Monday, December 31, 2012

Kansas City Chiefs: Four Questions

1. How will the Chiefs fix their quarterback problem?
Since a strong debut season with Kansas City (3,116 yards, 27 TD, 7 INT) in 2010 that saw the team reach the playoffs, Matt Cassel's play has dropped off significantly, as he's thrown just 16 touchdowns against 21 interceptions in a combined 18 games the past two seasons. Cassel struggles with decision-making under pressure, and with the potential for an entirely new front office and coaching staff this off-season, there is little obligation for the new regime to keep him on the roster in 2013.
The team could either choose to bring in a veteran to replace Cassel if the team is in "win now" mode, and there could be some potentially intriguing options available. If the team decides to look at someone through free agency, they could very well look at current Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Vick has struggled to take care of the football the past two seasons, and his scrambling ability leaves him more vulnerable to injury than traditional pocket passers, but would provide the team with a talent upgrade at the position.
The team could also choose to draft a quarterback like West Virginia's Geno Smith in the first round, or sign a veteran place-holder (Matt Moore, Jason Campbell) if they were to select a quarterback like Syracuse's Ryan Nassib or Arkansas' Tyler Wilson on day two.

2. Who will replace Romeo Crennel?
After strong play following the dismissal of former head coach Todd Haley near the end of last season, former Browns head coach (and then defensive coordinator) Romeo Crennel had the "interim" label removed and given the reigns to the 2012 squad. Despite having a top-five running attack and a defense that didn't give up a lot of yards, Kansas City slumped to a dismal 2-14 record this season, and will now possess the #1 pick in this year's upcoming draft.
Crennel has a good defensive mind, but probably should have relinquished his defensive play-calling duties earlier in the season to focus on an offense that had a league-worst 35 turnovers. While there's no disputing that Crennel works hard and his players love him, he's had exactly one season where his team was over .500, and his 28-55 overall win-loss record dictates he probably is best suited to remain a defensive coordinator.

3. Are the Chiefs prepared to let Dwayne Bowe go?
While the team will also need to worry about re-signing left tackle Branden Albert and defensive end/tackle Glenn Dorsey, their priority should be retaining the services of the teams' leading receiver. The sides weren't able to work out a long-term extension this past offseason, so general manager Scott Pioli was forced to place the franchise tag on him.
Bowe is one of the more physical receivers in the game, and also provides the team with a vertical threat who can make big plays on 50/50 balls. The receiver still struggles with lapses in concentration, which leads to more drops than a player of Bowe's talent should have, but Kansas City's passing game is borderline anemic when he's not on the field.
Ultimately, the Chiefs could decide to franchise Bowe in hopes of working out a trade with another team looking for a receiver, as there's a reasonable chance that owner Clark Hunt decides to completely re-shuffle his football operations staff and enter into a fully committed rebuild.

4. Is Scott Pioli part of the problem?
Since taking over as general manager of the Chiefs following the conclusion of the 2008 season, Pioli teams have had a combined record of 23-41. After a promising 2010 season which saw the Chiefs win the AFC West with a 10-6 mark, Kansas City has won just 9 total games the past two season. When Pioli first arrived, he was generally regarded as the architect of the New England Patriots teams which won three Super Bowls in a four-year stretch.
Part of Pioli's problem has been his poor drafting, as his only draft which saw him acquire multiple useful players was 2010, where Pioli was able to nab safety Eric Berry (5th overall), running back/receiver Dexter McCluster, cornerback Javier Arenas and tight end Tony Moeaki. Some of his notable early-round whiffs include 2009 #3 overall pick Tyson Jackson (5 sacks in 59 career games) and 2011 1st rounder Jonathan Baldwin (41 receptions, 579 yards in 26 career games).
While Pioli's job is likely safer than Crennel's, their performance over the past two seasons and his sometimes hard-to-work-with personality could have his job in some peril.

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