With the Chiefs getting ready to leave next week for River Falls, what are the most important issues for the Chiefs heading into training camp? Adam Teicher at the Kansas City Star takes a look this morning at the five keys for the team after making such severe changes this offseason.
At least 36 of the 80 players they will bring to the start of training camp next week at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls are new to the Chiefs. The laborious process of fitting together the many new pieces begins with the first camp practice on Aug. 1.
1. Matt is the man
After three seasons spent wondering, “Who’s the quarterback?” the Chiefs finally have their answer. Now it’s up to them to make sure Cassel succeeds. Their initial efforts at surrounding him with talent — trading Gonzalez, picking up 33-year-old guard Mike Goff as their only major acquisition — were underwhelming. So job one for Haley, coordinator Chan Gailey and the rest of the offensive staff is to find ways to not only keep Cassel healthy but also allow him to flourish.
2. Take a bow, Dwayne
The Chiefs need to replace not only the catches, yardage and touchdowns lost in the Gonzalez trade, but also the security blanket he provided for the quarterback. While the Chiefs can’t and won’t ask Dwayne Bowe to be their next Gonzalez, it is time he becomes a consistent receiver. If he merely catches what he dropped last season, Bowe becomes a Pro Bowler and Cassel has his go-to guy.
You can find other three keys over at the Star. And it’s hard to argue with any of the points that Teicher makes. The Chiefs must find a way to protect Matt Cassel this year. Not just for the sake of his health, but if the team is going to move the ball at all on the ground, the passing game has to be able to get the job done. As for Bowe, everyone in the league knows he has to stop with the drops. It’s unrealistic for anyone to pick up where Gonzalez left off, but there is no reason why Bowe can’t take the next step and that will have to including curing the dropsies that he has been plagued with for two seasons.
Yesterday, the Chiefs announced a local celebration of Derrick Thomas that will allow those that can’t make the trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame pay tribute to the all-time great. But for anyone that is still thinking about making the trip to Canton, it will now take less of a bite out of your wallet.
In what could be a sign of the economic times we’re in, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced that it will make available approximately 1,500 seats to the 2009 Enshrinement Ceremony for a discounted price of $10. The end zone seats were originally priced at $28, the same as the preferred sideline seats.
The Enshrinement Ceremony for the Class of 2009 – Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson, Jr., and Rod Woodson – is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7:00 p.m. EST at Fawcett Stadium, which is adjacent to the Hall in Canton, Ohio. HOF President/Executive Director Steve Perry explained the move.
“Although ticket sales are on pace to fall well within the average Enshrinement Ceremony attendance, we feel that the discounted ticket will assist and motivate fans especially from the local and regional markets who can take advantage of the proximity of one of pro football’s most exciting and important annual events, the Enshrinement of a new Class of Hall of Famers.”
In addition to the $10 end zone seats, $28 sideline and $60 floor seat tickets are also available. Tickets may be purchased at the Pro Football Hall of Fame; online at Profootballhof.com; or by calling (800)-913-9788.
Getting people in the door for $10 should fill the place and make the crowd a bit rowdier than it normally would be. I’m still holding out a little bit of hope that I can make the date work so I can attend the ceremony, but if I do I might pony up for the $60 tickets and sit on the floor. I figured those would already be sold out at this point and I definitely think they are worth the extra money.
Even with all the optimism that has surrounded the Chiefs this offseason, there seems to be a general thought that it will take a couple seasons before they are playoff contenders. Don’t tell that to Barry over at Home of the Chiefs.
So go ahead, and call your 5 and 6 wins. Go ahead and try to convince me that you know more about football than I do, and go ahead cash your chips in before camp. Go ahead and try and convince me that Mike Vrabel isn’t happy to be a Chief. Go ahead and try and get me to believe that Brian Waters is going to be traded, and that Matt Cassel is going to be sacked more than 50 times in 2009.
Go ahead and let yourself believe that players like Bobby Engram, and Zach Thomas are too old to play in the NFL and now that Tony is gone, there is no hope.
Feel free to blow off signings like Mike Goff, and Mike Brown. Sure Tamba Hali won’t be a better player at his natural weight at outside linebacker. Go ahead and believe that Dwayne Bowe will keep dropping passes. While you’re at it, go ahead and let yourself believe that Larry Johnson won’t have comeback year as well. Let yourself think that Todd Haley might not be a great coach. Go ahead and question Scott Pioli. He didn’t win enough Super Bowls right?
If Vrabel and Waters are happy campers, Cassel stays upright, Engram and Thomas have bounce back years, Hali starts at linebacker, Bowe starts holding onto the ball and LJ runs with a purpose then, yes, the Chiefs will be right there for a playoff spot. The thing is, what are the odds all of those things happen? Listen, I hope the Chiefs win 10 games and make the playoffs. But with the new players, schemes and coaches along with a tough schedule it seems like wishful thinking, not “doom and gloom”.