Sorely in need of another playmaker on defense, the Chiefs got their man in ProBowl cornerback Ty Law, a 12-year veteran who was given a five-year, $30million free-agent deal. That pickup, plus Larry Johnson's emergence as anelite running back in 2005 and the arrival of new coach Herm Edwards, puts K.C.a few steps closer to Super Bowl contention.
Yes, he's 32 and was battling an injury, but Law can still dominate receiversand have a huge impact on games. He teams with big-play cornerback PatrickSurtain to give Kansas City its best corner duo since Dale Carter and JamesHasty in the mid- to late 1990s. Law also gives defensive coordinator GuntherCunningham more confidence to run his exotic blitz packages. As defensivetackle Lional Dalton says, "We should get a lot more coverage sacks with Tyback there."
The Chiefscertainly need something to punch up their pass defense. Last year they tiedfor 26th in sacks (29) and were 30th in passing yards allowed (229.9 per game).The significance of the second stat is questionable because K.C. found itselfdefending several big leads, yet the players acknowledge that big plays killedthem. "We'd play consistently for stretches and then give up a 60-yard runor a long pass that changed the game," says Dalton.
That's whereLaw, with 46 career interceptions, should help. He's an instinctive, physicalcorner who positions himself well in zone and man coverage. Law downplays hisrole-"I didn't come here to be a savior," he says-but opponents won'tbe so quick to attack his side of the field.
Law's presencewill also have a positive effect in practices and the locker room. For one, hecommands the respect that goes with winning three Super Bowl rings with thePatriots. "He knows what it takes for a team to get to that nextlevel," says Surtain. That was evident after one training-camp practice,when Edwards, who played 10 seasons at cornerback in the NFL, pulled Law asideto show him how to funnel outside receivers into the middle in Edwards's Cover2 scheme. "The younger players could see how he asked great questions abouthis role in this defense, that he's really a coachable guy," Edwards says."He hasn't come in here acting like he has all the answers."
Law admits hisego took a hit before last season, when Kansas City passed on him and signedSurtain (seven years, $50.8 million). At the time, however, the Chiefs wereconcerned about Law's recovery from a broken left foot suffered in October2004, an injury that, in fact, nagged him last fall when he played for theJets. There were weeks when he had to miss one or two days of practice so hecould play on Sundays, and Law estimates that his foot was probably 75%healthy.
Nevertheless,Law still had 10 interceptions, tied for the NFL lead, and earned his fifthtrip to the Pro Bowl. This off-season he was able to work out regularly withnoted track coach Bob Kersee and trim his weight from 217 pounds to 204. With alighter frame, a healed left foot and the confidence gained from enduring whathe calls his "toughest professional season," Law is eager to give K.C.the boost it needs. "I was never 100 percent last year, and I still madethe Pro Bowl," he says. "If I can do that with one wheel, there's notelling what I can do now."
17 at Denver
8 at Arizona
22 SAN DIEGO
5 at St.Louis
12 at Miami
17 at SanDiego
23 at Oakland(S)
(T) Thursday (S)Saturday
NFL rank T6
Opponents' 2005 winning percentage .527
Games against playoff teams 6
AN OPPOSING TEAM'S SCOUT SIZES UP THE CHIEFS
> The Chiefshave a lot of older players-quarterback Trent Green, wideout Eddie Kennison,guard Will Shields-and they better win something this year because they'regoing downhill fast.
> Kennisonhas had a couple decent years, but he's been hurt a lot and is really only adecent No. 2 receiver.
> Failing tore-sign fullback Tony Richardson is going to hurt Kansas City. He's ashort-yardage guy who's a great blocker, a good receiver and a team player.
> The Chiefshave to play better defense. The better teams score a lot of points againstthem.
> Last yearLarry Johnson carried the team down the stretch. If he were to go down, itwould put a lot of strain on Green and a bunch of average receivers.
Ryan Sims, thefifth-year defensive tackle, has potential, but he doesn't seem to care aboutrealizing it.
Since coming tothe team as a fourth-round pick from Idaho State in 2004, Allen has been KansasCity's best defensive lineman. The 6'6", 270-pound Allen followed hisnine-sack rookie season with 11 last year, relying mostly on quickness anddetermination. Having worked to refine his technique, make better use of hishands and learn countermoves, he'll be even more effective this year. "He'shad a bunch of sacks over the last two seasons and doesn't have anybody aroundhim," says one AFC scout. "That says all you have to know abouthim."
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COACH HERMEDWARDS (39-41 in NFL), first season with Kansas City
KYLE TURLEY (NewAcquisition)
TAMBA HALI (R)(New Acquisition)
RON EDWARDS (NewAcquisition)
JAMES REED (NewAcquisition)
SACKS 1 1/2
TY LAW (NewAcquisition)
NEW ACQUISITION(R) Rookie (college statistics)
NFL RANK (RUSH/PASS/TOTAL) OFFENSE 4/6/1 DEFENSE 7/30/25
THE LONG ARM Even though Law was slowed by a foot injury in 2005, he still led the NFL with 10 interceptions.
CARRIE NILAND/U.S. PRESSWIRE
HELMET PHOTO BY DAVID N. BIRKWITZ