If I had a press pass right now, my first question would go to Dwayne Bowe. If anyone on the team can be more deeply affected by the recent offensive acquisitions, it would be the man who Matt Cassel almost solely targeted last year. I'd like to ask him how he feels about the Chiefs having more viable threats for their passing game. I like to think that makes me a positive kind of person, since I know damn well he must be mighty pleased. There are probably a dozen more poignant or interesting questions I could ask, but now's not the time for that. Offseason is a wonderful, wishful-thinking period full of what-ifs, when everybody's still undefeated. So we're not talking about negative things today. I'm not making any angry criticisms of Branden Albert or Scott Pioli or Todd Haley. Not today. As someone way more famous than myself likes to put it, it's happy time, people. So today, we're talking about happy things.
The Chiefs made big moves to upgrade the offense in recent weeks, so there's plenty of optimism to discuss. The Chiefs not only spent their 2nd round pick on TE Travis Kelce, they also signed free agents Anthony Fasano and Donnie Avery. Donnie will earn $8.55 million for his three seasons in KC, averaging $2.85 a year. Now listed as the 73rd highest-paid receiver in the league, he'll find it difficult to make this a bad investment.
Not only is Avery a known deep threat, but in this system he should prove to be a productive check-down option for Alex Smith. He has the speed to get YAC, and the sheer amount of dangerous eligible receivers on the field should give him the space he needs to get open. With Avery and McCluster being viable check-down options, and with Jamaal inevitably catching more short passes than ever before, we can expect to see ordinary check-downs turn into big gains this year.
Donnie Avery played two seasons in St. Louis after the Rams drafted him with the 33rd overall pick in '08. He then spent a year with the Titans before played last season in Indy. 2012 was his most productive season, with 60 catches for 781 yards. Many, including Adam Schefter, believe Avery has the talent to break out as a big-time receiver. With all the new options for Smith to target, Donnie might get open more than ever before, but he may also catch less passes. That's just fine. He's a deep threat- the guy runs the forty in 4.2 seconds. Every play where he goes deep, he'll influence the game, whether he touches the ball or not.
Avery's speed is going to stretch the field, clearing out the middle for everyone else. This makes D Bowe more dangerous and gets him open more often. This limits the opportunity to blitz, especially with corners or safeties. It makes Jamaal even more deadly in the second level, and it does wonders for tight ends trying to find space in the middle of the field. If KC gets to Week 4 or 5 and Avery doesn't have 10 catches yet, don't worry about it. As long as the guys around him are putting up solid numbers, Donnie's doing his job. Like I said, though, for the reasons mentioned above, he may just break out and be the next big deal. This article explains why Avery will get comfortable quickly in this new offensive system, so fans can expect him to make an impact immediately.
Speaking of tight ends (like five sentences ago, but I'm bad with segues), the Chiefs hope that 2nd round pick Travis Kelce turns out to be a big deal, as well. Kelce is perhaps a new name to Chiefs fans, but not to Andy Reid. Travis' brother, Jason Kelce, is a consistently productive and gloriously bearded member of the Philadelphia Eagles. In Philly, older brother Luke (and his beard) thrived under Andy's well-groomed tutelage, starting every game of the 2011 season. While still with the Eagles, Reid got to know Jason's younger brother and took note of his potential.
I won't pretend to be an expert on Cincinnati University football, but this article's collection of highlights does a pretty good job of presenting Travis as a strong, gritty player with impressive athleticism. He should fit in well and get a chance as a starter quickly, if not immediately. Tony Moeaki, Anthony Fasano and Kevin Brock are the only other TEs on the roster. Brock played on the practice squad for six teams before playing in two games for Buffalo and recording 2 catches in total. After that, he was out of the NFL until the Chiefs signed him. That means Kelce's only real competition should come from Anthony Fasano.
Fasano started all but 4 games for Miami since 2008, but he's only averaged 2.3 catches per game over that span. Kelce is a proven run blocker with great hands, so why not give him a shot over the veteran? That is, if he looks ready. He'll be high on my list of things to pay attention to in the preseason games. I'll be rooting for him. If KC wants that deadly tight end duo that's proven to be so productive in recent years, they'll get it by starting Moeaki and Kelce. Start thinking up good duo nicknames now.
The Report will return soon with more on free agents, draft picks and any other breaking news. Stay tuned.