Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bigger Things.

Well my loyal followers, my time, with this blog, is coming to an end.

If this is a permanent thing, I just don't know. In the meantime, however, I have taken my talents to a larger audience. I am now a junior author for the Fansided Chiefs blog Arrowhead Addict.

My reason for stopping Tip of the Arrowhead is simply time. I don't have as much time as I used to, and this lack of time has, in my opinion, hurt the very blog I love. I have not been able to provide as much insight and opinions as I used to, and I don't find enough hours in the day to maintain the blog to a level at which I am satisfied. Because of those reasons, it believed it was time for me to fly.

But all is not lost! I will continue writing articles, this time for Arrowhead Addict, and I hope my talents will reflect positively in the posts I bring to this new venue. My first post on that sight can be found here.

I really enjoyed my time writing on this blog, and I am sure that I will continue to go back and look at the archives at the things I have written from time to time. I hope you want to do the same.

It was a joy, and I hope you continue to follow me on Twitter and on Arrowhead Addict.

Thanks for the memories.

Friday, July 6, 2012

What's With Bowe?

I don't know about you guys, but this summer is flying by. And maybe it's because it's been flying by for me - mostly because I've been so busy - that Dwayne Bowe's franchise tag date has snuck up on me.

As Joel Thorman was so kind to remind us today, Bowe has 10 days to reach a deal with the team that extends beyond this upcoming season. If by July 16th, Bowe and the team have not reached a long-term deal, Bowe will begin the season on the one year deal and all the money that goes with it that he is entitled to due to the franchise tag rules. As Thorman pointed out, "they can work on a longterm deal in the future but July 16 is the deadline to have something done prior to the season."

I can't imagine Pioli will want his number one wide receiver on a one year deal getting paid so much (the franchise tag will award Bowe approximately $9.5 million for the 2012 season unless something else is worked out). I also can't imagine Pioli overspending for a player. But that poses the question, will the Chiefs really be overspending for Bowe?

As Peter King from Sports Illustrated pointed out in a tweet last month, Bowe has averaged 71 receptions, 985 yards and 7 TDs over his career in Kansas City. Those numbers rank among the best of all wide receivers in the same amount of time. He is a true number one receiver and it raises the concern of how lost the Chiefs offense would be without Bowe in the lineup.

Pioli has constantly pointed out that free agency is a mutual act; both parties have to want each other and the situation has to be ideal for those parties. I don't see how the Chiefs couldn't want Bowe to return, but with time continuing to tick away until the deadline, one has to believe that either Bowe's agent is asking for a lot or the interest isn't there on Bowe's side.

Quotes you read from Bowe will disagree with that, but what else is Bowe supposed to say? Players that complain about their teams and try to force themselves out usually end up hurting themselves on the open market. Bowe is to savvy for that. But is he savvy enough to recognize the great situation he has in Kansas City?

I certainly hope so.

In other news, there is another important date approaching, this one concerning this very blog. Something might be happening where my current readers (all two of you) might be able to read my works on a much larger medium. I will keep everyone updated with what is going on, but it could be the start of a very exciting time for my hobby of writing about the team I love.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is Matt Cassel Really the 22nd Best QB?

According to to Ron Jaworksi's recent quarterback rankings, Matt Cassel is the 22nd player on the list. It should be mentioned that there were only 30 players on the list - since Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have no accumulated stats yet and are expected to be starters, they were left off the list; also, Tim Tebow had the honor of being the only back up QB to make the list.

But is Cassel really that bad?

I know Chiefs fans aren't that fond of Cassel at times, but to have Cassel in the bottom third of all NFL quarterbacks, just a year removed from a Pro Bowl season, seems a little low in my opinion. Here is Jaw's breakdown of his opinions on Cassel:

“Cassel is at his best in a managed offense that features run personnel, run formations and the play-action pass game. Play-action primarily gives the quarterback 'either-or' defined reads. Cassel is very good in that scenario. ... Cassel throws the ball better to the inside -- digs, hooks and throws like that -- than he does to the outside. That’s the way it is with quarterbacks with limited arm strength.

“In addition, the deep throws often come on first down. Play-action is almost always featured. As is six- or seven-man pass-protection schemes. ... You give Matt Cassel a solid run game, a good offensive line, room in the pocket to deliver the football comfortably, and he can be a very efficient NFL starter. That’s what he is. He’s a function of the team around him. And he needs those pieces in place working effectively.”

This seems like a hard but fair assessment of Cassel, but is being a "function of the team around him" a reason to drop him so low on the list?  

