With the completion of a 2-14 season comes many changes to an organization, as the Kansas City Chiefs entered the 2013 offseason with plenty of question marks.
The first order of business was replacing head coach Romeo Crennel, who took over for Todd Haley with three games remaining in the 2011 season on an interim basis. The Chiefs handed him the job permanently shortly thereafter.
While the hire was largely welcomed at the time, it was clear that it was made emotionally as the result of Crennel leading the Chiefs to a 2-1 record to close out that season. It didn't take long into 2012 to realize that a mistake had been made, however, and that Kansas City was destined for another disappointing campaign—one that would ultimately mark the worst in franchise history.
The Chiefs will pick at the top of April's NFL draft by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Jacksonville Jaguars. While having first crack at the top talent that the college game has to offer can be seen as a bonus, the route taken to land in that position certainly wasn't enviable.
Though Reid saw hard times in Philadelphia over the last couple of seasons—compiling a 12-20 record and missing the playoffs each year—the change of scenery could prove to be just what the head coach needs to get his own career back on track.
Some may question whether the Chiefs' situation will necessarily provide enough of a stable environment for Reid to win again, but this team certainly has some pieces to build on and could be a candidate for a quick turnaround in 2013.
For that to happen, however, Reid needed to quickly identify the team's primary offseason priorities and go about assuring that they were promptly addressed. In addition to retaining their own talent, it was imperative the Chiefs bring in players who would make an immediate impact. And there is no player on the football field with more of an influence than the quarterback.
Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn shared starting duties for Kansas City in 2012, but they combined to complete fewer than 58 percent of their passes for just 2,937 yards and only eight touchdowns. And their 28 collective turnovers definitely added to the team's shortcomings.
Reid brings his version of the West Coast offense to Kansas City and requires a smart, risk-averse quarterback to run it. Completing a trade with the San Francisco 49ers for Alex Smith and adding former New Orleans Saint, and backup to Drew Brees, Chase Daniel serves as a solid start under center for the Reid era (via Kansas City Star).
While the Smith acquisition will come with its doubters—especially with his sudden turnaround under Jim Harbaugh—he was revered enough to be drafted No. 1 overall back in 2005, and his last two seasons have certainly yielded favorable results. He completed over 64 percent of his passes for 30 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions while leading the 49ers to a 19-5-1 record in that span.
Expending such premium draft picks for Smith (the 34th overall pick in this year’s draft and a conditional high-round pick in 2014, according to Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News) will definitely force Reid and new general manager John Dorsey to deliver with the rest of their selections.
It also indicates that Kansas City is behind its new quarterback—something Reid has shown the propensity for over the years.
It should also be pointed out that Reid displayed interest in bringing Smith to Philadelphia prior to the 2011 season, according to ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, before the quarterback ultimately re-signed with the 49ers (h/t Eric Branch of SFGate.com).
The Daniel signing was a further indication that this year's quarterback class leaves much to be desired. And instead of reaching on a signal-caller anywhere in the draft, the Chiefs can focus on targeting players who have the chance to come in and make a more immediate impact.
The ability to ink wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a long-term deal (via NFL.com)—something Scott Pioli was unable to do last offseason—can be attributed to the Chiefs suddenly being more stable under center.
The Chiefs also brought in tight end Anthony Fasano and wideout Donnie Avery to replace Kevin Boss and Steve Breaston, who were released after never gaining traction in Kansas City.
By choosing to place the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert, it appeared the Chiefs were set to enter the 2013 season with both bookends in place from last year. Instead, Kansas City released right tackle Eric Winston and is now willing to field offers for Albert (per Peter King of Sports Illustrated).
While it is a risk to make replacements at key spots that are vital in protecting their new quarterback and preserving one of the best rushing attacks in the league, the Chiefs are not void of options here. The draft offers up a handful of names capable of stepping in at either tackle spot, as Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are strong candidates near the top of the draft. And the free-agent market also still contains plenty of players that Kansas City could target as well. The team has already added Geoff Schwartz (Minnesota Vikings), who has experience playing all across the offensive line.
Retaining punter Dustin Colquitt and restructuring Tyson Jackson's contract were also of high importance for the Chiefs. And it will be Kansas City's returning foundation that will largely propel any success moving forward—especially on defense, with Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Justin Houston, Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry providing a solid nucleus.
Instead of being complacent and relying on a hope that certain guys would be able to step up, however, the Chiefs looked at their secondary as an area to greatly improve on.
While Kansas City only allowed 220.8 passing yards per game (ranking 12th in the NFL), it was the efficiency that opponents achieved against this defense that caused problems. The Chiefs' pass defense yielded 29 touchdowns, 8.0 yards per attempt and an opponents' quarterback rating of 99.99—all totals that were at or near the bottom of the league. Bringing in cornerbacks Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith immediately raises the profile of the Chiefs' secondary—something that is imperative with the likes of Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer all residing in the AFC West.
The addition of former New York Jets defensive end Mike DeVito will also make up for the Chiefs not bringing back former top five draft pick Glenn Dorsey.
The Chiefs have been very active this offseason, which is a combination of Reid's desire to quickly infuse his particular influence on the roster and this team needing to address so many specific areas. Don't expect things to slow down, however.
Owning the No. 1 overall pick will help keep things interesting in Kansas City the entire offseason.