"Give him time."
That's a common phrase front office personnel lend toward fans and media pundits alike when discussing expectations for younger defensive lineman around the NFL. The position is a difficult one, so they say, to grow into. It's not as easy to make the jump to the NFL as a lineman as, say, a linebacker or running back. And the statistics usually prove that maxim to be true.
So Chiefs fans have waited. And waited. Glenn Dorsey was the defensive gem of his draft class. Tyson Jackson was a top three choice. Alex Magee was another high round pick. Just before them, the hope was Tamba Hali would provide something off of the line, but it wasn't until his position backed him up to outside linebacker that he found keeper value for the Chiefs. Before that, he was trade fodder.
So here we sit in year three for Dorsey and the second season for Jackson and Magee. Perhaps another year is needed for the latter two, but year three is the primary breakout year for defensive linemen in the NFL. And this should mean that Dorsey finally makes good on his former draft status and becomes a dominant force along the line. Also, under new Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel, the hope is that even Jackson and Magee become solid starters or rotating linemen who can fulfill their promise and disrupt opposing offensive lines.
But what if that doesn't happen? Is it time for another waiting period? Do we make excuses? I can come up with a few:
-This was the first year underneath Crennel. Schemes take time.
-Dorsey kept switching positions early in his career.
-Jackson and Magee are only two years in.
-If they had a better defensive tackle...
But this is true of every position on every team in the NFL -- that if certain elements were in place, so-and-so would perform better. If the schedule didn't play out this way, if this injury didn't occur, if this official would have gotten the call right. Every team must play with the cards in their hand and make it work every single season, and the Chiefs defensive line is simply no different. The job, simply put, needs to be done.
Somehow we've learned to treat the defensive line like a flower garden: "Oh, well, I hope some blooms show up this year, but if not, it's probably because we didn't get enough water. Maybe next year." My vote is to take action and stop waiting if this year doesn't pan out as hoped.