Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 8/2/12
It is unfair to give the Chiefs' offense anything but an incomplete grade for last season. The offense was built around the dynamic talents of Jamaal Charles and his spit-take-inducing running style, lost to a torn ACL in Week 2, and a passing game with timing-based short and intermediate routes.
 
After tight end Tony Moeaki was lost with a torn ACL in the preseason and Jonathan Baldwin was ineffective during his first year, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was left to shoulder the load.
 
And the not-so-sure-handed Bowe can not be the only offensive threat.
 
The defense carried the Chiefs throughout the year, with Romeo Crennel’s unit the bright spot in a dark season for the Chiefs.

Crennel’s midseason promotion to head coach provided the spark to ruin the Packers’ quest for an unblemished record.
 
While Crennel’s attacking defensive group, reminiscent of his championship days in New England, has done nothing but improve.  Will the Foxborough-tinged organization transform their offense into something resembling that of the 2003 Super Bowl winners?
 
If new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's group can show the same ability play above their talent-level that he coached out of two talent-stricken offenses in Cleveland and Miami, it will be a result of these dynamic duos.  
Running Backs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis  
The quality that Daboll’s offenses have shown is one that I value highly in a coordinator: a system tailored to the specific strengths of a team. While Daboll’s offenses in Miami and Cleveland had few similarities, they were both designed to disguise weaknesses and enhance strengths in the backfield.
  Jamaal Charles  
Under Daboll, Reggie Bush broke the 1,000-yard barrier for the first time in his career. A runner cast in a similar mold, Charles, is superior between the tackles due to better vision and awareness while Bush prefers to bounce a play outside and work in space.
 
Bush was used as a featured back to keep the disappointing Daniel Thomas on the bench, but Daboll deserves credit for making an every-down player out of a player previously considered limited to change-of-pace duties.
 
Charles can also become an every-down back. But should he?
 
Charles is not quite the receiver Bush is, but sports a phenomenal 6.1 career average per carry. In New Orleans, Bush only averaged 3.9 yards per carry and increased his average to 5.0 under Daboll. But why run the offense’s most explosive player ragged when he is no longer carrying the dead weight of Thomas Jones on his back?
  Peyton Hillis  
Hillis was acquired by Daboll’s Browns when trading Brady Quinn (now the Chiefs’ backup quarterback) to Denver. Daboll moved Hillis from fullback to tailback permanently, and Hillis responded in the 2010 season by leaving behind defenders in a wake of broken tackles at 4.4 yards-per-carry clip, with 11 rushing touchdowns and 61 receptions.
 
Pro Football Focus has rated Hillis’ 2010 season on par with that of Charles in their annual elusive ratings, a ranking which always found Jones ranked last. If Hillis returns to form, his ability to grind a defense into a fatigued pulp will give the fresh-legged Charles a greater chance to create splash plays.
 
Despite his fall-off in the Madden-cursed ensuing season, Hillis is in a position to return to form. He has a quarterback who will be throwing quite a few check-downs and screens. In front of him is an offensive line which can open enough of a hole to allow Hillis to reach the second level, where smaller defenders struggle to bring him down.
 
Most importantly, he will be paired with a talented running mate, whose skills compliment his. Both backs will be employed strategically to exploit their personal strengths: Daboll knows how to put the personnel ahead of the playbook.
  Tight Ends Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss  
Another influence from Daboll and Crennel’s time in Foxborough is the affinity for in-line tight ends who are assets in run-blocking. Although not as flashy as New England’s current pairing, the Chiefs’ duo of Kevin Boss and Tony Moeaki are the jumper cables that will bring the offense back to life.
  Kevin Boss  
After a seemingly disappointing season in Oakland where he was expected to post gaudy numbers, Boss arrives in an offense that coincides with his strengths. As a run blocker, Boss renders dead roster weight out of blocking specialist Steve Maneri. Boss can gain leverage on defenders, driving them to open off-tackle holes and allowing running backs to easily reach the second level.
 
When Boss runs routes, he has a similar game a less-athletic, Falcons-era Tony Gonzalez. He runs sharp routes, gaining separation from faster defenders to make plays in the flats and over the middle.
 
When he works downfield, he rarely gets over the top on a defense. Instead, he uses his 6-6 frame to work the seam and outmuscle smaller corners and safeties. He will never be coveted in anything but the deepest fantasy leagues, but he will become a great weapon for a quarterback like Matt Cassel.
 
That is not to say that there will not be a viable fantasy option at tight end on the Chiefs’ roster.
  Tony Moeaki  
As wide receiver and former first round draft choice,Dwayne Bowe remains absent. And former first-rounder (2011) Jonathan Baldwin has had a spectacular first week of camp. Another big, strong receiver who plays similarly to Bowe, Baldwin has filled the void that Bowe has left.
 
