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September 07, 2008

Chiefs 0-1: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly « Kansas City Chiefs »

The Good:
Brandon Albert started and played well, nailing down the left side pretty well.
Glenn Dorsey created pressure up the middle.
Brandon Flowers played like a vet, not like a rookie in his first start. He's playing like a top-10 pick.
If you're scoring at home, that's 3 rookies in their first NFL game that played like veterans.
McBride got some pressure from the right side, nearly getting a sack.
The Chiefs converted 8/16 (50%) 3rd downs.
Brodie Croyle didn't turn the ball over, and displayed good decision-making, good touch, and good strength on his throws.

The Bad:
All sorts of pressure came from the right side as McIntosh struggled in pass coverage.
Bowe had at least four drops at key moments that could have turned the game for us.
Brodie went out of the game with a shoulder injury.
Neither the running game or the passing game could get any momentum.

The Ugly:
LJ had just over 3 yards/carry; part of this is that the Pats weren't scared of our WRs, knowing they could rotate coverage to Bowe and Gonzalez and not worry about our #2/3 WRs. And it worked, until Darling finally made a big catch near the end of the game.
We lost on the road despite winning the turnover battle, the time of possession battle, and having the Patriots run 3 plays from inside their own 1-yard line.

Reasons for optimism:
Even without Brady, the Patriots have lots of weapons, with 3 pro-bowlers on their line, Wes Walker, Randy Moss, a decent stable of RBs, and a good defense. Yet we still almost beat them on their field, despite the number of rookies and 2nd year players getting significant playing time.
This may well be the best defense we face all season, or at least the one that matches up best against us. Our offense should do better next week.

Reasons for pessimism:
We caught a break when Brady went out of the game, but still couldn't win.
We took 4 shots at the end zone from the 5 yard line, and couldn't gain a single yard.
We had the Patriots on 3rd and 11 just one foot from their own goal line, and let them get a 51-yard pass play that kept a TD drive alive.

Key takeaways: Our young players got lots of experience in this game, and it will pay off this season in improved performance. We stopped Tom Brady on his first two drives before he went out with an injury, and that isn't easy to do. We came within 5 yards of beating the Patriots on their home turf. This team will end up 10-6 or 11-5...but with 3 losses in their first 5 games.

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posted by Nathan on 09:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 18, 2008

I'm Getting Dang Excited About the Upcoming NFL Season « Kansas City Chiefs »

1) We decide to test our passing against Chicago. We are successful, converting several 3rd-and-longs with our 1st team, and doing a great job in pass protection, even with Albert out with an injury.
2) We decide to test our running against Arizona. We are successful, with one series we got 9, 18, 15, and 4 yds on consecutive running plays.
3) We faced perhaps the best receiving tandem in the league with Fitz and Boldin. How many catches did Boldin get? Oh, yeah: ZERO. Fitz got his catches...but none looked easy; he was not allowed much YAC on any one of 'em (if I recall correctly). He was covered on each of his catches, just not smothered. NFL-level QBs and NFL-level WRs against NFL-level CBs pretty much always look like that. Our guys didn't look overmatched, and Fitz didn't look like a pro-bowler...just like a dang good WR going against a pretty good CB...and that was even against our 5th round rookie, Carr. More experience (by mid-season, say), and we win half those battles we lost.
4) Turk McBride has stepped it up. He looked good. Dorsey got double-teamed from his very first NFL snap. McBride is causing problems from the LDE position, and if he keeps it up, will require double teams. Tyler has drawn double-teams when Dorsey wasn't in during practice...if he improves with game-time experience (as I expect), he'll wreak havoc if not double-teamed...all this should mean good things for Hali once the season starts and he has a whole game to work against a LT.
5) LJ is running like a beast, and we've got a full stable of RBs to make sure he doesn't get overworked
6) Bowe is Bowe. TG is TG. They both make plays on their own, meaning: they don't need a Pro-Bowl QB putting the ball in exactly the right spot to make the catch; either of them can go up and get the ball, take it away from a would-be interceptor. And now Franklin is emerging as a playmaker
7) Our starting O-line isn't giving Croyle tons of time, but they are giving him enough time.
8) Brodie? ZERO picks to date.

...and we've still got two more preseason games for our rookies to improve, and to tweak the roster to make sure we have the best people.

This is going to be a good year, folks, we're going to surprise people.

I said "11-5, barring a significant player (LJ, Bowe, Croyle, DJ, Albert) missing significant time". It was a reckless prediction, but watching a 2nd pre-season game makes me feel we will be in the 10-6 to 11-5 range. If everything breaks right and we have no injuries, we'll be 11-5. We'll be 10-6 if there are no significant injuries but we don't get the right breaks in a close game.

Folks, we *do* need some luck to have a great season. But 8-8 is aiming too low for this group.

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posted by Nathan on 09:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

August 14, 2008

Interesting Times for Chiefs' Fans « Kansas City Chiefs »

Last year, we had a youth movement started.
We were careful to sign FAs of less than 28 years of age, only (except for DE).
We got the best LT on the market we could get without over-paying, and that LT wasn't all that good; just average.
From the very beginning of the season, we had an undrafted rookie nickel back. We had an undrafted rookie as our backup MLB. We tried to give our 2nd year QB the starting job.

Our offense was horrible from the start. We couldn't get the offense going most of the time. It would disappear for an entire half of the game. Our #1 WR was injured almost from the very first play of the season. Huard throws tons of INTs. LJ struggles to find room to run, gets hit behind the line constantly.

But by midseason, we were 4-4, and had battled back from an 0-2 start. LJ was starting to get 100-yd games. Huard was getting beat up behind a porous line. Bowe stepped up and took over the #1 WR position, but was still raw/inexperienced enough to get shut down in games. Defenses stacked the box, knowing that they could smother LJ if it was a run, but the same play call would allow them to get pressure on Huard before he could deliver the ball if it was a pass. Huard got dinged up, bruised and battered. No WR stepped up to be a good #2 if Bowe and TG were covered. Our new, young DL players hadn't caught on yet. Our MLB was often out of posiiton. Our #1 CB had to give a huge cushion to avoid getting burnt deep, and had pretty much lost his ability to stop the run.

But we were still 4-4, and had beat San Diego in San Diego.

Then LJ got hurt. Then Priest re-injured his neck. Then Huard couldn't move the ball anymore (and could barely walk, he was hit so much). Kolby Smith couldn't stay healthy and on the field. Gilbert Harris showed he wasn't an NFL starter. Jackie Battle showed he wasn't ready. Jeff Webb was inconsistent. Donnie Edwards couldn't stay healthy and on the field. Boone wore down. Croyle got hammered behind the same porous line.

We ended up 4-12.


1) We still ended up in the top half on defense, including leading the league in forcing 3-and-outs
2) We significantly increased our quality depth at TE, RB, and WR
3) No matter how many mistakes Flowers might make, he represents a significant upgrade over Ty "Oops" Law
4) We likely increased our quality depth at CB and S...our starting NB has been pushed down the depth chart by increased talent on the roster
5) Tyler and McBride are showing significant improvement at DE and DT
6) LJ is not just back to health, he enacted a healthier eating/exercise plan that has made him stronger and faster than at any time in the last 18 months
7) We have a new OC who has clearly developed an effective O-plan, one that uses our strengths and will protect the QB

Our only downgrade on defense is losing Jared Allen. But the addition of Dorsey and the improvement of McBride and Tyler should end up in about equal pressure from the defense. I wouldn't be surprised if we end up getting the same number of sacks and FF as last year from the D-line as a group (about 25, I think, with 15.5 from JA and 7.5 from Hali last year, and a scattering from everyone else; 25 should be easy to get, with 11 from Hali, 3 from McBride, 3 from Tyler, 3 from Dorsey, and 5 from everyone else not being impossible). Demorrio Williams and DJ should increase the overall number of sacks from the LB, too (I think we had only about 10 total from them last year).

The only downgrade on offense is...well, we didn't downgrade anywhere on offense.
I think Albert will be at least as good as McIntosh was last year on the left. And the right should be better than Welbourn/Perry/Turley was last year...there's almost no way they could be as bad. Niswanger has already shown he's an upgrade over Weigmann, and Waters is playing better than last year.
Bowe won't be any worse, and likely has turned it up a notch. Webb is more consistent than last year, and has proven he deserves the #2 slot as a starter...but DvD and Price may have demonstrated to the coaches they have even more game than Webb. Franklin may even make an impact as a quality slot receiver (something we lacked last year).
Cottam will give us more options out of the 2 TE set.
We have QB roll-outs built in to help make things easier on the O-line.
We have what seems to be NFL-starter quality backups 4 deep at the RB position.
Page has already won several games for us at FS, but reports are he's playing even better this year. And while Pollard was inconsistant last year at SS, he has reportedly improved this off-season. And Morgan is faster and better in coverage than Pollard, yet a better tackler than Page, so will see significant playing time.

We have enough quality depth at most positions that our coaches will be able to set up substitution situations to minimize rookie mistakes.

One extra TD/game last year would have won an additional 4 games for us. And it would have put other games in reach, so that the other team couldn't go into a mode to protect a lead...meaning one extra TD/game would have meant a win against Green Bay, and maybe Jacksonville and Tennessee. Ifs and wishes, sure, but that's 11-5.

I predict that:
1) Our defense will not slide. We will be above average. We may still be around 13th/14th in yardage/scoring, but may slightly improve to just get in the top 10. We will not lead the league in forcing 3-and-outs again, but will be among the leaders for that, and for turnovers.
2) Our offense will get that one extra TD/game.
LJ and Cottam and Charles and improved-Croyle and DvD/Franklin/Price/improved-Webb pretty much guarantee that.

I'm going out on a limb and saying that: if we stay relatively healthy, we will go 11-5 this year.
But staying healthy isn't easy in the NFL. One injury to a key player that results in extensive missed time, and we go 8-8. Two, and we are 6-10.

It's going to be a fun year!

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posted by Nathan on 04:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

August 07, 2008

Chiefs Win! « Kansas City Chiefs »

Okay, just a preseason game.

Here's a highlight reel.

My take:
What I really liked:
- On the roll-out pass to Cottam, Brodie had a *great* fake toss.
- On LJ's TD run, Brodie had *another* awesome fake toss...and then still handed it off to LJ. That changed the pursuit of the D, and meant LJ had less guys to beat to get in the end zone. That was a great call by Gailey.
- We won the game despite being -1 in the TO column. AND that was against one of the better defenses in the NFL. AND it was on the road.
- Brodie Croyle was 60% on his passing (the minimum you want from a pro-bowler) and had 8 yds/attempt. A pro-bowler is always above 6 yds/attempt, and usually above 7 yds/attempt.
- Brodie used both legs and arm and decision-making skills on the first drive to convert *four* third downs. Five if you count his execution of the fake toss-handoff to LJ for the score. That's big-league performance. Against a top defense, on the road. Can't say that enough.

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posted by Nathan on 10:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 24, 2008

Roster Guesses « Kansas City Chiefs »

Offense (25) The offense is mostly set, with the only starting battles at RG, RT, and #2 WR. The rest is a battle of backups.

QB (3): Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Damon Huard

Bubble/Practice Squad: None

Rationale: Croyle is the man. Thigpen needs whatever snaps remain to be a credible replacement for Croyle. Huard doesnt need anything, and likely showed some age-related decline and fragility last year. Hes an emergency QB now. Greene was cut before camp even started, leaving no one to challenge the QBs on the roster. The only uncertainty is who will be the actual game-day backup to Croyle.

RB (3): Larry Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Kirby Smith

Bubble/Practice Squad: none/Savage

Rationale: While Savage and Battle are decent enough to make most NFL teams, the Chiefs are just too deep for these guys to make the team. If one makes the practice squad, it would probably be savage, just because his NFL potential is still not determined, and thus theoretically unlimited.

FB: Oliver Hoyte

Bubble/Practice Squad: Mike Cox/Mike Cox

Rationale: Despite being a converted LB, Hoyte actually has NFL playing time as FB. Despite his experience in Chan Gaileys system, Cox does not. This is a pretty close battle, however, and could go either way. I do think if Cox doesnt make the final roster, he goes to the practice squad; whereas if Cox makes the team, Hoyte is completely gone. I dont think anyone else (Jackson, Manderino) really has much chance.

TE (3): Tony Gonzalez, Brad Cottam, Michael Allan

Bubble/Practice Squad: none/Michael Merritt (injured)

Rationale: While Cottams size and corresponding strength/leverage should help him be an outstanding blocker, I think he was drafted to replace and back up Gonzalez presence in the passing game. Gailey isnt known for using tight ends, but he is known for strong running attacks combined with innovative passing; TonyG is a key to both of those, and Gailey is the guy to take advantage of his abilities. But Gonzalez is aging, and you dont want to have the offense crippled if he goes down for a week or two. Hence, the drafting and development of both Cottam and Allan. Allan is a good receiver with the size to be a good blocker. Cottam is naturally a gifted blocker with the hands and speed to be a game-changing receiver. The handwriting is on the wall, and it tells me Gailey is embracing the TE position as a flexible blocker/receiver. Foschi isnt skilled enough to be a threat in both roles. Neither is Merritt, and with his injury keeping him off the field, theres no one to challenge these three.

WR (5): Dwayne Bowe, Jeff Webb, David Darling, Will Franklin, Kevin Robinson (I predict will double as P/KR)

Bubble/Practice Squad: Bobby Sippio/Maurice Price

Rationale: Bowe has a slot sewn up. Webb showed improvement last year. He ended the year starting two games, and caught 7 passes for 68 yards in those two games, which shows he was starting to build some rapport with Croyle. Darling has similar career stats and perhaps more upside, but Webb has shown flashes of starting potential (he went 7 for 78 against the Bengals with Huard behind Center), whereas Darling really hasnt. Webb did have some lapses last year (a damaging drop or two in critical spots, and a very significant failure to get his second foot in bounds against Green Bay), but his experiences as a key backup and starter last year, and Croyles familiarity with Webb will probably give him the edge over Darling. Franklin and Robinson both have the potential to surprise and leapfrog both Webb and Darling. The days of the Sippio experiment are probably at an end. Maurice Price also gets lost in a numbers game, and the other unknowns (to include the two last-second signings) are probably camp fodder with zero chance.

OT (4): Branden Albert, Damion McIntosh, Herb Taylor, Barry Richardson

Bubble/Practice Squad: Anthony Alabi/Shackleford

Rationale: The top three are pretty much locks to make the team. Richardson could play his way off the team, making room for Alabi by default. Svitek hasnt shown enough and has been too injured to make anyone think he deserves a roster spot. There isnt anyone else with enough intriguing upside to make the team. Yeah, Im talking about you, Leffew and Shackleford.

G (3): Brian Waters, Adrian Jones, Rob Smith

Bubble/Practice Squad: No one, unless a T shifts inside to G

Rationale: Waters is a lock, Jones gets RG almost by default, and Smith makes the team because theres no one else on the roster who looks good enough to push Smith off the team. Has anyone heard anything at all about Edwin Harrison? Me neither. If I were coach, Id consider going with only 2 Gs and taking an extra T. Maybe the Will Svitek experiment could try him inside at G?

C (2): Rudy Niswanger, Wade Smith

Bubble/Practice Squad: none/none

Rationale: There is literally no one on the roster after these two. Smith makes the team, not only because you dont want to depend on a player who has never played C in the NFL and ended the last season with a knee injury, but also because Smith can play any position along the line at a mediocre level. In fact, Smith could end up being the backup at both G spots.

K: Conner Barth

Bubble/Practice Squad: Nick Novak/none

Rationale: Barth showed mental toughness coming back from a horrible sophomore year slump. Novaks history of bouncing around the league doesnt hurt him, but I think Barth has the edge by dint of being new, on top of his mental toughness. No one makes the practice squad because no one carries a kicker on the practice squad.

KR: (Kevin Robinson and/or Jamaal Charles)

PR: (Kevin Robinson)

Bubble/Practice Squad: BJ Sams/none

Rationale: I think Robinson will make the team as the primary K/PR because P/KR seems to be a young mans game: most returners lose effectiveness later in their career, and Sams is coming off multiple injuries. Moreover, Robinson is the NCAAs career all-purpose yardage leader, contributing almost as much at WR as at KR for Utah State, meaning that Robinson has much more upside as a full-time player than Sams. But if Sams fully recovers from injuries and hasnt succumbed to age, he could steal the spot. No practice squad for this position; Robinson makes the team or is snatched by another team. But we have enough potential returners who can contribute at other spots; theres no reason to have a dedicated returner this year.

