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12. Season in Review: Kansas City Chiefs

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The first playoff team of the series!

And the most boring one too... Kansas City went old school this year by pounding the run. Together Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones ran for 475 runs churning out 2,663 yards in the process or, 1,655 yards more than both Joe Addai and Donald Brown combined.

The Chiefs were so reluctant to throw the ball that Matt 'King of the' Cassel had as many pass attempts as Peyton Manning had completions.

Then again, whats the motivation to throw more when you are first in the nation with over 160 yards rushing per game.... If it ain't broken don't fix it right?

The run first (er always) mentality may been successful by boring defenses to death during the regular season, but the philosophy has its limitations. A fork works best with more than one prong, something that the Chiefs found out the hard way during the first round of the playoffs.

Daring Kansas City to throw, Baltimore stacked the line and taught Kansas City a new meaning of 'smash mouth' football.

Nevertheless, it was another turn around story and the Chiefs first playoff appearance since 2006 certainly revitalized the Kansas City fan base. Colts' fans as well should be appreciative because even though it never ended up directly benefiting us, the Chiefs did give us the satisfaction of knowing the Chargers didn't make the playoffs.

 

Season in Review: Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball!

The Chiefs were all about runs this season. They ripped off long ones on the field and put together critical ones in the win column. The Chiefs shocked much of the league in the opening weeks of the season. After almost universally picked to finish 2nd or 3rd, the Chiefs raced out to a 3-0 start.

Yet like The Buccaneers and a myriad of other pretenders, the Chiefs only beat one team with a winning record - San Diego (which shouldn't really count because the way the Chargers start every season, playing them before week 8 might as well be like playing the Lions).

Chiefs fans (and any others for that matter) offer the same tired argument that 'you can only play who is on your schedule.'

Doesn't apply Chief's fans. One, there were chances for quality wins on the schedule and two, you can't give up 49 points to Denver (although Kyle Orton was simply ridiculous in that game) nor lose 31-0 in a rematch at San Diego.

All and all though, Chiefs fans had to be thrilled with the effort and the results. 10-6 season far exceeded expectations and the best part is, Kansas City is primed to pull it off again.

Offseason Momentum: Pointed in the right direction

Matt Cassel isn't going to fool anybody for an elite quarterback and he no longer can hide behind the cover of youth.That being said, when allowed to throw, he can be quite efficient. Plus he threw 27 touchdowns! That's high for touchdowns considering he only completed 262 passes. 6 percent of the dime Cassel dropped back he threw for a score. Yet watching, you don't feel that. As a Colts' fan you almost expect to score each time Peyton looks down field. With Cassel you are screaming why he hasn't handed it off yet and praying he doesn't turn it over.

In fairness, it's a false reputation. In reality, Cassel has improved and played much more solidly this year. He took care of the ball throwing only 7 picks and completed just over 58 percent of his passes.

His favorite target, Dwayne Bowe, exploded this year for 15 touchdown passes easily establishing himself as one of the league's premiere deep threats. The guy had 19 catches of 20+, which was only 2 less than the rest of his whole team combined. Tony Moeaki is an up-and-coming tight end with great potential and the offensive line was very successful in keeping Cassel clean.

On the other side of the ball, the defense is closing on the Ravens and Steelers for the reputation of stingiest unit in the AFC (NFC defenses are weak).

Offseason Anxiety: The Chargers will bounce back and Oakland is on the rise

Kansas City was the beneficiary of a good timing as the AFC West was under a bit of transition. The Chargers struggled and weren't as dominate as usual, the Broncos crumbled and the Oakland Raiders were not quite ready to assume the mantle. 

The Chiefs were 2-4 in division play, which will not cut it this year.

Furthermore, as good as Thomas Jones was this past season, there were troubling signs as the season progressed. Jones, save for the Colts game in which he was held to 19 yards,  was explosive early and posted big games and nice yards per carry averages. By the end of the season though, Thomas Jones was barely crawling over finish line.

In his last 5 games Jones ran for 146 yards (29.2 ypg) or a paltry 2 ypc. His 3.7 ypc average for the year was less than both Donald Brown and Joe Addai. Not great.

The Chiefs new he was aging and had a lot of mies on his tires when they signed him. He worked out great last year and was critical to both mentoring and spelling Jamaal Charles. Going forward, Jones' production may further decline which could significantly hinder the Chiefs rushing attack.

Fortunately, the Chiefs have few if any problems on defense.

Draft Desires: More weapons on offense more elite pass rush on defense

Tamba Hali led the team with 14.5 sacks, most of which came from the linebacker position off the edge. 

Wallace Gilberry racked up the second highest total with 7 qb take downs, but more help is needed. Justin Houston from Georgia is a bit of a DE, LB tweener who could give Kansas City a lot of options as Kansas City is very creative in mixing up pass rushing schemes. 

In the second round, Kansas City should look to expand Cassel's weapons. Usually having another tight end that can both block and serve as a security blanket on short routes is the first place teams with an already top-flight receiver look. If the Chiefs follow conventional wisdom then tight end Luke Stocker from Tennessee is a smart choice.

In the later rounds, look for the Chiefs to find an eventual replacement for Thomas Jones and to add an extra speedster receiver. 

Free Agency Farewells: The Chiefs will be spared

The Chiefs already franchise tagged Tamba Hali (everyone in Kansas City exhales) in a move probably similar to what the Colts did with Peyton Manning. Expect both sides to work out a longer deal once the new CBA has been resolved. 

Otherwise center Casey Wiegmann and corner Brandon Carr are the only main free agents of note, which is great news for Chiefs fans.

Threat to the Stampede: Non Existent 

During what was Kansas City's best season since 2003, the Colts handled the Chiefs. Its unlikely that San Diego will lay another egg like they did last winter and Oakland is on the rise as well. 

With Thomas Jones' career winding down, its hard to believe the Chiefs will make the playoffs let alone win the division. 8-8 is a likely finish for a team that is just too one dimensional. Given the Colts won't play them next year, the threat to the stampede is nil.