Yesterday, Bob Gretz broke down the five things the Chiefs got done during the offseason, including the rehabilitation of Larry Johnson. Today he flips the coin and looks at the five things they failed to get done, among them the lack of any weapons added to the offense.
The plus/minus scale for the Chiefs offensively did not balance out in this offseason. On the minus side is Tony Gonzalez, traded to Atlanta and taking with him about 20 percent of the passing game over the last few years. On the plus side would be 36-year old, 14-year receiver Bobby Engram. He’s a possession/slot receiver at the end of his career.
Whether it was at tight end, wide receiver, or in the backfield, the Chiefs needed to add another weapon for Matt Cassel to work with. It didn’t happen and that could have season-long consequences.
As proven and consistent NFL receivers, the Chiefs offense has WRs Engram and Dwayne Bowe. That’s it. Mark Bradley has shown flashes, but he’s not consistent and is often injured. Devard Darling seems to have the skills, but has never been given the opportunities. Jeff Webb and Terrance Copper are journeymen types.
Cassel is going to need top notch protection because there are not many receivers available who can create plays with their speed, quickness or moves.
While it’s a concern, I think that Todd Haley’s offense will hide a lot of the shortcomings in the receiving corps. Clearly the Chiefs do not have a Larry Fitzgerald or Anquan Boldin, but there’s no reason Bowe and a guy like Darling can’t be a poor man’s version of them. And how many people thought Steve Breaston could be an impact player in the league? Not many fifth round picks turn in big time seasons their second year in the NFL, but that’s exactly what he did last season. As we go along, I think everyone needs to remember this isn’t going to be a one year fix. Just because you are thin at a position, that doesn’t mean you overpay for someone that doesn’t fit with where you want to ultimately go.
Yesterday, we brought you the story of former Chiefs second round pick Junior Siavii, who has resurfaced with the Dallas Cowboys trying to make the roster as a backup. Today Tampa Bay Online talks to Jimmy Wilkerson, another former Kansas City lineman. The difference between the two is Wilkerson is already expected to play a big role.
Wilkerson played the past six seasons primarily on special teams. Kansas City allowed Wilkerson to start in only five of 72 games from 2003 to 2007 before letting him walk after that season. He signed with the Bucs last year, and he hoped they would recognize what the Chiefs did not. The Buccaneers have.
Wilkerson had five sacks while playing defensive tackle and defensive end last season. Tampa Bay rewarded Wilkerson by naming him its starting left end opposite former first-round pick Gaines Adams, a decision coach Raheem Morris isn’t regretting.
“You can’t say enough positive things about what Jimmy Wilkerson has done since he’s been here. He’s been a hard, go get ’em worker in everything he’s asked to do – special teams, inside rusher. Whatever you can think positive about Jimmy Wilkerson, you can say about him.”
Wilkerson slimmed down from 290 pounds to 265, but he added muscle and strength and improved his quickness. Coaches say the 6-foot-2 Wilkerson has been one of the hardest workers this offseason, and they expect him to fill the void left by former left end Kevin Carter, who was not re-signed. Defensive line coach Todd Walsh is still wondering how he ended up in Tampa.
“How he got out of Kansas City, I’ve yet to know. We are so pleased with what he’s doing. We feel that we haven’t lost a step in that position. He’s here every day. And I think he knew coming into this season that he was going to have more of a role and more snaps a game. Jimmy has really taken care of himself weight room-wise, conditioning-wise, and he’s out there going 100 miles an hour every snap. That’s a credit to him as to how hard he works in the offseason.”
Awesome. I think this is another one we can put at the feet of Herman Edwards. Don’t get me wrong, starting for Tampa Bay now isn’t like starting for the 2002 Bucs but you can’t deny he would be a perfect fit for what Todd Haley and Scott Pioli are trying to do. Even if you are using last year to keep score: Kansas City Chiefs Defense – 10 sacks, Jimmy Wilkerson – 5 sacks. I repeat… Awesome.
Speaking of former Chiefs, a couple were selected last night in the inaugural UFL Draft.
The UFL Las Vegas franchise selected former Chiefs LB Gary Stills. The 34-year-old Stills played seven seasons in Kansas City and also spent time in the now-defunct NFL Europe. Stills will play for former Giants coach Jim Fassel.
A player that spent much less time in Kansas City, BJ Sams, was selected by San Francisco. Sams appeared in three games for the Chiefs last season accumulating 238 return yards. He was released after the team signed Mark Bradley. Sams will play for former Vikings and Cardinals coach Dennis Green.
Stills was the type of guy that Haley has talked about a lot this offseason, someone that can really make a difference on special teams. Sams was the perfect example of an Edwards-signing: specialty player that no longer was good at said speciality. He is a player that could make for some good highlights for the UFL if he can get into the open field. He should be able to perform in the watered down UFL the way Edwards wanted him to in the NFL.