The Kansas City Chiefs were supposed to compete for another playoff spot in 2007, but injuries to their top running back Larry Johnson led to conference worst 14.1 points per game. Only the NFC’s San Francisco 49ers scored less than they did on the season.
So how do they rectify last year’s putrid offense and turn things around before the start of the 2008 NFL season?
First of all, they need to fix that offensive line situation they have going on Kansas City. There is no question in my mind that Larry Johnson will return to full strength in 2008, but it won’t make a difference if he comes back 200% healthy if that offensive line stays constructed as it currently is. The offensive line has to get better and younger right now.
Obviously, that means that means that the Chiefs need to go lineman hunting in the 2008 NFL Draft in April. However, some people suppose that the Chiefs should abandon their current quarterback Brodie Croyle, but I think that would be a mistake, especially considering he had no running game to help him out at all. I think the Chiefs will be best served by drafting Jake Long with the fifth pick if he is available. He is a great tackle that will be around for years to come, and he could make the offensive line of the Chiefs better almost immediately. That in turn is going to help the development of Brodie Croyle, and it will certainly make Larry Johnson a much more effective running back.
There is also the issue of the team’s receiving core. Sure, Tony Gonzalez will have another 90+ reception, 1,000+ yards receiving season, but with out anyone to stretch the field, it’s hard to score points; a theory the Chiefs unequivocally proved in 2007. Dwayne Bowe did show signs of being able to stretch the field, and he appears to be coming into his own. He averaged 14.2 yards per reception, but I still think there needs to be another option besides him and Gonzalez. Bernard Berrian will be a free agent, and he certainly has proven he can stretch the field. If anyone on Chicago could have thrown him the ball, the rest of the world might have known that. Another sleeper possibility at wide receiver is Bryant Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals. He’s been stuck behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin for quite some time now, but he is an excellent route runner and just needs a chance to start in this league. If the Chiefs can snag him, I think they will have one of the biggest break out performances at receiver during the 2008 NFL season.
Defensively, the Chiefs don’t have any glaring holes. They finished 13th in yards allowed and only gave up 20 points per game. If there is a hole, it may be at the defensive tackle position, but with linebackers Derrick Johnson, Napoleon Harris, and Donnie Edwards, they do a good job of covering that up. Nonetheless, a possible Albert Haynesworth acquisition, or a first day draft pick on a DT could help this defense take that next step in 2008.