Aaron Murphy, the Chiefs’ No. 1 running back, looks to have the race for touches in his grasp, even after a slight setback on Tuesday. The Chiefs are now busy sorting out a way to activate Alex Smith, their new quarterback who has been on IR since suffering a broken arm in Week 3 of the regular season. The season-long injury forced Smith to miss nearly half of 2018, but he still finished in the top-10 among passing yards in the NFL.
But these absences have given more playing time to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. With an extra load on those two pass-catchers, none will have the same pressure to be dependable as Chris Dorsey and Cody Hall (in addition to Greg Joseph).
Nonetheless, Chiefs fans will rightly note that these three showed enough promise last season that it will be difficult to bring them back to the bench this season. Chiefs coach Andy Reid has placed as much of an emphasis on proper recognition as production with these two. Dorsey showed his ability to be versatile in his relief role after Hill’s knee injury, but he faltered on the quarterback rush more often than not. Hall struggled as well, but his ability to rush the passer with the best of them is notable.
It’s clear Dorsey is ready to test himself when given a chance, and he gave Chiefs fans hope at this year’s NFL scouting combine when he slipped on numerous plays. Dorsey has only been playing quarterback one season (and playing it less well than before), but he has a natural ability to run with the ball. The Chiefs could potentially have a true weapon in the backfield if Dorsey can use this ability to his advantage.
This wouldn’t be the first time Kansas City has come away with a star player who wasn’t given a chance: Kareem Hunt was granted a release just before training camp in 2017 and had a terrific rookie season before suffering another off-field incident in November. But Hunt’s rush offense was better than Dorsey’s, and that was less of a problem than the lack of production by the quarterbacks on the roster.
Dorsey’s athleticism also seems to be an advantage on the defensive side of the ball. Dorsey spent six seasons with the Chargers as a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, helping two of the NFL’s most dynamic defensive backs in Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward.
Dorsey spent two seasons with the Chiefs as their defensive backs coach, but his most impactful time in the profession came with the Jaguars in 2014 and 2015. In those two seasons the Jaguars’ D paired all-star A.J. Bouye with strong safety Tashaun Gipson, who combined for 16 interceptions and 50 passes defensed.
Dorsey could revitalize those same playmaking abilities at cornerback with Demarcus Robinson, Steven Nelson, Darrelle Revis, Kendall Fuller and Makinton Dorleant (overall in 2018 the Chiefs’ corners totaled only four interceptions), but he should definitely take comfort knowing that on the other side of the ball the Chiefs will have their top D-linemen up front in Chris Jones, Justin Houston and Dee Ford. With Smith at the helm the Chiefs should also be able to top 40 sacks this season.
As the Chiefs’ roster tries to get everyone on the same page, Dorsey’s job is to get a two-time Pro Bowler ready to go. He should focus on getting his quarterback ready with a simpler offense than last season’s. That isn’t to say his defense will resemble that of the defending champions’ (though GM Brett Veach has also tried to make the Chiefs a bit more balanced), but Dorsey has shown that with a little time under his belt he can compete at the highest level.