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Kansas City Chiefs 2013 Season Preview
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - The time is yours Kansas City.
It didn't end well for Andy Reid in Philadelphia but his golden parachute landed in America's Heartland and the good people of the Show Me State are thrilled to have one of this generation's most successful coaches.
After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure.
The memories of Reid's five NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl berth earned in the City of Brotherly Love evaporated over the past two seasons, marred by family troubles off the field and underachieving talent on it.
In the end perhaps Reid's shelf life in Philadelphia simply expired after 14 long years.
The veteran coach arrives in Kansas City with a fresh coat of paint and if the expiration date reads 2026, Chiefs fans will be ecstatic because that means significant success along the way.
Reid will take over a Kansas City team far more talented than its 2-14 2012 record would indicate. Six members of that woebegone team were selected to the Pro Bowl and all are returning for the upcoming season: safety Eric Berry, running back Jamaal Charles, punter Dustin Colquitt and linebackers Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson.
That's a nucleus any coach would sign off on.
Offensively Reid has handed the keys to former 49ers signal caller Alex Smith, a player he coveted while in Philly. Meanwhile, "Big Red" chose the ceiling over the floor by taking offensive tackle Eric Fisher and not the presumptive favorite to go No. 1 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel.
The other side of the ball saw Reid and his handpicked general manager, John Dorsey, attempt to upgrade the secondary by bringing in veteran cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson.
Reid also fended off some of "the game has passed him by" criticism by bringing in Bob Sutton to oversee a 3-4 attacking defense, a serious 180 degree turn from the 4-3, wide-9 bunch which was such a disaster under Juan Castillo and Todd Bowles in his final seasons with the Eagles.
2012 RECORD: 2-14 (4th, AFC West)
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2010, lost to Baltimore in AFC Wild Card
HEAD COACH (RECORD): Andy Reid (first season with Chiefs, 130-93-1 in 14 seasons overall)
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Doug Pederson (first season with Chiefs)
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Bob Sutton (first season with Chiefs)
KEY ADDITIONS: WR Donnie Avery (from Colts), QB Chase Daniel (from Saints), S Quintin Demps (from Texans), DE Mike DeVito (from Jets), TE Anthony Fasano (from Dolphins), WR A.J. Jenkins (from 49ers), LB Akeem Jordan (from Eagles), CB Dunta Robinson (from Falcons), OT Geoff Schwartz (from Vikings), QB Alex Smith (from 49ers), CB Sean Smith (from Dolphins)
KEY DEPARTURES: WR Jon Baldwin (to 49ers), TE Kevin Boss (failed physical), QB Matt Cassel (released, to Vikings), DE Glenn Dorsey (to 49ers), RB Peyton Hillis (not tendered, to Bucs), QB Brady Quinn (to Seahawks), OT Eric Winston (released, to Arizona).
QB: Smith comes to Kansas City after an eight-year stint in San Francisco. As the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft Smith morphed from bust into a more than competent game manager, who won 20 of his last 25 starts in the Bay Area.
In fact more than one questioned Jim Harbaugh for making the move to Colin Kaepernick after Smith suffered a concussion last season. While Harbaugh's decision was ultimately vindicated by the 49ers' run to the Super Bowl, that doesn't take away from the fact that Smith has developed into a successful, albeit unspectacular NFL starter.
The backup is also new as Chase Daniel arrives from New Orleans after serving as a backup to Drew Brees for the past four seasons. Daniel rarely got a chance to show his wares behind Brees but is regarded as a solid second option by most.
RB: For the third-consecutive season (excluding the 2011 season lost to injury), Jamaal Charles rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2012, posting an AFC-high 1,509 yards on 285 carries. A true home run threat Charles reeled off three runs of more than 80 yards last year and has two 200-yard single-game performances. That's a pretty impressive resume and Reid will be watched closely when it comes to his new star back because the perception in Philadelphia was that Reid hated the running game and always wanted to chuck it 40 or 50 times a game.
Charles missed most of the preseason with a sprained foot but Kansas City ruled out a Lisfarnc injury end expects to the Pro Bowler to be back early in the season.
"Things happen and you don't know when it's going to happen," Charles said. "You just have to be prepared and take care of your body. That's what I'm still doing. Just trying to make sure I do all the right things and get my body taken care of."
Speedy rookie Knile Davis is expected to be Charles' chief backup. The 5- foot-11 Arkansas product was clocked with a 4.37 40-yard dash at the combine and is regarded as a solid third-down prospect if he can handle blitz pickups.
WR: The big-bodied Dwayne Bowe returns as the Chiefs' No. 1 outside threat. The former Pro Bowl selection led Kansas City in receptions and receiving yards for the fourth consecutive season in 2012, recording 59 catches for 801 yards with three touchdowns before being placed on injured reserve with a rib injury on Dec. 15. Bowe is second in club history with 82 receptions of 20-plus yards and once led the NFL with 15 TD receptions in 2010.
Opposite Bowe will be speedy veteran Donnie Avery, who joins the Chiefs while coming off his best statistical season when he caught 60 passes for 781 yards and three TDs in Indianapolis last year.
"Donnie has tremendous speed, and he's got a lot of experience and he's shown in this offense that he can do some nice things," Reid said.
Big play threat Dexter McCluster, potential slot man Devon Wylie and the recently acquired A.J. Jenkins, a former first-round pick who flamed out in San Francisco, offer depth.
TE: Anthony Fasano joins Kansas City from Miami and is coming off a 2012 season in which he had 41 receptions for 332 yards and five TDs. The Notre Dame product is an old-school Y tight end who can help you as a blocker and outlet receiver but doesn't have the long speed to threaten defenses down the seam.