To answer that, I suppose we'll have to look at the list itself. The eight players listed below Cassel are: 

Tim Tebow: 30
Blaine Gabbert: 29
Christian Ponder: 28
Matt Flynn: 27
Matt Moore: 26
Kevin Kolb: 25
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 24
Mark Sanchez: 23

While I'm sure there are many other fans from other teams wondering how Cassel is ranked above some of the quarterbacks listed above, I can see the case for Cassel to fit into this group. Now for the eight quarterbacks listed higher than Cassel: 

Carson Palmer: 21
Sam Bradford: 20
Andy Dalton: 19
Matt Hasselbeck: 18
Josh Freeman: 17
Alex Smith: 16
Cam Newton: 15
Matt Stafford: 14

First off, how is Stafford only ranked 14? He threw for over 5,000 yards!

Second, Cassel's place on this list makes much more sense after seeing the players ranked ahead of him. Sitting on those 21-14 are 6 first round draft picks, 5 of which were number one overall picks (Palmer, Bradford, Smith, Newton, Stafford). If Stafford is only ranked 8 spots ahead of Cassel, I feel much better about Cassel's spot - granted, 8 spots constitutes nearly a third of the list. 

Jaw's ranking of Cassel probably has a lot to do about the question marks revolving around him. He has the offensive weapons around him to succeed, yet he struggled mightily last season, only throwing one more TD than INT before being lost for the season in a defeat to the Denver Tebows Broncos. 

If Cassel wants more respect, like to not be ranked the lowest of any AFC West quarterback, then he has to put his money where the Chiefs mouth is. While Cassel might not have the talent to crawl up too far on this list by the end of the season, I would trade wins for projected quarterback ranking slots in a heartbeat. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Will It Take: Chiefs Playoff Hopes

In 2010, the Chiefs made the playoffs due to a number and variety of reasons. A few of these reasons include: an improved offense lead by the league's best rushing offense and an efficient Matt Cassel behind center; a surprisingly stingy defense that included two rookie safeties - Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis - as well as a resurgent Derrick Johnson and ever-present Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr.

The team had been on the threshold of figuring things out towards the end of 2009, and due to a combination of hard work and good luck, the Chiefs found themselves in the playoffs for the first time since the 2007 season.

But things can change in a hurry in the NFL.

The constant that helped lead the team to the playoffs was the constant that kept the team out of the playoffs in 2011: injuries. In 2010, the Chiefs were one of the luckiest teams as far as injuries were concerned. A year later, the Chiefs regressed towards the mean, in perhaps the cruelest of fashions. Losing Charles, Berry and Moeaki in consecutive weeks would handicap any team, but the Chiefs weren't eliminated from the playoff race until week 16.

Resiliency is something you cannot accuse the Chiefs of not possessing. But 2012 is a new season, and new keys to success exist. Not all of these will need to be reached, but if the majority are not, the team cannot hope to rebound back to the postseason.

Matt Cassel

Everything will start and end with the play of Cassel this season. He is the quarterback, and he will dictate how the offense performs. In 2010, Cassel played in 15 games completing 58.2% of his passes for 3,116 yards, 27 TDs and 7 INTs. In 2011, Cassel only appeared in 9 games before being lost for the season, completing 59.5% of his passes for 1,713 yards, 10 TDs and 9 INTs. Let's hope 2011 is not the Cassel Chiefs fans will see in 2012.

Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki

Two years ago, Charles and Berry were Pro Bowlers and Moeaki was a tight end on the rise. Now, all three players are returning from ACL tears and subsequent surgeries. While we would love for them to all return to their pre-injury levels, there is no guarantee that will happen. The season will greatly depend on how well they perform after missing the majority of last season.

Stanford Routt

Routt is replacing a fan favorite and vastly underrated Brandon Carr on the right side of the defense this season. I say underrated because he was never talked about much outside of Kansas City until free agency hit. He was then given a massive contract by the Dallas Cowboys. Routt, brought in as a free agent from the Oakland Raiders, will be asked to fill that void. Chiefs fans knew what to expect out of Carr, but Routt still has to prove he can fill Carr's shows after his disappointing performance last season as the number one cornerback on the Raiders defense.

Brain Daboll

It will be Daboll's responsibility to figure out what our offense will look like. Bill Muir, the offensive coordinator from last season, never seemed to figure that out, and Todd Haley is no longer here to have his blue print on the offense. The Chiefs have a lot of parts to their offense: a good and now deep wide receiver corps including Dwayne Bowe (assuming he signs his franchise tender) and Jonathan Baldwin, both former first round draft picks. He also has Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis in the backfield. Accompanied by a solid offensive line, Daboll has a lot of weapons at his disposal, and it will ultimately come down to Cassel (Above) to determine the success.

