback Terrell Pryor in the 2011 supplemental draft, the fourth pick goes to the Washington Redskins (Jason Campbell), and seventh round pick is going to the Seattle Seahawks (Aaron Curry). Most recently, the Raiders released linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.
On the contrary, the San Diego Chargers have been very busy this off-season. First, the decided to stay the course with head coach Norv Turner. Then they let Vincent Jackson, who haunted the Chiefs, turn in his powder-blue Chargers jersey for a Florida-orange Buccaneers jersey. The Chargers then immediately replaced Jackson by signing former New Orleans Saints wide-receiver, Robert Meacham, as well as former Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal. In addition to this, the Chargers lured offensive tackle Jared Gaither, and linebacker Jarret Johnson away from the Baltimore Ravens, and Le’Ron McClain and Demorrio Williams away from the Chiefs.
In the meantime, the Denver Broncos and John Elway have managed to acquire one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history this week with the signing of Peyton Manning. Of course, this is very bad news for Chiefs fans. But cheerfully, the Chiefs have Romeo Crennel, who is very familiar with the habits of Peyton Manning from the time that he spent as the Patriots defensive coordinator. Crennel is a defensive minded coach who knows how to plan against opposing quarterbacks. Defensively, the Broncos will have two of its players serving suspensions in 2012 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Linebacker D.J. Williams and defensive tackle Ryan McBean have been suspended without pay for six games, however both are appealing their suspensions. The NFL has refused to clear the players even though the collector was fired for not following proper procedures.
Back on the home front, the Chiefs have also made some coaching and roster changes too. The days of Todd “the sociopath” Haley have passed on, and he is now the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And as a result, the Chiefs will be under new leadership in the form of Romeo Crennel. Crennel becomes the 12th head coach in Chiefs history. This is Crennel’s second time being a head coach in the NFL, and has a record of 26-41. Crennel has stated that in addition to his head coaching duties, he will also remain as the team’s defensive coordinator. Alongside Crennel this season will be new offensive coordinator, Brian Dabol, formerly of the Miami Dolphins. Dabol will be the fourth offensive coordinator (Haley, Weis, Muir) for the Chiefs in as many years, an issue that can result in inconsistent play at the quarterback position.
Kansas City had entered the free agency frenzy period with $22.3 million in cap room. With so much money to throw around, the Chiefs can undoubtedly sign a big name free agent, however, Chiefs Nation knows that Scott Pioli is not that type of guy who would break the bank to sign one player. He didn’t do it in New England and he won’t start it in Kansas City. But now that Peyton Manning has joined the AFC West, it might be wise to spend that money on defensive players.
Regrettably, the Chiefs roster has significantly changed on both sides of the ball already, and more new faces will be arriving in late April after the draft. The good news, despite the changes, is that the team’s core players will be returning for 2012. Matt “Moose” Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Tamba Hali, Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson, Brandon Flowers, Branden Albert, Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry, and “The Killer B’s” (Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, and Jonathan Baldwin), will all be wearing a Chiefs uniform in 2012.
Chiefs Nation, let’s hope that Charles, Berry, and Tony Moeaki all return at 100% from their respective injuries. Even more, that they all remain healthy for the entire season. We must ask the football gods to promise to allow for at least two of these players to remain healthy for the entire season.
The Chiefs also has some young talent on the roster to be excited about. Some names such as Justin Houston, Rodney Hudson, and Eric Berry, who has actually only played one year in the NFL and still has yet to be called a veteran. Also, I believe that Jonathan Baldwin will out-shine Dwayne Bowe this season. He may not have gained a lot of receiving yards in 2011, but he did gain a lot of valuable knowledge in 2011. He is big and strong and resembles Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State), Terrell Owens, and the Lions’ Calvin Johnson. All of these young guys seem to be primed for a number of future Pro-Bowls (Berry already has a Pro-Bowl appearance, 2010).
Notwithstanding, the future names that will come out of the April draft that will bring additional talent to the Chiefs, and create more excitement for Chiefs fans.
