Article By: Tommy Minor / @universalchiefs / @ChiefsFocus
With the first preseason game only hours away, the tension is rising in the camp of the Chiefs. Granted, the level of tension is considerably higher for the fans of the Chiefs, but there is a conscious level of tension in the Chiefs’ front office. With the opportunity to make history by becoming the first team in two decades to be crowned back-to-back Super Bowls champions, it only adds to the tension associated with not having Chris Jones in camp with an extension in place, the loss of Charles Omenihu to a six-game suspension, Toney recovering from a cartilage injury, and no real salary cap to make moves with pending free agents.
To say that this is a pivotal season for the Chiefs is an understatement. They are not just chasing history in the sense of Super Bowl Championships; they are attempting to build a legacy that will propel them into the echelon of the most elite franchises in the history of the National Football League. Every championship team must overcome challenges to become a champion, and this year’s Chiefs’ team is no different. Besides the previously mentioned challenges, the next challenge for the Chiefs is to keep the remainder of the squad healthy through the entire preseason schedule. At this point, the defensive line cannot take another hit before the return of Charles Omenihu. With how thin the depth is at the defensive tackle position; the Chiefs will still be in a tough spot once Omenihu returns.
The other area of speculation is the receiver core. Yes. I know that this was the area with the most question marks last season, and that worked itself out well. The real question isn’t the depth at the wide receiver position, but the amount of time it will take Patrick Mahomes to build trust in his new targets and how they will mesh with the established core of pass catchers from last season. With the schedule the Chiefs have this year, it will be imperative that they get off to a great start. Many have the opinion that last year’s schedule was difficult for the Chiefs, I believe this year’s schedule is a lot tougher. The first game of the season is against the upstart Detroit Lions. Experts across the sports universe believe the Lions will be a playoff team this year, and it is very possible with the lack of QB talent in the NFC. Also, the Lions have made drastic improvements along their offensive and defensive lines that will keep them in contention for a divisional crown.
Not only will everyone be gunning for the reigning Super Bowls champs, but the Chiefs will also play eight games against teams with a legit top-line starter at the QB position. Also, let’s be honest here, the AFC is an absolute gauntlet with a variety of teams that can beat you in a variety of ways. Again, all the reason the Chiefs need to get off to a great start this season. Any setbacks could cost the Chiefs mightily in their pursuit of the #1 seed in the AFC. With that said, the margin for error is very thin for not only the Chiefs, but any team pursuing the #1 seed in the AFC this season.
The only other area of tension is how the offensive line is going to protect Mahomes. With two new offensive tackles, teams are going to test them often and early. Even though Mahomes is the last quarterback you would want to blitz, NFL defenses will be trying to find any edge that will give them a chance to stop the best weapon in the league. Thus far, the General Manager of the Chiefs has been able to successfully patch every hole the Chiefs have had going into the last four seasons. The early signs suggest the offensive line is going to be as strong as it has ever been for the Chiefs with Andy Reid as the head coach. That, in itself, is a reason to believe the Chiefs will be as lively as ever on offense. Also, let’s not forget that the interior line is one of the best cores in the entire NFL, and the running game is returning Isaiah Pacheco for his sophomore season along with the veteran presence of Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.