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.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chiefs Realignment

It's no secret that the city of Los Angeles wants a professional football team. They are the second largest city, have the second largest market, two NHL teams (counting Anaheim as part of LA), two MLB teams, two NBA teams, an MLS team, but the most popular sport in America is inexplicably absent from this list. But LA is looking to change that.

LA, of course, have had their NFL teams in the past. The Raiders, Chargers and Rams have once called the city of Angels home, but both chose to leave for other markets. And while no current NFL team is looking to move and it would be very difficult to create a new team in the seemingly perfect 32 team format, LA is being proactive in their approach to lure a team to the city.

Companies have already committed millions of dollars to the building of the stadium and in the promotion of bringing a team to the city. The state is endorsing it because of the high unemployment rate California has suffered over the last few years during this recession. There is even a website that goes over every detail include economic impact and artist renderings of the stadium.

I know what you're thinking: what does this have to do with the Chiefs?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Winner Winner, Cassel Dinner

Mike Ransdell

The love affair between Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel and new Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has perhaps reached its climax over the past week. But with every love story, there is a beginning that needs to be told.

It was clear that Bill Muir's time had come. If Muir hadn't retired, he would have been let go from his role of offensive coordinator. Muir was never able to get a grasp of the Chiefs offense to where it was effective or efficient. The fans new change was coming, they just didn't know who.

Then along came Daboll. 

When Daboll was first hired, his mission was not to fix the quarterback like Charlie Weiss. His mission seemed far different from that; it seemed that Daboll was hired for the purpose of praising and defending Cassel.

In the Chiefs press conference after Daboll was hired, the new OC said "I have a lot of confidence in Matt Cassel. I've watched him on tape and I know the player." Cassel responded with "I’m excited. I think it will be a good fit for us. He’s very detailed. He was very meticulous about his work and he expected a lot out of his players. I was always impressed with him as a coach.”

The compliments didn't stop there. Anytime that Cassel's ability at the quarterback position was brought into question - and many times when they weren't - Daboll would come to the rescue and defend his starting quarterback. That's what an offensive coordinator is supposed to do, but Daboll might have officially beat the Cassel drum a little too hard this time. 

The conversation started off as many of Daboll's do concerning Cassel, repeating how he has a lot of confidence in him. What came afterwards is interesting, accurate, slightly manipulative, and downright humorous. 

“He’s been a winner. He’s had two 10-plus win seasons and I did a study just this offseason about 10-plus-win quarterbacks, which is what you’re defined by. There have been nine of them the last four years that have had two or more 10-plus-win seasons. Matt is one of them, the others being (Tom) Brady, (Drew) Brees, (Aaron) Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli (Manning), (Joe) Flacco, (Matt) Ryan."

The rest of the conversation was the usual pro-Cassel rhetoric, but the above paragraph is what has captured the attention of the Chiefs fans community. While the statement above is true, let's tap the breaks a little bit and evaluate.

Cassel had no problem saying he believes to be in the same group as the rival quarterbacks from his division - which includes Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer - and frankly, you want that kind of confidence from your quarterback, even if it's faked. But for your offensive coordinator to put you in the same echelon as the best quarterbacks in the NFL is either sweet or stupid.

Brady, Brees, Rodgers, both Mannings and Roethlisberger all have rings. Flacco has more playoff wins then he knows what to do with. Ryan is the only other quarterback on that list besides Cassel to not have a playoff win. But to Cassel's credit, he's only had one chance compared to Ryan's three (yes, that was sarcasm). 

So Cassel has two 10-win seasons over the past four years, but one playoff appearance. This is unthinkable when you associate Cassel's name with the others on the list, but once you see that Cassel has a career 28-26 record, you see that Cassel is almost the exception to the rule. 

In my opinion, it's time to put up or shut up for Cassel. I want to see him succeed, but I don't want to hear about how he is better than how he played last year. Having a new offensive coordinator every season can't be easy, and is surely detrimental to Cassel's development within an annually-changing playbook. But until Cassel shows me something other than what I remember from last season, I, along with all other Chiefs fans, am going to be skeptical. 

As the King once said: a little less conversation, a little more action please. 

Chiefs sign Alex Tanney

I know I've gotten internet now, but unfortunately the installation wasn't accompanied by an increase of free time. This week should be different so, of course, I'd like to start with the biggest Chiefs news from the past week: the signing of Chiefs savior Alex Tanney.

Tanney, in his collegiate career at Monmouth played in 47 games at Monmouth completing 1,205 of 1,756 pass attempts (68.6 pct.). He set an NCAA Division III record, throwing for 14,249 yards and an NCAA record with 157 touchdowns with just 30 interceptions.

How he didn't make the Bills roster after being signed to their rookie training camp is a mystery to me. I mean, how does the ability to hit both cross bars of a field goal post from 50 yards out not translate to being able to hit a moving target through zone coverage?

Obviously, 'savior' is the wrong word for Tanney. I'd be surprised if he makes the team past training camp - maybe a shot at the practice squad. But at least the Chiefs can say they have the Harlem Globetrotter of quarterbacks.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Catching Up


The little red 'X' on the bottom right hand screen of my laptop has been replaced with a little globe intersecting the two equally tiny computer screens. This - for those who have also spent days of helpless boredom staring at you screen unable to steal a nearby neighbors internet and settle for playing spider solitaire until you finally just fall asleep at the keys - is perhaps the sweetest sight one can see; it is the modern equivalent of laying eyes on the Lost Ark or a double rainbow.

That feeling is what I finally experienced in the first time in two weeks (in a related statement, I wouldn't wish SuddenLink on my worst enemy; OK, maybe a Raiders fan).

My fortnight spent in the Stone Age was tough. I used up all my cell phone's data plan within what seemed like the first couple of hours. I was only able to catch snippets of what was happening with the Chiefs, and the world in general, when I felt brave enough to visit sites in the know while at work.

If any of you thought I fell off the face of the planet, you'd be close. I'm in West Virginia. I'll be here all summer but will (thankfully), be back in SEC country - meanwhile, I have returned to Big 12 country (huh?) -  come September, hopefully before the NFL season kicks off at Arrowhead.

But now that I am back up and running, I will quickly try to catch up on some of what has been going on or discussed about the Chiefs during my excruciatingly long (alright, I guess it wasn't that bad) hiatus.

