The summer is going by way to fast.
The British Open Golf Tournament is over which means three-fourths of the major golf tournaments are in the bag for the summer.
It did take the Royals until July 22 to sweep a series which came against the Minnesota Twins. A highlight of the season came with a inside-the-park three run homerun from Royals catcher Drew Butera in the final game of the series. The talk will now shift to trade decisions prior to July 31.
The Chiefs have just completed their first week of preseason camp and hope is around the corner with fall and football season. The Chiefs stat staff I partner with during the football season have had two major theories just prior training camp.
Firstly, the offense has all the tools to be top notch. Everyone is excited about the future of the second year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He is a gunslinger. They were excited about how well he throws the deep ball. In practice, he seems to glide around in the pocket and has a real knack for avoiding the pass rush.
Chiefs fans still need to be prepared for not just spectacular plays, but for the mistakes and misreads that come with inexperience. It will be a wild roller coaster ride with Mahomes during the 2018 season.
The offense has additional weapons this year. Travis Kelce is the seocnd best tight end in the NFL and can split out and play in the slot or as wide receiver.
Tyreek Hill has proven to be the real deal as a major threat deep, and he can run past DB better than anyone in the league. His raw speed is unmatched. Sammy Watkins adds to this potent receiving mix. If healthy, he can be the difference in an already good offensive team. This is the first time in years that the team has quality depth at the receiver position.
Demarcus Robinson and a heathy Chris Conley fill the receiving core with experienced depth.
The running back position is also solid and deep with Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West. With the return of Spencer Ware, the Chiefs will have three good backs who complement each other.
The offensive has the potential to be one of the most solid groups in the league. Eric Fisher at left tackle, Jordan Devey or Parker Ehinger at left guard, Mitch Morse at center, Laurent Duvemay-Tariff at right guard and Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle are all experienced and know the system. Knowing the system and having experience of playing together is key for every offensive line. With this unit, Mitch Morse needs to stay healthy.
Secondly, the defense must improve. It is anyone’s guess who will be in the season-opening starting lineup. The one great obvious factor about the defense this year is they are younger and faster. It was time to move on with new personnel on the defensive side of the ball.
Inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland will be much better in stopping the run. And speaking of stopping the run, the addition of Xavier Williams at defensive tackle will be a huge plus. The Chiefs have wanted both Hitchens and Williams for the last couple of years. Hopefully the pass rush will improve if Justin Houston and Dee Ford can stay healthy.
The young outside linebackers like rookie Breeland Speaks and second-year man Tanoh Kpassagnon can provide more speed on the corner is passing situations.
The real key on an improved defense is the return of All-Pro team leader Eric Berry. He is the heart and soul of the team for 2018. If Berry can stay healthy, the defense will be much improved in all areas.
At cornerback, Kenneth Fuller will do a great job and newcomer David Amerson will compete for a starting job along with Steven Nelson. There are some young rookie defensive back’s that get some playing time if they learn the system.
Special teams should be better than solid with Dave Toub coaching them. Kicker Harrison Butker turned out to be fine last year. Dustin Colquitt is one of the most consistent punters in the game. Anthony Sherman, Frank Zombo and DeAnthony Thomas are good backups who will provide experience to the special team units. These units will also be filled with young talent that can run to the ball and make things happen.
The AFC West Conference will be better this year with John Gruden as the new Oakland Raiders head coach. The Denver Broncos will be salty on defense again this year. The San Diego Chargers are picked by many of the gurus to dethrone the Chiefs in 2018 because of all the young talent the team has gotten the past two years.
It could be the first time in history if the Chiefs can win three AFC West titles in a row. The Chiefs have dominated the division during the past two years. If they can do that again in 2018, they have a real chance to three-peat. It has been a long summer for Kansas City sports fans. Hopefully the fall will revive our spirit.
Lou Shepard, former All-State receiver from Blue Springs, passed away last week. Lou played on three conference championship and three district championship teams and helped to take the Wildcats to two straight state semifinal games in the early 90s. He was a very good wide receiver at Mizzou during his college career.
Lou was also a star on a very good high school basketball team for two years. He was a winner through and through. He was classy with a constant smile on his face. His wife Amy and his wonderful children were equally as proud of Lou in his role as a husband and a father. Lou was a pillar of the Blue Springs athletic program and played a strong role in its rich tradition. God bless his family – R.I.P. Lou.
Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.