Rookie Travis Kelce has a leg up with Reid because his brother Jason was the coach's center in Philadelphia. He is a big 6-foot-6, 260-pound prospect from Cincinnati who projects as a the same type of tight end as Fasano. Veteran Tony Moeaki should serve as more of a receiving threat but there have been rumors indicating Dorsey might try to move him.
OL: Kansas City adds the first pick in the 2013 draft, Fisher, to a line which includes incumbent left tackle Branden Albert, third-year pro Rodney Hudson at the pivot and guards Jon Asamoah and Jeff Allen.
Fisher was a monster at Central Michigan, registering 341 knockdown blocks. Down the line he projects on the left side but will start his career at right tackle as the disgruntled Albert returns to play out his franchise tender on the left side. Fisher has struggled in the preseason with finger and shoulder issues that some have questioning his toughness. Albert is above average on the left side but a bit overrated.
Allen, a former second-round pick, played in 15 games with 12 starts at left guard after stepping in for the now departed Ryan Lilja, who moved to center to fill in for Hudson, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. The entire interior including Asamoah shapes up as steady if unspectacular.
Geoff Schwartz, a former starter at guard in Carolina, was picked up by Kansas City for depth after spending time with the Panthers and most recently Minnesota.
DL: The underrated Mike DeVito was signed from the New York Jets to handle the right end spot. Bob Sutton knows DeVito well from their time in New York together and trusts the hard-working Maine product.
The Chiefs are expecting a breakout year from 2012 first-round pick, nose tackle Dontari Poe, a player who is extremely light on his feet for a 350- pounder and has very thick lower body made for two-gap play. Endurance and conditioning could be an issue with Poe, however.
The left end is another former first-rounder in Tyson Jackson, a prospect who has never really lived up to the billing of being the third overall pick in 2009. Jackson is very athletic for a big man but not all that instinctive.
The depth is shaky with Jerrell Powe and Allen Bailey headlining the alternatives.
LB: A 2-14 team with three Pro-Bowl linebackers?
Welcome to Kansas City where the leader of the team's defense, veteran inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, is flanked by two pass-rushing stalwarts, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
Johnson earned his second consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl following the 2012 season, finishing with 125 tackles to pace the team for the third-straight season. That's a year after he was an All-Pro after setting a franchise record with 179 tackles.
Hali, meanwhile, finished with 9 sacks in 2012 giving him 62 1/2 since arriving in K.C. from Penn State in 2006. Hali also has a knack for forcing fumbles, jarring the ball loose 24 times, ranking third in franchise history behind legendary names like Derrick Thomas (45) and DE Neil Smith (29).
Houston brought it from the other side with 10 sacks and 19 pressures. The lone weak spot in the starting lineup is Johnson's running mate inside, Akeem Jordan, an underwhelming Reid favorite from the coach's days in Philly.
Jordan, though, is likely just a placeholder for rookie Nico Johnson, a three- year starter at Alabama who was a member of the Crimson Tide's national championship teams in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
"I think both of them have performed well," Sutton said when discussing Jordan and Johnson. "(Jordan) obviously has more experience than Nico. I think Nico is demonstrating learning the systems and he's the guy that you can ask that will be able do it every play just like Akeem. I think the difference probably is experience right now."
DB: The presence of solid left cornerback Brandon Flowers was enhanced by the additions of veterans Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson in free agency. Flowers is a strong physical cover-2 corner who can re-route receivers with his aggressive play. Smith, a lengthy corner who can be physical but isn't all that smooth, will join him on the other side as a starter. Robinson, meanwhile, has a lot to prove after a down year in Atlanta.
"We want to make sure we handle the chemistry on the back end," Flowers said. "We all want to be on the same page because if we're on, we can definitely be playmakers and help the football team. So that's one thing we try to thrive in."
The safeties will be the physically imposing Berry along with Kendrick Lewis, an average athlete who could be pushed by ex-Vikings starter Husain Abdullah, who took a year off from football to go on a religious pilgrimage to Mecca.
"I think we're doing a lot of good things, making a lot of progress at the same time, but still making those mistakes that we can clean up," Berry said of the defense. "As long as we keep getting better and keep working, I feel like we have a good chance of doing some things."
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Chiefs kicking game is very solid with Ryan Succop, who has made 97-of-119 field goals in his career, the top percentage in team history.
Dustin Colquitt, meanwhile, made a habit of pinning opponents deep in their own territory last season with a mind-blowing 45 punts inside the 20, a number which ranked second in the NFL.
The return game in anchored by the explosive McCluster while coverage is an area to watch because Reid's teams in Philadelphia struggled badly in that aspect over recent seasons.
COACHING: Reid has a lot to prove with the Chiefs so motivation is not a problem. Known as a tremendous preparation coach but an average gameday mentor, Reid should have Kansas City moving in the right direction fairly early in his tenure.
Sutton, the ex-Army head coach and Jets defensive coordinator, was a nice pick by Reid to lead the defense. Many have argued that Reid's teams in Philly stumbled once legendary DC Jim Johnson was stricken by cancer. One thing is certain, Reid was never able to replace Johnson and it's a fair criticism to note that he tried with people like Sean McDermott, Castillo and Bowles, who didn't have big reputations nor the cachet to question Reid's orders. Sutton has both.
Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, who played under Reid in both Green Bay and Philadelphia, is his good friend and a rubber stamp.
THE SKINNY: Does Reid still have it?
His dying days in Philadelphia were certainly ugly but the big man still has the reputation of a franchise-builder and takes over a solid situation here.
The AFC West is very weak with the exception of Denver and this is a team with the talent to improve on its 2-14 mark by rolling the footballs onto the field. Whether Reid can get them to nine or 10 wins and pushing for a wild card spot is the real question.
08/25 09:25:54 ET
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