Personnel Preference

  • Barry Richardson signed with the Rams.
    • Let them deal with him.
  • Wallace Gilberry's going to the Bucs.
    • Hate to see him go, but Allen Bailey rendered him expendable.
  • Dwayne Bowe is still holding out.
    • Bowe is wanting to get paid, but Pioli is never quick on opening up the purse strings. Neither is Clark. Expect this to continue late into the Summer.
Organized Team Activities (OTA's)
  • Jonathan Baldwin's catch
    • Baldwin's described "alley-opp" type catch in OTAs from Cassel over the coverage of new Chief Stanford Routt was all the rage on Twitter from media covering the team last week. While I didn't see the catch nor will I ever see the catch since it was apparently not recorded, I just have to say that Baldwin's catch reaching around Brian Dawkins and propping the ball against the back of the now-retired safety was the best catch I ever witnessed live. When that catch was immediately compared to the one last week on the wow-scale, it got me really excited about last year's first round pick. And with Bowe holding out, it's time for Baldwin to do some catching up of his own with Cassel to finally develop some chemistry that was lacking last season.
  • Peyton Hillis talking about Jamaal Charles
    • Hillis is saying all the right things when it comes to talking about his future counterpart, Jamaal Charles. Charles looks to be back soon, but Hillis is seeing the snaps. While Hillis might be genuine in his talk about how he is looking forward to being the Robin to Charles's Batman, I'm not quite sure if I believe him. He is on a one year contract and is looking to showcase his skills this season. It's hard to impress, however, when you're paired with 6.4 ypc Charles. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Hillis fan and am really looking forward to seeing him in the backfield for the Chiefs dragging defenders with him; but who could be happy knowing you're going from the pride of Cleveland in 2010 to Thomas Jone's replacement?
  • The two tight end sets
    • In a copycat league, the two tight end set looks to take fire in the NFL. What Bill Belichick started in 2010 but what no one seemed to notice until 2011, having two athletic, pass-catching tight ends in your offense creates mismatches all across the board. Now, many following the Chiefs like to look at the Kevin Boss-Tony Moeaki tandem and say that's the Chiefs version of Gronkowski-Hernandez. Let me just go ahead and say that as much as I like the Boss-Moeaki combo, it's no Gronk-Hernandez. At least not yet. While I think that the brakes should be tapped on such comparisons, I do like to see how well Boss is doing in OTAs and how quickly he is impressing the coaching staff. Boss is not only a complement to Moeaki, but he is also insurance to the oft-injured tight end out of Iowa. 
  • The back up QB situation
    • It seems that the only quarterback battle the Chiefs will have this offseason is for that of the 2nd  spot. This primary backup position will be a competition between second year player Ricky Stanzi and newly acquired former first round pick Brady Quinn. The Chiefs have been alternating the quarterbacks between second and third team offenses during OTAs just to see what each quarterback has. This battle for the backup will probably be talked about more than it really needs to be, but the result should be interesting. 
I think that about catches me up. If you have any other topics you want me to discuss, just hit me up in the comment section. 

It's good to be back.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

They Kept Us In It

First of all, I would like to bring attention to my lack of internet activity over the last week. As I mentioned on Twitter the other day, I have recently moved for the summer and am living in an apartment without internet yet (which will change at the end of the month; logging on to tonight met me with several surprises around the sports world) and am not comfortable enough to attempt any log ins at my new internship.

Now that I have established why I haven't been updating my blog, or at least my Twitter account, recently, I want to get into a certain aspect of the Chiefs 2011 defense that caught my eye. On the Chiefs official website was an article talking about how Kansas City was looking for an offensive rebound in 2012 compared to that of 2011. The article cited the Chiefs offense last year only accounting for 12.3 points per game. It was their lowest-scoring season since the strike-shortened 1982 campaign.

I could go on and on about how gawd-awful the Chiefs offense was last season. They went from 22.9 points per game and leading the NFL in rushing to a team that looked anemic at the quarterback and running back position all season. But what I also realized is that despite being 31st in the NFL in scoring, the Chiefs still won seven games.

In comparison, the other teams from 26th scoring offense and under all had less wins than that, which makes sense. If you can't score points, you can't win games. And as much as this NFL truth was in effect for the Chiefs offense, the Chiefs lived by that adage on defense.

One would expect the Chiefs win total to be somewhere around the three - four range just based off the offensive numbers, however, the Chiefs defense was 12th in points allowed per game, averaging 21.1. That's still about an eight point difference between average points scored and points allowed (not in the good way), but the defense seemed to come up big on the biggest stages and when the offense needed them the most.

Looking ahead to 2012, the defense is without Brandon Carr, but Stanford Routt is a reasonable replacement, Eric Berry plans on being back from surgery, and if Dontari Poe is worth the draft slot, then the Chiefs defense should be a force to be reckoned with. And they will benefit greatly if the Chiefs offense can sustain drives and keep the ball away from the opposing team's quarterback.

Easier said than done, I know, but if the team we had last year could win seven games and compete for a division title late in the season, then there's no reason to believe the 2012 Chiefs shouldn't be able to do the same.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Fourth Quarter of 2012

This is the homestretch, the part of the season that will most likely determine whether the Chiefs are a contender or a pretender. The last four games are vital for the Chiefs, especially being a part of the AFC West. No member of the AFC West has ran away with the division since LaDainian Tomlinson was breaking rushing touchdown records. So let's examine the ever important final four games of the season.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9
@Cleveland Browns

The Chiefs finally start a quarter of their season against a team that wasn't participating in the playoffs last season. Better yet, it's against the Cleveland Browns. I'm not sure what to expect from the Browns this coming season; after all, there offense is set to look much different than it did last season. Colt McCoy wasn't given a lot of opportunities to succeed, but recently drafted Brandon Weeden looks to take over at the quarterback position where he will have fellow first round pick, running back Trent Richardson, to hand the ball off to.

The last two times these teams met, was in 2010, when the Chiefs followed up their Monday Night Football victory over the Chargers with a win (barely) over the Browns, 16-14. The season before that, in 2009, the Browns won in KC 41-34. But the Browns are coming off a 4 win season, and if the Chiefs can't beat the Browns, even on the road, then 2012 is just not the season.

2011 Browns: 24th Passing (193.1 ypg), 28th Rushing (95.7 ypg), 2nd Pass Defense (184.9 ypg), 30th Rush Defense (147.4 ypg); 4-12 record

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16
@Oakland Raiders

This is the second time the Chiefs and Raiders square off in 2012. And just like the first time, I can't stand the Raiders.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23
Indianapolis Colts

This is one of the games that I'm most looking forward to as a Chiefs fan. The Colts are visiting the Chiefs, who square off for the third straight year, and the second straight year when Peyton Manning won't be the opposing quarterback of the Colts. Last year, when the Chiefs came from behind to win against the Colts 28-24, the opposing quarterback was the very forgettable Curtis Painter. In 2012, it will be Andrew Luck, possibly the most anticipated rookie quarterback of all time.

And not only do the Colts have a new quarterback, but a large chunk of their offense will be new faces as well. Joining Luck on offense will be fellow Stanford Cardinal Coby Fleener. Another tight end joining the team is Dwayne Allen from Clemson. The Colts also drafted running back Vick Ballard, and receivers T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill. I was particularly a fan of the Colts draft this year and am also anxiously awaiting to see what Andrew Luck will look like in the NFL. Especially in his rookie year on the worst 2011 team in an expected Chiefs victory.

2011 Colts: 27th Passing (187.2 ypg), 26th Rushing (99.6 ypg), 15th Pass Defense (227 ypg), 29th Rush Defense (143.9 ypg); 2-14 record

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30
@Denver Broncos

A fan cannot ask for a bigger regular season finale than this. The last two AFC West Champs battling it out for a potential playoff spot. And while I would prefer it to be at Arrowhead, the Chiefs will prove themselves mightily if they can win against a potentially very good team on the road. Manning was rumored this offseason to prefer playing in a warm-climate venue. Well, there's not a lot of places colder than Denver in late December, and I hope his bones are a little more achy than they usually are when these two teams meet. Is it too much to ask for? Perhaps. But it will be a heck of a game to anticipate.

Predicted Chiefs Record through 17 weeks: 10-6
Being Bold: 12-4

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fun With Rushing Numbers

The Chiefs have been known as a running team for the better part of the decade. First came Priest Holmes, then Larry Johnson inherited the backfield; and in 2009, after Johnson was released, Jamaal Charles started emerging as a star, and became a full-fledged one the next season. 2011 was a dropoff, due to the injury of Charles and the decline of Thomas Jones, but 2012 looks to put the Chiefs back in the rightful place among the league's best rushing teams.

