Out of all the teams in the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs underwent the most change in the offseason.
It started with the firing of longtime GM Carl Peterson. It will be the first time in 20 years the Chiefs go into a season without Peterson. The Chiefs then went out and hired long time Patriots VP of Player Personnel Scott Pioli. Pioli was actually seen as the biggest free agent in the NFL last season. Pioli has learned the tricks of the trade from Bill Belichick and from his father-in-law Bill Parcells. Pioli filtered with the Cleveland Browns before he excepted the Chiefs offer.
The Chiefs also fired Herm Edwards during the off season and hired hot headed Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Haley will forever be remembered as the guy who stood up to both Terrell Owens and Anquan Bolden while standing on the sideline. And with the firing of offensive coordinator Chan Gailey last week, Haley will test his offensive playcalling skills as a head coach.
Other Offseason Moves: The Chiefs also made two huge off season moves which pertains to their offense. The Chiefs traded longtime Tight End Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta. Gonzalez was the face of the franchise for 10 years and will be extremely hard to replace. Especially for new quarterback Matt Cassel.
Cassel came out of nowhere last year while with New England replacing the injured Tom Brady. Cassel almost lead the Patriots to the playoffs, despite not starting a game since high school. In the off season Pioli traded for Cassel then proceeded to give his new quarterback a $60 million dollar contract. Both Pioli and Cassel have a lot riding on this move. Cassel must prove that he is worth the money and that his numbers weren't a product of the New England system. Pioli must prove with this move that he can live outside of Bilchick's and Parcells' shadow.
Shotty Offensive Line: Kansas City is solid on the left side of their offensive line on the left side. Brian Waters is a Pro Bowler and Branden Albert should improve in his second year. It's the right side that is held together with duct tape and bailing wire. Right now Mike Goff and Damion McIntosh are penciled in to start on the right side. And throughout the preseason neither one did a spectacular job. Cassel will need better protection from the right side this season to succeed.
Receivers: With Gonzalez's departure also goes one-third of all of Kansas City's receptions. Brad Cottam will have the first crack at replacing Gonzalez. Cottam has great hands and is a steady blocker. Also more will be expected from third-year receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Bowe showed improvement in his second season last year with the Chiefs. Bowe was benched earlier in the preseason to hopefully motivate him. The plan seemed to work as Bowe had a strong ending to his preseason. The Chiefs also brought in veteran Bobby Engram to be the part time slot receiver. Devard Darling, Mark Bradley, and Terrance Copper round out the rest of the receivers.
Who's the Pass Rusher?: Since trading Jarred Allen the Chiefs haven't had a reliable pass rusher. The Chiefs last year only had a total of 10 sacks. Tamba Hali struggled last season without Allen only recording three sacks. A move to linebacker should help Hali improve his pass rush skills. Also first round pick Tyson Jackson is looked at as the perfect building block for the 3-4 defense. Jackson is viewed as the player on the line who will be able to get pressure on the quarterback. Also look for former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel to also get pressure on the quarterback.
Schedule: No one did Kansas City any favors with their schedule. In the first three weeks they have to travel to both Baltimore and Philadelphia and then play back-to-back home games against the Giants and Dallas before they finally have their bye week. Then after the bye week their toughest road game is at San Diego but Pittsburgh does come to town. The Chiefs have one of the toughest schedules in the league.
Video: Derrick Thomas was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. Thomas was tragically killed from injuries from a car wreck. Thomas though was one of the best pass rushers of all-time.
Prediction: 5-11, 2nd AFC West. They are good enough to be the second best team in the AFC. But that's not saying much. There is just to much rebuilding for this team to compete for a playoff spot this season. A patchwork offensive line, lack of pass rush, and a week receiving corps. Expect Jason Whitlock to have a big year ripping Pioli and Haley a new one this season for the Kansas City Star.
P.S. from me: Only one more to go! I promise you it that the Denver Broncos' preview will be up before 8:00 ET tonight and with that one, we would have previewed all 32 NFL teams. Missed yours? Click on the "2009 NFL Preview" tag at the bottom of the post and scroll through until you find the one your team.