Defense (26)

CB (5): Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, Patrick Surtain, Rashad Barksdale, Tyron Brackenridge

Bubble/Practice Squad: Maurice Leggett/Maurice Leggett

Rationale: Yeah, I think we may end up starting two rookie CBs, with Surtain the first guy off the bench. Rashad Barksdale makes the team because hes unually big for his speed (or unusually fast for his size) but inexperienced, meaning he still has huge upside. Dmitri Patterson was decent last year, but has two many years in the league to really have much chance of showing anything, so wont make the team. Brackenridge played very well at times last year, and still has the chance for significant improvement that Patterson doesnt. Will Poole is just like Patterson, only older: cut. Maurice Leggett has impressed the coaches and may take Brackenridges spot.

S (4): Jarrad Page, DuJuan Morgan, Bernard Pollard, John McGraw

Bubble/Practice Squad: Khayyam Burns

Rationale: Page, Morgan, and Pollard are locks to make the team. The only uncertainty is if Morgan replaces Pollard, and I think he will by game 4, if not by the end of camp. McGraw makes the team due to canny experience and special teams play. But the #4 spot is wide open: Ive heard a few hints about Burns being a potential surprise, and Ron Girault is a blank slate who could be a sleeper or merely camp fodder.

LB (7): Derrick Johnson, Donnie Edwards, Demorrio Williams, Napoleon Harris, Nate Harris, Pat Thomas, Steve Octavien

Bubble/Practice Squad: Weston Dacus, LeRue Rumph

Rationale: This is the most intriguing competition of the whole team. Johnson and Edwards are locks to be startersbut what position? Conventional wisdom says DJ would play better as the Weakside LB, but conventional wisdom also says DJ gets the Strongside position because theres no one else. Napoleon Harris is the MLB incumbent, but despite good stats, missed some easy tackles and misread too many plays. Edwards could end up moving to MLB with Williams taking over at WLB. Then again, Edwards may be too old to be a full-time, 16-game starter. Nate Harris filled in for Nap Harris last year; he clearly looked lost before the snap, but performed decently while the ball was in play. Then again, Pat Thomas (a final cut-down steal by Herm Edwards last year) is reportedly looking good and may leapfrog both Harrises for the starting MLB spot. But Nate Harris was considered to have considerable upside before last years draft by being a top player banished to a small college due to circumstance; it would not be a shock if he made the leap of ability to become a starter by the end of camp this year. And yet, Octavien, Rumph, and Dacus also have that same sort of reputation this year as Nate Harris did last year, and Harris could get caught up in a numbers game where a one year of experience was only enough to show the coaches they dont really want to put in the effort on you anymore. But the reality is also that Kris Griffin, Rich Scanlon, and Nick Reid also had this same sort of buzz around them that all these young guys now have, and look how they turned out. Or didnt, actually. E.J. Kuale is probably camp fodder because hes been in the leauge too long to suddenly elevate his play to challenge for a roster spot. I give the edge to Octavien because he had better numbers in college than anyone else despite playing through lots of injuries. Assuming he has fully recovered and will no longer be injury-prone, he has the biggest upside of any of our prospects. Dacus has better total numbers due to more games starting, but was more of a steady college producer, rather than a potential NFL game-changer. Im ready to be surprised by who stands up and stands out.

DE (4): Tamba Hali, Turk McBride, Brian Johnston, Alfonso Boone

Bubble/Practice Squad: Johnny Dingle

Rationale: Ive heard little about Dingle lately, but even less about Trevor Johnson or Jason Parker. Hali, McBride, and even Johnston are locks because there just really isnt anyone else. Unlike many other people, I figure the switch to DE for Boone is a done deal. Hes reportedly lost weight to make the switch, and that shows commitment; aside from that, there really isnt anyone else. Boone wore down last year at DT and wasnt really effective the last half of the season. That indicates he might have been playing above his ideal weight. Losing weight can make a decent DT turn into a speedy enough DE, but well see. Our future lies in how well Hali transitions to the RE, how well McBride steps up as a (near) full-time DE, and how Johnston develops at LE. That leaves Boone to either be a pleasant surprise or wrap up his NFL career; either way, we shouldnt depend on him.

DT (4): Glenn Dorsey, Tank Tyler, Ron Edwards, T. J. Jackson

Bubble/Practice Squad: Derek Lokey, Maurice Murray

Rationale: If there is a reason to let Dingle be the #4 DE and have Boone move back inside, it is because of the lack of prospects at DT. Edwards is young enough to still produce, but his abilities are established at mediocre. Ive heard some good things about Jackson, but not much. I havent heard a thing about Lokey or Murray. Thus, Ive got Jackson at the #4 spot by default, but that could easily change.

P: Dustin Colquitt

Bubble/Practice Squad: None

Rationale: There is only one punter. Nuff said.

LS: Jean-Philippe Darche

Bubble/Practice Squad: None

Rationale: Darche is almost as much of a fixture as Colquitt.

If you do the math, thats just 51 players. Theres a method to my madness. First, the positions where the competition is the deepest are the areas we are already dedicating most of the roster spots and cant carry the bubble players: WR, LB, RB, CB. Second, the areas where we could use an extra player are really the least deep in terms of talent: DE, DT, G, FB. Finally, 2 players who are challenging for a significant contributing role this year did not enter camp for us last year, but were other teams draft picks snatched from the waiver wire as they tried to sneak the players on to their practice squad: Thigpen and Barksdale. That was a pretty clever move that I expect Herm to attempt again this year (we actually did that with 3 players, but only 2 stuck). Anticipating that move, I will leave two spots open.

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posted by Nathan on 04:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 23, 2008

Trading Down: How? Why? When? « Kansas City Chiefs »

Anytime the NFL draft comes up, someone always says, "We should trade down to get more draft picks." And someone else inevitably replies, "You have to find someone willing to trade up to do that." Well, what does it take?

What are the scenarios by which someone will want to trade up?We traded up to get Sims. We traded up to get Tony Gonzalez. New Orleans traded up to get Ricky Williams. Cleveland enacted several trades last year to jump right in front of us to grab people they were afraid we'd take (both Brady Quinn, QB, and Eric Wright, CB).And that's the next part of the equation, isn't it?

There has to be someone at #5 that another team wants, and is afraid won't fall to them...Our only hope is that some guys currently rated at mid-first round has his stock rise high enough to make McFadden or one of the Longs drop to #5. Then, and only then, can a team at #8 or lower start getting excited enough to move up.

And that's the final part of the problem. Trading up to grab someone at #1 overall is too expensive, usually. The only way, normally, to get the #1 pick is to be the worst team in the NFL for that year. And that has a huge cost in fan support, merchandise, television appearance revenue, paid attendance, television advertising revenue, public good will, etc. It is so bad, that about the only way to redeem that cost is the excitement surrounding the #1 overall pick. Thus, trading up to get it is prohibitively expensive.

But when a player falls a few spots, it begins to look more attractive to trade up. Reggie Bush was nearly the consensus #1 overall pick, but Houston didn't want him. So he fell to #2, where the Saints were ecstatic to grab him. But let's say they, too, felt that there was a different player who would be more useful for a longer time, someone who would make significant contributions and pro-bowls for a decade or more, and let him fall. Suddenly, teams that weren't willing to trade up to the #1 or #2 slot see the chance of getting a virtual #1 pick for the cost of a #3 pick. There are suddenly more teams ready to make that pick.

It works for players lower down, too: Brady Quinn was not going to be the #1 overall, but most people considered him a decent top-15 pick. Yet no one wanted to trade up to get him. But by the time he dropped to the 22nd pick, Cleveland couldn't help themselves...but clearly, he wasn't worth trading up when he was at #15, right? That turned out to be more expensive than they originally thought, because they shorted themselves in the 2008 draft to get an early start at an expensive franchise QB. The money is committed, the pick is gone, and now they have a starting QB playing well enough to keep the franchise guy on the bench...but I digress.

Tony Gonzalez was not picked in the first eleven picks. KC wanted him, badly. But we weren't willing to move up to the #5 pick to grab him. But we were willing to trade to #12, and did so. Maybe the team holding #11 wasn't willing to deal; maybe the team at #13 wasn't willing to accept what we offered, so it's not 100% that Tony was worth it at #12 and no where else...but it is clear he was worth approximately that at the time.

This year, McFadden is currently one of the hot choices for #1 overall. So is Glenn Dorsey and Chris Long. Jake Long is clearly considered top five, but not #1 overall, as is Matt Ryan. Sedrick Ellis seems to be rising, too. So there are 6 players. It seems clear that Dorsey and Chris Long are taken #1/#2, no matter who goes first. It seems pretty clear neither of them would fall to #5. Then since we'd be happy to take Jake Long, and we want to explore the possibility of trading down, let's assume he goes at #3. If McFadden is available at #4, there will be 3-4 of teams clamoring to trade up for him. We wouldn't gain any advantage from that at all. It would only guarantee the right to take Ryan or Ellis. Since both of those are currently projected to go between 4 and 7 (with Ryan being on the higher side of that), it is unlikely either of them would trigger a trade.

However, if one of the top 4 teams took Ryan or Ellis (or both), that would put any one of the other top 4 (Dorsey, Long, Long, or McFadden) in our laps at #5, with a cinch that whoever it was would not drop to #6, or lower. But dropping that low would tantalize the #6, #7, or #8 picker, and they would probably be happy to trade spots with us to get the right to draft their dream player.

That would allow us to draft Clady or Baker at OT without spending way to much for them, and picking up another draft choice this year or the next (depending).

So that's our final analysis: We can and will trade down only if:1) Jake Long is drafted in the top 4.2) Ryan, Ellis, or someone else rises to the top 4, pushing someone else considered a Can't-Miss Top Three to drop to us at #5.3) That Can't Miss Top Three player isn't someone we want.

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posted by Nathan on 07:46 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

December 10, 2007

Chiefs Lose Again---Six Straight! :( « Kansas City Chiefs »

Good analysis by both David J. and the post's first commenter.

I even agree that the unsportsmanlike call against Marshall was B.S.

But: Geez, it's a bad year for KC. We were looking like we were on the verge of turning the corner to competence at 4-3, and in command of the division (having won on the road against both SD and Oakland). Then our O-line and injuries just decimated us. We've already had our 3rd-string QB play because of injuries to the first two, and we've already had our 4th-string RB get significant playing time because injuries kept the top 3 off the field.

But none of that changes the fact that our O-line is horrendous, and, as David J. pointed out, the receiver corps(e) isn't playing as well as the QB.

But on a day that everything went horrible and our O-line was only as strong as the soaked competitor to Brawny paper towels, I'm impressed that Croyle was over 50% completions and had as many TDs as INTs.

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posted by Nathan on 08:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 27, 2007

Facing the Truth about the 4-7 Chiefs « Kansas City Chiefs »

It is impossible to pin any of our losses on a single failure. It has required multiple failures of various aspects of the game to put us at 4-7. We've had inconsistent play from the QB while Huard was in, the O-line for the entire season, the D-line for the last 3 games, the pass defense in the 4th quarter against Green Bay, the run defense in the 4th quarter against Indy and Oakland, the WRs in the first 3 games, we're on our #3 RB, our CBs have been inconsistent most of the season, but Law gave up too many 3rd down completions against the Jags, playcalling at times, too many penalties in most of our games, strings of missed key field goals, lousy returns.

We've missed by inches in most of the above problems. Of all those problems, the O-line is the most clear culprit. They have not protected the QB, they have not opened lanes for the running game, and they've made stupid (unnecessary) motion and holding penalties that have put us 15-20 yards from a first down too many times. With a better O-line and kicker, we could be 11-0 right now. Sure, about half the teams in the NFL could say that...but half couldn't.

Solari is, at most, 10% of the problem (some bad play calls). Herm is, at most, 10% of the problem (I hold him responsible for our excessive penalties). On the other hand, most other coaches would not have put us in the situation where we were so close from being 8-3. I understand the frustration, but don't let it get in the way of insight and sense.

Bottom line: Despite all the whining, CP and Herm have us very close to being a contender. More experience for our key youngsters (Croyle, K. Smith, Page, Pollard, Brackenridge, Bowe, Webb, Niswanger, McBride, Tyler... and maybe G. Harris? H. Taylor? Nate Harris? Dmitri Patterson? Michael Allan? Boomer Grigsby?) and another strong draft will get us there. Patience.

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posted by Nathan on 09:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 25, 2007

Chiefs Lose to the Raiders (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit) « Kansas City Chiefs »

Well, there was one bright spot:
Kolby Smith.

More commentary soon.

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posted by Nathan on 10:47 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)

November 19, 2007

Chiefs at this Point « Kansas City Chiefs »

Some people look at what this team achieved and assume it is the baseline, using that as justification to call our coaches "idiots". Another way to look at it is that the team has already achieved more than the pessimists predicted, and that it took excellent coaching to even reach this level. The same conservative, tactical/strategic planning that people complain about got us wins against San Diego, Minnesota, Oakland, and Cincinnati. We simply don't have the talent and experience to be 6-4 right now...although we are getting it by how we played the last few games.

Good things take time/patience. Despite the instant gratification society we now have, "Quick/Now" does not always mean good. Some wisecracker will say we've been waiting for decades...but there have been peaks and valleys...and right now we are dealing with the aftermath of Dick Vermeil's not thinking about tomorrow. We are rebuilding the team the [i]right[/i] way for the first time since 1989.

Bottom line: Go look at an incomplete won't look good, either. Go look at uncooked's not that appetizing: yet. This team is being taught how to play as a team, not just as individuals. Every criticism leveled at Herm last year and this year was leveled at Tony Dungy his first two years at Indy...but it worked there, and it will work here. Just not as fast as some might petulantly demand.

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posted by Nathan on 08:27 AM | Comments (34) | TrackBack (0)

November 18, 2007

Chiefs Lose To the Colts « Kansas City Chiefs »

A few points:

1) We have an awesome defense. I think we can hold any team under 20 points, even the New England Patriots. And every time we hold a team under 20 points going into the 4th quarter, we can win the game.

1a) Yes, even with this offense.

2) Barring some sort of set-back and/or injury, Brodie Croyle is our starting Quarterback for the next 12-15 years. He went up against an angry, Super Bowl-winning, lost-two-games-in-a-row-and-not-willing-to-lose-a-third, #5-in-the-NFL defense, and did a great job. Good completion percentage, no INTs, several 3rd down completions, avoided pressure to complete the pass, and a touchdown pass that was (in the words of the announcer) "in a shoebox", it was so accurate. And luckily it was to the only guy on the team skilled enough to catch it and get his feet down in bounds...who should be our #1 WR for the next 12-15 years.

3) Chris Terry is a joke at RT. When the ref said, "Holding. Offense.", I guessed the next words would be, "#60." I was right. When a Colt sacked Brodie and stripped the ball, I guessed the replay would show Chris Terry let the defender through too easily. ...sure enough, it was. Our 2008 first-round pick, plus a third or fourth round pick, should go to getting a few Tackles. If we get a starting LT, McIntosh can slide to the RT. If the 1st rounder needs some seasoning, he can start at RT for a year or two, and then by the time he's ready to shift over to the left, we should have another RT ready to go. Our CBs are old, but we've got some young guys that will work fine as long as we continue to get pressure from our D-line.

4) McBride is playing like a vet, not a rookie. He doesn't have many tackles, but he already has a sack, a tipped pass, 2 or 3 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and a handful of QB pressures. And this has all been in the last 5-6 games; before that, he stood out more for his miscues. (although his sack was in the 2nd game, I think). Tank Tyler is not making an impact yet...but he's young, so there's time.

5) Napoleon Harris really hasn't done much this season. He had a few good plays in the first few games, and has been forgettable since. He's been injured a few times, I think...I remember seeing Nate Harris in a few games (looking panicky and rookie-ish). At this point, Nap looks like a bad FA pickup. Here's hoping Nate Harris progresses enough to bench Napoleon before the start of next season.

6) Lots of people complained about the offensive play-calling. I don't know. It looked okay to me. I think if we executed better, the play calling would have been fine. And it's not like we were facing the #32-ranked defense, we were facing the #5 defense in the NFL at their home. I think we called it well, and nearly pulled it off. If the sack/fumble had bounced into the Chiefs hands, we would have won the game easily. If Raynor's doink had bounced through like the Broncos' did last week, we would have won the game, because I don't think Dungy would have done his end-game strategy the same way.

