Kansas City Chiefs 2013 Offseason Preview
SI.com is laying out offseason road maps for all 32 teams as they start their journey for the Lombardi Trophy -- two teams per day, from the teams that need the most work to contend in 2013 to the ones that are in pretty good shape. See them all.
2012 Record: 2-14
Key Pending Free Agents: Branden Albert, OT; Dwayne Bowe, WR; Dustin Colquitt, P; Glenn Dorsey, DE; Peyton Hillis, RB; Brady Quinn, QB.
List of Draft Picks (pending compensatory picks): 1 (1), 2 (34), 3 (63), 4 (96), 5 (127), 6 (160), 7 (191).
Available Cap Space: $14.0 million
GM/Coaching moves made: Hired general manager John Dorsey, head coach Andy Reid, offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
The returns of running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki, each of whom missed all or most of the 2011 season because of ACL injuries, had Chiefs fans feeling hopeful going into 2012. Some pundits even predicted Kansas City would win the AFC West, just like it did in 2010.
The optimism vanished quickly, however, as the Chiefs lost 11 of their first 12 games. Their only victory during that stretch came in overtime in New Orleans. In fact, Kansas City never led in regulation until Charles' 12-yard touchdown run gave it a 7-0 lead over the Steelers in Week 10, a game the Chiefs would lose, 16-13.
The Chiefs' only other victory came a little more than 24 hours after the most tragic day in franchise history. On Saturday, Dec. 1, linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend before driving to the Chiefs' headquarters, where he thanked GM Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel for what they did for him before shockingly turning a gun on himself and committing suicide. Under the leadership and guidance of Crennel, a distraught Chiefs team managed to regroup and beat Carolina the next day at home.
Although five players were voted to the Pro Bowl -- Charles, Berry, linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, and punter Dustin Colquitt -- too many things went wrong for a team that finished last in the AFC West for the fourth time in five years. Neither Matt Cassel nor Brady Quinn provided much production. Before suffering a concussion in a Week 5 game against Baltimore, Cassel threw nine interceptions; he finished the season with 12 picks and only six touchdowns. Although Quinn quarterbacked the Chiefs to their win over Carolina, he was even less productive, with two touchdown passes and eight interceptions.
The team's dismal performance cost general manager Scott Pioli and Crennel their jobs after the season.
149.7. Average rushing yards per game by the Chiefs, who finished first in the AFC and fifth overall behind Washington, Minnesota, Seattle and San Francisco.
Injuries are a concern for safety Kendrick Lewis, who missed the first five games of the 2012 season with a shoulder injury (he played in only nine games overall) and has been on the injury list all too often in his three seasons. Lewis needs to take a refresher course in fundamentals and refine his tackling technique. He isn't considered to be a hard hitter, and he often plays too conservatively. But as he frequently is the last line of defense, he needs to reduce his number of whiffs.
3.6. Number of tackling attempts by Kendrick Lewis for every tackle he makes, the worst ratio for any safety.
If there were any doubts he could return to form after suffering a serious, season-ending knee injury in the second game of the 2011 season, running back Jamaal Charles erased all concerns last season. Displaying his customary speedy, elusive style, Charles rushed 285 times for 1,509 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. Only Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, Washington rookie Alfred Morris and Seattle's Marshawn Lynch rushed for more yards. Charles set a franchise record with 233 rushing yards in an overtime win at New Orleans and also had a 226-yard game against Indianapolis en route to his second Pro Bowl selection.
1. Find a new starting quarterback. Cassel was supposed to be the Tom Brady of the Midwest when Pioli, the former Patriots personnel guru, acquired Cassel from his old team in a trade during the spring of 2009. Except for the 2010 season, when he passed for 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, Cassel largely has been a disappointment. So has Quinn, who has played for three teams in five seasons and looks like he'll never be better than a journeyman.
2. Acquire another cornerback to pair with Brandon Flowers. Although Javier Arenas and Jalil Brown each played well at times last season, the Chiefs need a second high-quality corner who can consistently defend the pass. They might be better off finding a veteran in free agency instead of trying to fill this need in the draft.
3. Bring in some more playmakers at receiver. Even if the Chiefs re-sign wideout Dwayne Bowe, who led the team with 59 catches for 801 yards and three touchdowns, they need to get some complementary talent. Whoever winds up starting at quarterback will need more options.
Once Green Bay's director of football operations, Dorsey worked for many years under Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who believes the way to build a team is through the draft, not free agency. Dorsey likely will follow the same principal, but don't expect him to find a franchise quarterback in the 2013 draft. There may not be a quarterback with a first-round grade, so the Chiefs might consider trading out of the top spot and acquiring more picks.
If Dorsey and Reid decide they can live with Cassel, then they might keep the No. 1 pick overall and address other needs in the draft. If they don't believe Cassel is the answer, they may have to pursue a veteran. The free-agent quarterbacks are a weak group once you get past Joe Flacco, who is almost certain to be back with the Ravens one way or another, but perhaps Kansas City could make a play for Alex Smith, who is unlikely to return to the 49ers.
The Broncos will be favored to repeat in what looks to be a week AFC West. It's going to take Dorsey and Reid a couple of years to make Kansas City contenders again, meaning Chiefs fans and owner Clark Hunt will have to be patient.