In 2010, the Chiefs had the #1 rushing attack in the NFL. I fully expect the Chiefs to revert back to the form of old, and a big reason will be the free agent addition of Peyton Hillis. But before we get too deep into Hillis's importance, let's examine some numbers that will be important.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Third Quarter of 2012

Although Todd Haley is no longer the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, the quarter approach to a season is a popular and can be an effective one. In my evaluations of the Chiefs first two quarters (click here for the first quarter and here for the second quarter), I have the Chiefs reasonably at 4-4, and boldly at 6-2, through 9 weeks of the season. Here's how the third quarter of the year looks:

Week 10: Monday, Nov. 12
@Pittsburgh Steelers

The Chiefs will start their third quarter with a second consecutive Prime Time game - this time on Monday night  - on the road. And their opponent is one that the Chiefs have gotten to know pretty well. The Chiefs will face the Steelers for the third time in four years. In 2009, the Chiefs pulled one of the biggest upsets of the year, defeating the defending world champions in overtime at Arrowhead 27-24 (it was also the game Andy Studebaker had two interceptions). In 2011, in a Sunday Night football game at Arrowhead, the Chiefs came up short, losing 13-9 after their potential game-winning drive ended in another Tyler Palko interception (you should take away from that game the fact the Chiefs were still in the game with Tyler Palko at quarterback). 

This season has a little added rivalry between the two clubs, with former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley now the offensive coordinator for the Steelers. Haley will want vengeance on his former team, and he'll know the team's strengths and weaknesses. The Steelers have been nothing but consistently good over the years, and there's no reason to believe they will be anything less than that this season. This is the third straight quarter the Chiefs will face a 2011 playoff team, but the Chiefs seem to save their best prime time.

2011 Steelers: 10th Passing (253.4 ypg), 14th Rushing (118.9 ypg), 1st Pass Defense (171.9 ypg), 8th Rush Defense (99.8 ypg); 12-4 record

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18
Cincinnati Bengals

Facing their second straight 2011 playoff team in as many weeks, the Chiefs will need to make a statement about what kind of team they are. That's because the Bengals and Chiefs aren't that different of teams. There are striking similarities between the upstart 2011 Bengals and the upstart 2010 Chiefs. Both teams surprised most everyone on their way to a playoff appearance, and both teams had a lot of young talent. 

What's so impressive about the Bengals 2011 season is that they were the third team out of the AFC North - behind the Ravens and Steelers - and were lead by a Andy Dalton, a rookie QB, and A.J. Green, a rookie WR. They added to that offensive core by signing free agent RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis from New England. But like most surprises, success isn't a guaranteed constant. If the 2011 Bengals are like the 2010 Chiefs, then they will go through a bit of a regression this season, which could be the result of the all-to-common sophomore slump that some quarterbacks experience (see Bradford, Sam). With this game being at Arrowhead, I am looking for the Chiefs to make a positive statement. 

2011 Bengals: 20th Passing (208.8 ypg), 19th Rushing (111.1 ypg), 9th Pass Defense (211.6 ypg), 10th Rush Defense (104.7 ypg); 9-7 record

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25
Denver Broncos

Finally, this is it. The Mother-of-All-Games this season. Fans will be reserving their tickets to this game as soon as they become available, because of the importance of this game, and who is at the helm of the opposing team. Peyton Manning, the most sought after free agent in history, seemingly scorned the Chiefs as a suitor and chose their division rival, the Broncos, instead. It will be the first time Manning enters Arrowhead as a Bronco, and you would be crazy not to believe the Chiefs will respond likewise. It will also be the third straight 2011 playoff team the Chiefs face.

A lot has been said since Manning joined the Broncos about how Romeo Crennel has always planned defenses that have limited and held Manning to that of an average quarterback. If the Chiefs hope to win - remember, they couldn't even beat Tim Tebow and the Broncos in Arrowhead last season - Crennel is going to need another one of those genius game plans that put the Chiefs defense in a position to succeed against one of the greatest QBs of all time (and probably one of the best in the NFL for 2012 if his injuries heal properly). It's going to be tough, but I like the home team in this one.

2011 Broncos: 31st Passing (152.1 ypg), 1st Rushing (164.5 ypg), 18th Pass Defense (231.5 ypg), 22nd Rush Defense (126.3 ypg); 8-8 record

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2
Carolina Panthers

The Chiefs third straight home game in the quarter comes against the Carolina Panthers. Dreadful in 2010, the Panthers were awarded (?) the number one pick in the draft, which they used on QB Cam Newton. Despite the doubts surrounding Newton's selection, he went on to become Rookie of the Year, leading the Panthers to 6 hard-earned wins. 

Being in different conferences, the Chiefs and Panthers don't meet very often, last squaring off in 2008 with a 34-0 Carolina victory. And although the Chiefs have vastly improved since that time, no one should sleep on the Panthers in 2012. I truly believe they are a year or two from being a very good team, and could surprise a lot of people by contending in the very competitive NFC South this coming season. I don't, however, think they are at the level to win on the road at the kind of environment Arrowhead offers quite yet. 

2011 Panthers: 13th Passing (239.3 ypg), 3rd Rushing (150.5 ypg), 24th Pass Defense (246.8 ypg), 25th Rush Defense (130.8 ypg); 6-10 record

Predicted Chiefs Record through 13 weeks: 7-5
Being Bold: 9-3

The Second Quarter of 2012

Oops. I just realized I didn't finish my evaluation of the Chiefs schedule.  I was wanting to accomplish the task before the draft, and then, well, I forgot about it. Oh well, it gives me something to do now. For my evaluation of the Chiefs first four opponents to start 2012, click here. For the next four, just look below.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7
Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens return to Kansas City in one of the most important matchups of the season for the Chiefs. The Ravens have been among the class of the NFL over the last few seasons, and have been a perennial playoff contender since John Harbaugh landed the head coaching position. If the Chiefs have it their way, this will be an early playoff preview.

This game, however, might be beyond what the Chiefs can handle. The team has talked about trying to go back to the ways of 2010, when the Chiefs won 10 games and the AFC West. But in that season, their home playoff game was against the Ravens, and there won't be enough years in my life to heal the pain of watching that 30-7 blowout loss. Much like back then, it will depend on the play of Matt Cassel. He was a big reason we lost two years ago, maybe he can be the reason we win the second time around.

2011 Ravens: 19th Passing (213.9 ypg), 10 Rushing (124.8 ypg), 4th Pass Defense (196.3 ypg), 2nd Rush Defense (92.6 ypg); 12-4 record

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14
@Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The last time these two teams played in the regular season, it was November 2nd, 2008. The Bucs won in a 30-27 overtime thriller that Chiefs fans remember for this play and Bucs fans remember for a 21 point comeback to force OT. But these two teams couldn't look any more different four years later. Tyler Thigpen (Thigbone) ran the Chiefs offense while Jeff Garcia ran the Bucs. The differences might start at the QB position, but they don't stop there. Only a handful of either 2008 team remains with the current unit.

As far as changes are concerned, I don't think any team added to their team this offseason more than the Bucs. They signed Vincent Jackson from the Chargers, Eric Wright from the Lions, and Carl Nicks from the Saints in free agency, and then picked up an additional pick in the first round of the draft, having S Mark Barron and RB Doug Martin add to new head coach Greg Schiano's team. They might be coming off a 4 win season, but they are only one year removed from a 10 win season, and the talent is in place to be able to compete for the NFC South immediately. This will be a tough test for the Chiefs, but I like their odds against the Bucs.