And we can’t forget the “Brodie Croyle project,” featuring Ricky Stanzi. Let’s hope that he performs well when called upon, and doesn’t end up like poor Brodie. LMAO!
The bad news regarding the Chiefs roster is that they have lost some key figures from the 2011 roster. Brandon Carr and Kyle Orton have both signed deals with the Dallas Cowboys. Le’Ron McClain and Demorrio Williams have signed with the San Diego Chargers. And also, the Chiefs didn’t re-sign Kelly Gregg, Thomas Jones, Jackie Battle, Casey Weigmann, Leonard Pope, Barry Richardson, John McGraw, nor Tyler Palko.
However, the Chiefs did make a couple of moves thus far in free agency when they signed former Cleveland Browns bruiser, running back Peyton Hillis, and former Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt. While both are coming back from injuries, they still give the Chiefs some much needed support. Routt is replacing Brandon Carr at the corner position, and brings lots of speed to the table. Routt set one of the fastest times in combine history in the 40 yd. dash some years ago. And Hillis gives the Chiefs that “Thunder and Lightning” persona with the return of a healthy Jamaal Charles. The Giants used that same persona with the tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. But more importantly, I applaud the Chiefs for refraining from signing a host of players before knowing the landing spot of Peyton Manning. Now that the Chiefs front office understands that they will have to face Manning, Rivers, AND Palmer twice a year for at least the next three years. Assuredly, the Chiefs will prioritize, and move quickly in building a defense to the onslaught of air attacks that are sure to come this season.
The Chiefs draft board should look something like this; tackle, safety, linebacker, running back. With the 11th overall pick, the Chiefs will have a pool of talent to choose from, but no one knows what direction to Chiefs will go in with their first pick. Some of the top lineman in the draft are Riley Reiff (Iowa), David DeCastro (Stanford), and Cordy Glenn (Georgia). Top running backs that may still be on the board by the 11th pick are Trent Richardson (Alabama), Doug Martin (Boise St.) David Wilson (Virginia Tech), and Lamar Miller (Miami). Some of the top defensive backs listed are Ron Brooks and Morris Claiborne of LSU, Janoris Jenkins of UNA, and Josh Robinson of Central Florida. And the top Linebackers listed are Quinton Coples (North Carolina), Melvin Ingram (South Carolina), Courtney Upshaw (Alabama), Jamie Blatnick (Ohio State), and Bruce Irvin (West Virginia).
What the Chiefs do during the free agency period will definitely affect what selections they make in the draft.
Finally, we must not forget the Chiefs 2012 schedule. Now that it is official that the Chiefs will face Peyton Manning, Drew “Breezy” Brees, Joe Flacco, Ben “Big Ben” Roethlesberger, Cam Newton, Phillip Rivers, Carson Palmer, Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan and Andy Dalton, it makes their schedule one of the toughest in the league. And we let Brandon Carr go why again? The Chiefs will face six playoff teams with four of them having 10 wins or more in 2011. The Chiefs will play against the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Atlanta Falcons at home, and the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints on the road this year. On the bright side, the Chiefs will also play against four teams with at least four wins or less in 2011, the Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In closing, Chiefs fans everywhere have a lot to be excited about, and a lot to be concerned about this year. And with the addition of Peyton Manning to the AFC West, the division title will be a lot harder to obtain. The first training camps don’t begin until July 1, 2012, and the season opener isn’t until September 5, 2012, so the Chiefs have plenty of time to plan against Manning, Rivers, and Palmer. Whatever the case, the Chiefs must be explosive on offense, and stout on defense. The AFC West is no longer a “pushover” division. In a sense, this will force the Chiefs front office to make some bigger moves than previously thought. My answer is, D-Tackles and D-Backs all day, with the signing of a major NFL icon at linebacker. And expect for the “Killer B’s” (Bowe, Breaston, Baldwin) to explode this year! In all, Chiefs Nation, have faith, stay strong, and get ready for some football! See you at the draft! Go Chiefs!
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