By Christopher DiMarino
This is another entry in a set of early looks at the teams the Pittsburgh Steelers will play in the 2012-13 season. The goal is to acclimate the average Steelers fan to the offseason changes each team has made. This will make the in-depth analysis in the week before the game more familiar and understandable.
Who: Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers
What: Week 10 Regular Season Matchup
Where: Heinz Field
When: 8:30 EST Monday November 12th, 2012
Key Free Agent Additions and Losses:
|Key Free Agent Additions and Losses|
|Position||Name||2011 Team||2012 Team||Role|
|QB||Brady Quinn||Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||2nd String Backup|
|RB||Peyton Hillis||Cleveland Browns||Kansas City Chiefs||Starter|
|OT||Eric Winston||Houston Texans||Kansas City Chiefs||Starter|
|TE||Kevin Boss||Oakland Raiders||Kansas City Chiefs||Starter|
|TE||Martin Rucker||Jacksonville Jaguars||Kansas City Chiefs||Depth|
|DE||Ropati Pitoitua||New York Jets||Kansas City Chiefs||1st String Backup|
|DB||Mikail Baker||St Louis Rams||Kansas City Chiefs||Depth|
|CB||Stanford Routt||Oakland Raiders||Kansas City Chiefs||Starter|
|SS||Abram Elam||Dallas Cowboys||Kansas City Chiefs||Starter|
|QB||Kyle Orton||Kansas City Chiefs||Dallas Cowboys||Starter|
|RB||Jackie Battle||Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||Injury Starter|
|FB||Le\’Ron McClain||Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||Starter|
|WR||Chris Manno||Kansas City Chiefs||Carolina Panthers||Depth|
|TE||Leonard Pope||Kansas City Chiefs||Pittsurgh Steelers||Starter|
|OT||Barry Richardson||Kansas City Chiefs||St Louis Rams||Starter|
|DE||Gilberry Wallace||Kansas City Chiefs||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1st String Backup|
|LB||Eric Bakhtiari||Kansas City Chiefs||San Francisco 49ers||Depth|
|MLB||Demorrio Williams||Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||1st String Backup|
|CB||Brandon Carr||Kansas City Chiefs||Dallas Cowboys||Starter|
|QB||Tyler Palko||Kansas City Chiefs||UFA||1st String Backup|
|RB||Thomas Jones||Kansas City Chiefs||UFA||1st String Backup|
|WR||Jerheme Urban||Kansas City Chiefs||UFA||1st String Backup|
|OT||Ryan O\’Callaghan||Kansas City Chiefs||UFA||Depth|
|C||Casey Wiegmann||Kansas City Chiefs||UFA||Starter|
|DT||Kelly Gregg||Kansas City Chiefs||UFA||Starter|
|S||Jon McGraw||Kansas City Chiefs||UFA||Injury Starter|
|S||Sabby Piscitelli||Kansas City Chiefs||UFA||1st String Backup|
|S||Reshard Langford||Kansas City Chiefs||UFA||2nd String Backup|
Among the starters that Kansas City lost, only Brandon Carr is considered an impact player. Kyle Orton was a waiver pick up, Barry Richardson was a 6th round draft pick and isn\’t a quality starter, Le\’Ron McClain is a great full back but the position isn\’t typically worth a multimillion dollar contract and Leonard Pope shouldn\’t be a starting caliber tight end.
Safety Jon McGraw and running back Jackie Battle played because of injuries and will not return. On offense, Thomas Jones and Jerheme Urban saw the field a lot and both are UFAs. On defense: Wallace Gilberry, Sabby Piscitelli and Demorrio Williams were backups the Chiefs will be without in 2012. Kelly Gregg and Casey Wiegmann both started last season for the Chiefs but are both UFAs and with their combined age of 74, both are considering retirement.
The players that Kansas City added should all fit in nicely. running back Peyton Hillis should combine with recovering Jamaal Charles to become one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL. Kevin Boss is a definite upgrade over Pope and should create a great duo with the recovering Tony Moeaki. Offensive tackle Eric Winston is questionably one of the best in the league and should help provide some stability to this offensive line. The signing of Stanford Routt was necessary after the loss of Carr and Abram Elam was added as solid a depth/injury replacement option.
2012 Draft Analysis:
|2012 Draft Recap|
|WR||Devon Wylie||4.12(107th)||Fresno St.||5\’9||187|
|RB||Cyrus Gray||6.12(182nd)||Texas A&M||5\’10||206|
|DT||Jerome Long||7.11(218th)||San Deigo St.||6\’4||290|
The Chiefs did a great job of upgrading their trenches early and added some skilled options in the middle rounds. Everyone who was following draft projections will remember hearing about Dontari Poe. He is a beast in the middle and had one of the best combines I can remember. The issue with him is that he did not have the stats in college to be considered a top pick and failed to “pop” on tape. His upside proved great enough to warrant the Chiefs to gamble on him at 11th overall.
While the next two picks are called offensive tackles, Jeff Allen (2nd round pick) should play guard in the NFL. Like the Steelers, the Chiefs had a need to upgrade the offensive and defensive lines because of age concerns. While Allen and Donald Stephenson are nowhere near as talented as David DeCastro and Mike Adams, they are both roster locks and may eventually start.
Romeo Crennel will be the Chiefs head coach. He was previously their defensive coordinator for two seasons and was promoted to interim head coach after Todd Haley was fired 13 games into the 2011 season. Crennel went 2-1 in his interim role including an upset victory over the undefeated Green Bay Packers. Many will recognize the name as he was the defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots from 2001-2004 during which the Patriots won two Super Bowls. He was then hired as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and accumulated a 24-40 record over 4 seasons.