2011 Bucs: 16th Passing (228.1 ypg), 30th Rushing (91.1 ypg), 21st Pass Defense (238.4 ypg), 32nd Rush Defense (156.1 ypg); 4-12 record

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28
Oakland Raiders

The second divisional game of the year for the Chiefs will also take place at Arrowhead, and this time against the hated rivals from Oakland. It hasn't been often over the last 10 years that the Raiders have finished ahead of the Chiefs in the AFC West, but that was the case last season. But just like the Raiders we all know and love, they blew their opportunity to supplant the Broncos for the division championship and lost their final game against the Chargers to end the season 8-8, still unable to break the .500 record since their Super Bowl appearing season.

It's hard to argue that the Raiders don't have the talent to succeed. Then again, it's never been about the talent in Oakland; it's been about everything else. With a new coach (which is almost a tradition) and a new GM in the Silver and Black, the future is unfortunately looking bright for the Raiders. The present, however, is still bleak, and I'm looking for the Chiefs to avenge their home loss to the Raiders last season that kept them from claiming the AFC West title as well.

2011 Raiders: 11th Passing (247.6 ypg), 7th Rushing (131.9 ypg), 27th Pass Defense (251.4 ypg), 27th Rush Defense (136.1 ypg); 8-8 record

Week 9: Thursday, Nov. 1
@San Diego Chargers

Much like last season, the Chiefs and Chargers will meet for the second and final time by the halfway point of the season. And also like last year, the two team's second meeting will take place in Prime Time. The Chiefs and Chargers kick off on Thursday night for the world to watch, and if it's anything like the last TWO prime time games these teams have squared off in, then Chiefs fans will be in for a heck of a ride. The disadvantage this year is that the game does not take place in Arrowhead. The Chiefs haven't been very successful in San Diego over the Philip Rivers years, but the Chiefs are looking to stop that trend here.

Predicted Chiefs Record through 9 weeks: 4-4
Being bold: 6-2

Thursday, May 10, 2012


The following is my long and rambling opinion on concussions in the NFL (you know, since everyone else is doing it). Read if you have nothing else to do or just really enjoy reading.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Look to Chiefs Rookie Mini Camp

Chiefs Rookie mini-camp begins this Friday, May 11th, and lasts through the 13th. During that time, the team will get their chance to look over the new players and get them adjusted to life in the NFL. Most of this time is spent for mental preparation, having hours on hours in the football-version of a class room. Little of that time is spent actually training, it's more about adjusting.

Just like with most rookie mini-camps, the majority of the players will not have been drafted, and will be fighting for their roster lives. So this mini-camp is especially important for them. Regardless, however, it's hard not to want to see how these players progress, not just in this rookie mini-camp, but in the OTA's and mandatory training camps that will take place in the near future.

A lot of these rookies will face an uphill battle to make the 53 man roster, while others are a guaranteed addition to the team. In the spirit of upcoming graduations, here are a few players that I will be keeping my eye on:

Most Likely to Turn Heads:
This one's tough. Dontari Poe is a giant of a man that can benchpress a Buick ran under a 5 second 40 yard dash. But just like at the combine, blazing speed is always the most impressive thing to watch up close, so I think Devon Wylie, the 4th round draft pick from San Diego State. He ran a 4.39 40 yard dash, one of the fastest at the combine, and since the adage is "you can't coach speed," I'm looking for Wylie to turn some heads this weekend and beyond.

Most Likely to Cause a Surprise Training Camp Cut:
Most of what fans heard after the draft was that Scott Pioli strategically made his selections for depth, with the hope they would develop into starters a year or two down the road. There is one player, however, whose presence might lead to the annual surprise training camp casuality. That player is 2nd round pick Jeff Allen, who is projected as the left guard of the future behind Ryan Lilja. If Allen adjusts to the guard position quickly (he played tackle all his college career), his future could be sooner than Lilja would like. I don't see this happening, but crazier things have.

Most Likely to Be Forced to Stop Tweeting:
It's becoming more and more common for teams to suggest (force) players to either limit their tweets or just get rid of their twitter account altogether. Imagine how long Larry Johnson could have averaged 2 yards per carry with the Chiefs if he hadn't gone and made a full of himself on the social networking sight! While I have yet to follow any of the players for that long of a time (I followed all the players as soon as they were drafted) and from what I've seen, all of them seem to be smart guys with the things they tweet, I am going with Junior Hemingway, 7th round pick from Michigan. This is not because of what he's said on twitter, but just from the massive amounts of tweets he sends out daily. But like I said, none of the Chiefs players have pulled a Larry Johnson from what I can tell.

Most Likely to Make the Practice Squad:
90 players can be invited to training camp; when the season starts, 53 players can be on the active roster. Some players, however, can be on the practice squad and stay with the team that way. While players that are versatile and can play a variety of positions, especially special teams, are the most likely to make it, I've got my eye on Cam Holland, the undrafted center out of North Carolina. Accoridng to CBS Sports, Holland was the 13th best center in last month's draft. He is, however, one of the largest. Weighing 315 lbs., only Peter Konz, the highest center taken in the draft, is larger. Standing 6-2, he's a little short compared to most centers coming out, but with his weight, that shouldn't matter. Holland, maybe because of the lack of depth at the center position on the Chiefs, has a good chance of sticking with the organization once the season gets underway.

Most Likely to Succeed:
This has to go to Dontari Poe. He's the Chiefs first round draft pick, and much like Tyson Jackson, I expect for him to be given every opportunity plus some to succeed in the NFL. Poe will be an immediate starter for the Chiefs, and with head coach Romeo Crennel being invested in his new nose tackle, I expect everybody in the Chiefs organization to make Poe's season and upcoming seasons successful. It's hard to determine the importance of a nose tackle by just looking at their statistics, but I think most fans will be able to tell while watching the game if Poe is getting dominated or not. I hope Poe lives up to the draft slot.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Kevin's Boss


It's not something you would know about him if you just followed mainstream sports media. It's not something he typically talks about to reporters - maybe he would if reporters ever asked him, but it rarely ever comes up during interviews. Why would it? Kevin Boss is a football player, and his first duty to fans and to the reporters that follow him is to be the best player that he can be.

To Kevin Boss, however, his first duty lies with that of a higher power - and no, I'm not talking about Scott Pioli.

A week after signing a 3-year, $9 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs - he was released by the Raiders earlier that same week - Boss packed a few suitcases of Chiefs gear, tennis shoes, cleats, and sandals before getting on a plane and flying down Haiti, where he was volunteering for missionary work.

He wasn't alone. "Kevin Boss, who is a good friend of mine, offered me the chance to go to Haiti, and I jumped at it" said Titans linebacker Tim Shaw.

The two players spent a week in Haiti, and Boss worked at a feeding clinic, painted the orphanage and built furniture for the children. According to the article written by Josh Looney from, Boss and Shaw combined to bring more than 100 pairs of tennis shoes with them to Haiti and introduced many of the children to American football for the first time.

"The poverty there is unreal,” Shaw said. “It adjust your perspective and kind of brings you back to what is important, because it is tough to see people living that way.” 

It's not often that you hear about NFL players doing things right during the offseason. In a world of 24/7 news outlets, true personalities and characters of players have come to light more than ever; and unfortunately, it's usually more negative than positive. It's good to see that there are players like Boss and Shaw in the league, players that don't forget what's important no matter how much money they make. 

The way that Boss does it though is what's most impressive. A regular fan would never know that Boss and Shaw did missionary work like this. Besides the occasional article like what was written by Looney and a few tweets sent by Boss once he returned from his trip, nobody might know about the acts Boss partakes in. This quiet selflessness is quite the opposite from, say, Tim Tebow, and in a way, I think that makes it even more special.

