Chiefs fixing the ‘Cracks in the Foundation’ by adding Jeremy Maclin

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APRIL 2015 – The remake of the Chiefs is underway with trades, franchise tags and free-agent signings, and there’s one consistent theme—besides the required, “he’s a great player, but he’s a better person

Free agents think it’s a great opportunity to play for coach Andy Reid.

“I’m very excited to be here,” said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, the biggest splash among the Chiefs free-agent signings. “This is an awesome opportunity. I’m reunited with Coach (Andy) Reid and some of the guys that were on staff in Philadelphia, which is something I never dreamed could have happened. The fact that I’m in the situation is pretty awesome.”

Another former Eagles teammate, Paul Fanaika, also was glad to be back with Reid.

“It’s funny how things work out and (I’m) back to playing for Coach Reid,” Fanaika said.

Ben Grubbs, who was acquired in a trade, is happy to be in Kansas City.

“My initial thought was that I am going to a good situation,” he said. “Andy Reid is a great coach and has a good history. I know that the guys that he has with him kind of reflect his image, so that’s a plus for me.”

Sponsor-ChiefsWhen looking at landing spots, the leading free agents often have passed over Kansas City in the past. But not anymore.

“In the back of my mind, I was going stay in Philadelphia or come to Kansas City,” Maclin said. “Both of those situations made sense, and Kansas City made more sense.

“It’s not all about the money. This is the perfect situation with familiarity with what I came into the league doing and being able to come back to the area where it all started. (I’m) three hours from home, an hour and a half from where I went to college. It was kind of a no brainer for me.”

Fanaika agreed. “There was interest from a few other teams,” he said, “but I could just feel that Kansas City wanted me the most. It’s definitely good to come into a situation where you’re wanted. You know you’re going to be appreciated there. It just felt comfortable. (There’s) something about the idea of playing for Kansas City and living in this area (that) just seemed appealing to me.”

Even Ron Parker, a Chief in 2014, had a chance to go elsewhere but liked the idea of staying in Kansas City.

“During the whole process it never left my heart,” he said. “I was just dying. (I) wanted to come back here and was hoping that the Chiefs organization and John Dorsey could get it done.”

Following last season, it was clear the Chiefs’ two primary areas of need were wide receiver and the offensive line, and they’ve addressed both.

“All along we’ve known we had a couple cracks in the foundation last year and we’ve always wanted to strengthen the foundation,” general manager John Dorsey said. “On both sides you want a really strong foundation moving forward.”

There is some talent to build on for the Chiefs. Jamaal Charles is one of the league’s best running backs. Travis Kelce is an up-and-coming tight end. Alex Smith is a solid, if not elite, quarterback.

“I know quite a bit about those guys,” Maclin said. “Jamaal is a phenomenal talent. Travis is one of the great young tight ends in this league. It doesn’t stop there. You’ve got De’Anthony Thomas. They’ve got some young guys here that I’ve seen play a little bit, that I’m excited to have the opportunity to try to help them move their careers along and kind of give them some type of experience. It’s going to be fun.

“There are a lot of mouths to feed and only one ball to go around. So you just have to do what you’re asked to do and go out there and perform.

“(Alex is) a very intelligent quarterback. I think that he does a great job of commanding the huddle. I think he has great command of the team, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to play with him. He’s a tough competitor. Also, not only can he beat with you with his arm, he can beat you with his feet. I think that once we build that chemistry, I think that we could have a very good career together.”

Safety Tyvon Branch was signed away from Oakland and should take the place of Eric Berry. He’s excited about being in Kansas City as well.

“It’s a very aggressive defense,” Branch said. “They play downhill. They’ve got Justin Houston and Tamba Hali coming off the edges. That’s like a DB’s dream to have two guys like that rushing the quarterback. I’m just excited to be a part of it, however I can help. I’m just excited for this opportunity.”

The next step is the draft, but with the help on the offensive line and wide receiver, the options are a little more open. It will be Reid’s job will be figuring out where to fit all the new pieces. On the offensive side, look for Maclin to play a key role.

“The success he’s had in this league started right when he was a rookie,” Reid said of Maclin. “(He’s) one of those few guys that stepped in as a rookie and played well. That’s hard to do at that position, but he was able to do that. I think you’ll see even more than that with the leadership and the competitiveness on the field. He’s a top-notch person and top-notch player.

“It affects everybody anytime that you put good players out there. That’s what it does. The idea in the National Football League is mismatches and how you can utilize the whole field. He gives you the opportunity to do that.”

The official offseason is less than a month old, and Dorsey knows he has plenty of work to do.

“I think we’re improved as a team,” Dorsey said. “I feel good. I think we were lucky enough to acquire a really good football player that’s going to help us (Maclin). We are slowly building some depth.

“Our philosophy is we are never done. It’s an ongoing process. We will continue to look at every available scenario. If we feel it’s right for the organization we’ll move forward.”

And Reid will be waiting for whoever comes next.

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