Happy training camp week football fans! It’s hard to believe that we are inching ever so closer to the start of the NFL season. To celebrate the occasion, I will bring you the biggest needs for the final AFC division, the AFC West. So, sit back and enjoy while I look at what these teams could possibly need after a wild off-season.
Kansas City Chiefs – Build Chemistry with New Receivers
All around the AFC West, it was a whirlwind of moves between adding and subtracting players. While most of the other teams got better (most notably Denver) there seemed to be one team that got a little worse, that being the Chiefs. Kansas City lost a big chunk of their core players including Melvin Ingram, Tyrann Mathieu and speedster Tyreek Hill. In response to losing such a big offensive piece in Hill, Brett Veach and the rest of the front office were active in the wide receiver market in free agency, adding former Steeler receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and former Packers wide out Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Then in the draft, KC added Skyy Moore out of Western Michigan. Training camp will be huge for not only the new receivers but for Patrick Mahomes to build chemistry with them. Even before training camp, Mahomes has been working out with some of the new weapons on the offense.
It will be the first time in his career that Mahomes will be without two game breaking weapons on offense (the other being Travis Kelce). I do see things eventually going well for them considering how good Mahomes and the KC offensive system is, but don’t expect it to be firing on all cylinders in the first few weeks of the season.
Las Vegas Raiders – Josh McDaniel’s to learn from his Mistakes in Denver
After letting go of Rich Bisaccia (for some reason), the Raiders went and hired Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. This won’t be the first time that McDaniels has been a coach out in the AFC West, as back in 2009 he was the head coach of the Broncos. Safe it to say, it did not go well as McDaniels only lasted 28 games going 11-17 with a bunch of drama on top of that.
McDaniels has fully loaded roster on both sides of the ball with Derek Carr, Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby among many other talented players on the Raiders roster. If McDaniels can keep things calm and be an adult, he can lead the Raiders in a very competitive AFC West.
Los Angeles Chargers – Don’t go for it on every fourth down
While the title for the Chargers is a bit of a joke, I am also really serious. While LA didn’t go for the most fourth downs last season (that belonged to the Lions who went for it 41 times), some of the times they did go for it, it wasn’t at the right time, and arguably it cost them a playoff spot last year.
The Chargers a loaded squad adding Khalil Mack and JC Jackson to an already loaded defense. Hopefully head coach Brandon Staley will be smarter about when to go for it on fourth down and not feel emboldened to go for it more considering he has what on paper is a stronger defense than last year.
Denver Broncos – Nathaniel Hackett being a Matt LaFleur clone
There has been a lot of change for Denver this past off-season. They fired their main coaching staff in head coach Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Their head coaching search would lead them to former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to helm the Broncos ship. Then the Broncos would give Hackett a brand-new franchise QB as the team traded Noah Fant, Shelby Harris and Drew Lock among multiple draft picks for Seattle’s former signal caller Russell Wilson. The reason why Hackett needs to be a Lafleur clone is because in his first season, LaFleur went 13-3 and won the NFC North with an elite QB. Hackett has the chance to do the same with Wilson, but it will be a much tougher road for Hackett than it was for LaFleur. The main thing that Hackett needs to avoid is the early season offensive funk that plagued the Packers as while Green Bay went 3-1 in their first four games, they also just averaged 21.25 points per game. The Broncos also won’t have much time in season to figure things out during the season as after they have Seattle and Houston, they have San Francisco in Week 3 and then their first divisional game on the road against Vegas. Training camp will be vital to the Broncos competing for a division title and that all starts with Hackett and the rest of the coaching staff.