|Connelly’s Top Ten: Dog Pound to Get Pounded||Red Sox Sign Reliever Edward Mujica||Daniel Bard Non-Tendered by Theo Epstein, Cubs||State of the Celtics: Atlantic Division in Sights|
The Denver Broncos and Kansas Chiefs recently acquired former Patriots personnel to help revive both AFC West teams. The Broncos picked up Josh McDaniels as head coach, and players Jabar Gaffney and LaMont Jordan. The Chiefs picked up Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel, as well as Scott Pioli as the new general manager. Many are wondering, who will have the most successful season?
McDaniels’ eight-year career with the Patriots gives him the proper knowledge and tools necessary to strengthen the Broncos. He first worked as a personnel assistant in the scouting department, having little influence. In 2005, the Pats were number two in the NFL in offensive passing while McDaniels was quarterback coach. He then took over as offensive coordinator, placing him in a position of power. During this period he worked with Gaffney, a wide receiver, and Jordan, a running back. McDaniels had one of the most productive offenses in NFL history during the 2007 season where Gaffney and others helped the Patriots achieve 75 touchdowns and 589 points. Although Jordan only played in eight games in 2008, he had 80 rushes for 363 yards with four touchdowns. Both Gaffney and Jordan know what McDaniels expects from them on the field and carry this knowledge with them to Denver. The Chiefs are also welcoming their new additions.
Cassel and Vrabel are huge assets to the Chiefs. Their offensive and defensive units are severely lacking cohesion, as well as team leadership. This past season, the Chiefs had a dismal record of 2-14. Cassel and Vrabel have experience working with and contributing to a Super Bowl winning team. Therefore, they know the importance in having both a strong offense and defense. After taking over for Brady as quarterback, Cassel only lost five games and had 21 touchdowns last season; very impressive for having not started a game since high school. Vrabel was a crucial player for the Pats’ defense. During his eight years as a linebacker, he had 55 total sacks and 417 solo tackles. The introduction of the fresh-faced quarterback and veteran linebacker to the Chiefs roster can only help to improve their stance within the NFL.
Scott Pioli is the third former member of the Pats to call Kansas City his home as the new general manager. Pioli worked extensively behind the scenes with player personnel for the Pats during 2000-2008, bringing in the top talent. Over the years, he was recognized and awarded for his achievements as a top NFL executive. So, which team will be most likely to succeed this season?
And the winner is . . . the Broncos.
Pioli is faced with the challenge of rebuilding the entire Chiefs program; it will take more than one season to strengthen the coaching staff, offense and defense. While he may have the eye for talented players, he lacks the ability to command the respect that only a coach can do on the field. McDaniels’ experience with the Patriots’ offense and defense has led to a successive climb towards the top. He has shown himself capable of improving and bringing out the best in his quarterbacks and offense, so there should be no doubt in his ability to help Kyle Orton. Also, as long as McDaniels works on re-shaping the defense with Mike Nolan, the Broncos will have a very promising season.