Yet, Boss is still a football player, and I can't promise that if Boss were to drop a few touchdown passes and become a liability on the field it would be hard not to forget why I liked him in the first place. But I guarantee you there are a few hundred Haitian children that will never forget the impact Boss and other volunteers had on their lives in the tough times that followed the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince.

To Boss, that's more important than any game. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Jovan Belcher's Vote of Confidence

This time last week, many analysts were predicting Luke Kuechly, ILB from Boston College, to the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 2012 draft. While many would have loved for that to happen, Kuechly went two slots earlier to the Carolina Panthers with the ninth overall pick. When Kuechly went off the board, I was anxious in awaiting the Chiefs announcement. Dontari Poe, of course, ended up being the selection; but even if Kuechly was on the board at 11, I don't think the Chiefs would have taken him.

The reason I don't think the Chiefs were interested in Kuechly isn't because of the type of player he is, and it's not necessarily because of the type of player Poe is. The reason is because of the position Kuechly plays, and how little need Pioli believes exists at that position.

While ESPN's draft coverage continued to have the ILB position listed as a team need, the Chiefs went all 8 draft picks over the course of three days without selecting one. And, of their 15 undrafted rookie free agent signings the team announced on Monday, only one was an inside linebacker - Dexter Heyman, Louisville.

Not addressing the ILB position last weekend might have concerned some fans, but I interpreted it as a big vote of confidence for the players already on the roster, specifically: Jovan Belcher.

Belcher was an undrafted free agent himself in 2009, coming out of the University of Maine. An a UDFA, it was a longshot that he'd even make the roster that first season. Fast-forward to 2012, and Belcher is an established starter next to Derrick Johnson in the Chiefs defense and Scott Pioli might have given him the biggest vote of confidence of the offseason - at least, the biggest vote of confidence to someone who is scheduled to hit free agency after this season (lookin' at you Dwayne Bowe).

Sure, Pioli did bring in ILB Brandon Siler during free agency last year, but Siler missed the season due to tearing his Achilles in training camp and Belcher went on to have a very solid and productive year - Belcher finished 2011 with 87 tackles.

An upgrade, however, could exist. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chiefs interior defense was the weakest spot for the team, and Belcher didn't help much. He finished with no sacks, no passes defended, no interceptions and just three tackles-for-loss. It was this lack of statistics that caused many analysts to discount the importance of Belcher and project the Chiefs needing to take an ILB to replace Belcher at some point during the draft. What most of those same analysts don't know is most of what Belcher does won't show up in the stat sheet.

As Josh Looney from explained in December of last year, Belcher was Kansas City's "thumper" on defense. Looney went on to explain that as the "Mike" linebacker in the Chiefs 3-4 defense, it was Belcher's duty to handle the "dirty work": the elimination of lead blockers.

"Probably half of my tackles come from Jovan blowing somebody up and I’m scraping over the top,” Derrick Johnson said. “He’s not a selfish guy. He knows what he has to do in this defense to allow certain people to scrape over the top for tackles. Sometimes in the 3-4 defense you have to be a sacrifice guy.”

While Belcher might sacrifice his statistics for the betterment of the team, it does not go unnoticed. Would Kuechly, who could create more pressure up the middle, be an upgrade to Belcher? I believe so; but one of the knocks on Kuechly is that he wasn't great at taking on blockers, something he'd have to do with Chiefs. In other words, Kuechly would make a better Derrick Johnson than a Jovan Belcher. 

I don't think Belcher's job is safe down the road (whose is?). After all, Belcher was a restricted free agent until March 22nd, when he signed his RFA tender, which means 2012 could be his last season with the Chiefs. But I do believe that his job is safe for this season and, if this year's draft was any indication of how Scott Pioli regards Belcher, I have to believe an Andy Studebaker type of extension - 3 years, $5.74 million - will be making it's way to the Thumper this season. 

And it would be well deserved.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Evaluating the Draft: Part 2

This is part 2 in evaluating the Chiefs draft pick-by-pick (here's part 1). While it might not be fair to evaluate the Chiefs recent draft picks before they've even played a snap in the NFL, I think it's important to have a set of expectations for each player to base their future performance on. If we assume all Chiefs players are A's, then we might be disappointed when the sit the bench their first season with the team, and if we think that all picks after the third round aren't important, then we might be shocked when a player emerges that we never suspected would. So, by using this (possibly flawed) reasoning, we shall commence:

4th Round - Devon Wylie
There are two significantly different yet related characteristics when it comes to Wylie. One is that he is very fast - 4.39 40 yard dash fast. It's his speed and his size - Wylie is 5-9 and 186 lbs while Welker measures in at 5-9 and 185 lbs - that get him Wes Welker comparisons often; heck, Wylie is even wearing #83, which is Welker's number as well.

But the difference between Wylie and Welker is the ability to stay healthy. Never mind Welker's torn ACL in 2010, Welker has found a way to stay on the field in his other seasons. That's something that Wylie has struggled with, at least in college. Wylie is a slot receiver, and the usual result of a pass to a slot player is a big hit in the middle of the field. It's almost a guarantee you're going to get hit after catching the ball, the important thing is if you're able to get up after you get knocked down. Wylie doesn't give me much confidence that he can stay healthy, but with his speed, I'd love it if he could

Draft Grade: C+

5th Round - DeQuan Menzie
Menzie played the same position for the same team as Javier Arenas after Arenas's departure in 2010.  Arenas was taken in the 2nd round, Menzie, as you can tell, fell to the 5th round. Menzie, however, also started opposite of Dre Kirkpatrick, who was drafted in the first round.

Menzie is looked upon as a developmental, yet instinctive player, who will be a good player in defensive subpackages that feature a number of defensive backs. Menzie also has decent size, standing 6-0 and weighing 198 lbs. It wasn't long ago that the Chiefs drafted a cornerback in the 5th round and about that same size that turned out to be pretty good (see Carr, Brandon 2008).

Draft Grade: B-

6th Round - Cyrus Gray
The last two drafts, I was wanting the Chiefs to draft a running back late in the draft. The team passed on that option last year, but chose to draft one this year. And that running back was Gray, who is coming off two back-to-back 1,000 rushing yard seasons at Texas A&M, plus catching 30+ passes over those two seasons as well.

Gray's use has yet to be determined, but I think he's going to get his opportunities early on. Jamaal Charles is coming off an injury, and recently required Peyton Hillis, not only being on a one-year deal, dealt with his share of injuries last season as well. And for Dexter McCluster, I'm not entirely convinced the Chiefs have figured out how to use him. With all these factors, Gray might see some playing time this coming season, and a significant amount in the future.

Draft Grade: A-

7th Round - Jerome Long
Long will be fighting for a roster spot as a defensive end in the Chiefs 3-4 defense. Standing 6-5 and weighing 285 lbs., he'll probably be a speed rushing type that the Chiefs bring in on obvious passing downs to get after the passer. He'll probably take Wallace Gilberry's roster spot - who, if you believe Twitter, found out about the Chiefs not retaining him when first round pick, Dontari Poe, tweeted that he'd be #92, the number Gilberry was last season. Ouch.

