The Chiefs are entering the fourth season under the John Dorsey / Andy Reid regime. Owner, Clark Hunt, has pretty much given them a free reign in putting this team back together. Not an easy task no matter how you carve it up.
The Chiefs, like everyone in this league, wants to build through the draft. The verdict is still out after 3 years on the job. This week’s player draft has somewhat of “urgency” attached going in. The Chiefs did virtually nothing in free agency. They handed out $65 million dollars in guaranteed money, most of it to resign their own players. The league did them no favors, slapping the team, Reid and Dorsey with fines for tampering in the signing of Jeremy Maclin more than a year ago. No big deal on the money part but losing a 3rd round pick this week comes at a very high cost. Because of the penalty, the Chiefs will get only 2 of the first 126 players available in this weekend’s draft. Losing Sean Smith creates a big hole at cornerback. Right now, that job appears to belong to Phillip Gaines but he’s unproven after missing most of last season with injuries.
The biggest question mark is on defense. Will Justin Houston play this season? The team’s highest paid player missed 5 games last year and was ineffective in the playoffs because of injuries. In the off season, the Chiefs took care of their right tackle position by signing Mitchell Schwartz. Still, they lost guard Jeff Allen. The Chiefs added wide receiver, Rod Streator of the Raiders. You wonder how valuable he will be. Streator was a healthy scratch for 15 games last year with Oakland.
The Chiefs need help at outside linebacker, wide receiver, cornerback and defensive line. While John Dorsey says he will have between 150-170 players on the draft board, good luck to him in finding capable players to plug in at these positions of need. It’s hard to see how the Chiefs got better after winning 10 in a row last season and breaking that long playoff drought.
This season’s schedule is not nearly as difficult as it was a year ago. The Chiefs play teams from the AFC South and NFC South. The AFC South is the worst division in football. Houston was the only team with a winning record in 2015. The Chiefs plastered the Texans in the playoffs. In the NFC South, only Carolina finished with a winning record. Of the 8 teams the Chiefs play from the other conferences, only 2 of them had winning records a year ago. While the Chiefs have nothing to do with the schedule, they got good news with a soft home portion of the schedule.
It becomes even more favorable now that Tom Brady has been suspended the first 4 games of the season. Home field advantage in the post season comes into play now. The Chiefs get 4 very winnable home games vs. Jacksonville, Tennessee, New Orleans and Tampa Bay. Those teams were a combined 21 -43 last year.
First things first, the Chiefs have to find a way to win the AFC West. Denver or San Diego has won the division 11 of the last 12 years. Enough is enough. It’s high time for that to change. The Chiefs are on the clock.