But I don't know. I'd be willing to take a new O Coordinator next year, but I'd be willing to let Solari stay one more year. I've seen far worse O Coordinators have several years of ineffectiveness with the Chiefs (Jimmy Raye and Paul Hackett come to mind), and still be considered good enough to run other teams' offenses afterward. I'm not convinced there are that many good O Coordinators out there. And I think Solari has had some tough handicaps to labor under, like the expected and unexpected retirements of All-Pros, and devastating injuries to key players like Trent Green, LJ, and various O-line players (even Tony G for more than 1 game last year). At the very worst, I'd let Solari have the rest of the season to audition for his job next year. We've got Bowe and Croyle established as players now; let's see what they can do with an offense built around their abilities.

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posted by Nathan on 09:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 15, 2007

Drought, of a Sort, Ends « Kansas City Chiefs »

And pundits over-react.

After reading this article, I had two thoughts:
1) Gretz isn't quite the KC mouthpiece some people try to accuse him of being
2) This article may play well to the casual fan, but contains inexcusable mistakes for someone who has been watching/analyzing football as long as Gretz.

Here's the quote that irritates me:

This is how unusual this drafted starting quarterback drought has been. Below are the dates and quarterbacks for each of the 32 NFL franchises and the most recent start by a quarterback drafted by that team. Its an overwhelming indictment of how poor the Chiefs draft and development process with quarterbacks has been for the last 20 years.

This is a ridiculous statement because:
Did Denver have a poor draft and development process with QBs because they had Elway starting for so many years? Last time I checked, 5 Super Bowl appearances with 2 wins should not be considered bad.
Did Green Bay have a poor draft and development process with QBs because they started Favre for so many years?
Exactly how many 1st-round QBs did Cleveland and Cincinnati have to cycle through to get a decent starting QB? How many QBs overall? Doesn't that mean their draft and development process is poor, because so many drafted QBs couldn't stick? Can Washington be satisfied with their QB draft process over the last 20 years? I don't think so.
How many drafted QBs have been top performers for the Raiders over the last 20 years? Who was their best? Journeyman/career backup Rich Gannon, absolutely not drafted by Oakland.
Gretz singled out the Chiefs draft and developmental process for QBs...yet excluded Seattle becaues they had Seneca Wallace start a game. Is he the starter now? Did he bring them to a Super Bowl? No. In their entire existence, the only QB to take them to the Super Bowl was Matt Hasselback...whom Green Bay drafted.

By my quick count, there have been 101 QBs drafted since 2000. There are only 32 teams. Something like 10 teams are starting QBs either undrafted or not drafted since 2000. That means only about 1/5th of the drafted QBs are starting.

We drafted 6 QBs that should have been available to start during the 90s:
Danny McManus (11th-round 88), Mike Elkins (2nd-89), Matt Blundin (2nd-92), Steve Matthews (7th-94), Steve Stenstrom (4th-95), Pat Barnes (4th-97).

...and yet, even though none of these QBs caught on, or even started, we still were one of the most winning teams of the 90s. Notable Super Bowl winning teams of the 90s:
Green Bay, did not draft the starting QB
Denver (2x), did not draft the starting QB
San Franciscio, did not draft the starting QB
St. Louis Rams, did not draft the strating QB

That means half the Super Bowls won during the 90s were by QBs not drafted by their team.

Drafting a good QB or trading for a good young player is the best way to have stability at your QB position. The problem is knowing if the QB is a keeper or not. The question is not whether or not you drafted the QB, but whether you are satisfied with him or not. We did not miss out on a Super Bowl appearance because Trent wasn't drafted by KC, I can guarantee you.

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posted by Nathan on 08:34 AM | Comments (29) | TrackBack (0)

November 13, 2007

Chiefs Lose to Broncos, Pt II « Kansas City Chiefs »

Good analysis here, by David J.

posted by Nathan on 08:29 AM | TrackBack (0)
Chiefs Lose to Broncos; Croyle Era Starts « Kansas City Chiefs »

Man, that was an embarrassing loss. We shouldn't lose at home to the Broncos under any circumstances (last loss to the Broncos at Arrowhead was 2002), but to lose 27-11 is ridiculous. Especially with as banged up as Denver was coming into the game.

But it all starts up front, and our O-line let the Broncos get too much pressure on Huard, while Denver's O-line pretty much shut down KC's D-line (except for one coverage sack to Jared Allen early in the game), and gave Denver's undrafted rookie RB pretty good cutback lanes (20 carries for 109 yards).

So with Huard getting hammered by the Bronco's D-line, the Chiefs gave up two big turnovers deep in KC's side of the field, leading directly and indirectly to two Bronco TDs in the 3rd quarter. That blew the game wide open and gave the Broncos an (with our offense) insurmountable lead.

If there is an upside, it's that Croyle has now been given the starting job, and unless he looks like the second coming of Ryan Leaf, he'll finish out the season. He looked pretty good against the Broncos, doing pretty well despite the highly-ranked Broncos pass defense knowing he had to pass to try to catch up. He did throw 1 INT and couldn't lead the Chiefs to more than a single FG.

But he looked pretty good. At least twice, I saw Brodie elude a pass rush by throwing a quick pass that Huard would not have been able to get off. Huard would have thrown it away or taken the sack, but Croyle threaded the ball past a defender to put the ball where the receiver could get it and get positive yardage.

I like Huard, and thought he was one of the mentally toughest QBs I've seen in recent history. But I've been ready for Croyle to take over since the beginning of the season, and even more after we went 0-2, and even more after Huard followed up the victory over San Diego with another really slow start against the Bengals. So I'm absolutely excited about Croyle starting the rest of the season, and I think he'll do well. I think he won't lose any games for us, and could quite possibly win several on his arm strength and ability.

But we'll see.

Our back-to-back losses nearly eliminate us from post-season play. I figure we'll need to end up 10-6 to have a chance, and I think there is little chance of us only losing one more game the rest of the season.

We still have to play Detroit, which is no slouch. We still have to go to Denver and try to win back the game we lost this week. San Diego is coming back, and they will want to take the game at Arrowhead to avenge our beating them on their home turf. And, of course, we travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts this week. We will lose more than one of those games, and so we are now likely to end up 8-8 or 9-7.

We could have beaten both the Packers and the Broncos. We needed to win at least one of them to be able to say we are a good enough team to make the playoffs. We are still alive, so we'd better not give up, but hope is fading.

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posted by Nathan on 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 09, 2007

Chiefs and Broncos Recent Draft Suckage « Kansas City Chiefs »

Good analysis by the Chief's Gretz:

The Chiefs and Broncos, and also to a certain extent the Chargers and Raiders are in their current predicaments because of poor drafting. Right now, the guts of any NFL team should be players taken in the 2000 through 2004 drafts. The oldest of that group would be an eight-year veteran and the youngest would be in his fourth season. Because of free agency, there is natural attrition the league goes through each and every season, as the older players are left behind. But those five seasons should dominate at least half the teams roster, with more recent drafts (2005-07) taking up most of the other half.

Thats not the case in the AFC West. Among the four teams there is not a single player remaining from on their rosters this week from their 2001 drafts. There are only two players from the 2002 draft still playing for the team that drafted them: cornerback Quentin Jammer in San Diego and often-injured wide receiver Ronald Curry in Oakland.

Among the four teams there are nine players from the 2003 draft and a dozen players from the 2004 draft.

The team struggling most because of poor results in the draft is Denver. Mike Shanahans track record in the draft is exceedingly bad. He had more draft picks in those five seasons than any other team in the division and has only two current players to show for it: linebacker Ian Gold (2000) and D.J. Williams (2004.) On the 53-man roster this week are only 15 players drafted by Denver in any season.

To make up for those deficiencies the Broncos have had to remain a big player in the free agent market and through trades. Right now half of Denvers 22 starters have come from trades or free agency. Theres at least another dozen in backup positions, including defensive end Simeon Rice who the Broncos have paid big money for and hes not gotten on the field in eight games.

While the Chiefs were more productive in the draft during those seasons, they have the same numbers as the Broncos: 11 of their 22 starters came through free agency or trades.

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posted by Nathan on 05:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 05, 2007

We are 4-4 now. We play 4 of 5 against division rivals...but 3 of those 4 Division games are at home. We've beaten the Chargers and Raiders on the road, so we should win those. And Denver is, if anything, worse off than KC, and worse than San Diego, and worse than last year. We should be able to beat them both in KC and Denver.

We will likely lose to the Colts in Indy, but ya never know...

Still. We are going undefeated in the AFC West this year.

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posted by Nathan on 09:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Chiefs Lose to Green Bay « Kansas City Chiefs »

Yeah, the defense let us down on this one.

The caliber of our defense isn't supposed to give up that many big plays, even to Favre.

On a day that Huard had a 4th-quarter come-from-behind score and when his performance was statistically identical to Brett Favre's (as in 2 TDs and 2 INTs), it wasn't Huard who lost the game for us. Especially since he did as well as Favre despite being hit a heck of a lot more, and also faced one of the best CB tandems in the league in Harris and Woodson.

But that's good news, because our defense will step it up to make sure this doesn't happen again.

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posted by Nathan on 12:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 04, 2007

Quit the Whining, Chiefs Fans! « Kansas City Chiefs »

I'm looking around, and it seems like all there is out there these days is negativity.

I'm not negative. I think we're doing fine.

We aren't great, no. We aren't at the level of the Colts and Patriots...but who is?

We've got some good things going right now. I believe, in no particular order:
1) Herm Edwards is one of the best coaches in the league, and is showing it now that he is with one of the better front offices in the league. To be 4-4 and be able to say you missed opportunities to be 6-2 or 7-1 is amazing, considering the problems we've had with injuries, youth, and our O-line.

(...and maybe that's the point. In a vacuum, we aren't all that good, just 4-4. But considering where people expected us to be, we are still in great shape to win the division and win one or two playoff games).

2) Our defense may be the best in the league. They constantly deal with bad field position from our sub-par offense, but still keep us in every game.

3) Damon Huard is winning games for us, even if not with scintillating stats. He can win playoff games for us, too, with this defense.

4) We've got an excellent D-line. Allen, Hali, Edwards, Boone, and McBride all had at least 2 good plays in the last game. Allen is the biggest sack threat in the NFL this season.

5) Page has learned how to tackle. DJ is hitting well...he just needs to start forcing turnovers to be a pro-bowler and help us win more games/playoff games.

6) We are 2 O-linemen, 1 WR, and maybe 1 CB away from having a Super Bowl contender. We are 5-6 players away from being a Super Bowl favorite. 2-3 of those may already be on the roster, and the other 3-4 can come in free agency and the draft next season.

7) For us to be 4-4 and tied for 1st in the division (with the inside track due to tiebreaking advantage over SD) with the state of our offense in general, and our running game in specific, is truly amazing...which goes back to the excellence of Herm Edwards as a coach.

All I want to see is for us to improve over last year. 10-6 and a playoff win will tickle me pink and set us up well for next season. 11-5, 2 playoff wins, or winning the division should qualify Herm for Coach of the Year honors.

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posted by Nathan on 11:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 21, 2007

Leave Herm Edwards Alone! « Kansas City Chiefs »

...there will be more of these parodies.

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posted by Nathan on 09:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 13, 2007

Bill Belichick Penalized for Cheating « Kansas City Chiefs »

I saw the news first at David/Zombyboy's...
The hard facts:

The NFL has fined New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and the team a total of $750,000 for videotaping an opponents signals. The team also has been told to forfeit draft choices.

The Pats were caught videotaping the New York Jets defensive signals during last Sundays 38-14 win at the Meadowlands.

CBS 2 HD has learned Belichick was hit with a $500,000 fine by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The team will have to hand over $250,000.

The Patriots will also have to forfeit at least one draft pick in 2008, but that will depend on how they finish this season. If they make the playoffs, they will lose a first-round pick. If they dont make the postseason, they will give up their second-and third-round picks.

David's take:

I dont have a strong opinion about the appropriateness of the fines and penalties--I have no idea how serious or how important the spying was to any of the Patriots victories. The funniest part of the whole scandal is that, irritating as he is, Belichick really is a brilliant coach and the Patriots have had phenomenal talent for years. I doubt they needed to cheat to win.

My feelings are complicated. At least, it is hard for me to draw the line where cheating begins, and strategy/skill ends.

Meaning, having a 2nd string QB that can read lips doesn't seem like cheating, but using technology to do so clearly me.

Sort of like, working out with a personal trainer isn't cheating, but taking steroids is.

So here the Patriots, supposedly so good, so talented that they don't need to cheat. Here is Belichick, supposedly so brilliant he doesn't need to cheat.

Oh? Well, if Belichick is so brilliant, why did he stink so badly when he coached the Browns?

Dan Reeves called in to ESPN and answered questions. He was very dismissive and it bothered me. It was like his whole attitude was, "Aw, shucks, it probably didn't make any difference."

Oh? Then why were Bill and the Patriots doing it?

Dan said that the only possible advantage it might bring is that if you can read the defense's play calls, you can call it in to the QB while he is in the huddle, or breaking the huddle and at the line of scrimmage. Dan's point was that there wasn't much time for a team to do much with that call.

Well, if your QB can audible a WR into the hole left by a blitzing LB, you look pretty freaking brilliant, don't you?

But that's just the gameday advantage.

Tom Brady is known for being an extremely intelligent QB, always making the right decision with the ball. How do defenses beat great QBs? By confusing them, by disguising coverages. If you videotape an opposing defense's calls, then you can know exactly what play was called, and compare it to what the defense showed before the snap. Voila! Disguised coverages aren't so disguised anymore.

It's similar to just looking at game film...but goes just that bit too far. It's cheating.

They should lose all their draft picks for a year. The actions were completely unacceptable.

But what do I know? I'm so naive I think it is wrong for a playoff game to be delayed because the visiting team's O-line has a slippery substance smeared all over their jerseys.

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posted by Nathan on 08:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Great Football Articles « Kansas City Chiefs »

If you can have a guaranteed All-Pro at only one position, what position should that be?

The quality of your center is the best predictor of a team's success.

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posted by Nathan on 09:45 AM | Comments (284) | TrackBack (0)

September 10, 2007

Good, Bad, and Ugly; 9 Sep 07 « Kansas City Chiefs »

Yeah, that sucked. It was a winnable game, and we didn't do it. The offense couldn't execute, and the defense couldn't stop them forever. Our kicker missed a chip-shot field goal. Welcome to the 2007 season! Here's hoping the events of our first game of the year are aberrations, rather than trends.

The Good
-Top two RBs both had 4+ ypc.
-Jarrad Page had a nice INT and made some good tackles.
-Bernard Pollard did a nice job knocking down a pass.
-The O-line gave Huard plenty of time, and the D-line put some nice pressure on Schaub.
-Converted 64% of third down opportunities (9/14)
-The defense gave up only 13 points; the one TD was a mistake that is fixable

The Bad
-Only 72 yards rushing on only 17 attempts.
-Three fumbles, two lost
-0/2 in Red Zone opportunities
-dropped passes by Bowe, Parker, Webb, Gonzalez

The Ugly
-Horrible play by Pollard to give up a TD
-An easy missed FG by our rookie kicker
-Some freakish turnovers made it impossible to get any momentum

Interesting Points:
-The defense looks pretty good, except for the one major lapse.
-The injury bug is causing us problems again, with both a starting CB and starting WR out for most of the game. Those are the two positions with the least experience behind the starters.
-Huard didn't look very good, but he didn't look very bad, either. A better game plan could have helped, but he delivered the ball on time and on target, and dropped balls and "lucky bounce of the week" turnovers ruined any chance for Huard's unspectacular, methodical style to be effective. Huard isn't the QB who will go out and win games for you, but he is one who won't lose the game with stupid decisions. The only bad decision I saw him make all game was when his shovel pass to LJ was picked off, but the game was already a lost cause at that point.
-Huard had time to throw longer passes. I think the coaches saw that we were going up a defense that featured multiple (three!) high 1st round on the D-line, and tried to use high-percentage plays to keep the chains moving while protecting the QB. But our WR drops made that approach fail. With as well as our O-line did protecting Huard in the first half, I think we'll see the Chiefs open it up a little more next week.
-Page and Pollard look quite good. Page may make the Pro-Bowl this year. I would be surprised if he doesn't have more than 6 picks by the end of the season.
-The Chiefs start slow, and it's hard to start on the road. A loss is a loss, no matter what the point of the season. The Chiefs are not going to 0-16, I guarantee it. We now can say without a doubt they won't go 16-0, either...but anyone reasonable knew that before the season started, anyway. I have seen many quality teams have worse games, so the key will be how the Chiefs respond to this. The Chiefs are entirely capable of going into Chicago next week and getting the strong showing, or perhaps even the upset win, that they need to jump start the march to the playoffs. But even a loss won't really prove much until we've played two games at home.

