By: Jarred Peine
It’s the end of the season as we know it. Heading into Week 17 the Kansas City Chiefs(8-7) square off against the Jacksonville Jaguars(8-7) at Arrowhead Stadium. Both teams playoffs hopes remain alive, but the NFL gods will have to shine on them if there season is going to continue past this week. The Chiefs will need to win, and then start scoreboard watching in hopes the Denver Broncos(9-6), Cincinnati Bengals(8-7), and Tennessee Titans(8-7) all lose there respective games. In all reality, the true Kansas City fans know that if their team receives a wild card birth they will lose on the road in the playoffs. Theirs loses on the road at Cleveland and Miami proved they are not a Super Bowl contender. The ability to close games on the road have plagued the Chiefs all season and will not change in the postseason. So let’s take a look of off season moves the chiefs must make to be a contender.
If I were to ask which five NFL franchises have reached the postseason only once in the past nine years would you guess the Chiefs could be among them? If you did then you would be right. Kansas City joins Detroit, Cleveland, Arizona, and Cincinnati as those franchises. That lone playoff appearance was a loss at Arrowhead to the Indianapolis Colts. So changes need to made in order to restore this franchise as a playoff team year in and year out. Let’s start at the top and work our way down the organization.
Carl Peterson has been the president/general manager/CEO of the chiefs for 18 years now. Should his job be in jeopardy? Since he has taken over the helms every team in the old division has made a trip to the super bowl(San Diego, Denver, Seattle, Oakland). Kansas city is now having trouble getting into the playoffs. Peterson has done a terrific job of selling the hopes of a super bowl run to his fans for numerous years. However, Kansas City always comes up short. There vibrant and loyal fan base has always packed the stadium and made Arrowhead a hard place to play in, but without some changes that may begin to change. In Peterson’s earlier years he drafted studs like Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith. Jared Allen(04′ fourth round pick) and Dante Hall(00′ fifth round selection) were steals in the draft. Some other impressive selections were Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson. There has also been an ample amount of busts, including Sylvestor Morris(1st rnd), Ryan Simms(1st rnd), and Junior Siavii(2nd rnd) to name a few. So Should Carl Peterson be replaced? No, he is a blue collar worker who is respected by his social peers. He does need to start drafting better and making better off season moves.
The offense did not measure up to the standards it has achieved as one of the great offenses. Larry Johnson did not break the single season rushing record as many thought he might. He is not even the the 2006 rushing leader as I write this. The main problem with there offense has been the play of their offensive line. Which will only get worse if perennial all-pro Will Shields retires as expected. So position by position here are some moves Carl Peterson and the Chiefs should make.
Head Coach- Coach Herm Edwards has done a good job in is first year with the chiefs. He has instilled more discipline and has helped developing some of the more promising younger players we have. He needs to work on getting the team to play good hard football for all four quarters. He also needs to make sure the team is prepared when it is on the road.
Offensive Coordinator- In his first year assuming these duties Mike Solari has been less than impressive. To his credit he did have to narrow his game plan when quarterback Trent Green went down with a concussion in week 1. Too many times his game plans were to stagnant and predictable. Larry Johnson, the team’s star halfback, vented to reporters, saying, “We need to sit down and change something. This is getting ridiculous… It’s tough running against a brick wall until you break it open, you know? You see other teams do different things… When you do the same thing over and over again, a good defense… they’re going to do things to stop you.” That change is to bring in someonee new and have Solari be offensive line coach where he shined.
Defensive Coordinator- Gunther Cunningham’s defense was a much better unit this year. With a few key player changes the defense could become one of the best in the league. He could work on less prevent defense(not to lose a game football) and more blitzes(putting the game away football) during the end of games.
Quarterback- Trent Green has said he is coming back next year which could be his last. He showed signs of slowing down this year, but is still our best playcaller. They should resign Damon Huard and continue grooming Brodie Croyle as there future quarterback.
Running Backs- Larry Johnson is the future of this team. The chiefs will go as far as he takes them. Michael Bennett is a better than average backup. Ronnie Cruz and Kris Wilson are both young and did a serviceable job at fullback this season. They should keep this unit togetherr.
Wide Receiver- The Dante Hall era has to come to an end. His return skills has diminished and he is only taking up a roster spot as a wide Receiver. Eddie Kennison is more of a number two wide out than a number one, and Sammie Parker is a below average number two. Larry Johnson and Tony Gonzalez are enough to power a high octane offense so try to steal a WR in the later rounds of the draft. Rookie Jeff Webb can take over return duties and has shown promise as a Receiver. I would also like to see Rod Gardner get more time on the field.
Tight End- Sign Gonzalez to an extension and make him a Chief for life. Jason Dunn is a great blocking TE, and Kris Wilson is a decent backup. Keep this unit as it is.
Offensive Line- Kansas City has had one of the best for years, but in 2006 they were our weakest link on the offensive side of the ball. Will Shields is also likely to retire and they have yet to find a replacement after John Tait left in 03′. They need to use a combination of solid draft picks and free agent journeyman to solidify the line.
When they get there offensive line playing on a higher level the rest of the offense will be more productive. Larry Johnson will have a higher yards per carry and Trent Green will start playing like the one we all know and love. Coming up in Dissecting the Kansas City Chiefs PT. II I will be showing what the defense needs to do to improve. I will also give a preview of what the 2007 Kansas City Chiefs starting lineup might look like.