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The Chiefs will continue to utilize Tony Gonzalez as their main receiving threat.


AFC West preview:

Broncos: Counting on Cutler | Chargers: Super contenders? | Chiefs: Rebuilding mode | Raiders: Can only go up

The Chiefs are adopting a new offensive philosophy and it can't hurt after what went on in 2007.

Kansas City was first in the league in only one offensive category -- most plays for negative yardage. The Chiefs went in the wrong direction 125 times, 33 more than the league average. Other than that, they ranked 30th in points scored, 31st in total offense and dead last in rushing with 78 yards a game. Wouldn't you change philosophy?

2008 forecast
Vic Carucci : The Chiefs are too young, with too many questions (including a fairly big one at quarterback) to make a whole lot of noise. Mark this down as a rebuilding season. Prediction: 4-12

Thomas George : The youth movement has begun for the Chiefs. Severe growing pains follow. Prediction: 5-11

Pat Kirwan : The Chiefs, who finished 2007 with a nine-game losing streak, have a tough rebuilding program that will take time. Things could get worse before they get better, and the patient fan will want to see significant improvement in the second half of the season. Prediction: 3-13

Gil Brandt : No team in the NFL is in more of a rebuilding mode. The Chiefs lost nine straight to end last season and then traded away their best defensive player ( Jared Allen). It's just a waiting game to see how their rookie class pans out. Prediction: 5-11

» Chiefs' 2008 schedule
Fantasy file
Riser: Devard Darling
Darling has locked up the second spot on the depth chart and will start opposite Dwayne Bowe. After four seasons, he'll finally get a chance to prove himself at the NFL level.

Faller: Larry Johnson
Johnson has the tools to remain an elite runner, but questions about the quarterback situation and the team's offensive line could limit his overall level of production.

» Fantasy draft kit | More fantasy

Problem is Herman Edwards didn't get to change enough players to go along with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Gailey wants to build a ball-controlling, clock-eating running game that will make the Chiefs more physical and less dependant on the play of untested quarterback Brodie Croyle. To pull it off they'll need to see Larry Johnson rebound from a foot injury that limited him to eight games. They want to pound him between the tackles and then have Croyle use his athletic ability to rollout and throw on the run.

His primary target will again be tight end Tony Gonzalez, who caught 99 passes for 1,172 yards a year ago. The 12-year vet will be more often split wide to take advantage of his pass catching skills in the same way San Diego uses Antonio Gates and the Colts use Dallas Clark. That will save some wear and tear on him and also help young Dwayne Bowe, who caught 70 passes for 995 yards and 5 touchdowns in his rookie season last year.

Defensively the Chiefs went seven years without a Pro Bowl performer. Then when they finally got one last year in defensive end Jared Allen they got rid of him in the offseason because of a contract squabble. They did improve things with No. 1 pick Glenn Dorsey, the massive run stuffing nose tackle from LSU, and second round pick Brandon Flowers, who is expected to start at cornerback. So there are some reinforcements in place, just not enough of them yet.

On the hot seat

Brandon Albert was selected this spring with the 15th pick in the first round and he became the immediate starter at left tackle. That doesn't mean he's ready for the job, it just means the job was open. And a foot injury that has sidelined him nearly all of camp and the entire preseason does not bode well for his development.

Difference-maker

It better be Larry Johnson, because the whole return to a simplistic, power offense is built around him returning to be the player who rushed for 1700 yards each of the two seasons prior to 2007. If he doesn't, it won't make a difference what offense they run.

Hard road to hoe

After a season opener in New England they don't figure to be competitive in, the Chiefs get an early measuring stick of their rebuilding efforts when they play host to Oakland Sept. 14, travel to Atlanta the next week and then play host to Denver. If Herman Edwards' plan is working, the Chiefs should be competitive in every game but New England. If they aren't, it'll be a long season.

Chiefs will be better than you think if ...

Brodie Croyle proves he's at least a better quarterback than journeyman Damon Huard, who started ahead of him much of last season. That would mean he'd at least have taken a step forward.

Chiefs will be worse than you think if ...

They can't find some way to replace the 15½ sacks registered by Jared Allen a year ago. That's a lot to ask of a second-year player like Turk McBride, who will be playing his position, if not exactly replacing him.

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