Bottom Line:
Don't jump off the bandwagon yet, or you'll look stupid trying to climb back on when we make the playoffs later.

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posted by Nathan on 05:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

September 07, 2007

Snapshot: Chiefs, Opening Day 2007 « Kansas City Chiefs »

It's official. The 2007 NFL season has begun. A clean slate. A new beginning. Everyone is a potential Super Bowl champion. Every team has the potential to earn the #1 pick in the 2008 draft. Pre-season is, in the final analysis, meaningless; stats are erased, and the standings reset at zero. How will the Chiefs do? What is Herm thinking and planning? Well, it's not all guesswork. There are few things we know from perusing recent interviews and articles.

It's official. The 2007 NFL season has begun.

A clean slate. A new beginning. Everyone is a potential Super Bowl champion. Every team has the potential to earn the #1 pick in the 2008 draft. Pre-season is, in the final analysis, meaningless; stats are erased, and the standings reset at zero.

How will the Chiefs do? What is Herm thinking and planning? Well, it's not all guesswork. There are few things we know from perusing recent interviews and articles.

Five Things We Know (all links point to the source articles; all emphasis mine):

1) Drummond is not part of the passing game. We are only four deep at the WR position.

Q: What is Bowe's role going to be?

EDWARDS: "His role is going to be he's in the rotation. He's going to play a lot along with [Jeff] Webb. All four of those guys are going to play. Now, we will do different things and as we start playing you will see it all come to fruition. We've got to block 'em when we throw them the ball and when we throw it they've got to catch it too. He's involved in the offense. He and Webb will be involved in the offense, no doubt about it. They need to be. No different than the two defensive players we drafted. They're involved in our defense. They're in our rotation. I think you've got to do that with this football team at this point. When you've got some talent and you draft guys you've got to let them play."

2) Turk McBride is ready to contribute, but not to stand out. The coaches saw enough to keep him around with the expectation of future improvement, obviously, as he wasn't cut.
However, please note the depth chart:

Turk McBride is the only 3rd string player on the D-line, and Jimmy Wilkerson will play ahead of him in the rotation. That isn't a huge vote of confidence. On the other hand, Herm said:

"Now, we'll go with a seven man rotation [along the defensive line] and when Jared comes back it'll be eight man. All those guys will play probably 25 to 30 plays, which is good for us. We couldn't do that last year defensively."

That means Turk is already considered better than Sims was last year.

3) Herm is a cerebral coach who analyzes everything. Furthermore, he intends to score TDs when he gets in range, and plans on his defense holding the opponents to FGs. Burn this into your memory:

"Generally you get the ball around 12 possessions [a game] unless you turn the ball over a bunch. Out of those 12 possessions probably five times you're going to be inside the Gold Zone [inside the opponent's 30-yard line]. What do you do when you're there? Do you score touchdowns or kick field goals?

"When you look at us in the pre-season we had the ball an average of 11 times but our problem was we only got in the Gold Zone 2.8 times. That's not good. You want to average five or six if you can. I have a possession chart I always carry with me on the side so that after eight possessions I kind of know we're probably only going to get the ball back four more times.

"What you do inside that goal area is very important. Our players are starting to understand that. They need to learn that. That's a big part of football, something we talk about a lot. Our defense has done a pretty good job in the Gold Zone and hasn't allowed a lot of touchdowns. We've made them kick field goals.

"We kind of structure our practice that way, the way we think. Players have to think like coaches and at the end of the day they have to know you only touch the ball this many times. Just start counting. Within those possessions you get about six plays when you average them all out. You might go on a 12-play drive, but there might be a three-play drive. Generally it's about six plays for every possession. Know the situations and where you're at."

That's analysis and number-crunching worthy of Dick Vermeil.

4) The Chiefs are going to aggressively headhunt the rest of the NFL to assemble the most talented, deepest team, stocking the team with young players who don't command big salaries. There will be competition every year at every position. If the Chiefs are successful, this will set a new trend in player acquisition, in the same way that the Patriots set a trend with using marginal veterans in specific, limited roles. The Patriots got the most out of their roster with age/experience. The Chiefs intend to get the most out of their roster with youth, energy, and speed:

"What we've done this year is we've had another draft at the back end of our 53," Edwards said. "We've added three guys we liked leading up to the draft, guys who went elsewhere. When they became available and we claimed them (on waivers) we were able to add three more draft choices from this year's class. That gives us 10 draft picks from 2007 on our roster.

"And we are getting them for free, they aren't costing us anything. Can they play? Can they help us? We'll find out. But you can't find that out unless they are here."

5) The other teams better watch their back. Herm seems to have gotten more value out of the 53-man cut-down than any other team has in recent history. We should be able to see if it pays off by the end of the season.

" always have another hand that you're playing. You're always playing poker. They were actually trying to sneak him through on the practice squad. We kind of anticipated that and it kind of worked out for us."

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posted by Nathan on 07:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 03, 2007

Strategery « Kansas City Chiefs »

The Chiefs have demonstrated some extremely canny front office moves this season.

Nowhere more so than in the cuts down to the 53-man roster.

They held on to extra DBs and RBs; both areas where we have strong starters, but only rookies and 1st-year free agents with promise as backups. They waited one day while everyone else combed through the release rosters, and did some combing themselves. They saw a number of draft picks teams were trying to sneak through to their practice squad and pounced: they picked up a 5th-round pick LB from the Lions, a 7th-round pick QB from the Vikings, and a 6th-round pick CB from the Eagles. To make room, we released Derrick Ross, Chad Williams, and Bobby Sippio...but now they were all released at least a day after all the other teams had already made waiver claims and established most/all of their practice squad. That leaves Ross and Williams on their couches, available to be signed if we have an injury, and already knowing the system. It let Sippio slip through the waivers to join our practice squad. It still leaves us a little heavy in our LB corps and CB corps, but that may shake out within the first two weeks of the season.

But we did everything we wanted to, and the only player I saw claimed off of waivers from the Chiefs was Chris Hannon. But he's on the Panthers practice squad, so we can grab him at any time we want to sign him to the 53-man roster...just in case we have a rash of WR injuries.

Bravo, CP and Herm!

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posted by Nathan on 09:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 01, 2007

Cuts to KC Chiefs' Final 53 Man Roster Are In « Kansas City Chiefs »
Chiefs President Carl Peterson announced on Saturday that the club has made 21 transactions in order to comply with todays NFL mandatory roster cutdown to 53 players. NFL teams can designate an eight-man practice squad beginning on Sunday, September 2nd.

Kansas City placed RB Priest Holmes on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List (NFI). The Chiefs released WR Brad Ekwerekwu, S Marlon Fair, DT Kiki Gonzalez, WR Chris Hannon, FB Gilbert Harris, DE Michael Heard, G Rob Hunt, DT Patrice Majondo-Mwamba, DE Montez Murphy, T James Newby, RB Marcus OKeith, CB Justin Phinisee, CB Will Poole, QB Casey Printers, WR Ean Randolph, LB Nick Reid, LB Rich Scanlon, G Tre Stallings, QB Jeff Terrell and TE Keith Willis

Here's the new depth chart.

So I was wrong about Hannon keeping the job over Sippio; I'm not surprised they kept Parker, although that still isn't the choice I would have made, and I think I will be shown to be correct. I was right about Boomer Grigsby making the team. I was wrong about the Chiefs keeping Chad Williams...I can only think that move was because they still expect to deal Wesley to another team, and want to make sure no one takes their designated backup S (which is Chad Williams). I was wrong about them keeping Derrick Ross; I guess they figure they can fix his fumbling problem, because I figured that made him undependable and a sure cut. I was surprised they cut Casey Printers; the Chiefs must want to bring in another QB from somewhere else...maybe Byron Leftwich, about whose trade/release from the Jags there are rumors floating? I was not surprised they kept Kendrell Bell over Scanlon, even though I still wanted Bell to be cut; I'm mildly surprised that Nate Harris made the team over Scanlon, but I guess Scanlon's versatility isn't necessary with him being no higher than the 3rd option at every LB position. I was wrong about the Chiefs keeping Tre Stallings; I guess they don't expect to have injury problems at both RG and C at the same time; in an emergency, Herb Taylor could probably play RG, too.

Bottom line: the Chiefs went lighter than I expected (than the NFL norm) on QBs, and O-line. That allowed the team to go slightly heavy on RB/FB/TE (although there is some overlap with Kris Wilson, which is why I can't say they went heavy on each position), allowed them maintain the standard numbers at D-line (8), LB (7), CB (5) and WR (5), while still carrying an extra S (not many teams carry 5, and we won't do so for more than a few weeks, I'm sure).

Practice Squad:
-Either Brad Ekwerekwu or Chris Hannon (WR), but probably not both
-Marcus O'Keith (RB)
-James Newby (T/G)
-Jeff Terrell (QB), since Printers has supposedly refused to be on our practice squad
-Patrice Majondo-Mwamba (DT) or Kiki Gonzalez (DT), but not both
-Montez Murphy (DE)
-Gilbert Harris (FB) to keep practicing at FB in case Grigsby doesn't mature into a fully-capable blocking back

I know that's 7...but those are my top choices. I don't think Harris makes the cut, but predicting what an NFL team wants from the PS is something I don't really understand yet.

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posted by Nathan on 12:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

August 31, 2007

Predictions on Kansas City Chiefs Final Cuts to 2007 53-Man Roster Tomorrow, 1 Sep « Kansas City Chiefs »

Brad Ekwerekwu
Bobby Sippio
Jeff Terrell
James Newby
Marcus O'Keith
Gilbert Harris
Marlon Fair
Kiki Gonzalez
Patrice Majondo-Mwamba
Keith Willis
Ean Randolph
Justin Phinisee
Nick Reid
Montez Murphy
Derrick Ross
Rob Hunt
Michael Heard
*William Poole
*Kendrell Bell
*Chad Williams
*Samie Parker

*veterans ineligible for practice squad

Read More "Predictions on Kansas City Chiefs Final Cuts to 2007 53-Man Roster Tomorrow, 1 Sep" »

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posted by Nathan on 10:09 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

August 28, 2007

Chiefs Cut 14 From Active Roster « Kansas City Chiefs »

Kansas City placed G Chris Bober, FB Greg Hanoian, LB David Hicks and WR Maurice Price on Injured Reserve and terminated the contract of WR Rod Gardner. The Chiefs also released 9 players: T George Batiste, CB Michael Bragg, DE Chris Harris, WR Brent Little, CB Marcus Maxey, TE Mike Pinkard, T Ramiro Pruneda, WR Titus Ryan and T Kevin Sampson.

If you remember, these were my guesses.

I'm going to count IR as a cut, since they won't play a down for us this year.

Thus, my list was (actual cuts in bold):
Michael Bragg
Marcus Maxey
David Hicks

Brian Crum
Michael Heard
Chris Harris
Greg Hanoian

Derrick Ross
Maurice Price
Brent Little
Titus Ryan
Mike Pinkard
George Batiste

Rob Hunt

So four guys (Hunt, Heard, Ross, and Crum) are still hanging around for at least another week.

The surprise cuts?
Sampson, a former starter
Bober, a versatile backup, top back up for at least 3 spots last year
Gardner, a former #1 pick, but not a big surprise as I had him getting cut by the 1st...
Pruneda, also not a big surprise, as I had him not making it past the next round, anyway...

Still, having both Bober and Sampson out of the running for the O-line frees up two more slots on the O-line. It makes it look like Chris Terry is a lock...but I'm not so sure. It also seems like it ensures Herb Taylor makes the final 53. I'll have a full re-assessment of the 1 Sep cuts and the final 53 roster soon.

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posted by Nathan on 01:08 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)

August 24, 2007

The updated stats page is a little difficult to navigate at first, but now that I'm used to it, I like it much better.

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posted by Nathan on 10:38 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Horrible Loss to the Saints in the Chiefs' 3rd Preseason Game « Kansas City Chiefs »

Yeah, it sucked.

Our heir-apparent QB was 5 of 17 for 45 yards. That's scary-bad.

Our LT of the Future (Svitek) was starting for our injured FA pickup starter (MacIntosh) and did a bad job (helping Brodie attain that atrocious completion percentage).

Our WRs dropped everything (helping Brodie attain that atrocious completion percentage).

I'm not happy, no. I'd like for us to go out and have Croyle lead us to 4 TDs in his first 4 series.

And I'm slightly worried, yes.

But nothing counts yet. We've seen teams that looked horrible in the pre-season win the Super Bowl. And teams that have done great in the pre-season have had losing seasons.

Our horrible offensive production worries me, it truly does.

But I'm NOT proclaiming gloom and doom unless we get blown out in our first 3 games.

The thing is, this was preseason. The game doesn't count. The stats aren't entered in any record book. Preseason games are approached very differently than regular season games.
From what I hear:
We ran only one running play. We ran only one coverage scheme on defense, and didn't use stunts or blitzes to get pressure. We didn't use any (much?) of our multiple shifts that get us the favorabel mis-matches in the passing game.

Moreover, we were evaluating lots of players on the bubble. Phinisee got some time with the first-team defense, likely evaluating whether he can contribute outside the return game or not (meaning that he may make the team rather than Ean Randolph, contrary to my prediction in the roster cut-down post; I can live with being wrong on that; moreover, while Randolph still has a significantly better PR average, Phinisee has moved significantly to the lead in KR average).

We know:
1) Our starting, pro-bowl running back did not play
2) We have played 3 games that don't count
3) We got some good evaluation data on how players perform in a game situation (i.e., it looks like Phinisee got some reps with the first team to see if he might be able to do more than just PR/KR)
4) We have not played well on offense in 3 games
5) Our defense has done quite well despite playing only one coverage set
6) We can't do much without our pre-snap shifts to cause mis-matches
7) Our currently starting LT isn't starter-level yet
8) Our defense will be good
9) Improving on paper is not the same as improving on the field....HOWEVER:
10) Sucking in pre-season is not the same as sucking in the regular season
11) We plugged alot of holes with youth; youth makes mistakes...but it can improve from those mistakes. Old players can get old during a season, and get injured more. Having a young team is painful at times, but far better for playoff chances
12) If we don't challenge for the playoffs this year, the experience we get + another draft focused on the O-line (or maybe another FA LT) will make us a strong contender in 2008
13) Surprise! We may have decent depth at CB (more clear in the first two games than against NO)
14) Our defense is best in the Red Zone (when it counts, actually). We aren't giving up long scores, and we can shut down even the best offenses with our base scheme once we have the goalline at our back.

I am on record for saying our offense will be at least #12 in scoring. I made that prediction after the 2nd pre-season game, but even though the game against the Saints makes me feel nervous and sheepish about it, I'm not going to back away from it just because of one horrible game. You can't let one data point shake your analysis.

So I reiterate:
By the end of the year, the Chiefs will be top-10 in yardage and scoring defense, and at least #8 in yardage defense. The offense will be at least #12 in scoring (at about 22 points/game), and probably around #16 in yardage (more scoring from a strong running game than passing).

I stand by it. Don't worry, we'll make the playoffs. Or we might go 4-12. But there's no reason to jump off the bandwagon for any one bad game, and especially not any one bad pre-season game (even if the offensive trends look scary).

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posted by Nathan on 10:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 23, 2007

Ex-Nemesis News « Kansas City Chiefs »

John Elway is going to be a coach.

High school, that is. Elway will be the QB coach. Which seems like overkill, because what could Elway teach his son, Jack, that hadn't already been taught in their backyard?

You have to scroll down quite a bit (or use the edit function searching for "Elway") to find it, but John coaching for his son's team is a return to the past: John's dad, Jack, was a high school football coach at the school John attended. The wording of the article doesn't make it completely clear if their presences were concurrent.

