This article is part of our Team Previews series.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
By Luke Hoover
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
In Todd Haley's second season as head coach, the Chiefs made a dramatic turnaround, surging from worst to first in the AFC West. The six-game improvement in 2010 was sparked by the continuing influence of "the Patriot way" that GM Scott Pioli has brought to Kansas City.
That influence, in the form of new coordinators Charlie Weis (offense) and Romeo Crennel (defense), can be linked to big jumps in the statistical success of the offensive and defensive units. Under Weis' tutelage, quarterback Matt Cassel went from looking like a bad trade in 2009 to playing like a Pro Bowler in 2010. Additionally, the playcalling of Weis and the talents of running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones led to the league's best rushing attack. All told, Kansas City surged from 25th in total offense in '09 to 12th in '10 thanks largely to the improvement of Cassel, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe's breakout season and the revelation that was Charles' 6.4 yards per carry.
As much as the offense improved, the defense actually made bigger strides in 2010. With Crennel running the show, the Chiefs gave up only 20.4 points per game, or just over six points fewer than in 2009. That touchdown-a-game difference gave them the 11th-best scoring defense last season, a far better ranking than their '09 finish of 28th. Crennel's unit found success because of a more aggressive defense that led to the emergence of playmakers, including