Joel Thorman, one of the managers and lead writers over at SBNation's excellent blog on the Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Pride, took the time to answer a few of my questions about the Kansas City Chiefs and what he'll be looking for in Saturday Night's matchup with the Buccaneers. Check out his responses.
1. I applauded the Dexter McCluster selection by the Chiefs in April. What do the Chiefs think of what they've seen of McCluster so far and what role will he likely see with the team?
The Chiefs love McCluster so far. In fact, I think they're a little worried he's getting too hyped up. He's the perfect training camp player in that he's quick, can make big cuts and can show off his speed. It's really fun to watch him.
As far as his role, we're not exactly sure. He's going to play primarily at receiver but I'm wondering if he'll see more time at running back as well. There's also the wildcat. It's not clear how he'll be used but it'll be a bunch of different ways.
2. Much like the Bucs, the Chiefs are going into year 2 with their purported franchise QB. What did Cassel do well last season and what did he struggle with? What do you expect from him in 2010?
He was a leader on and off the field and continually drew praise from the coaching staff for his work ethic. Of course, that's not exactly tangible so, on the field, there wasn't a ton he did well. He was able to use his feet, which is nice, but wasn't consistent in a lot of other places. The Chiefs receivers dropped the most passes in the NFL last year so that's not exactly helping Cassel.
In 2010, everyone expects a much improved Cassel because he's been here for a year, the Chiefs added some weapons around him and he's got Charlie Weis to work with. It will be a disappointment if Cassel has a year like 2009.
3. The Chiefs have drafted a couple of 3-4 Defensive linemen in the first round of the past few drafts, yet they ranked 31st in the NFL last season in rushing YPG allowed....one spot ahead of the Bucs. What's been the problem with the run defense? Who does the bulk of the blame fall on.... the defensive line, scheme, linebackers, youth, other?
The two defensive ends are young. They both had experience primarily in the 4-3 and then they come here and have to start playing a different position. Plus, I think it generally takes a little while for defensive linemen to adjust to the NFL game. I'm not too worried about those guys yet but, between the two, Glenn Dorsey is playing better.
The nose tackle isn't exactly ideal in Kansas City either. Ron Edwards is a serviceable 3-4 nose tackle but most elite 3-4 defenses have a great nose tackle. I think the Chiefs will target that soon.
4. Who's been a pleasant surprise so far in camp? Who's been a disappointment?
Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster have been the big surprises. Bowe came into camp in shape and looked very sharp and focused, though at times still bringing back 'The D-Bowe Show'. McCluster, as we said, has been one of the stars of camp with some of his athleticism. He's quickly become a fan-favorite.
As far as disappointments, I'd say the quarterbacks in general. All of them. Again, they're probably held to a higher standard than others because of the position they play. Then there's offensive line which has been banged up. The guys that have been healthy have been fine but Brian Waters missed half of training camp and there still isn't a starting center. This unit really isn't a disappointment because of their play but that it was the most injured group. The defensive line has been OK and some might say it's been a disappointment but I would say the expectations are a little high if they're expected to be dominating right out of the gate.
5. What are 3 things you'll be looking for out of the Chiefs in Saturday night's game?
Here are the three positions I'm looking at....
Quarterback: They're always the focal point so I want to see Matt Cassel lead the offense down the field and score. I want to see less sacks out of him. I want to see if backup QB Brodie Croyle, who was injured last week, even plays. I want to see the two third quarterbacks play to see who can win that job.
Running backs: I want to see Thomas Jones take a few more carries in the run game and I want to see Jamaal Charles continue being the best running back on the field. I also want to see how Dexter McCluster transitions into the running back group at times.
Defensive front seven: The Chiefs have been historically bad rushing the passer the last two years so I want to see some pressure out of this group. I think they do need a couple of sacks or at least disrupting the play. Tamba Hali will get it done but who else?