should go deep into playoffs
KC will ride
its productive offense to AFC West title
For a long hot summer of speculation it seemed as if
the Chiefs 2003 season would hinge on the health of Priest
Holmes' right hip. Every conjecture written by any writer
would have the term if Priest is healthy.
And rightly so. Priest Holmes has been the best player
in the NFL for the last season and a half and when he
went down with a hip injury in week 15 of last season
that stubbornly didnt seem to want to respond to
treatment, panic set in amongst the Chiefs front office
and the Chiefs faithful.
The pre-season hasnt changed a lot of that. Holmes
carried the ball fairly well for the Chiefs throughout
the meaningless July and August games, but he never ripped
off any of those Holmes like magical runs and that still
has pundits and fans wondering if the best running back
in the game is fully recovered.
But Holmes got up without a limp or hitch after every
hit. He did everything he was asked to do, and apparently
the Chiefs coaches were satisfied as Holmes had but one
carry in the final two pre-season games.
This weekend the 2003 NFL season gets underway, and now
the speculation turns to the new season. Publications
have the Chiefs finishing from 1st in the AFC West and
on their way to the Super Bowl to last in the AFC West
and out of the playoffs.
As The Landmark begins its fourth season of full
time Chiefs coverage, its time to break it down
as only we can.
It all starts up front in the NFL and the Chiefs
starting five offensive linemen may be the best in the
NFL. But skilled O-Line depth is not a luxury this team
enjoys. If any one of the starting five goes down to an
injury for a significant time, it could snowball and slow
down the most potent offense in the game.
QB Trent Green is tough, and a tremendous leader.
The only thing he lacks is a big arm, but that is really
not a problem in this particular offense. He has proven
that he was worth that number one pick Vermeil gave up
for him three years ago, with the weapons he has he should
only expand on his successes from last season.
The RB position is the strength of the team. Holmes
seems to be healthy, and Blaylock looks comfortable in
his role. Rookie RB Larry Johnson should excel on special
teams. The FB tandem of Tony Richardson and Omar Easy
is a nice one. Richardson is the complete package when
healthy, and Easy, despite his struggles delivering blocks,
can make plays on catches out of the backfield.
The receivers show why Vermeil has had such success
as a head coach. In Vermeils first game as the KC
head coach, Snoop Minnis and Derrick Alexander were the
unproductive wideouts. Both are now gone, and each of
the teams four primary wideouts present different
match up problems for opposing defenses. The starters
are now Johnny Morton who is now the x-man
again and will produce. Eddie Kennisons speed must
be respected and is fluid in his route running. But the
problems for opposing defenses multiply when budding superstars
Marc Boerigter and Dante Hall fill the number 3 and 4
spots. Each presents a difficult match-up for opposition
and when you combine all-world TE Tony Gonzalez, the mismatches
turn into a nightmare scenario for opposing defensive
This offense is clearly one of the most productive in
the NFL. But make no mistake; production from the RB position,
even with all the skilled receivers is crucial. A healthy
and happily contract-extended Priest Holmes can make this
one of the most potent offenses in NFL history.
·The front four are much improved. NT Ryan Sims
has been a terror in the pre-season. Hes the key.
If he can maintain his level of play, it frees up every
other lineman. Eric Hicks, John Browning, and free agent
acquisition Vonnie Holliday are able to make plays off
Sims strength in the middle. R-Kal Truluck is positioned
to have a break out season. No longer just a speed rusher,
Truluck has honed his skills and technique and has a motor
that never quits.
·The linebackers are now faster and better with
the free agent pick up of OLB Shawn Barber. Barber is
a ball hawk, and the Chiefs need this guy to be a playmaker.
Mike Maslowski is back to his more natural position in
the middle and OLB Scott Fujitas experience from
last season has tuned him into speed backer who swarms
to the ball. The depth isnt bad, but there is a
drop off if one of these guys goes down.
·The secondary was awful last season. Cornerbacks
William Bartee and Eric Warfield were woefully inadequate.
While Warfield seems to be developing, Bartee still blows
way too many assignments. He has yet to make an interception
in 48 NFL games and 21 NFL starts. Its hard to believe
he is still a starter in this league. His pre-season performance
did little to provide hope for improvement. The team brought
in veteran CB Dexter McCleon for depth, and though he
is better suited as a nickel back, dont be surprised
to see him move into Bartees spot. FS Jerome Woods
returns from a season ending broken leg injury during
pre-season last year and seems to be ready. SS Greg Wesley
is still a good run stopper. Despite a small upgrade,
(and yes I know Im stating the obvious) this is
the weak link in the defense.
The defense stunk last season. This season should fare
better, but a ton of pressure is going to be placed squarely
on the front seven. On passing downs, if they dont
apply pressure to the opposing QB, it will get pretty
ugly in the defensive backfield of the Kansas City Chiefs.
There are no schemes in the NFL to hide corners for an
entire game, so despite his sometimes strange array of
zone blitzes and coverages, Robinsons defense is
going to get lit up again unless the front seven can make
plays early in the game or the cornerbacks improve dramatically.
Morten Anderson is the best kicker in the NFL from
40 yards in. Jason Baker must prove himself every week
as the punter as the last thing this defense needs is
to defend a short field due to poor punting. If he fails,
punter auditions will be a weekly event at Arrowhead.
KR Dante Hall was the absolute best in the league last
This team has improved on both sides of the ball. The
schedule is favorable. Even the bye week lands directly
in the middle of the year. This is the magical
third season that has seen head coach Dick Vermeil take
two other teams to the Super Bowl. But the Chiefs play
in the difficult AFC West, and the Raiders are the defending
The Chiefs are the sexy pick this season to win the AFC
West. I like sexy so count me on board. For the first
time in the four years I have covered the team Im
predicting playoffs! The Chiefs win the AFC West and the
team heads deep into the playoffs.
The Landmark will provide its critically acclaimed
Take-A-Memo observation column each week on Monday night
(CK Rairden, formerly of Platte
County, writes from his home in Arizona. He can be reached
via email at email@example.com)