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Unknown, But Important Contributors – Kansas City Chiefs Edition

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As division rival go, we Bolt fans usually despise the Chiefs the least. There are (of course) Chiefs we know and hate, like Jamal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. There may be another name or two that Bolt fans come to dislike for the next several years.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The 2-3 Chiefs come off their bye to visit a stadium they have not won in since 2007. Do not let the record fool you. Andy Reid took personal responsibility for misusing Jamal Charles in the season opening loss against a pretty bad Titans team. That game is the worst the Chiefs have played this year. Their other two losses, against the Broncos and 49ers, came via a combined point total of 12 (7 against Denver, 5 against SF). An additional three FG's and one TD in eight quarters of football would make this team 4-1 and looked at much differently. Such is the difference between great and meh in the NFL.

Despite many free agent departures in the off-season, particularly on the offensive line and defensive secondary {insert evil grin here}, the talent level on this 2013 playoff team remains high. This is a dangerous team, with an efficient (if not flashy) offense and one of the best pass rushing teams in the league with Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

 

UBIC – Offense

Travis Kelce, TE (#87) – Kelce is a perfect example of a UBIC. Last year’s 3rd round draft choice out of Cincinnati was brought in to bring a pass-catching TE to complement Anthony Fasano’s all- around ability as blocker and receiver. A knee injury cost the former Bearcat his rookie season and he came into 2014 completely forgotten about except among the KC faithful. Now healthy, Kelce leads team in targets (27) receptions (20), receiving yards (274) and TD receptions (3).

The knee injury has not showed any signs of slowing down the 6’5", 255 pound TE. Working the middle of the field, he is faster than most LB’s and much bigger than most safeties. He is exactly the kind of match-up problem that GM’s and offensive minded coaches like Andy Reid are looking for in a TE in today’s NFL.

With Reid being one of the higher profile "West Coast" offense coaches in the league, look for Kelce to get targeted often in the Chiefs short pass, ball control oriented passing attack. Similar to the way the Bolts use Gates or Green, the Chiefs line up Kelce in a variety of locations looking for a favorable match-up. So far in 2014, that has worked more often than opposing defenses would prefer. If he keeps up the pace this year, he will not be unknown going into 2015.

 

Honorable Mention

?????, WR (#??) – Sorry to be vague, but with Donnie Avery out of the game with a hernia issue, I’m not too certain who will start opposite Bowe as WR2 for Kansas City. It will probably be Junior Hemmingway (#88), as he has more targets and catches this season than the other possibilities. Those possibilities include AJ Jenkins (#15) who has been used (mostly without success) on some gadget plays and shorter patterns. With the bye week though, it is possible that the Bolts will see De’Anthony Thomas (#13) opposite Bowe or in the slot.

Thomas has not been used in the passing game yet this season and is officially listed as a running back on the Chiefs roster. So far, in 2014, he has only returned punts and gotten one rushing attempt. I would not put it past Reid to come up with a wrinkle to catch the Bolts by surprise. Thomas, who had an interesting and varied college career (he was even a QB for a while), would fit the bill as a "wrinkle", if he can catch passes.

 

UBIC - Defense

Josh Mauga, ILB (#90) – Mauga is another perfect example of a UBIC. One of the best LB’s in Nevada Wolfpack history, he was projected as a 2nd to 3rd rounder in the 2009 draft in his senior year prior to tearing a pectoral muscle. The injury required surgery in December 2008 and he went undrafted. His NFL career began with the Jets. Signed as an UDFA in 2009, he spent the next 4 years alternating between the IR list, the practice squad, the active roster and the streets. Before this season, he had not been a regular starter in the NFL.

The Chiefs took a small chance on him in the last offseason, signing him to a $645,000 contract for one year, without any money guaranteed. The low risk move has paid off so far this season. Mauga leads the team in tackles with 33. The 6’1" 250 left ILB has plugged holes effectively in 2014 and has shown good tackling technique in wrapping up ball carriers. He does not have enough speed to be an asset defending the pass, but does have NFL level savvy in diagnosing plays and enough quickness to get to where he needs to be. He does make good use of his low center of gravity to get winning leverage on tackles and maintaining position, but has not yet mastered the art of rapidly disengaging from a block.

Look for Mauga close to the line of scrimmage in the middle, looking for running backs to bring down. This will be a key matchup for the right side of the Bolts line, or anyone used as a lead blocker. For runs between the tackles or off tackle to Fluker’s side, Mauga will be looking to make a play. So far this year, he has. Defensive coaches love guys like this, grinders that work hard, do not take plays off, and make the most of their ability when healthy.

 

Honorable Mention

Hussain Abdullah, FS (#39) – Abdullah is an interesting player with a varied skill set and one that the Chiefs are really starting to like a lot. He did get some national attention earlier this year, when he was flagged for excessively celebrating after his Pick 6 in a beatdown of the Patriots. The "celebration" was Abdullah giving a little bit of a different flavor to a religious display than those more common in the NFL. The Excessive Celebration Penalty
Who knew Arrowhead faced Mecca?

The NFL later apologized for the penalty and publicly stated that it should not have been called.

Abdullah sat out 2012 to make the Haj to Mecca after his contract with the Vikings expired at the end of 2011. The former UDFA had clawed his way to the top of the Vikes’ depth chart at safety in 2010. For the Chiefs, this was 2013’s low risk signing that has paid dividends. Abdullah plays everywhere in the defensive backfield and is a solid contributor on special teams. He is 3rd on the team in tackles this season and has also defended 6 passes. Look for him to be all over the field on Sunday, trying to help his team win.