Romeo Crennel

Many people don't think about there being a lot of pressure on Crennel, but there is. Crennel was hired as the safe choice and to offer continuity to a team on the verge of being a perennial playoff contender. But I have kept it no secret that Crennel's individual coaching performance throughout the last three games left a lot to be desired. Even in wins, decisions were made that reminded us all that he hadn't done this for a while. The defense performed very well under Crennel, and that is perhaps the reason Pioli had enough confidence to let Crennel remain defensive coordinator, but game situations seemed to give Crennel trouble. Hopefully that was just the rust of not being a head coach for a couple of years and Crennel has a better grasp on those scenarios this season. But Crennel has a lot of talent, and he will be held ultimately responsible for the outcome of this season.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Something to Prove

Scott Pioli has built the current Chiefs team the way that he intended to. Bringing in the right personnel into the right system and the right schemes. He kept the pieces from the former regime that met that criteria and wasn't afraid to make examples of ones that were not. While some of Pioli's rebuilding came through free agency - Steve Breaston, Eric Winston, etc. - he concentrated his efforts on building his team in April via the draft.

While Pioli's 2009 draft class has been deemed by many sports analysts as a failure, I don't think many people are aware of how much Pioli's following draft classes have yet to prove.

Many were quick to crown the 2010 draft class a success after their first season. And why not? The team was resurrected from the depths of the AFC West to take the division crown for the first time since 2003 and the contributions of the rookie class - from Eric Berry to Javier Arenas, Dexter McCluster, Tony Moeaki and Kendrick Lewis - the rookie class was praised far and wide. Two years later, however, this class still has a lot to prove.

Eric Berry, after a Pro Bowl rookie season, still only has that season to hang his hat on after spending last season on Injured Reserve with a torn ACL. The same is true for Tony Moeaki. After promising rookie seasons, no fan can be certain if they'll be back to their rookie form. A lot can change in a season, and the NFL is littered with stories of what-could-have-been with players who's promising careers were cut short by injury, or how they were never the same. They have something to prove.

But above all, it is the 2011 class that has something to prove. Only one player - Justin Houston - lived up to expectations. The rest - either because of lack of opportunity or because of lack of production - did not. But even Justin Houston has the same statistical doubt as Berry and Moeaki; only having one season under his belt.

The face of doubt is best represented by Jonathan Baldwin. Rodney Hudson, the Chiefs 2nd round pick, was never given an opportunity last year and will have the chance to prove himself in 2012. But Baldwin was given the chance to compete for a spot right away, and instead got his hand broken by Thomas Jones (who I can't help but blame for doing something so stupid and then being so awful during the season. If you're going to get into training camp fights with teammates and cause injuries, then you have to put up Steve Smith type numbers). Baldwin then went on to a lackluster season that only featured a few brief glimpses that showed the type of player he could be.

The 2012 season will be a very important season for the Chiefs. Everyone from the General Manager, to the Head Coach, to the 2010 and 2011 draft classes, to the quarterback, to the team itself has something to prove. And Chiefs fans who believe in their team want to be proven right.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Everyone already knows that the one year anniversary of the Joplin, MO tornado came and went. Everyone knows that it was an emotional time for the town that had seen so much suffering over the past year and that the term rebuilding, while hopeful, was still in the infancy stage of the process. President Obama gave the commencement for Joplin High School's graduation, a class that had spent it's senior year in a state of shock and taking classes in a section of Northpark Mall, the main shopping hub in Joplin. 

Normal is something that everyone in the city wants, and in a small way, that's what the Kansas City Chiefs tried to bring to Joplin last week. While a professional sports team visiting a city for anything other than a road game seems everything but normal, it's what the Chiefs brought with them that is key. 

They brought with them memories of the devastation they saw last year, in the wake of the disaster, but more importantly, they brought people. People to build homes for those that lost them more than a year ago, people to help, slowly but surely, rebuild not a town but a community one house at a time. That might not seem like a lot when you see what's still left of the damage when you travel down Range Line, or see many empty blocks worth of destroyed trees that are all that remains of what used to be houses and businesses. But when you are just seeking normal, that is a lot.

I'm from the Joplin community, and attended college in Joplin. I am thankful for the Chiefs, the Rams, and all the other countless volunteers that went unpublished that have taken the time to help out Joplin. Thank you.