For those of you not thinking that the Chiefs have improved by leaps and bounds, a quick review (obviously subject to change) of the differences between this year and last year:
2008 - Thigpen/Huard/Croyle
2009 - Cassel
Some of you don't think that the 10-5 Cassel is a better QB than the 1-9 Thigpen. Be prepared to be proven wrong.
2008 - LJ/Kolby/Charles/Savage
2009 - LJ/Kolby/Charles/Williams
Basically the same in personnel - RB is a surprising strength of the team. I think the big difference between 2008 and 2009 will be the level of LJJ effort.
2008 - Bowe/Bradley/Franklin/Webb
2009 - Bowe/Engram/Bradley/Copper
Bowe and Bradley are solid WRs, but having a sure handed Engram at 2WR makes this WR corps suddenly the 2nd best in the division.
2008 - Gonzalez/Cottam
2009 - Cottam/Ryan/O'Connell
Our most obvious drop off in talent. Tony G. will be very missed.
2008 - Albert/Waters/Niswanger/Jones/McIntosh
2009 - Albert/Waters/Goff/Niswanger/Brown
No question, the 2009 OL is better. I still think were a ways away from "good" though.
2008 - Boone/Dorsey/Tank/Hali
2009 - Dorsey/Tank/Jackson/Magee
Again, no question. The 2009 DL is vastly improved over the 208 version, especially against the run. Most of our sacks will come from our OLBs, as we're going to primarily be running a 3-4.
2008 - DJ/Pat Thomas/Williams/Donnie
2009 - DJ/Zach Thomas/Williams/Vrabel
Big edge to 2009. Vrabel and Zach Thomas are a bit past their primes. But they're immeidate upgrades over what we had. Not to mention that Beisel's a far better reserve than Boiman.
2008 - Flowers/Carr/Leggett/Page/Pollard
2009 - Flowers/Carr/Leggett/Washington/Page/Pollard
Not much of a change. Washington will bring some height and speed to our CB corps, but he's too unproven and has to many questions to be considered a major upgrade.
I realy wish we could have found a way to upgrade Page at FS. He's a ballhawk, sure, but he isn't nearly tough enough to play FS in a 3-4.
2008 - Robinson/Charles
2009 - Lawrence
Lawrence is unproven, sure, but anything is better than another year of Robinson/Charles at PR/KR.
2008 - Barth/Colquitt
2009 - Barth/Succop/Colquitt
Too early to tell. My gut says we use Succop on kickoffs at least, which should give us some improvement there.
Slight Edge: 2009
2008 - Herm/Gailey/Gunther
2009 - Haley/Gailey/Pendergast
By virture of having an IQ over 50 and not being senile, our 2009 HC and DC defeat our 2008 HC and DC.
Big Edge: 2009
So, except for TE, we're a better team, or at least no worse, pretty much across the board. We were an immensely untalented team in 2008 (I still have no idea how we won that Denver game), and Pioli's doing the best he can to find legitimate starters at most positions.
With this talent and coaching staff, we should be looking at 6-8 wins. Which is pretty good for a young team trying to rebuild.