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posted by Nathan on 12:47 PM | Comments (46) | TrackBack (0)

August 21, 2007

Roster Guesses, 2007 Pre-Cutdown Edition « Kansas City Chiefs »

My Lucky 8-Ball doesn't have an "NFL Roster" setting. I thought about coin flips, but couldn't find any coins with Justin Phinisee on one side and Ean Randolph on the other. My Ouija Board froze up trying to spell Ekwerekwu. All my normal sources for figuring out the future Chiefs roster failed to come through for me, so you are stuck with my SWAGs. Which, as you know, are my Stupid Wild-A$$ Guesses. Provided for entertainment purposes only, not as a source for gambling. And, as always, all predictions 100% or your money back! (money paid directly to me, that is...)

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posted by Nathan on 06:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 15, 2007

What's Up With Priest Holmes?!? « Kansas City Chiefs »

The numbers on Priest Holmes:
Played 9 seasons, now age 33
108 games, rushes: 1734 yds: 8035 ypc: 4.6 TDs: 86
catches: 344 yds: 2945 ypc: 8.8 TDs: 8
3 straight seasons with 300+ carries, and slightly less than 400 touches overall.

There are many questions surrounding Priest Holmes' comeback attempt. Is Priest Holmes serious? Can Holmes make the team and contribute? Will he contribute? If not, is this Priest's scheme to grab some of the limelight? Or is this Carl Peterson's scheme to put pressure on Larry Johnson? Or is Priest just after cash?

Let's see if we can answer these questions, and more:

Read More "What's Up With Priest Holmes?!?" »

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posted by Nathan on 10:21 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

August 07, 2007

WR Dwayne Bowe Signs « Kansas City Chiefs »

The Kansas City Chiefs announced on Monday that they had come to terms with their first round draft pick, rookie Dwayne Bowe out of LSU. His signing dispels some rumors floating around, namely that Bowes hold-out was related to the hold-outs of QBs Brady Quinn or JaMarcus Russell; Quinn just signed today and Russell remains unsigned.

Bowes absence from camp was big news; he was one of the last draft picks to sign a contract, and hes missed at least 200 offensive snaps according to Head Coach Herm Edwards. Worse, hell miss more snaps as he takes time to get in shape, because as Coach Edwards puts it, The first thing is to protect the player, Edwards said. You dont want to put him in a situation where all of a sudden something could happen. All football players, when theyre not here on time, what happens to them when they do get here and they get on the field, they automatically start competing at a high level. Thats not fair to himThese guys have their training camp legs under them and he does not because he hasnt been here. Herm further indicated Bowe would miss his first opportunity to get on the field for the Chiefs, not suiting up until the Chiefs play Miami on August 16th.

All this means Bowes development may be delayed. WRs dont usually contribute very much their rookie year, with a few exceptions like Anquan Boldin of the Cardinals or Maurice Colston of the Saints.

So if we cant depend on Bowe lighting it up for us this year, what does he bring to the Chiefs? It is obviously good to have your picks signed and practicing; but what will Bowe contribute this year and throughout his career?

Lets take a look at the WRs currently on the roster:
Kennison, Eddie 6-1 201
Parker, Samie 5-11 190
Webb, Jeff 6-2 211
Hannon, Chris 6-3 205
Gardner, Rod 6-2 219
Randolph, Ean 5-8 173
Bowe, Dwayne 6-2 221
Ekwerekwu, Brad 6-3 216
Little, Brent 5-11 193
Price, Maurice 6-0 197

One thing that jumps out is that last years starters, Kennison and Parker, are 20 and 30 pounds lighter, and slightly shorter. An inch or two might not seem like much, but football is a game of inches. And the extra weight is clearly muscle mass that will help Bowe win the physical battles against ball-hawking safeties and cornerbacks jams at the line that Kennison and Parker usually dont. Bowe gained a reputation for using his strength to break tackles after the catch.

Bowes height, weight, strength, and abilities are very similar to another guy already on the roster: Rod Gardner. But that doesnt make Bowe superfluous. On the contrary, even though Gardner is having a great camp, he didnt show much after joining the Chiefs last year. Rods been trying to revive a career that floundered after four decent seasons with the Redskins. But even if Gardner has revived his abilities, Bowe has much more upside than a 7-year veteran. In any case, there will be plenty of snaps for any wide receiver who produces. As Edwards said, when I look at starters those receivers to me are going to play in this system on a rotation [basis] with three or four of them. We want to keep them fresh. Having two players similar in size and technique able to rotate should only make the Chiefs offense more effective.

But what Bowe really brings to the Chiefs is the un-measurable ability to make something happen: 75% of Dwaynes catches at LSU went for first downs. Thats the sort of production the Chiefs could have used last January in the playoff game against the Colts.

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posted by Nathan on 09:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 05, 2007

Wild Roster Guesses « Kansas City Chiefs »

Some wild guesses based on analysis of training camp reports:

Tyrone Brackenridge is getting plenty of time as the first-team nickel back. However, from reports it seems as if Justin Phinisee is making amazing play after amazing play. Is he inconsistent, playing well on play and getting burned the next? Or is he merely excelling against weaker competition. In any case, at this point it looks like he may make the team ahead of Michael Bragg.
Benny Sapp is also apparently stepping it up to make a case for being a fully-qualified corner, as opposed to his reputation as being a nickel package cornerback most suited to covering a smaller slot receiver or blitzing from the edge. He's small, yes, but other small CBs have done very well by excelling in coverage and leaping. If there is a knock on Sapp from the past, it is that he doesn't have good enough hands to guarantee a pick if he is in the right position. Successfully defending a pass is good, but missing out on a sure INT will hold you back.
Current guesstimate of depth chart:
Starters: Ty Law, Patrick Surtain
Back-ups (in order): Breckenridge, Sapp, Phinisee, William Poole
That would force the controversial move of cutting both Bragg and Maxey; both are young enough that they could improve...but unlikely to ever be solid starters.

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posted by Nathan on 01:25 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)

June 19, 2007

Allen Blinks First « Kansas City Chiefs »

This is actually something I wrote a few weeks ago for Chiefs Coalition, but never got around to posting here.

I'll be doing more in training camp, and even more once the season starts again. There's just not that much news right now.

After all the smoke and thunder, Allen did not miss an hour of team practice for veterans.

Allen signed his one-year qualifying tender for $2.35 million dollars in time to report for duty at the Chiefs' first OTA (Organized Team Activities). By doing so, Allen caved on an earlier vow to not sign until right before summer training camp. More importantly, Allen signaled that his previous hard-line stance was likely nothing more than posturing for a better contract.

Allen said the right things to cover his tracks. "That's the reason I'm back," said Allen.. "I told coach Edwards, 'Let's not get this mistaken. I'm back for my teammates and for you.' There is no other reason."

Such a statement provides a convenient excuse for Allen to do exactly what Carl Peterson wants him to do: put the team, and winning, ahead of his own desire for a big contract.

By characterizing the issue as a dispute with team management, Allen is apparently trying to preserve his status as a "Blue-collar" fan favorite and not be labeled as a money-seeking malcontent. This allows him to keep the door open for signing a long-term contract with the Chiefs if he performs well next season.

Allen lost a great deal of leverage in his contract negotiations by getting a second DUI, and his agent wanted to try to regain some lost ground. It would have been a horrible tactical decision by Allen to sign a contract after the DUI charge but before the suspension, when the situation is most uncertain. Requesting a trade, refusing to sign the contract, and announcing his intent to refuse to sign the qualifying tender until summer training camp were all tactical delaying moves designed to increase Allen's leverage.

It may have been unlikely another team would offer the Chiefs a 1st and 3rd round pick to acquire the rights to Allen, but you don't know unless you try. It was certainly unlikely Carl Peterson would cave in and give Allen the huge contract he hoped for, but again, it didn't hurt to try. When push came to shove, Allen did what was right for the team, for the fans, for the coach, for himself... he gave in to Carl Peterson's requirements.

If Allen gets at least 8 sacks this season, forces at least 3 fumbles, and keeps his nose extremely clean, he will be offered an incentive-laden contract that will pay him commensurately with his performance. However, very little of it will be guaranteed, so that the costs of another mistake by Allen will not punish the Chiefs. This dispute will be forgotten, and Jared Allen will be a Chief until his career ends, whether that end is from age or social mistakes.

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posted by Nathan on 08:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 03, 2006

Kansas City Loses to the Browns « Kansas City Chiefs »

Our starting QB lost the game for us.

If he doesn't throw an INT in the end zone, we get a FG and the game never goes to overtime.

After getting up by 2 TDs, our starting QB then went 3 for 9 in the 3 possessions that counted. He got only 26 yards (which means a horrible 2.9 yard/attempt!), converted only 1 of 3 3rd downs, and fumbled the ball away in our own territory when we still had a chance to win with a FG.

On the 3rd of those possessions, the first in overtime, he went 1 of 4 for a mere 8 yards. The team that wins the toss wins most overtimes. Our QB didn't get it done, putting our defense on the field to save the game. (which they didn't)

But if our QB had done his job, we would have
- been up 3 scores with 9 minutes left instead of just 2 scores.
- run enough time off the clock to prevent their tying score
- scored a FG to end the game in overtime

The defense didn't win the game. But a starting QB has to be better than 3/9 with a TO or 1/4 for 8 yards when the game is on the line.

Trent had a great 3+ quarters. But his sub-par 4th lost the game.

Go back to what Herm said from the beginning: the offense has to help the defense. We've lost too many games with Trent Green QBing the team because he scores a bunch of points, but can't get a first down when we need one to close out a game.

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posted by Nathan on 02:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 24, 2006

Chiefs Beat the Broncos Despite Green « Kansas City Chiefs »

I'm a happy boy.

Jake had a pretty mediocre night. Green had a pretty bad night. Denver's defense made LJ pay for every yard he got. He had 157 yards...but on a 4.6 yd/carry average. That's alot of tough yards.

The edge in the game, though, was KC absolutely shut down Denver's running game. The Chiefs had more carries as a team than the Broncos had rushing yards. Michael Bennett had more yards on one carry than the Broncos had rushing yards, total.


The thing that most scares me is that Trent seems to be fulfilling my prediction that he's over the hill. His QB rating is an abysmal 66.0, and his best game is sut 75.5. He's thrown 2 INTs in just 53 attempts. No TD passes. He's fumbled twice in just 6 sacks. He has only 3 passes longer than 20 yards. He's missing short touch passes horribly. He rarely hits his WRs in stride. The one good thing is he seems to make Samie Parker a better (decent) WR. I hope he's just rusty...I hope he gets up to speed quickly, or he will lose important games for us. We can't afford a QB with a 66 QB rating.

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posted by Nathan on 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 22, 2006

I Hope I'm Wrong, But Green May Be Over the Hill « Kansas City Chiefs »

Herman Edwards says, "You play to win the game." If he really believes that, I'm not sure why he's putting Trent Green back in to start. Trent Green is 36 years old and has missed the last 8.5 games to a severe concussion. He received the concussion, in part, because he wasn't playing as well as he had in the past. I took a look at several Hall of Fame and Pro-Bowl QBs, most of whom were known for their longevity (I included Kenney and Krieg because they played for the Chiefs). I tried to look at QBs who played into the 80s, at least, in reflection that more is known now about the importance of conditioning. What is striking is that even among top-flight QBs, most of whom have won a Super Bowl and been to multiple pro-bowls, very few have good seasons after the age of 35. Based on this subjective list, Green has less than a 50/50 chance of playing good anymore. And that's only if you consider Green to be in the same class as Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Joe Montana, and John Elway. I think it more likely Green doesn't reach that level of talent. His general abilities seem equivalent to Aikman, Everett, Kelly...none of whom played well past age 35.

I picked the "last good year" based on a 60%+ completion rate and a positive TD:INT rate, or the last year the QB went to the Pro-Bowl. When the skills go, the drop-off was always dramatic. I hope Trent Green beats the odds, but it isn't very likely.

All stats from Pro Football Reference Dot Com

Player	        Age	Comp%	TD:INT	Age at last Pro-Bowl
Troy Aikman 	33	59.5	17-12	30
	        34	59.5	7-14	
Ken Anderson	33	70.6	12-9	33
	        34	66.7	12-13	
Terry Bradshaw	34	52.9	17-11	31
	        35			played 1 game, retired
R. Cunningham	35	60.9	34-10	35
	        36	62	8-9	played only 7 games
Len Dawson 	37	57.4	13-12	37
	        38	65.3	2-5	
John Elway 	38	59	22-10	38
	        39			retired
Jim Everett 	32	60.8	26-14	27
	        33	57.5	12-16	
Brett Favre 	35	64.1	30-17	34
	        36	61.3	20-29	
Rich Gannon 	37	67.6	26-10	37
	        38	55.6	6-4	played only 7 games
Jim Harbaugh 	34	61.2	10-4	32
	        35	56	12-11	
Jim Kelly 	                35	55.7	22-13	32
	        36	58.6	14-19	
Bill Kenney 	32	56.4	15-9	28
	        33	50.9	0-5	
Dave Krieg 	36	61.8	14-3	31
	        37	58.3	16-21	
Dan Marino 	37	57.7	23-15	34
	        38	55.3	12-17	
Joe Montana 	38	60.6	16-9	37
	        39			retired
Warren Moon 	41	59.3	25-16	41
	        42	56.2	11-8	
	        43	33.3	0	backup
Fran Tarkenton	36	61.9	17-8	36
	        37	60.1	9-14	
Kurt Warner 	30	68.7	36-22	30
	        31	65.5	3-11	played only 7 games
	        34	54.5	11-9	
	        35	62.6	5-5	benched for rookie
Steve Young 	37	62.3	36-12	37
	        38	53.6	3-4	played 3 games, retired

These are, for the most part, the best of the best. Bledsoe, Brady, Manning, Rivers, Brees, et al, aren't old enough to be included. I could have included Rypien, Eason, Kenny O'Brian, Doug Williams, Vinny Testaverde, Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms, Jeff Hostetler, Tommy Maddox, Neil O'Donnell, Bernie Kosar and the like but had I done so, Green's chances would look even worse. Still, even among these pro-bowl QBs, many first ballot sure-thing Hall of Fame QBs, very few play at a pro-bowl level past age 35. Most don't even make it to 35, much less play at the same level.

Even multiple NFL MVP winner Brett Favre showed a significant drop last year, and this year he's hurting his team's chances to win in order to try and break Marino's records. He's improved again somewhat this year, but completion percentage is way down, and he does his best as a game manager, trying to make the safe throw and avoid mistakes. Is there any hope Trent Green can do any better this year?

I'm hoping I'm wrong. I hope he comes out and throws accurately and smartly against Denver on Thanksgiving. I hope he doesn't come out flat and throw in the dirt like he did Sunday against the Raiders. I wouldn't want to bet significant money that he'll return to pro-bowl form this week, or even this season. I think his career as an elite starter is probably pretty much over.

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posted by Nathan on 12:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 02, 2005

Gunther Cunningham « Kansas City Chiefs »

As much as I love the guy, about half the time I really can't figure out what the heck he's talking about!

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posted by Nathan on 07:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Still, the Chiefs Shouldn't Have to Move « Kansas City Chiefs »

But it's a two-way street. The leadership of Jackson County and the state of Missouri should probably get involved, as Mr. Gretz points out. Otherwise, why should the Chiefs sacrifice to stay in Arrowhead if Jackson County and Missouri won't lift a finger to help?

"Love" isn't just words. It requires that you follow through with actions. I'm sure Jackson County loves the money and prestige and free national exposure they get from hosting the Chiefs. Tangible appreciation must support rhetoric.

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posted by Nathan on 10:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 01, 2005

Stop That Nonsense Right Now! « Kansas City Chiefs »

What nonsense, you ask?

Well, lately, I've seen a comment come up, sometimes in the form of a question:

Fans just want the defense to be middle of the pack...

Not this fan.

Okay, here's the thing. Remember the first half of 2003, when the Chiefs started out so well? Sure, we won a few games because Hall broke a return for a TD. But the defense kept us in several games so that Hall could win it with a TD return. The defense can and should be quite good this year.

And we need it to be. Anything less than excellent (top 10) means we don't have a chance to win the Superbowl.