The Chiefs will have a brand new offensive coordinator for the 2012 season as well. Brian Daboll replaces Bill Muir, who was the offensive coordinator for only one season. Daboll has been an offensive coordinator for the last three seasons with the Browns and Miami Dolphins and had been a positions coach starting in 2000. He also worked with Crennel in New England and Cleveland. He is only 37 years old and hopes to establish some continuity for the Chiefs since he is their fourth offensive coordinator in just five years.
Crennel hasn\’t officially hired or promoted someone to his former defensive coordinator role. The Chiefs defense has been capable during Crennel\’s tenure but I don\’t think he will last too long heading both roles. If not just for title sake, I think he will need to promote someone to at least lead the defense so he can focus on the head coaching duties and responsibilities. Tom McMahon was hired as the new special teams coordinator replacing Steve Hoffman. Mahon was previously the special teams coordinator for the St. Louis Rams.
Last Year\’s Stats:
|2011 Team Stats|
|Fumbles Lost (2011)||10||21||13||26||10|
|Sacks Allowed (2011)||34||14||42||23||37|
|Avg Time of Possession||29:10:00||22||32:33:00||2||30:00:00|
|Fumbles Recovered (2011)||6||28||4||30||10|
|Punt Return Avg For||11.9||6||10.5||13||9.9|
|Punt Return Avg Against||11.4||18||8.4||12||9.9|
|Kick Return Avg For||21.3||30||25.1||8||23.8|
|Kick Return Avg Against||24.2||17||23.7||16||23.8|
|Field Goals Made||80.00%||20||74.19%||31||82.89%|
|3rd Down % Offense||36.00%||19||45.92%||4||38.00%|
|3rd Down % Defense||34.29%||8||38.91%||19||38.00%|
|4th Down % Offense||41.18%||14||37.50%||19||43.26%|
|4th Down % Defense||43.75%||18||61.54%||28||43.26%|
|Red Zone % Offense||33.33%||32||50.94%||18||52.18%|
|Red Zone % Defense||54.90%||18||54.84%||17||52.18%|
The Chiefs had a statistically poor 2011 season. They failed to do much of anything on ofense and had below average special teams. Their Defense was pretty good in certain areas and awful in others and they were right around average in terms of efficiency. The 2011 season was not an easy one for the Chiefs. They had several season ending injuries to key cogs in all phases. This led up to a coaching change and Kansas City began rebuilding before the season even ended.
Kansas City had one of the worst Offenses in the NFL in 2011. They ranked in the bottom 5 for Total Yards, Passing Yards and Points scored. They ranked in the twenties for Interceptions, Fumbles, Time of Possession and First Downs. The bright spots for this Offense was its Rushing Yards and low amount of sacks. Unfortunately, these bright spots still only ranked around the middle of the pack.
The Defense was almost the exact opposite of the Offense. They ranked top 10 in Interceptions, First Downs and against the pass. The Chiefs also ranked just outside the top 10 in Total Yards and Points Allowed. Kansas City struggled against the run and did not do a good job of generating sacks. Their limited amount of sacks might have been why they also recovered very few fumbles.
Aside from punt returning, the Chiefs were not good on special teams. Javier Arenas who was a highly touted prospect out of Alabama was the primary punt returner in his sophomore season and ranked 6th in the NFL. Arenas split reps with Dexter McCluster on kick returns but they ranked 30th in the league. Kansas City was just worse than average at covering both kicks and punts. Ryan Succop had an average year kicking. He was 80% and had 5 of his 6 misses between 40 and 49 yards. The Chiefs were very average in terms of efficiency, ranking near the middle of the NFL in all categories except 3rd Down Defense (8th) and Red Zone Offense (32nd!).
Kansas City is a very interesting team. They have been on a roller coaster of highs and lows over the past decade. Forgotten names like Trent Green and Priest Holmes are now replaced by Matt Cassel and Charles. While the Chiefs seem pretty far from being considered a playoff team, they have the benefit of being in one of the weakest divisions in the NFL (AFC West).
Last season seemed more like an aberration than an indicator. Injuries can wreak havoc to teams very easily. When you consider that Kansas City lost almost all their star players to injury and the fact that they are a team that had questionable depth you can understand how their stats from 2011 make sense. The one stat that doesn\’t swing with these facts is that Kansas City was still 7-9 last year and one win away from tying for a playoff spot.
This year could be a better year, but I don\’t know how high the Chiefs can soar. They had a good draft and picked up a few key free agents. However, currently the Chiefs are a very predictable team. They have a strong running game and try to focus on having a strong defense. The issue with this setup is that they need to make sure their new offensive lineman mesh and assist in the running game. Charles injury will be followed closely to see how he bounces back. This defense is good, but might not be able to perform where they did last year unless they get after the quarterback more.
Familiar faces. For a random seeming team like Kansas City, there are a lot of crossings between the Chiefs and Steelers coaching staff. Pittsburgh fans still have Crennel in their short term memory and you can bet four years of bad memories have stuck with Crennel (he never beat the Steelers). Haley also ties into this by being the previous head coach of the Chiefs. You can bet he has a familiarity with both Crennel and the Chiefs team and staff as a whole. Since Crennel is currently still acting as the defensive coordinator, it will be interesting to see if Haley can expose his weaknesses or vice versa. Both of these familiarities point to an advantage for the Steelers, but the Chiefs are a very different team and if the last three games in 2011 are any indication, Kansas City might be a tough adversary.
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