As I travel north from my home in San Antonio to the Kansas City Chiefs’ training camp at the University of Western Missouri in St. Joe, I find myself thinking about what I would like to see from the team as the 2014 season approaches.
As this is the first camp I’ve attended as either a writer or a fan, I’m a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of being able to spend time watching the team up close and evaluating where they are as a unit starting the 2014 season. Still, as a football analyst, there are some things I would like to see from the Chiefs. I narrowed it down to a top three.
#1: Will the Offense Be Better This Year?
This is first and foremost. I want to see passing—a lot of passing. I want to see quarterback Alex Smith airing out the ball and hitting receivers in stride. This team has to perform well on offense if it expects to have a change to finish with a winning record this season and it all starts here. I truly hope wide receiver Dwayne Bowe’s “Bombs over Baghdad” comments from last year’s training camp reign true this year.
#2: Is Comparing Dee Ford to Derrick Thomas Okay?
There’s been a lot of that going around lately. Dee Ford is wearing the late, great DT’s college number, #55. Dee Ford has a “wicked first step” as described by new teammate, Tamba Hali. But there’s more to being compared to the Chiefs’ most beloved hero than a quick step and the same number. Dee Ford has a lot to prove during this camp. He has to know that he’s likely not going to “start”—though the way the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton uses sub packages that’s doesn’t mean anything – but he needs to make an impact when he’s on the field. While practices open to the public are typically “vanilla” in nature, I’ll be very interested to see if there are any packages which has Ford, Hali and Justin Houston on the field together.
#3: Will There Be a New Kicker in KC This Year?
I know kicking competitions aren’t the most exciting things in the world. But if you think about how critical it is to have an accurate kicker with a “big boot” this could prove to be huge for the team. Incumbent place kicker Ryan Succop will be fighting off undrafted rookie Cairo Santos for his job. While Succop has made 84 percent of his field goals in his five-year career, Santos is coming off of a perfect 21 for 21 season during his final year at Tulane University. It will be interesting if “Mr. Irrelevant 2009” will remain in Kansas City this year or if the Brazilian former soccer player will win the job.
While there’s obviously a lot more than those three things to look for, those are the top three that will have my interest piqued. More than anything, I look forward to talking to other Chiefs fans—something I don’t get to do very often living in Texas—and enjoying watching real, live football.
If you’re at camp Saturday or Sunday, come find me and say hi. I’ll be the 6’4” guy wearing a Chiefs hat, a wife and two little girls in tow and a smile a mile wide on my face.
Follow me on Twitter @jfseibel