Why is it so necessary? Well, the better the defense, the more dominant we will be. The weaker the defense, the greater the chance for an upset. Sure, teams can win Superbowls despite a bad defensive showing in the playoffs...but the first rule of football is that offense wins games, but defense wins championships. That's because, in most cases, an offense can have a bad day when timing is disrupted, when WRs don't concentrate, when a QB gets a little pressure, but a defense generally can figure out a way to keep hitting and disrupting even when things don't go exactly right. Occasionally the right offensive game plan can totally exploit a defense's weakness, but that's not the way to bet.

But when you really look at the issue closely, the reverse is actually true, as well. Winning teams tend to have good defenses.

Sure, the "Greatest Show on Turf" won a Superbowl. Their offense was so awesome, they were blowing them out by 6 touchdowns halfway through the first quarter...what's that you say? It didn't go quite like that? One of the best offenses in NFL history needed a defensive stop on the 1-yard line to preserve a victory?!? Huh. Who'd a-thunk? And did the St. Louis Rams really have a Top-10 caliber-defense that year?

The stats say so.

I have a feeling that the stats might have been influenced by a number of teams having to pass to try to keep up with the Rams' offense. Against a truly good defensive team (like the Titans), the Rams offense had just enough to allow the defense to win it.

And let's return again to the 2003 Chiefs. We pretty much had a top-10 defense for most of the year. Sure, we were a little porous against the run, but what we lacked in yardage stats, we made up in turnovers. Because the offense would get 10-14 points up on the other team, and they'd switch to passing and we'd intercept or knock loose a fumble on a sack or strip the ball before the WR had solidified his hold.

But a funny thing happened against a good defensive team, right? They didn't beat us by lighting up the scoreboard as much as they showed the entire NFL something: running worked nearly as good as a pass in picking up yards on the Chiefs. It didn't help that our run-sniffing MLB (who also was such a student of the game that he made all the right defensive calls) was hampered and then out with a knee injury. But even though our offense was just as good, it didn't and couldn't make teams panic and go pass-happy anymore. They learned by watching the Bengals that if they kept pounding the run, we'd keep bringing more guys up to the line of scrimmage, and still be unable to stuff a run. That became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as I've argued before. And even worse, it made us way to vulnerable to a run-fake, like the one Cincinnati pulled when Warfield had no safety help, and a bad turn gave up a TD.

Bad juju.

It won't be that way this year.

Last year, when we stuffed the run on the first two series, it didn't win us anything. We could stuff the run on the first six series and they'd still keep going, knowing that eventually we would buckle. This year, when we stuff the run on the first three series, they can have no such confidence that we might still buckle.

Because we now have Derrick Johnson and Kendrell Bell. Because Kawika Mitchell and Keyaron Fox are healthy and eager to show they have caught on to the NFL. Because Sammy Knight is just salivating to pick off a pass or knock the ball loose like he always does. Because Surtain comes from nowhere to snag interceptions...even worse when Warfield comes back and does the same thing. Because Siavii had a full off-season with the Chiefs, and should be fully recovered from the Bronco Cheap Shot*, and Sims is playing for pride. Because Jared Allen added strength and weight and experience in the offseason and will still be a force even when double-teamed. Because Carlos Hall adds a good rush.

So now our opponents have to respect our defense. And our offense may be even better, with a full complement of WRs, the return of Kris Wilson, and the 1-2 punch of Holmes and Larry Johnson. Panic-mode for the opposing team should come earlier and more often...and our defense should benefit from that. They should look good, they should do more than just be mediocre.

We could very well have a team for the ages.

Cross-posted here.

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posted by Nathan on 11:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 31, 2005

Chiefs Sign Top Pick « Kansas City Chiefs »

See? Nothing to worry about.

Well within time to solidify his grasp on the starting OLB position.

Sure, it would have been better if he'd signed 3 days earlier. It would also have been better if we'd won every single Super Bowl since the very first one. So what? You work with reality, not wishes, and we've got a pretty dang good reality in Derrick Johnson!


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posted by Nathan on 10:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 29, 2005

Why The Chiefs Must Win the Superbowl This Year « Kansas City Chiefs »

Future Hall of Famers (near-lock):
Willie Roaf
Will Shields
Dante Hall
Tony Gonzales
Priest Holmes

Sure, TG and Dante probably need another record-breaking season or several more seasons of being dangerous weapons before they become a lock. Priest may have problems since he lost so many games to injury and wasn't a force until he came to the Chiefs (although I don't think there's ever been a runner so dangerous inside the 20...which is sufficient to meet Hall of Fame criteria, in my opinion).

But look at that: there are five near-lock Hall of Famers playing on the same team right now. They are all on offense, which is why are offense has been so good.

But we cannot allow future generations to ask: "If they had so many legends on one team, why couldn't they win even one Superbowl?" Heck, I'm not sure I could face my grandchildren if they can ask me: "If they had so many legends on one team, why couldn't they win even one playoff game?"

And let's face it: if KC builds a little mini-dynasty, plugging in players when the older ones drop off, like Roaf and Shields being replaced by Sampson and Black, and Holmes being replaced by Larry J, and Patrick Surtain being replaced by Alphonso Hodge, then even peope like Tony Richardson, Trent Green, Jared Allen, and a few others might have a chance to make the Hall of Fame (as many of the players associated with the Patriots of the last 4 years might). Nothing gets the "legend" accolade like winning the big one.

So that's why. We need to cement the legend status of some of these great KC players, and create some new legends at the same time.

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posted by Nathan on 12:46 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 28, 2005

Non-Football Fans: « Kansas City Chiefs »

Hang in there. I'm on a bad work schedule right now. I've got 3-4 non-football posts stewing in my brain, and I'll start knocking them out this weekend, okay?

I'm not morphing this into a sports blog, even if it seems like it at the moment.

Oh, and SaaM is...ehhh, it's not worth it. It's no fun kicking a guy when he's down.

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posted by Nathan on 12:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Question Marks « Kansas City Chiefs »

Ivan Carter read my blog! Ivan Carter read my blog! [big grin]

But when he stopped by, he left some good questions that are worth re-addressing.

I should admit that nothing is certain. The defense could still stink. The offense could finally rattle and wheeze and grind to a halt. Having a dominant team is as much luck as it is skill, but when the memories of specific plays fade, what lingers is the memory of the wins. Or the collapses, like in the Chiefs' previous two seasons.

Perhaps I should also explain again the nature of my fandom. I love the Chiefs! Heck, that's nothing special. Bunches of people do, or they wouldn't have among the best attendence numbers every year since the Derrick Thomas era started. But I see lots of people who demand of their favorite team, and so they complain when the team doesn't draft the player they want, or sign the right free agent, or let a player go, or call the wrong play, or don't fire/hire coaches according to the fans' whim. I'm not that kind of fan. I don't accept everything the team does...I didn't approve of signing Chester McGlockton. I didn't like the signing of Dan Williams after he sat out a year. I wanted Kimble Anders to get another decent crack at tailback. I wanted Gunther Cunningham to have another year. I was openly critical of the trade for Trent Green. Sometimes I've been proven correct, other times I've turned out to be horribly wrong.

The point is, I enjoy watching the games. I'm not an expert. I've never developed a game plan. I've never had to call plays with a 40-second clock running. I've never played football since junior high.

But I do understand that football is the true team sport, where one person making a minor mistake blows the play, but a team acting in concert for a whole series is unstoppable. I do understand that football is the ultimate in strategy, where you can lose badly even if you clearly have the better teams, if you call the wrong plays at the wrong times. While I love the drama, the suberb physical performances, the truly amazing moments that make you doubt your eyes, I'm smart enough to not let the drama fool me. I listen to the experts. Most of the time.

The thing is, even among experts, you have agendas. You have people trying to make a name for themselves, and the easiest way to seem smart is to criticize everything and remind people of the few times you eventually turn out correct. Aside from the personal goals affecting the process, you have people with different loyalties, different backgrounds, different pet peeves and interests. The result is that you can get multiple opinions on any topic.

The trick is knowing who to listen to, and what to listen to.

That's a good portion of what I try to do. The other portion is to try to find the silver lining, the optimistic angle, the possible positive result. It may be naive, but it's better than giving up on a game because we give up an easy touchdown in the first corner. I've seen lots of fans do that...and sadly, not a few "professional" writers.

I will watch the games. But I haven't lived within several hundred miles of the KC or River Falls areas in nearly 30 years, so I can't see what's happening on the practice field. So feel free to disregard my opinions. But I've got some viewpoints worth noting, so I hope everyone who loves or hates the Chiefs will come back and talk to me about it. Just be civil, okay? And try to use the proper names for our opponents. I won't ban you or anything if you don't...I just like to try to take the high road.

So. Down to business. Mr. Carter said:

Love what they have done on D but man, those corners still scare me especially in light of the fact that the Chiefs still don't have a scary pass rushing DE ala DT or Neil Smith. Better get through those first four games until Warfield is back. Should be an interesting season.

I'm kind of wondering about the plural on "corners". Is Surtain possibly a liability? I've heard no indications that anyone has doubts. Of course, the guy who plays opposite him is absolutely undetermined for the first four games, at least.

I think that's not our biggest area of concern, actually. Until I hear otherwise, I'm going to assume that Surtain is still a legitimate #1 corner, who can shut down a #1 receiver. That's why I'm not so certain that people should be that worried because we face Laveranues Coles, Randy Moss, Ashley Lelie, and (maybe) Terrel Owens in the first four weeks. Simply put, our #2 corner isn't going to be the one defending those guys much. Our #2 corner is supposed to cover/shut down the #2 receiver. Now, if you want to start talking about difficulties in covering Jerry Porter, Rod Smith, and Wayne Chrebet, you might get more traction with me...

But McLeon struggled as the front seven struggled. If our front seven are good to go, he should be more than adequate, as well. CBs often look good or bad depending on how long they have to cover someone...and if they are distracted by having to worry about a runner breaking into the secondary, which we did in every game Maslowski didn't play at full speed. I think our front seven is vastly improved no matter how you slice it; as a result, I think our #2 CB will not lose games for us, whether it is Warfield or McLeon. And if either Hodge or Perkins can build on an impressive OTA performance to take the starting job away from McLeon, we'll be even better off. Sure, unheralded rookie CBs rarely pick things up rapidly enough to start the season...but if anyone can, it's probably Hodge. I've never heard anyone knock his cover skills; everything I've read is that he wasn't the total package in college. But I've also heard he is coachable and learns fast. And if the front 7 do their job, cover skills may be all he needs.

Okay, so we lack a Neil Smith or Derrick Thomas on the DL. Well, Neil Smith without DT was really Neil Smith. He had a sub-par rookie season, and while he was a solid contributer at Denver, he hardly was a "force". DT made Neil Smith, I think.

So what does KC have? Eric Hicks is adequate. Ryan Sims is mediocre. John Browning is average. Lionel Dalton played well. Junior Siavii could break out this year. Carlos Hall has a decent rush. If Ryan Sims plays to his potential, we could have a darn good DL as his drawing of doubleteams would free up other DL players. But where I think our best potential is, is in Jared Allen. He was 1 sack away from tying DT's rookie record...and had two (?) sacks called back for penalties by teammates in the final game. Now, despite having rookie numbers similar to DTs, it would be ridiculous to predict he could ever be a force like DT. He's never going to get 7 sacks in one game, I don't think. He's never going to force opposing teams to game plan to try and slow him down. But he should improve on last year's totals, because he'll have a full season, and he'll be coming off of a full off-season in the Chiefs' strength and conditioning program. I expect him to be bigger, stronger, and faster.

But if we have a DT on our defense, it's probably going to be Derrick Johnson. As long as we get him signed early enough to get some good training in during camp. And instead of being an amazing pass rusher, he's probably going to be an amazing tackler, an amazing pass defender, and a decent pass rusher.

And then he's going to be paired with Sammy Knight, a guy who creates mad amounts of turnovers. Not to mention that the MLB who wins between Kawika Mitchell, Mike Maslowski, Rich Scanlon, and Boomer Grigsby is going to be no slouch on hitting and taking over the middle.

In fact, the guy that worries me the most is the LB I haven't mentioned yet: Kendrell Bell.

He can be very, very good. If his injury troubles are behind him. And that's a significant if. With him healthy and at the top of the game, we have a scary-good weapon. If he's hobbled, well, we wasted his contract.

But at the end of last season, would you have considered a season-ending injury by Julian Battle to be a cause for alarm? Of course not. Three months ago, who would you have bet would have been more likely to have a season-ending injury? Injury-prone Bell or young Battle? No one expected to lose Kris Wilson and Mark Boerigter for the entire year to injuries last pre-season. No one expected that a RB not name Priest Holmes could nearly salvage our season. No one expected that the leading TD-catching TE in the league would not be TG. The unexpected is what makes the game interesting, so I'm not going to write Bell off as a liability until he actually is out due to injury. And even if he does, it sounds like Keyaron Fox is hitting his stride this year, and becoming the better-than-mere-starter-quality LB we hoped he could become when he was drafted.

Bottom line: with the end of a disappointing season staring us in the face, the Chiefs went out and got some of the best possible people to shore up the defense. We have clear upgrades at most positions, and the three weakest positions (#2 CB, MLB, and Safety) should see pretty strong competition that should ensure whoever gets the job will be more than adequate. if we can just have guys step it up at DT...!

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posted by Nathan on 12:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 26, 2005

Arrowhead Stadium: Move 'Em Out! (UPDATED) « Kansas City Chiefs »

I've never been to see a game at Arrowhead Stadium; that probably affects my viewpoint.

Bottom line: The Chiefs are very good for Kansas City. They get tons of free advertising every week in every game. The least the county could do is keep their stadium up to the minimum standards.

Had they invested a little extra money, KC could have hosted at least one Superbowl in the last 10 years...maybe two.

The Chiefs should move, but stay in the area. If the New York Jets and Giants can both play in New Jersey, the Kansas City Chiefs can play in the Kansas side of the Kansas City Metroplex. I have no problem with that.

UPDATE: From the comments:

First, the tax-payers always have a choice. See: Cleveland Browns. They also have to deal with the consequences. See: Baltimore Ravens winning a Superbowl with a team that used to belong to Cleveland.

Second, sports franchises tend to bring in lots of revenue, making it a bargain for the tax-payers. "Why should the tax-payers pay?" is just a variation of leftist class warfare, expecting that The People should get stuff for free. That's not how the world works. Because, leading right into the next point,

Third, taxpayers should pay simply due to the simple law of Supply and Demand. Enough taxpayers want a sports franchise in their area that there naturally develops a cost to retain it. If nobody cared that much about sports, the demand would evaporate and there would be no need for taxpayers to fund it.

Fourth, "why can't a franchise that can afford to pay millions of dollars to its players fund its own needs?" is an illusion. There is a minimum cost to remain competitive, and a maximum price that can be put on the entertainment. Thus, every dollar the Chiefs pay to renovate the stadium is one less dollar that can be dedicated toward being competitive.
Understand this: the franchise is going to make its money. Fans can pay for it through taxes, or pay for it through having ticket/parking/concession prices so high that only the ultra-rich can afford it, and pay-per-view TV so the average can't watch it at home. How does that serve anyone.

Fifth, how is this different than a state/city paying to help build a state-of-the-art facility to entice, say, GM to build a factory in the area? If all things are equal, why should a big-money business choose a worse deal? ...which goes back to supply and demand.

Sixth, one might as well ask why taxpayers should pay for Light Rail or Bus Services or half a million other programs that satisfy ever-smaller percentages of constituents.

Seventh, the taxpayers (through their duly elected leaders) promised to keep the Chiefs in a state-of-the-art facility. They aren't keeping that promise. If they continue to not live up to their promises, the Chiefs should go elsewhere.

Pragmatically speaking, unless a political system is a Political Machine of corruption that ignores popular will (like the US Tammany Hall era or modern Taiwan), the people tend to get what they want, or they vote the bums out of office. If the Jackson County voters don't want to pay for the KC Chiefs to stay there, they won't. And the Chiefs should be, and are, free to move to a different venue.

Cross-posted at Sportsblog.

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posted by Nathan on 11:56 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (1)
» SportsBlog links with: Arrowhead Stadium: Move 'Em Out
3 Picks Signed; 5 Total; Not Derrick Johnson « Kansas City Chiefs »

I'm not all that concerned about Derrick Johnson not being signed yet.

Now, I'm not exactly excited that he's not signed. He's fast, even on NFL terms. He's a playmaker, even on NFL terms. He's a significant addition, even on NFL terms. He's the one guy who could come in and make the starting squad on pure athletic ability alone, and win a few games for us.