Draft Grade: C

7th Round - Junior Hemingway
Recently called a "steal" by Mel Kiper of ESPN, Hemingway's biggest test as a wide receiver with the Chiefs is going to be where to fit. With Dwayne Bowe (we'll assume for now that he'll play next season), Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston and now Devon Wylie looking to be the four receivers in set, Hemingway will most likely have to earn his roster spot via special teams. I hope Kiper is right and that Hemingway can help cement a very good receiving corps. After all, he has good size at 6-1 222 lbs., the only issue with a 7th round pick is if he can catch well enough to stick through training camp.

Draft Grade: B

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Evaluating the Draft: Part 1

Now that the dust has settled from the last three days of the NFL draft, it's time to start evaluating the Chiefs selections with a clear head and an analytic approach. I know that not everyone is a fan of the Chiefs decisions, but let's go through each pick and see how they can help the Chiefs now or in the future.

Grades will be assigned for each pick as well.

1st Round - Dontari Poe
The nose tackle out of Memphis will go down as one of the most controversial picks the Chiefs have made in a long time. Not only because of the player that Poe is, but because of the unprecedented trade activity in this draft that the Chiefs chose not to take part in. Scott Pioli said that they had two willing trade partners, but that Poe wouldn't have been available that late in the draft.

Although many fans fumed at this selection (while others might have been experiencing different emotions ...), it addressed the only glaring need on the team. If you looked at any other position on the Chiefs roster, there is not one that could use a bigger upgrade than NT. I'm well aware that drafting high picks based on need is dangerous, but it's also sometimes necessary. And if you're concerned about Poe's lack of stats at Memphis, Pioli might set your mind at ease with this reasoning.

Grade: B-

2nd Round - Jeff Allen
Allen has played his entire college career at the offensive tackle position - 38 at left tackle and 9 at right tackle - but his best chance to crack the starting lineup will be at guard. Standing 6-4 and weighing 306 lbs., Allen is slightly undersized to be an NFL tackle, but is the perfect size to be a guard.

While selecting an offensive lineman in the first two rounds is an unsexy pick, they can help bolster an offensive line, and a strong offensive line will make the entire offense better. And Allen will help make it better. "He's a natural pass protector, who I think is a Day 1 starter. For Kansas City, I think he's a left guard, which is fine because he's got the skill set to do so" said Mike Mayock of NFL Network. And while I think Allen won't see the starting lineup until 2013, it's nice to have a guard learning the ropes for a season.

Grade: B+

3rd Round - Donald Stephenson
The second offensive tackle draft pick of the night by the Chiefs, Stephenson will actually stay at that position with the team, offering a viable swing tackle. Stephenson started at left tackle for two seasons with the Sooners, and it seems everyone likes to attach two descriptions with Stephenson: "high upside" and "developmental."

Both the above phrases are some of the oldest cliches in the book, but if they are accurate, then Stephenson will be a good pick up. I doubt Stephenson ever sees the field on the starting offensive line this season with Branden Albert and Eric Winston manning the edges, but Albert could be gone after the 2012 season, so drafting a potential replacement that can take the year to refine his skills and learn the system is a good idea. Plus Stephenson is one of those feel-good stories, considering he is from the KC area and is a lifelong Chiefs fan.

Grade: B

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chiefs Undrafted Free Agents

Undrafted Free Agents were able to sign with any team as soon as the draft ended on Saturday night and it didn't take long for the Chiefs to start locking up players for their team. Needs can be met and gems can be found in free agency (Arian Foster anyone?), and it usually is first come first serve as far as teams signing these players.

While most of the big UDFAs signed with teams quickly - Vontaze Burfict to the Bengals, Kellen Moore to the Lions, Case Keenum to the Texans - there are still some players that are unsigned that I would love to see the Chiefs grab. They are:

Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State
With Wiegmann retired and Hudson really the only option for next season at center, I'd love to add the depth that Brewster would offer.

Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
Minnifield, the son of a former NFL cornerback, having micro fracture surgery certainly killed his draft stock. But his loss can become the Chiefs gain.

Sean Richardson, SS, Vanderbilt
I know the Chiefs addressed the safety position in the draft, but there's no reason not to bring in Richardson, who was projected as a mid-round draft pick.

Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa St
He's a press corner that lacks most of anything else. Still, if we're in the market for defensive backs then why not?

Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee
I'll take a flier on an undrafted running back from Tennessee (see above UDFA example: Foster, Arian).

I would also like a tight end, but there are no more remaining that I care for. Would have loved Hanna or Dunsmore in the 7th, but alas. In the meantime, here are UDFAs rumored to have already signed with the Chiefs:

Justin Cheadle, G, California
Tysyn Hartman, S, Kansas St
Nate Eachus, RB, Colgate
Brandon Kinnie, WR, Nebraska
Josh Bellamy, WR, Louisville
Jean Fanor, S, Bethune-Cookham
Taylor Gentry, FB, NC State
Terrence Parks, SS, Florida St
Neiko Thorpe, FS, Auburn
Cam Holland, C, UNC
Ethan Johnson, DE, Notre Dame

Chiefs 6th through 7th round picks

With the 182nd pick, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Cyrus Gray, RB, from Texas A&M.

Gray, 5-10 and 198 lbs., will add depth to the running back position for the Chiefs and will essentially replace Jackie Battle. The Chiefs current running back situation is Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis (on a one year contract), Dexter McCluster, and now we can add Gray to that list. Gray finished last season with 198 carries, 1,045 yards and 12 TDs rushing as well as 31 catches for 239 yards and 3 TDs receiving.

With the 218th pick, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Jerome Long, DL, from San Diego St.

Long is 6-5 and 285 lbs and looks to add depth on the defensive line for the Chiefs, probably as a pass rushing defensive end. Long finished his senior campaign with 69 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks.

With the 238th pick, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Junior Hemingway, WR, from Michigan.

The opposite of the small and speedy Wylie drafted earlier in the fourth round, Hemingway is the larger breed of wide receiver, standing 6-1 and weighing 222 lbs. Hemingway appeared in 48 career games with Michigan, and finished his senior season with 34 catches, 669 yards and 4 TDs.

Chiefs take DeQuan Menzie in the 5th Round

DeQuan Menzie - Allstate BCS National Championship Game - LSU v Alabama

With the 146th pick in the draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected DeQuan Menzie, S, from Alabama.

Although Menzie, 5-11 202 lbs., is listed as a S, he played nickel cornerback at Alabama, actually replacing Javier Arenas after he was drafted by the Chiefs in 2010. It will be interesting to see where Menzie plays at for the Chiefs, whether it be at safety or as a nickel/dime CB. But that kind of versatility is good for the Chiefs, and having a solid group of defensive backs is always hoped for.

At Alabama, he was a solid run stopper and decent in coverage. Depending on where the Chiefs project Menzie to play will also effect where else the Chiefs can aim in this draft. If they see him as a safety, then CB can be a target with the Chiefs three remaining picks today. If they see him as a CB, then there are still quality safeties left on the board.

Chiefs Take Devon Wylie in the 4th

With the 107th pick, the Kansas City Chiefs took Devon "Wiggle" Wylie, WR from Fresno St.

With or without Dwayne Bowe playing next season (he has yet to sign his franchise tender and some rumors have it he is upset with the Chiefs for franchising him and won't work on a long-term contract), the slot receiver position was one that the Chiefs were looking to improve this coming season.

There has been a misconception that Steve Breaston is a slot receiver, because that's what he was in Arizona when both Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were there. With the Chiefs, however, Breaston played outside mostly, with Jehreme Urban and Keary Colbert filling in playing the slot last year.

