The Chiefs had an incredible turnaround in 2013. They went from 2-14 to 11-5 in one season while scoring 219 more points and allowing 120 less points. Overall, it was a change of 339 points in one season. Andy Reid did an excellent job of changing the mindset of the offense while adding an identity to the defense. On both sides of the ball, Kansas City somewhat overachieved their skill set. They were 21st in the league in total yards, but they scored the 6th most points. Their defense allowed the 24th most total yards while allowing only the fifth most points. Their success was by limiting turnovers on offense while creating turnovers on defense. This led to the second best turnover margin (+18) in the league. Andy Reid will return for his second season as head coach. He is 141-98-1 in his NFL career with one Super Bowl appearance. Doug Pederson will run the offense, and Bob Sutton will be in charge of the defense. The Chiefs finished 10th in the NFL in rushing yards (2,056) with 17 rushing TD’s. The passing attack ranked 24th in passing yards per game (208.8) with 24 passing TD’s and a league low 8 Int’s. Their offensive line allowed 41 sacks. On defense, Kansas City did struggle a bit in rushing defense. They allowed 4.5 yards per carry, which led to 1,923 rushing yards (22nd). The Chiefs did play well in the red zone as they allowed only 9 rushing touchdowns. Their pass defense ranked in the bottom third of the league in passing yards allowed per game (247.6). They allowed 25 TD’s with 21 Int’s. Kansas City overcame some of their shortcomings in pass coverage due to an above average pass rush (47 sacks).
In the off-season, the Chiefs lost three offensive lineman - Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz. Albert was the team’s best pass protector while being a slight liability in run blocking. Asamoah was league average in run blocking with some value in pass protection. Schwartz finished the year as Kansas City’s best all-around offensive lineman. Their only replacement on the line was G Jeff Linkenbach. He struggled in both pass and run blocking in limited snaps with the Colts in 2013. Their defense lost DE Tyson Jackson, LB Akeem Jordan, S Kendrick Lewis and S Quintin Demps. Jackson played well against the run while being a slight negative when rushing the quarterback. Jordan also helped as a run stopper. Lewis and Demps were both liabilities at their position when they were on the field. WR Dexter McCluster also left to sign with the Titans. The only two players of value that were added to the team were DEVance Walker and LB Joe Mays. Walker is a minor upgrade as a run defender. Mays has been a backup player for most of his NFL career with no value rushing the quarterback.
In the first round of this year’s draft, Kansas City selected DE Dee Ford. He is an undersized speed rusher with his biggest asset being his quickness. His lack of size will hurt him as a run defender. His overall speed is a negative and he’ll need to add more power to his game. The Chiefs didn’t have a second round pick. With their 3rd round pick, they drafted flashy C Philip Gaines. He has plus speed with elite quickness, but his lack of strength will hurt him against physical wide receivers. His tackling skills are below average and he has no value in run support. RB De’Anthony Thomas was added to replace the Dexter McCluster role in the Chief’s offense. He is undersized (5’9″ and 174 Lbs.) with plus acceleration and quickness. He’ll add value if Kansas City can get him into space, plus he may upgrade their return game. QB Aaron Murray was selected in the fifth round for QB depth. With the last two picks in the sixth round, the Chiefs tried to add depth to their offensive line with Zach Fulton and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Fulton is a slow-footed power blocker who will have more value in pass protection. Duvernay-Tardif is an upside developmental player from Canada. He’ll have value in pass protection while also being an asset in the run game.
The core of Kansas City’s offensive line will be made up of 2013 first-round draft pick RT Eric Fisher, C Rodney Houston, and LG Jeff Allen. Fisher was the first player selected in last year’s draft, but he struggled in both pass protection and run blocking. Eric allowed 7 sacks last year. He had shoulder surgery in the off-season as well as treatment to correct an issue with a sports hernia. Kansas City really needs him to take a huge step forward as he is expected to move over to left tackle. Houston will enter his third season of his NFL career and second as the starting center for the Chiefs. Last year he allowed five sacks while being a slight liability in run blocking. Allen was selected in the second round of the 2012 draft. Last year he struggled in both run blocking and in pass protection. He too really needs to make a step forward in his third season in the NFL. 2012 third-round draft pick Donald Stephenson is expected to move to right tackle this season. He struggled in both run blocking and pass protection last year. Free agent Jeff Linkenbach is expected to be the starting right guard. He was signed as a free agent from Cincinnati in 2010 with low value in both run blocking and past protection. This offensive line is loaded with question marks. The pedigree on some players suggest upside with more experience. Overall, there is enough talent to have success, but they need to show growth while getting more experience.
Kansas City had success on the defensive side of the ball due to two plus pass rushing defenders - Justin Houston and Tamba Hall. They combined for 23 sacks, 15 QB hits and 100 QB hurries. Both players also had success against the run and in pass coverage. Former first-round pick LB Derrick Johnson was one of the best coverage linebackers in the league with some value rushing the quarterback. 2012 first-round draft pick NT Dontari Poe was very good against the run with some value as a pass rusher. DE Mike DeVito was the team’s best run defender in 2013. This team has one of the better cover safeties in the league in Eric Berry, but it does have some risk at the quarterback position. Last year Kansas City finished the year with 47 sacks which helped cover up their weakness in his secondary. They added another pass rusher in the draft in Dee Ford and a possible upside cornerback in Philip Gaines. The Chiefs were an opportunistic defense in 2013 as they scored 4 touchdowns on kick returns plus 7 on interceptions and fumbled returns, which led to them being the highest scoring fantasy defense in 2013. This season they will only have success if they continue to pressure the quarterback. I don’t expect them to be as fortunate scoring defensive touchdowns, but there is enough talent to repeat as a top 10 fantasy defense in 2014.
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