But couldn't he still do that missing part of camp? Because it's based on his pure ability, not how well he learns all the schemes. Tony Gonzales missed part of camp and still made a difference. Derrick Johnson may be more skilled than TG.

From my thinking, we signed the the two guys it was most important to have under contract when training camp opens: Boomer Grigsby and Alphonso Hodge, because these are two guys who could use every single possible snap to help them be ready to contribute this season...and maybe even start...and maybe even open the season in a starting position. It's a long-shot for either, sure, which is why it is vital for them to be in training camp from day one.

Boomer has the attitude to be an amazing MLB, he hits and tackles like a madman, and he seems to get underestimated alot. That might not be enough. Hodge was a pretty decent shut-down corner in college. His weaknesses were tackling and interceptions. But if McLeon and Ambrose have both lost too many steps, we may need someone who can just do a credible job against a #2 receiver, with Surtain on the other side taking the #1, and having Knight, Bell, and Surtain getting the INTs.

One other thing about Derrick Johnson. As long as he gets at least half of training camp, he can start the season as a situation/role player, splitting time with, say, Keyaron Fox. From everything I've heard, Key Fox would have been a credible, perhaps even solid starter at one of the OLB positions had Johnson not fallen into our lap. We literally may have gone from having three sub-par starters at LB last year to 5 legitimate starters in just one off-season. That's nearly an embarassment of riches.

So, sure, I'd love to have Derrick Johnson sign today and in camp tomorrow. But we've got some time, and our season doesn't hinge upon his signing.

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posted by Nathan on 11:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 24, 2005

Derrick Alexander Signs With Cheifs « Kansas City Chiefs »

Which qualifies as the "WTF?" headline of the month for me. If not the year.

But the real story behind it is: Derrick Alexander retires as a Chief.

Which still qualifies as "WTF?", just not quite as much. My first thought when I read the headline was: "Derrick Alexander was in the league last year?"

Jason Whitlock's article provides some clue as to why this happened: he wants to promote his KC-based business. And yeah: he's apparently been out of the NFL for two seasons. Or at least hasn't made anyone's regular season roster in that time.

I thought retirement should be something that big-name people do. Players who have been to multiple pro-bowls, or got some MVPs for the Super Bowl or something. You don't see a Linebacker Coach's retirement announcement making any news, and they don't try to "retire with a specific team" or anything.

There's a reason for that. It's not that they don't's just that the activities of role players aren't really that worthy of note. As much as I love Jason Dunn as a Chief, I don't expect him to "announce" his retirement. I don't know if I care that much, and I'm certain most other people don't.

Let me put it another way: Retirement announcements should be news only when it is still within the players' choice to keep playing. Barry Sanders retirement was worthy of an announcement. As strange as it may sound, Jerry Rice is pushing it. It would be tragic if the greatester receiver to ever play the game ends his career because he gets cut by 3 successive teams. And if that happens, I don't think he really deserves a "retirement" press conference, yanno? I'm sure that's probably controversial, but that's the way I feel.

Which brings us to Derrick Alexander. I can understand why he wants to have a retirement announcement, and I can even understand why he wants to retire as a Chief.

...but why would Carl Peterson agree to this? I can't think of any reason, really. Maybe loyalty? What did Alexander do to deserve that? I guess it doesn't hurt anyone for this to happen, so why not? But still...

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posted by Nathan on 09:36 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

July 18, 2005

Perhaps I Was Too Vague « Kansas City Chiefs »

Someone get me a job writing about the Kansas City Chiefs!!!

A few days after I assert that the Chiefs don't need Ty Law, a professional says the same thing.

He cites a few reasons different from mine. The one I'm particularly intrigued by is an analysis of the opposing WRs we face in those first four games. I think that analysis could have been far more in-depth, so I may steal that idea...but to tell the truth, I'm not fully convinced the reasoning is correct. I'll expand on that idea when I actually write the article later this week.

The point is, how do I get or the KC Star to notice what I'm doing? What's the best way to lobby for a job as a Voice of the Fan writing position if they don't even announce possible openings?

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posted by Nathan on 03:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 17, 2005

The Player I Most Want to Make the Team? « Kansas City Chiefs »

I'm glad you asked.

Chris Horn.

He'll never make the Hall of Fame, no. But he plays his heart out, and the Chiefs will be better with him than without him.

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posted by Nathan on 11:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 14, 2005

Someone Give Me A Job!!! « Kansas City Chiefs »

Tell me: is there anything in this that I didn't already say here two days earlier? Did Rand say it better? Was his article organized better?

Maybe I'm just stuffed with my own ego, but I don't think so.

Bottom line: we don't need Law. What we've got is good enough for four games, especially considering an improved front 7 that should help protect. Law may not be 100% for those first 4 games anyway. But it never hurts to improve depth if you can get it at a good price.

Maybe that's obvious. But I said it 48 hours before the professional did.

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posted by Nathan on 09:35 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 12, 2005

Warfield Suspended for Four Games « Kansas City Chiefs »

Here's the story.

But I'm not all that concerned. 2 games, 4 games...what's the difference? You don't throw away two games at the beginning of the season any more than you throw away four, so why do people get so excited about the two additional suspended games?

We don't need Ty Law. We don't. With his injury, in fact, he would be a hindrance early in the season...those exact same four games.

Either Ambrose was good enough for the four full games, or we shouldn't have signed him. We did, so I think he's probably good to go for those four games.

First, Justin Perkins and Alphonso Hodge are doing better than anyone expected. Why couldn't rookies start and win games for us? I don't know personally know anything about Perkins, but from what I understand of Hodge, his skills at coverage were never in question...and he's improved significantly even from his college skills under the tutelage of KC's coaches.

Second, Benny Sapp might just surprise everyone by playing like a quality starter. He surprised people by making the team last year as an undrafted RFA. He suprised people by making it on the active roster during the season. He surprised people by playing decently, breaking up some passes and pressuring the QB. He now has the benefit of an entire off-season with KC's secondary and conditioning/strength/speed coaches. Who knows how much he might have improved?

Third, KC has vastly improved its front seven, particularly the linebackers. The biggest problem with our secondary over the last season and a half was being exposed for too long, and having to move safeties up to help with run support. Getting the half-second quicker pressure on the QB (from fleet-footed Johnson and Bell, not to mention the addition of Carlos Hall and a hopefully-further improved Jared Allen) will mean more rushed passes, more jarring hits to make QBs jittery, more sacks. Having more runs stuffed within three yards of the line of scrimmage (by a stronger Allen, a hopefully-reinspired Sims, and a hopefully-improved/uninjured Siavii, not to mention having Mitchell or Fox actually playing up to their talents, as well as the aforementioned fleet-footed Johnson and Bell) should mean being able to leave safeties in coverage more, which helps protect both the inexperienced (like Hodge) and the older and slower CB (like McLeon or Ambrose). And if it looks like you need it, Bartee should make an excellent nickel corner...

Bottom line: Law is damaged goods who won't be back to top form until mid-season, if ever. Why should we pay so much money for someone who would need the same protection as Ambrose, McLeon, Perkins, Hodge, or Sapp would need anyway? Particularly someone with an inflated sense of self-importance?

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posted by Nathan on 07:16 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

June 28, 2005

The Chiefs Don't Need the Law « Kansas City Chiefs »

In fact, we shouldn't even want him. At all.

Here's my thinking:

Last year, the Chiefs were actually pretty good at stopping the run...for 2-3 quarters. If you look at the statistics, teams ran on the Chiefs more than the average team, and they had average or below-average ypc*...

Go for the rest.

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posted by Nathan on 07:54 AM | Comments (3)

June 20, 2005

Derrick Johnson « Kansas City Chiefs »

I can't tell you how much things like this excite me:

From SI's Peter King:

I visited Chiefs camp last Wednesday, and one player stood out above the rest: Derrick Johnson. He's the rookie linebacker from Texas taken by Kansas City in the first round in April, and he's fast. Really fast. I got a chance to watch him on the practice field, unpadded, as offense played defense in a non-contact, play-installation drill. If he's this good when they put the pads on -- which, of course, nobody knows yet, and it's silly to pretend one workout can portend greatness -- the Chiefs might finally have the really good linebacker they've been lacking since the death of Derrick Thomas.

And from Warpaint Illustrated:

But one player has stood out more than any other.

At the top of the list is the aforementioned Derrick Johnson. Without a doubt, he has the opportunity to be one of the games very best outside linebackers. High praise for a rookie who’s never stepped foot on the field but he’s already the teams best cover linebacker. He’s the only one in OTA’s that has been able to stop tight end Kris Wilson. He has such instinctive skills that he’s already ahead of every other linebacker on the roster including Bell.

Do you realize how one disruptive player can make everyone else better? If opposing teams have to game plan for Derrick Johnson, it limits their playbook. Limited playbooks make for predictable game-plans, and Gunther can tear that up. If you have to account for Derrick Johnson, it effectively removes one more offensive player (holding a TE/RB back to block) from your possible weapons. That frees up Jared Allen, or Eric Hicks, or Scott Fujita to make some big plays.

His speed should help prevent big gains by TEs down the middle. It should stop counter/cutback plays from going 30-40 yards. It should put the fear into Denver and their 'naked bootleg' plays.

No matter what he does in training camp, no one is going to game plan to stop Derrick Johnson until he proves they have to. From what we've been hearing, if DJ is as good as early indications seem, then he might be able to win the first 2-3 games for us single-handedly. Then when teams adjust, the supporting cast has been upgraded enough to win bunches of games the rest of the year.

If I were a gambling man (and I'm not), I'd put money down right now on him being the 2005 Rookie of the Year.

I'm a homer, yes. I want to look at how things could work out well for the Chiefs, rather than obsessing on how they might go wrong. But this is shaping up to be a Season for the Ages. I've been excited about what the offense could do in the past few years; I've been excited about what the defense could do back in the early 90s. I've never been this excited about the possibility about both sides of the ball being dominating.

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posted by Nathan on 02:58 PM | Comments (4)
» SportsBlog links with: Derrick Johnson

June 18, 2005

WR or DT? (UPDATED) « Kansas City Chiefs »

UPDATE: ...and the Chiefs sign Freddie Mitchell. It's the right move.

Payzone asks a good question in the comments to this post: Now that Az-Zahir Hakim decided to go to the New Orleans Saints (although he reached an agreement with the Chiefs, he had not yet signed the contract), should the Chiefs go after a WR or a DT?

I'd have to say: In a perfect world, you would go for a DT.

Both areas are potential weak spots, true.

However, from the reports, it looks like...

Read More "WR or DT? (UPDATED)" »

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posted by Nathan on 11:40 AM | Comments (5)

June 11, 2005

Advantage: Brainfertilizer! « Kansas City Chiefs »

Remember this caveated prediction?

Don't ever doubt me again.

Yeah, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. I could wish, perhaps, that I'd been more definitive in my prediction, but the main thing that would prevent KC from signing him was if he attracted interest from another team. Lacking substantial interest, the chances of KC signing him approached 100%. I wish I'd made that clear, since it is obvious now.

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posted by Nathan on 12:36 PM | Comments (7)

June 04, 2005

Freddie Mitchell Playing for the Chiefs? « Kansas City Chiefs »

I first heard this from another KC Chiefs fan, and pretty much discounted it immediately based on Mitchell's character problems.

But it appears I may have dismissed him too easily. Check out this report.

There's a few interesting aspects to this report.

First, KC is actually considering it. They aren't considering Koren Robinson, and the cited reason is his off-field attitude.

But Eddie Kennison also had a history of attitude and character problems, and Vermeil still gave him one last chance to continue his NFL career, right? And except for one controversy before a game with Denver, Kennison has done a good job of not being a problem or distraction, and has outright won several games for us. Lionel Dalton was also on his last chance, and responded well last year.

So maybe Mitchell has some decent character aspects that might make Vermeil willing to let him try; that make Vermeil believe Mitchell could blossom under the current KC system.

There is another reason Mitchell could be quite good for KC.

Carl Peterson doesn't like to just fix a hole short-term without also thinking of the long-term. Mitchell is young (just 26) and was scheduled to only make the league minimum before he was cut. He's just been cut by a team unwilling to pay even that little, so he's already facing what might be his last chance to revive a career on the rocks. KC should be able to sign Mitchell to an incentive-laden contract that will keep him in KC at a reasonable price for years as long as he keeps producing. With the youth of Parker, Boerigter, Horn, Thorpe, McIntyre, Booth, Curry (most of whom will not progress to starting caliber, but some of whom will), KC could be quite well set at WR for some time to come.

Two things have to happen for that, obviously. Mitchell has to sign with KC, and he has to produce at or near the level expected of a 1st-round pick while keeping his nose clean off the field and in the locker room.

One last interesting point (and this might be the most important point), have you noticed how many players are eager to come play for Vermeil and KC?

Willie Roaf, John Welbourn, and Patrick Surtain are all at least solid players who refused to play for their old teams anymore. KC got them all on trades, and how often do you see trades in the NFL anymore? Not often.

We aren't really told how much they wanted to play for KC, but I think it is significant that KC was the recipient of an excellent deal for three solid-to-excellent players. Look what Denver gave up to get Champ Bailey...and what Washington gave up. KC only gave up a 3rd round pick for Roaf, a 2nd round for Surtain, and a 3rd for Welbourn. Those are steals by any measure. And it had to come at least partially from the mutual realization that these players were willing to perform for KC but not for their own teams, and that likelihood that they would play for KC made it clear that KC could give the highest compensation to the original team for them. I know I'm not stating it clearly; I apologize. Let me put it this way: No other team was able to reach an agreement with both the player and the team to be able to get a pro-bowler for a 3rd round pick, another for a 2nd round pick, and a third solid back-up for a 3rd round. That says something about how much players want to play for Vermeil and Peterson.

That might be a gutsy conclusion for me to make, and some might say it is inaccurate...

...except that the first place Freddie Mitchell visits is KC. KC is the one team that gives Jason White (Heisman winning player) a chance to try and kick-start his NFL career (and succeeds in turning it into a contract/opportunity with the Titans). KC sends more players to NFL-Europe than any other team.

Maybe that doesn't mean much, either. But I do think the players notice that KC gives players every chance to prove themselves.

And LJ Shelton is persisting in trying to get the Chiefs to look at him. Yeah, I saved the best for last. Have you ever heard of a player trying so hard just to get on a specific team?!? I can't remember any. There are other teams with more questions along their O-line who might jump at an aging-but-experienced LT who might have a season left. KC has one of the strongest lines in the NFL, and has had one for years...why would someone push so hard just to get on one specific team? Especially since Carl Peterson is known as a stingy skinflint for player contracts.

I mean, you don't see players lining up to play for the other AFC West teams, do you? Heck, I haven't seen players lobbying for chances to try out for even the Patriots (although they will sometimes take smaller paychecks to play for a proven winner).

Food for thought.

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posted by Nathan on 07:39 PM | Comments (3)

June 02, 2005

Preliminary Roster Guesses, 2005 « Kansas City Chiefs »

Every year I try to guess what the final roster is going to look like. I usually have many of the back-ups wrong, and occasionally someone I think is going to start ends up being cut. But I like to make my guesses, anyway. This year is no different, just a little earlier than normal. The backhands to the Denver Broncos are my gift to you, gratis.

But we've got to have somewhere to start. here's the current (training camp) roster for the Chiefs. There are 97 players on that list. Not counting what the Chiefs might pick up after 1 June (probably no one, unless a great DT is available for a cheap price--not likely!), that's 44 players that need to be cut, with 5 of the cut players going on the practice squad. The practice squad is still just 5 players, right?

After doing a few of these, I've found the biggest problem is actually figuring out how many they are going to keep at each position. Every team is different, and sometimes every season is different for each team. KC had so many injuries last season in both WRs and LBs, they really weren't sure what to do. They ended up keeping more LBs on the final roster so as not to cut any that could become healthy, and went into the season with only 5 WRs on the roster, and only 3 healthy and active for the first game. To tell the truth, that pretty much caused the first loss to the Broncos, and sent them into a tailspin they didn't recover from until deep into the season. I hope they don't make that mistake again...but I can't truly call it a mistake, because it was a tough situation to begin with. So I guess I hope they don't have any injury problems that make such choices necessary.