Wylie, 5-9 185 lbs., is a speed guy, running a 4.39 40 yard dash at the combine, as well as putting up 17 reps on the bench press. Wylie was never a full time starter at Fresno St., and was injury prone during his time at Frenso St, but scouting page also said that his injuries perhaps make him a "hidden gem" in this year's wide receiver draft class. He finished with 56 catches for 716 yards and 1 TD last season.

Entering Day 3 of the Draft

On Day 2 of the draft, the Chiefs picked Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson, both college offensive tackles. When you combine yesterday's draft with Thursday's first-round selection, the Chiefs have added about 1,000 lbs. of beef across the lines of both sides of the ball.

I still think there are several positions that the Chiefs still need to address, and today offers them their last chance to draft those positions:


Here are the best players still available at those positions after yesterday's draft (I'll be updating throughout today's draft):

Inside Linebacker
Keenan Robinson (Texas) RSr., 6-3, 242 lbs. - Projected Round: 3rd - 4th
James-Michael Johnson (Nevada) RSr., 6-1, 241 lbs. - Projected Round: 4th - 5th

George Iloka (Boise St) Sr., 6-4, 225 lbs. - Projected Round: 2nd - 3rd
Trenton Robinson (Michigan St) Sr., 5-10, 195 lbs. - Projected Round: 3rd - 4th
Markelle Martin (Oklahoma St) RSr., 6-1, 207 lbs. - Projected Round: 4th

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chiefs take Donald Stephenson in 3rd Round

Donald Stephenson Offensive lineman Donald Stephenson #59 of the Oklahoma Sooners grabs the facemask of Brandon Jenkins #49 of the Florida State Seminoles at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Norman, Oklahoma.

With the 74th overall pick, the Chiefs selected Donald Stephenson, Offensive Tackle, from Oklahoma.

I am a bit surprised by the Chiefs 3rd round pick, since I figured that Jeff Allen, selected in the 2nd round, was enough of an insurance policy for Branden Albert at LT. Obviously, I was wrong, and the Chiefs want as much depth at the tackle position as they can get with Albert's free agency approaching at the end of the 2012 season.

Stephenson is a two year starter at OkSt, and ranked as the 11th best OT prospect on CBS Sports. I don't think that bringing in Stephenson is a sign that they aren't going to try to resign Albert, just a sign that they know sometimes negotiations don't go the way they want and that having a valid backup plan is sometimes the best leverage a team can have when sitting down for contract discussions.

I would have prefered to see the Chiefs pick up an ILB, S, CB, or WR in the 3rd round with some exceptional value still available, but it is clear that the Chiefs are stockpiling depth in this draft, which is usually a good strategy, especially considering last season.

Chiefs Take Jeff Allen in 2nd Round

With the 44th overall pick, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Jeff Allen, an offensive tackle, from Illinois.

While the Chiefs aren't in real need at the tackle position, Allen, 6-4 307 lbs, is projected to play guard at the NFL level. I imagine that Allen, much like his former Illinois teammate Jon Asamoah, will sit and learn his first year with the Chiefs, eventually replacing Ryan Lilja in 2013. However, Allen does give the Chiefs needed versatility along the offensive line.

Allen, a team captain, offers the Chiefs a swing tackle as well as an insurance policy to current LT Branden Albert, who is entering the final year of his contract. In his four years with the Illini, he played both tackle positions and started 47 consecutive games. While I preferred Kelechi Osemele to make the conversion from tackle to guard, I do like what Allen has to offer the Chiefs and once again, Scott Pioli filled a need that the Chiefs had entering the draft.

Entering Day 2 of the Draft

No matter what you think of the Chiefs first round pick, Dontari Poe (and here's a good take on it from Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star), an organization doesn't build a good team from only Thursday night's selections. It's how well teams draft on day two, for rounds 2 through 3, that usually determines if a team can become a contender or not.

The Chiefs filled perhaps their biggest team need on Thursday drafting a nose tackle, but there are still areas that the Chiefs need to address and still plenty of good players remaining on the board. Here are my positional needs for depth the Chiefs have in somewhat of a particular order:


Going in to Friday, here are the best players available at those positions according to CBS Sports (I will update them as the draft progresses, so check back often):

Inside Linebacker
Mychal Kendricks (California) Sr., 5-11, 240 lbs. - Projected Round: 2nd
Keenan Robinson (Texas) RSr., 6-3, 242 lbs. - Projected Round: 3rd - 4th
James-Michael Johnson (Nevada) RSr., 6-1, 241 lbs. - Projected Round: 4th - 5th

Thursday, April 26, 2012

With the 11th Overall Pick ...

With the 11th overall pick, the Chiefs selected Dontari Poe, NT, from Memphis.

This is going to be a highly controversial pick, made apparent by the backlash of tweets I saw screaming across the twitterverse seconds after Roger Goodell read Poe's name off the card. It didn't take long for Dontari Poe to start trending nationally on Twitter, and it was hard to find comments supporting the pick.

With a plethora of trades taking place within the first ten picks of this year's draft, I'm not sure if people are more disappointed with the decision to draft Poe or the inability to trade back (the pick before the Chiefs was a trade and the pick after the Chiefs was a trade). Either way, Poe has a lot of proving to do with Chiefs fans to justify his high draft status following a lackluster college performance and one outstanding combine. Workout warriors, with little more to show for their football performance, are going to be high risk/high reward selections.

Nose tackle was a position of need for the Chiefs, as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago here. However, I think there were just as good if not better options in the second and third rounds to fill that need. I mean, Poe was a second-team Conference USA selection. Once again, a SECOND-TEAM CONFERENCE USA selection. In case you aren't that familiar with college football, the Conference USA is not quite the SEC.

I'm going to take a wait-and-see approach with Poe. I am one of those fans that need a lot of convincing, but I am willing to give Poe a chance.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chiefs Seven Round Draft

With the start of the NFL Draft beginning on Thursday evening, it's time for me to do my best in predicting all the Chiefs picks through all seven rounds. Last year, I attempted to do the same thing, which I will admit was complicated by the lack of free agency, and went a stunning 0-9 (I did have the Chiefs trading down in the first round for an additional mid-round pick, so I guess that is a positive). But alas, I am not deterred from attempting it again.

Here we go.

1st Round: 11th Overall
Since I've already done my 1st round mock draft, I'll just leave the pick the same and go with Luke Kuechly, ILB from Boston College. I really think that the Chiefs trade back in this scenario to gather more picks, but I just don't know who the Chiefs would take later in the first round. I'm aware that Kuechly hasn't visited with the Chiefs and Scott Pioli has yet to draft a player in the first round that he hasn't visited with beforehand, so I'm not feeling very confident in this pick but it would be best-player-available if the Chiefs stay at 11 and pick Kuechly.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tyson Jackson Restructures Contract

Tyson Jackson did something very interesting yesterday, he restructured his contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. I call it very interesting because it effects both the Chiefs and Jackson more than a typical contract restructuring would. Let me explain.

During the 2012 season, Jackson was scheduled to make a little over $8 million in base salary. After the restructuring, Jackson has reduced his 2012 base salary to $4.25 million, with $4 million guaranteed. This is nearly a 50% paycut for the former #3 overall pick in 2009, and just by looking at the money the Chiefs saved on Jackson's contract this season, one would believe that this was a great move by the Chiefs. However, it's not that simple. 

The restructured deal also voided out the 2014 season on Jackson's contract in terms of the salary cap, and accelerated the $2.5 million in option bonus onto this year's cap. The acceleration of that money means that Jackson's 2012 cap number will be $9.5 million, only a $1.255 million savings from what Jackson was originally scheduled to count against the cap. That's not much of a discount.