If Bowe stages an extended holdout, then he will struggle to catch up on Daboll’s complex playbook. Moeaki will be ready to assume a large chunk of his production.
 
A step slower, albeit bigger, Moeaki is more of a move tight end/H-back that will complement Boss - see the trend here?

Moeaki ran a 4.69 40-yard dash out of college, and possesses a very quarterback-friendly catch radius. He can make spectacular grabs and has adequate enough athleticism to split off the line.
 
While catching only 47 receptions during his rookie campaign, his 11.8 yards per reception average indicates big-play potential that can evolve into a more consistent threat after acclimating to the speed of the pro game.
 
Although his run-blocking is merely average, when playing the slot he can quickly reach a linebacker and hold his block long enough for Charles to slice through the crease.
 
When team lines up in “12” personnel with Moeaki, Boss, Baldwin, Bowe, and either Hillis or Charles, defenses will be forced to play both the run and pass. With the multiple looks and wide variety of play calls available in this alignment, this year our next dynamic duo will try to make an offensive Voltron out of these parts.
  Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll and Quarterback Matt Cassel  
Here we arrive at the brain trust: the two men who decide the fate of this offense and whose fate will be decided by their offense’s performance. Cassel has the most to worry about in this situation. Other than a Pro Bowl season in 2010, he has not fulfilled the expectations that he built when the Chiefs traded a second round pick to get Cassel in the red and gold.
 
Working in his favor is the similar background that he shares with his new offensive coordinator.
  Brian Daboll  
Daboll’s career really began with the new millennium, landing a spot on the New England staff as an assistant. Upon his promotion to wide receivers coach in 2002, Daboll’s tutelage under Charlie Weis laid the building blocks for Daboll’s ascent to become the lesser-known Patriot wunderkind.
 
Although overshadowed by fellow Weis pupil Josh McDaniels, who coordinated the Pats' offense in which Cassel originally made his mark, Daboll is just 37 and could set himself up to become the league’s next big-name coordinator.
 
Daboll demonstrates the coaching prowess gleaned from Weis (who now resides a short drive away in Lawrence at Kansas University) by creating his system to maximize the strengths of his personnel. Last season, Daboll coaxed career performances out of the disappointing Bush and journeyman quarterback Matt Moore.
 
By using Moore’s strong but erratic arm, Brandon Marshall’s ability to out-muscle defensive backs and rack up yards after the catch, and Bush’s elusiveness in the open field, Daboll combined the strengths of the three to work in tandem. The results were a 6-3 record in the Dolphins’ last nine games.
 
In Cleveland, Daboll amended his offense to become more accessible to Brady Quinn, now the current Chiefs' backup. Quinn played his best pro football under Daboll in 2009. Which, admittedly, is not necessarily saying much. Like Weis at Notre Dame, Daboll created game plans designed to put Quinn in a position to make smart decisions and protect the ball.
 
High percentage throws predicated upon a strong running game echoes the formula that Weis used in his lone season in Kansas City, sending Matt Cassel to the Pro Bowl.
  Matt Cassel  
Upon his arrival in Kansas City after leading the Tom Brady-less Patriots to an 11-5 record, Cassel was reunited with GM Scott Pioli, another Pats transplant. He was slated to run Chan Gailey’s offense, renowned for elevating the play of its quarterbacks.

Before they could begin, former head coach Todd Haley stripped Gailey of his title and later fired him, absorbing offensive coordinator duties.
 
After a disappointing season, Charlie Weis assumed the offensive coordinator position. Weis built a run-heavy offense that allowed Cassel to play within his element.

He responded with a 27:7 touchdown to interception ratio and 6.9 yards per attempt, the same YPA as new division rival Peyton Manning finished with in 2010.
 
Haley stripped Weis of play-calling duties during a woefully inept loss to the Ravens in the playoffs, leading to his departure. He then hired Bill Muir as an offensive coordinator, mostly in title only, and finally received his pink slip.
 
Recent quotes from Cassel revealed a subtle jab at Haley, saying that he appreciated hearing only “one voice” in the offense's meeting room. Without a meddling head coach changing plans on a whim, look for Cassel to become more efficient running the only offensive scheme in which he has succeeded.
 
Success, however, in his own way: low turnovers, low risk and limited responsibility.
 
While Cassel will never be a Canton-bound quarterback, he can lead the Chiefs to the playoffs by playing within himself.

By building a system around his players, instead of inserting his players into a system, Daboll has given Cassel an opportunity to prove his mettle.
 
The statistic that will best dictate Cassel’s longevity will be in the win column. A playoff run might be the only way to keep Pioli from taking a quarterback in a deep draft class that includes Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, Logan Thomas and Tyler Wilson.
 
Whether the Chiefs’ smothering defense is enough to overcome a division filled with three other, more talented quarterbacks and position Cassel to win the AFC West remains to be seen.

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