Friday, July 6, 2012

Kansas City Chiefs: Prime Sleeper for 2012

A healthy Charles lights the fuse for a big 2012 in Arrowhead
Kansas City Chiefs (2011 record: 7-9)

What went wrong?: 

After a 4-12 showing in 2009, Kansas City would surge to the top of the AFC West a year later, going 10-6. There were two key components to this turnaround: an offense that flourished under Matt Cassel, whose spectacular season was comparable to his 2008 emergence in New England, and new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel vastly increasing production on his side of the ball.

For Cassel, his 27 touchdown passes versus 7 interceptions were a far cry from his pitiful first year in Kansas City. He also had the luxury of a two-headed running back system with veteran Thomas Jones and third-year upstart Jamaal Charles, who combined for over 2300 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Dwayne Bowe put up fifteen touchdowns, and rookie Dexter McCluster served as a potent punt returner (15.5 yards a return). McCluster was also a source of frustration and caution for defenses, as his speed worked in decoy situations.

In Crennel’s first year overseeing the D, he reduced the points allowed by a nearly a full touchdown (26.5 to 20.4 per game). The defense as a whole became hungrier, going from twenty-two sacks in 2009 to thirty-eight in 2010. Tamba Hali benefitted the most from Crennel’s form of attack, putting up 14.5 sacks, seven more than his previous season high. Veteran Derrick Johnson emerged into a true do-as-I-do leader, the way Roman Phifer and Tedy Bruschi were on Crennel’s Patriots. Rookie Eric Berry’s performance at safety (72 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 INT, one for a touchdown) helped anchor the defensive turnaround.

To read the rest of this article on Football Nation, click here

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