Jason LaConfora of did point out that "as a practical matter the 2014 seasons for Jackson ... were already set to void as per the language in the original contracts. So it was already going to happen, it is just now in the language of the new contracts." So, for all intents and purposes, it hasn't changed the 2014 part of the deal all that much. The most interesting part of the contract restructuring, however, is what it did, or didn't do, for the 2013 season. 

The contract restructure still means Jackson is scheduled to make an albatross of a 2013 pay day, with $14.72 million in base salary and another $3.2 million in guaranteed money. I'm going to guess that if Jackson continues to improve this season, the Chiefs will try to sign him to a new deal after this season so they won't have to incur such an unreasonable price. Otherwise, why would Jackson restructure his contract when he didn't have to? The Chiefs had plenty of money left under the cap, so the restructuring almost seems like a ultimatum to Jackson, turning 2012 into a contract year. After all, if Jackson doesn't perform, a cut is very possible before next season.

The issues don't stop there, however, considering the position that Jackson plays. 2012 might essentially be a contract year for Jackson, but it IS a contract year for Glenn Dorsey, the other defensive end in the Chiefs 3-4 scheme. The Jackson-Dorsey duo finished first and second in the NFL for defensive end stops in 2011, and if both have good seasons in 2012, the Chiefs will have a tough decision ahead of them, perhaps similar to the one they just faced last season with the Brandon Flowers-Brandon Carr scenario.

Personally, I think Jackson might be a better investment long term than Dorsey. Jackson is the prototypical size for a 3-4 DE, while Dorsey was brought in to Kansas City when the Chiefs were still playing a 4-3. The result is that Dorsey is slightly undersized to play the position, but his performance has still been solid since he joined the Chiefs as the fifth overall pick in 2008. 

While both Dorsey and Jackson are teammates, they will definitely both be competing for a new contract against each other; either for the Chiefs or in free agency.

Draft Projection: Ryan Tannehill

Mock drafts are opinions, and thus, everyone seems to have one. And there have been a fair share of those mock drafts that have Texas A&M's quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, going 11th overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. And while I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion - and their mock draft - I happen to find this possible pick the most potentially interesting one in the draft.

Ryan Tannehill, 6-4 222 lbs, is considered by just about everybody as the third best quarterback on the board. The difference between Tannehill and the first two prospects - Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III - is the most disparaging gap between players that play the same position that will likely only be taken a few picks apart. I say this because Luck and RGIII have all the looks of franchise quarterbacks while Tannehill has been conceded by most to be a developmental quarterback; but still a quarterback that most have being taken in the top-fifteen picks of the draft.

If one was to look only at Tannehill's senior season, he would still be the third quarterback off the board, but would look closer to a sure-fired franchise QB than a potentially boom-or-bust prospect. In 2011, Tannehill completed 327 of 531 attempts (62%) for 3,744 yards with 29 TDs and 15 INTs. But scouts like to look at a quarterback's full body of work, and for Tannehill, that only includes 19 starts; 19 starts at QB that is.

For Tannehill's first two seasons at Texas A&M, he was converted to a wide receiver. For a QB going in the first round, this is unheard of; and unfortunately for Tannehill, it has created a learning curve that scouts are concerned about. His athleticism is a great strength, but athleticism can only get you so far at the QB position.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The First Quarter of 2012

The Chiefs schedule was announced on Tuesday, and I promised that I would break down the upcoming year by each game that is going to be played. This post starts that promise, with me breaking down the first quarter of the Chiefs 2012 schedule (I'm also going to skip discussing the preseason).

Week 1: Sunday, September 9
Atlanta Falcons

The Chiefs season will begin with the highest of expectations, and against an opponent that is similar to itself. With the season finally underway, the Chiefs will begin its hunt for a return to the playoffs against a team that has been to the playoffs the last two seasons. A tough test for the Chiefs against Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan and Pro Bowl running back Michael Turner is also punctuated by the first returning visit of former Chiefs tight end, Tony Gonzalez, to the stadium he once called home.

In my opinion, the result of this game will be a good litmus test of how the Chiefs will be in 2012. If they win against the good Falcons, or even barely lose the game, I will feel pretty good about the upcoming season. If it's a blowout, such as last year, it's not the end of the world but it would show that the Chiefs probably aren't ready to be a contender that many fans expect them to be.

2011 Falcons: 8th Passing (262 ypg), 17th Rushing (114.6 ypg), 20th Pass Defense (236.6 ypg), 6th Rush Defense (97 ypg); 10-6 record

Week 2: Sunday, September 16
@Buffalo Bills

For the fifth straight year, the Chiefs and Bills meet in the regular season; but this game means a little more than the other four. The last time these two teams met, the Bills blew out the Chiefs in the first game of the 2011 season, 41-7. It was also in that game when Eric Berry had his ACL torn on a probably legal but still aggravating crack-back block down field by wide receiver Stevie Johnson. While Johnson vehemently defended himself, Berry hasn't seemed one for apologies and the team in general would like to take some vengeance out on the team that started the Chiefs on such a down note in 2011.

While I would love to believe that this should be a victory for the Chiefs, I can't assume that with the Bills. As bad as the Bills have been over the last few years, in the four prior meetings with the Chiefs, they have won three of them. Their only loss was a 13-10 defeat in overtime during the 2010 season, which Chiefs fans will recall fondly ended on a last second Ryan Succop field goal before overtime expired into a tie.

2011 Bills: 15th Passing (231.4 ypg), 13th Rushing (120.1 ypg), 19th Pass Defense (232.1 ypg), 28th Rush Defense (139 ypg); 6-10 record

Week 3: Sunday, September 23
@New Orleans Saints

If there was ever a time to face the Saints, it would be near the beginning of the 2012 season. And luckily for the Chiefs, week 3 is pretty near the beginning. The reason I say the sooner the better is because of the offseason that the Saints have had this year. I'm sure everyone and their dog is aware of the Saints' BountyGate scandal, and Sean Payton suspended without pay for all of 2012. Their interim head coach, Joe Vitt, also won't be back by week 3, serving a six-week suspension for his involvement (or whatever Roger Goodell is calling it) in the scandal.

Unfortunately, Drew Brees isn't suspended, and the Saints offense should be as high-flying as ever. But without their head coach/offensive coordinator, one has to believe that if the Chiefs were going to beat the Saints, then this is their best opportunity. The following offensive statistics are still scary.

2011 Saints: 1st Passing (334.2 ypg), 6th Rushing (132.9 ypg), 30th Pass Defense (259.8 ypg), 12th Rush Defense (108.6 ypg); 13-3 record

Week 4: Sunday, September 30
San Diego Chargers

In week 4, the Chiefs will face their first division opponent and their third Pro Bowl quarterback in the month of September. The Chiefs and Chargers have played each other close over the last two seasons, and it's hard to have any fear of the Chargers anymore after the last two seasons of underwhelming performances. And if there's anything I fear less than Norv Turner in September, it's Norv Turner in September at Arrowhead.

The Chiefs have won the last two home meetings against the Chargers, and while I am not as confident against the Chargers on the road, we seem to have figured out how to beat the Chargers in Kansas City. Hopefully this year, it doesn't take a fumbled snap miracle. Then again ...

2011 Chargers: 6th Passing (276.6 ypg), 16th Rushing (116.5 ypg), 13th Pass Defense (224.4 ypg), 20th Rush Defense (122.2 ypg); 8-8 record

Predicted Chiefs Record through 4 weeks: 2-2
Being bold: 3-1