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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Stevenson: Chiefs should be improved in ‘13

  • Training camp for the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs begins two weeks from Friday.
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  • Training camp for the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs begins two weeks from Friday.
    New head coach Andy Reid and his innovative coaching staff will welcome the squad when they report to St. Joseph, Mo.
    All of KC’s outdoor practices will be open to the public, free of charge. The Chiefs will play their first exhibition game on Aug. 9 at New Orleans with a 7 p.m. start.
    Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt finally cleaned house after the team's disastrous 2012 season. Reid will show the NFL just how important the head coach is; KC will be one of or the most-improved team in the AFC West Division.
    Coach Reid has left no stone unturned while upgrading a roster that has more talent than they showed last season.
    Besides the new players, Reid was undoubtedly instrumental in the hiring of John Dorsey as general manager. Dorsey is a savvy guy who will be a refreshing change from Scott Pioli.
    KC’s premier offseason move was the acquisition of quarterback Alex Smith from San Francisco. Smith is a mature 29 with eight years of NFL experience. Chiefs’ fans will be easy to please; Smith is certain to be a major improvement over Matt Cassel.
    Smith, however, might not live up to preseason expectations because he’s primarily a short passer. If KC is going to challenge Denver and Peyton Manning for the division title, Alex Smith will have to be a first-class NFL QB.
    The guess here is that Smith will be effective under the guidance of Reid and his coaches.
    Reid and Dorsey also filled a need that is underrated, but absolutely vital for successful NFL teams, when they added QB Chase Daniel as Smith’s backup. Daniel was a great QB for Missouri and he’s never had enough playing time to show what he can do in the NFL.
    Daniel will be a solid backup for the Chiefs.
    Reid will employ his West Coast offense that features short, quick passes, which will be a perfect fit for Smith’s ability. The coaching staff is going to retain the 3-4 defense because the current roster of defensive players was assembled with that scheme in mind.
    Reid’s new players are far too numerous to try and analyze them this early in the summer; nevertheless, offensive tackle Eric Fisher is the crown jewel of the recent draft. Fisher will start at right tackle, but he’s the left tackle of the future.
    Following the Chiefs in their exhibition games will be more entertaining than normal because of all the new players. Talented head coaches are invaluable in college or pro football and Andy Reid will prove that assessment to be true this fall.
    Page 2 of 2 - Kansas City will be an entirely different ball club from the inept group that played last season.
    Switching from Chiefs’ football to Royals’ baseball, Kansas City is a better team than they were in 2012. But the current roster just can’t get over the hump.
    Following Saturday’s win over Oakland, KC was in third place and just two games below .500 at 41-43; however, Detroit held a six-game lead over the Royals in the American League Central Division.
    The Tigers have more talent and balance than any other contender in the division.
    KC’s hitting just isn’t there. Johnny Giavotella is the most recent candidate to take over at second base; after getting off to a good start, he has faltered at the plate. It doesn’t look like Giavotella’s going to be the answer.
    Billy Butler at designated hitter is also off his game. When there’s a runner on first, Butler is a sure double play if he hits a grounder because he’s the slowest base runner in MLB. When he’s hitting Billy Butler is an asset, but he hasn’t been getting it done.
    KC’s starting pitching is still going well, but it has leveled off a bit in the last few weeks. James Shields has had several outings that didn’t match his earlier starts. And Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis, and Luis Mendoza have all had some rough games.
    If the Royals don’t come up with a starting pitcher who complements Ervin Santana and Shields, KC will have a difficult time climbing over the .500 mark.
    The bullpen has been stellar, led by closer Greg Holland. Kansas City’s relief pitchers are among the best in either league.
    Overall it’s the same old problem - not enough talented players. But KC is improved and the hitters could still get hot; however, the clock is ticking and Detroit is taking charge in the AL Central.
    Mac Stevenson is a longtime columnist on collegiate and professional sports in Eastern Kansas.
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