KSAL Staff - July 21, 2014 8:00 am
MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS
The Kansas City Chiefs’ NFL training camp opens this Thursday (July 24) in St. Joseph, Missouri. Our summer is flitting away. KC plays their first of four exhibition games at home against Cincinnati on August 7; that’s just 15 days after camp opens.
Second-year coach Andy Reid was pleased with KC’s offseason and said, “There was some recall from the season and then the new things we added they took it in and worked hard on it. Likewise with the coaches; I thought the coaches did a good job. All in all, it was a good offseason. We’ve got a lot of work to do when we get to St. Joe and the guys understand that.”
Kansas City had an extraordinary 9-0 start in 2013; don’t expect anything like that this fall—they have a brutal schedule. Four of KC’s first six games are against perennially dominating NFL teams: at Denver (Sept. 14), at home against New England (Sept. 29), at San Francisco (Oct. 5), and at San Diego (Oct. 19). If KC could win two of those four, it would be an encouraging start.
The Chiefs will play seven teams that made the playoffs in 2013. KC was 1-6 against teams that made the playoffs in 2013 and 10-0 against teams that didn’t make the postseason. That’s a sobering statistic.
Defense will be a strong factor on the 2014 team; KC is well-set at most positions, but cornerback is an issue. Brandon Flowers and Dunta Robinson are gone, along with safety Kendrick Lewis. It looks like Marcus Cooper—who had some terrific games last season—will take over for Flowers at one CB slot.
KC’s offense is less settled than the defense. The Chiefs lost three quality offensive linemen: LT Branden Albert and guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah. That diminishes the depth and talent on the offensive line.
Eric Fisher (6-8, 305) will take over at LT, after a mediocre rookie season. Fisher was hurt often and didn’t live up to expectations; if he falters this fall, KC will have big problems on the OL. Donald Stephenson (6-6, 312) is expected to start at RT.
RB Jamaal Charles and QB Alex Smith are coming off excellent seasons and should excel in 2014 if they stay healthy. Charles had an exceptional 2013, but he’s taken a lot of big hits in a career that’s winding down.
Wide receivers remain a glaring weakness on KC’s offense. Veteran Dwayne Bowe (6-2, 221) is back with all his unfulfilled potential; the problem is his inconsistency and too many dropped passes. The rest of the receiving corps leaves much to be desired and that’s a frightening shortcoming in the NFL.
Last season Andy Reid proved, once again, that he’s one of the better head coaches in the NFL. Reid and the coaching staff he brought to Kansas City treated the fans to a splendid year. But the devastating playoff loss to Indianapolis (45-44)—after blowing a 28 point third-quarter lead—left Chiefs’ fans hoping for more this year.
Looking at Kansas City’s schedule objectively, Coach Reid is facing a major challenge to make the playoffs again. It could happen, but KC lost more than they gained in talent and depth during the offseason.
Big 12 media members that vote on the predicted finishes for the 2014 conference football race have finally learned their lesson about Coach Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats. They voted K-State as the third best team (377 votes) behind first place Oklahoma (548) and second place Baylor (508). Texas was fourth (376), Oklahoma State fifth (312), Texas Tech sixth (308), TCU seventh (297), West Virginia eighth (170), Iowa State ninth (121), and Kansas tenth (63).
These predictions are meaningless; nevertheless, it’s gratifying to K-State fans to see the Wildcats receive a prestigious preseason rating.
KU is picked to finish dead last—again. The Jayhawks garnered an embarrassing 63 votes in the poll, 58 behind 11th place Iowa State. If the media is correct about Kansas, it’s going to prove that Coach Charlie Weis and his staff have not recruited up to Big 12 standards. But the games are played on the field.
Much ado has been made by the cheerleaders on the Kansas City TV broadcasting crew about the Royals great second half during the 2013 baseball season. That was last year.
KC began the second half of this season just like the first half; the hitters are still swinging at bad pitches and they are stranding numerous base runners in scoring position.
Kansas City lost the first two games of the Boston series and it doesn’t appear that the All-Star break helped. Just wait ‘til next year.