This summer has been brutal for Kansas City Royal fans. As we returned home from spring training in Arizona, I shared that by September we would not know the names of half the players on the team. Unfortunately, that statement came true.
Thank goodness football season is here. As the high school season concludes its third week, if Week 2 was any indication of how the season is going to progress, fasten your seat belt. Every team has a chance to win any game.
The NFL 2018 season will kick off Sunday. The preseason schedule may or may not have predicted what the season will bring. The talk is about how Patrick Mahomes is going to be the first franchise quarterback since Len Dawson. He is very talented and seems to be a good team leader. He can make plays that defy reality, but fans need to understand that few mortals can walk onto an NFL field and carry a pro football team.
The organization has done a good job of surrounding the second-year quarterback with weapons. Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce are going to be very helpful to the young quarterback. The running back position is solid with Kareem Hunt, possibly a healthy Spencer Ware and Damien Williams. The team has depth at the receiver position.
The offensive line stayed healthy during the preseason and seems to have played a little better as the preseason schedule continued. All the starters are veterans, with solid backups with NFL experience. This however is the unit that will make or break Mahomes as a first-year starter.
Special teams should be as good as ever under one of the best special team coaches in pro football, Dave Toub. Dustin Colquitt and Harrison Butker are a solid duo. The return teams will have plenty of candidates for return duties and the team once again kept extra linebackers and defensive backs to make the special teams good.
People forget that special teams are one-third of every football game. This year if the Chiefs are going to finish over .500 they need both the offense and special teams to be good every game.
That brings us to the defense. There has not been a kickoff yet, but Chiefs fans are most likely praying that things will turn around for a very shaky unit. In all four exhibition games it looked like the defense was a total trainwreck. The standard line is that most of the starters did not play for any time at all in the preseason. True but the players who did play looked lost.
The Chicago game was played by the regular season players. That game was lost by the defense. The secondary was nonexistent and there was absolutely no pass rush. These were consistent factors throughout last playoff season.
We keep hearing that the defense will be fine when Eric Berry gets back on the field. I agree the defense will get better if Berry gets back on the field, but the guy cannot play all 11 positions. Plus, Berry may not play at all because of all his injuries.
People now seem to think it might have been a bad move to get rid of Marcus Peters. I disagree. Kendall Fuller is a much better overall football player than Peters, plus he is a positive factor in the locker room. The secondary has no depth and that is why the organization has been spending the last eight days trying to piece together a secondary for the start of the season.
The past two years the team lost playoff games because they could not stop the run. Hopefully, the addition of Xavier Williams and Anthony Hitchens as well as the improvement of Reggie Ragland, can help in the run situation.
The real problem with the Chiefs defense is obvious – the team has no pass rush. Justin Houston has slowed down and probably the biggest bust of the team the last four years has been Dee Ford. The preseason games did not indicate the young guys Breeland Speaks and Tanoh Kpassagnon are ready to come in and help pressure the quarterback.
The fans are already going nuts about firing defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, but the defense needs weapons like those of the offense. The 2018 draft focused on defense, but no one has shown up to become a factor.
It is time to make a preseason prediction. I hoped that my early prediction for the Royals to win 75 or fewer games would be wrong. I think the Chiefs may go 7-9 this season and I hope I have to eat every word. I would love to have them prove me wrong.
• It is hard to believe the place the KU football program finds itself in. Wow!
• Kansas State must be breathing a little easier after their scare against a good South Dakota State team.
• MU got big numbers in the first game from Drew Lock. Hopefully the Tigers can protect and catch for the guy.
• Northwest Missouri State looks like it will still be a power in the Division II ranks following its first dominant win over rival Missouri Western.
• My quote of the week comes from the late NFL coach Bum Phillips: “You work to strengthen your weakest link, not to worry about the strongest one.”
– 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 email@example.com.