TAMPA FL - AUGUST 21: Defenders Tamba Hali #91 and Glenn Dorsey #72 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackle running back Derrick Ward #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 21 2010 in Tampa Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Bring up the word "risk" and you'll find a few teams come to mind in the National Football League. Perhaps you could make a case that certain teams are being quite risky with their approach, but I dare you to find one more so than the Kansas City Chiefs. I just don't think it's possible.
Of course, it's all relative, because risk could refer to several things. Some teams have risked their chemistry this season in the hopes that a random assortment of players can enjoy the results of so much talent collected. The New York Jets come to mind as they've allowed possible distractions to inhabit the locker room (i.e. Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes). Other teams like the Seattle Seahawks have jettisoned talented players for next to nothing in one of the quickest clearinghouse operations in recent NFL history. Guys like T.J. Houshmanzadeh were released outright, while others like Josh Wilson were traded for next to nothing.
Whether it's the future or the present, each and every team is risking something year to year. But it's this season's Chiefs that have made, to me, the biggest gamble of all: that staying the same could bring different results.
I know, I know... there's a new defensive coordinator in town. And I was quite excited by the addition of Romeo Crennel myself, so I would never bash that coaching move. I believe that adding both Crennel and Weis are exemplary moves necessary for the development and furthering of the Chiefs success. However, I also believed that the new coach would also have new players in the front seven to work with. And yet next to nothing has transpired in the single most troubled area of the Chiefs from last season.
Ever since the Chiefs decided to make the move to the 3-4 defense, it's been an absolute disaster. Former players had to leave so that they could bring in new players who specialized in the role. Teams that move to the 3-4 usually clean house and bring in guys who are good players in the system or with the right bodies who can grow into the system. Yet all we've seen and heard the last two years is how some guys are poor fits (Glenn Dorsey) and yet they continue to stick around. Supposedly the nose tackle position needs a particular size and style, yet the Chiefs continue to employ the exact same guys from last year, save for some fodder for the back of the rotation
Even last year's top draft pick was considered a top 3-4 defensive end, yet every analyst in the country dogged Tyson Jackson for his performance. Alex Magee? Even worse. It's a line that should have been overhauled and targeted in this year's off-season, yet it was largely left alone.
The same could be said for the linebacking corps. Some of the Chiefs linebackers would be fine additions for depth on other teams and possibly could even start in a few places. Yet outside of Tamba Hali, the Chiefs lack a true playmaker -- at least someone that Todd Haley and company seem to believe in. Derrick Johnson rode the pine all last season and allowed functional, at-best average players continue to take the first-team reps. The results were embarrassing with the run defense against the Browns late in the season as the ultimate example (i.e Jerome Harrison gaining 286 yards).
Here we again, however, with the same core of players. If we couldn't get a pass rush last year or even the year before with several of these players, do we really believe that a new scheme changes all of that? Look, I hope as much as the next guy that it was all about coaching and gameplanning. I really do. I hope Crennel makes Demorrio Williams into a solid pass rusher, and that Derrick Johnson becomes the incredible athletic playmaker that we all dreamed he could be 15 seasons ago. But a great defense one man does not make (as Yoda might say), and I have a feeling we'll be crying foul over the lack of player movement along the front defensive seven at season's end.