Here, then, are the totals I'm assuming for each position:

K/P/KR 4
QB 3
RB 2
FB 2
TE 3
WR 6
OL 9
DE 4
DT 4
LB 7
S 4
CB 5

total 53

Please note: if I'm off on any of these assumptions right here, it throws off many predictions of who makes the team. But, "He who dares big, wins big", right? All listings are in order, starter to 3rd string, so that's an additional way I can screw up. Woot!

K/P/KR (4): This requires the most explanation, so it comes first. These are the kicking team specialists. Kicker will probably Lawrence Tynes. His kick-offs were good, he missed one important FG, but made at least two others, one a not-easy game-winner (if I remember correctly), so I think he makes the team. Dustin Colquitt makes the team as the punter. Dante Hall makes the team as the PR/KR (obviously), but I think he won't be used much as a WR, so I won't count him as one, even though his talent means he may play up to 10 snaps a game at WR. I left the abbreviation off for long snapper, but Kendall Gammon really isn't NFL-caliber as a TE, but his consistency makes him too valuable to forego.

QB (3): Trent Green, Todd Collins, Damon Huard. No surprises there. Todd Collins always looks decent in the preseason, and does fine in clean-up roles...but Green's durability and Collins' struggles in his first few years as KC's #3 mean that KC isn't 100% sure he can win me, that's why Vermeil insists on a veteran QB for his 3rd String. Casey Clausen was the undrafted rookie last year in camp, was on the practice squad last year, and this year was delagated to NFL-E...but he hasn't exactly been tearing it up there, so it's likely that James Kilian edges him for playing time in training camp and for the practice squad slot. It's just barely possible that Kilian beats out Huard for the 3rd string...but I wouldn't bet on it.

RB (2): Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson. I realize its a gutsy call...but KC carried 3 RBs last year only because they couldn't cut Larry Johnson but weren't sure of him. Now they are. RB is one of the easiest positions for someone to come in off the street and pick up in a short amount of time, so if Priest goes down, they can sign one of the better guys who came to camp, or off their practice squad. Or someone else's practice squad, for that matter. The tough part about this is that it leaves out Dee Brown, who has already been in the league a couple years, and Jonathan Smith, a talented youngster who nearly made the team last year. The 2nd FB last year, Omar Easy, was really more of a 4th RB because he never got that good at lead blocking. Again, another roster mistake I don't think KC will make this year. I'm already talking about FBs because these two positions do blend together, particularly with the players KC has this year. So right on to...

FB (2): Tony Richardson, Robert Holcombe. Both these guys are good blockers (Richardson a Pro-Bowler due to crushing lead blocks), but both can also carry the ball well...both have opened at least one season as the featured back. That flexibility gives KC the chance to go a little thin on the RB position to make room for other positions with deeper talent and more need. Like...

WR (6): Eddie Kennison, Samie Parker, Mark Boerigter, Chris Horn, Richard Smith, Craphonso Thorpe. There's really too much talent here to cut anyone else out. Eddie Kennison had a career-best year. Samie Parker came on strong at the end of last year and by all accounts just picked up where he left off and be a solid starter. Mark Boerigter was looking like a top starter last preseason before he went down with an injury, and I expect him to be fully rehabilitated and take up where he left off; to whit, he's tall and fast and showed excellent hands last preseason. Chris Horn played at a tiny college and shouldn't even be playing at this level; but last year he made a highlight-reel-worthy play at least once each game he suited up--his heart is big enough to make it impossible to cut him and I think he's earned the #4 spot. Richard Smith kicked butt in preseason, but wasn't quite ready for regular season duty. But he's improved this year, and looks ready now. Craphonso Thorpe will have had two full offseasons to recover from his broken leg--by all accounts he is just as fast as before the injury; his sub-par production as a senior scared off many teams, but the scouting reports I've seen seemed to think that was more due to sub-par QB play than Thorpe's ability. We'll see. This leaves off Johnny Morton if he takes a pay cut...he was one of the league leaders last season in moving the chains on 3rd down. It also leaves off Nathaniel Curry, who by all accounts is looking as good as Richard Smith did last year, and leaves off John Booth is having a good year in NFL-E. One or both will probably be on the practice squad.

TE (3): Tony Gonzales (naturally), Kris Wilson, Jason Dunn. The ability of TG may mean KC only carries 5 WRs, I don't know. But the lower string WRs may make the team on special teams ability. Kris Wilson is actually nearly a double of TG: a TE fast enough to outrun LBs, big enough to out-muscle safeties, good hands, and more-than-adequate blocking ability. He won't ever put up TG numbers because he doesn't have TGs All-Pro talent, athleticism, and leaping ability. But he's good enough to make teams pay if they continue to double- and triple TG too much. Jason Dunn has made teams pay somewhat, because he can catch...but his knees aren't good enough to be a full-time pass-catching TE. Still, having these three in at the same time will give Defensive Coordinators nightmares, because they block as well as you'd expect of a three-TE formation, but they can all catch well-enough to consider it a 3-WR formation at the same time. It will be tough to defend. The loss of Kris Wilson in the preseason last year also had a great deal to do with KC's early season tailspin. I don't think there's any way KC carries 4 TEs. I don't remember another NFL team doing so, and so the other 3-4 guys on the roster (all undrafted rookies from minor colleges) are probably just on the roster for training camp practices, although one may make the practice squad for the day when Jason Dunn's knees can't go any more.

OL (9): Willie Roaf, Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann, Will Shields, Jordon Black, Kevin Sampson, Brett Williams, Chris Bober, John Welbourn. The high number is due both to talent and the age of Roaf and Shields. Kevin Sampson was a surprise last year; drafted to be a project, he nearly challenged for playing time at T. Brett Williams hasn't yet developed into the starting T they hoped he might be, but he's an adequate guard. Bober can play any position on the line except maybe LT, but may be best at C. John Welbourn didn't cut it at RT (although perhaps his knee wasn't fully recovered, I've heard), but is an excellent 2nd string RG or RT. That still leaves out Will Parquet a drafted T, Will Svitek, another drafted T who was called the "Sleeper of the Draft" by some scouts, and Jonathan Ingram, who apparently was ahead of Bober to back up at C. Any or all of those last 3 could be on the practice squad or win a full roster spot...I really don't know enough about OL to know, and haven't heard much.

DE (4): Eric Hicks, Jared Allen, Carlos Hall, Jimmy Wilkerson. The only one I'm not sure of Jimmy Wilkerson. He wasn't playing as well as hoped last year. But Khari Long was drafted too low to be a shoo-in. There's also Montique Sharpe who showed some ability at times last year and NFL-E. There are a few other DEs coming to camp...I think the 4th spot is wide open.

DT (4): Ryan Sims, Lionel Dalton, Junior Siavii, John Browning. Lionel Dalton showed he's still got ability, and was probably the best DT last year. John Browning can play all 4 positions on the DL, and makes the team because of that, but is really little more than stop-gap at any one of the positions. Junior Siavii was coming along well last year before being sidelined by injury from an illegal cheap shot*. Ryan Sims has been adequate..which is a synonym for "mediocre", not what you expect from a 1st-round pick. This year is his final chance, probably, so he has some motivation to finally step up. If not, he may be gone by mid-season. The 4th spot isn't up for grabs, but since this is probably the weakest position on the whole team, a talented veteran cut before the season or a rookie that shows something in training camp could steal the #4 spot.

Some of my information came from this report on the competition for starting spots in KC's back 7:
LB (7): Kendrell Bell (OLB), Kawika Mitchell (MLB), Derrick Johnson (OLB); Keyaron Fox (OLB), Boomer Grigsby (MLB), Gary Stills (OLB), Rich Scanlon (MLB). A weakness last year, this unit has become a strength. Mike Maslowski was the field general two years ago. He called the plays and put people in the right position and had the fire. When he was in, KC led the league in takeaways and won several games for the Chiefs in leading them to a 9-0 record. Then he hurt his knee, the defense fell apart and they went 4-4, losing a home playoff game when the defense couldn't get a single stop against the Colts. They were no better last year as Kawika Mitchell wasn't up to starting at MLB yet. Now Mitchell is playing like a starter, Boomer Grigsby has the right attitude and leadership skills (and makes the team for special teams attitude alone), Rich Scanlon is tearing up the NFL-E at MLB...and Maslowski might be healthy enough to play a full season. What do you do? Cunningham likes fast LBs, and Maz is slow...but his knowledge and instincts mean he usually makes the play, anyway. He blows up screen plays with open field tackles. He never played against Barry Sanders, but had he done so, he might have been the unjuke-able defender. Denver never had any naked bootleg success against Maz. I think Maz doesn't make the team, though. You can't depend on someone whose body could give out at any time, and you don't take away a roster spot from one of the above guys for someone you can't know will last the season. Maybe Maz takes the 3rd spot and Mitchell doesn't make the team because despite his strength and ability, he lacks the passion to be the field general Cunningham needs. It also is shocking to me that Shawn Barber and Scott Fujita might not make the team, but they are injured and I don't see any room for them. We should not forget, as well, that Barber and Fujita and Mitchell were all Greg Robinson's choices...Fujita struggled under Cunningham last year, and they both missed tackles and whiffed on plays, contributing directly to the poor defense performances. Gary Stills makes the team because he is a special teams pro-bowl player, and can always play as a pass-rushing DE, even if he doesn't play LB as well as someone who doesn't make the team. I just don't think you ever cut pro-bowl players if they still have ability, and Stills does, uh, still.

S (4): Sammy Knight, Greg Wesley, Jerome Woods, William Bartee. Painful cuts here. We had some good play from some young guys last year. Shaunard Harts forced some turnovers two years ago, and improved last year...but may not make the team. Willie Pile might not have the ability to be in position to make a play as often as Jerome Woods...but when he was in position, he never whiffed. Scott Connot was an undrafted RFA last year who actually made it on the field a few times as Cunningham got desparate...and like Pile, he didn't blow it when he was in position. When tackling is your problem (and it has been for 2+ years), you really shouldn't cut sure tacklers like Pile and Connot. One of the two, or Harts, may make the team if Woods age and old injury have taken their toll...but bringing in Knight appears to have lit a fire under both Wesley and Woods, and I think they both will look excellent. Bartee never made it as a CB...mainly because he never stopped playing like a safety. He did a great job whenever he was asked to cover the receiver out of the slot, because he didn't have to turn his back to the QB. He is a sure tackler and can lay a mean hit...well, he was a Safety that the Chiefs wanted to turn into a CB. But he retains CB speed, and learned to cover adequately, if never consistently enough to be a starting corner. So I have to give him a roster spot based on his ability to be a tweener: a safety that can cover like a CB in running situations, or a nickel back that can lay a punishing hit on a slot receiver in a passing situation.

CB (5): Patrick Surtain, Eric Warfield, Dexter McCleon, Benny Sapp, Alphonso Hodge. The only reach in this bunch might be Dexter McCleon, because he struggled so badly last year at times. Surtain and Warfield are locks. Sapp came in as an undrafted rookie and earned playing time, and didn't disappoint. He is a rising talent who has a good chance of winning the nickel back spot, although his height may prevent him from rising higher on the depth chart, and may prompt Bartee playing nickel in some situations (as I mentioned). The scouting report on Hodge makes him sound like Deion Sanders (lock-down corner who shies from contact), although without the INTs...and the OTC report referenced above makes it sound like he's fulfilling that description. If the coaches have lost confidence in McCleon (who is also short, and a holdover from Robinson), Justin Perkins may grab the last spot based on his reportedly excellent showing in the OTAs. Julian Battle is probably out, I can't see KC keeping him over these other talents and prospects. That probably pleases hardcore Denver fans to no end.

Read More "Preliminary Roster Guesses, 2005" »

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posted by Nathan on 02:31 AM | Comments (2)

April 30, 2005

More on Boomer Grigsby « Kansas City Chiefs »

How you can not admire a guy who says things like this:

I can’t guarantee everybody I’m going to be a Pro Bowler, or even be that great of a player, but I know I’ll be a 250-pound crazy white boy running down the field on kickoffs.”

At the very least, he's be an Quotable All-Pro. I hope he shows enough ability to stay on the team for a long time.

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posted by Nathan on 12:49 PM | Comments (1)

April 28, 2005

The Chiefs' WR Corps « Kansas City Chiefs »

The only real objection I have to the Rand article I linked in the previous piece is when he says the Chiefs have done little/nothing to groom replacements for Eddie Kennison and Johnny Morton.

Okay, Dante Hall isn't the answer. His best talent is returning kicks. He can score from anywhere, yes, but the percentage of success when attempting to do so from the WR position just isn't worth the attendant drop-off in his return game. So he should be used sparingly as a WR.

But aside from Hall, KC has:
-Kris Wilson. Technically a tight end, he is fast for his size and has extremely good hands. With Tony Gonzales on the field, one of the functions of KC's WRs are to be credible-enough threats that the defense can't double/triple team Tony on every play. Kris Wilson is good enough to do this, especially since he is also a credible blocker, as is Tony Gonzales. A formation with Gonzales, Wilson, and Dunn plus any semi-fast WR is going to give a defensive coordinator headaches, if not nightmares. He should be fully recovered from his broken leg by mini-camp, much less training camp.

-Mark Boerigter. He had a serious knee injury and might not be absolutely 100% at the start of training camp, or even by the start of the season. Other than that, though, he's tall, strong, and deceptively fast. There should be no reason he can't supplant either Morton or Kennison at either WR spot, and is still young enough that there is still room for improvement. He should be starting-caliber for the next several years, although that must be caveated with the observation that he hasn't yet demonstrated starter-level ability through a full season yet.

-Samie Parker. He's got track-star speed, but football-player hands and moves. From what he did late in the season, it seems clear that he didn't make a significant impact earlier was due to Oregon State's late class schedule that prevented him from getting the benefit of rookie mini camp, followed by a hamstring injury that kept him from getting any real work during training camp. When he did get on the field, he made things happen. He's in his 2nd year. If he plays a full season like he did the last few games, he could replace Kennison without any drop-off.

-Chris Horn. He's a lightly-regarded player from a small college. But he gets better every year and gets enough separation to make catches and run with it well once he's got the rock. He made one excellent play or tough catch in each of the games that he's gotten on the field. He'll probably never be better than a #3 receiver...but such a receiver gets significant playing time in Vermeil/Saunder's offense. This is a Ricky Proehl-type player, and Proehl won a few games for his teams, didn't he?

-Richard Smith. An undrafted RFA last year, he excelled in the pre-season, but couldn't do the same thing during the regular season. Then again, lots of rookies don't excel in the NFL, do they? I still think this guy has some potential to start within a few years. Even if he doesn't improve to that level, he should be a strong #3 or #4 receiver for several years.

-Craphonso Thorpe. (All the info in this paragraph is based on reading reports about his college career; I must disclose that I don't pay attention to college football, so I had never heard of him, nor have I ever seen him play, so take this review as a 3rd-hand recoupnting) An excellent WR his junior year in college, he broke both bones in his lower leg in the final game of that season. He had a sub-par senior season. It might be because his leg hadn't totally recovered. One report I saw said that his production dropped off because the quality of his QB dropped off, which is a good point. How can you catch a ball that isn't thrown to you, or isn't catchable? The reports I've seen says he's regained his track-star speed; and everyone seems to agree he's got good hands and runs decent routes. Most revealing is that he performed quite well against 3 top college CBs, two of which were the top 2 drafted, and the 3rd which was drafted late in the 1st round. He had 5 catches against each of them, which isn't bad for college. He may not contribute as a rookie, but he has the tools and abilities to be starter-quality by next year.

That's five WRs good enough to play anywhere from a #1 to #4 receiver. That doesn't even include if KC signs Az-Zahir Hakeem is signed as a FA or Jerys MacIntyre improves enough to make the team (he was drafted as a project, then was hampered by injuries).

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posted by Nathan on 12:46 PM | Comments (0)
The Chief's Chances This Upcoming Season « Kansas City Chiefs »

Check out this article for tangential references.

Free agents don't always work out. People get old. Johnny Morton could get cut for salary cap reasons. Priest Holmes' body might finally give up/out. Derrick Johnson might not perform as well at the NFL level.

So, yeah, there are some caveats to what follows.

However, I can't imagine this year not being awesome for Chiefs' fans. We already had an offense that could score on anyone. The biggest problem was the shooting matches we'd have to get in because we also couldn't stop anyone from scoring. Or stop long drives.

But the defensive talent we've acquired this off-season is impressive, to say the least.

If Jared Allen improves on last season's performance (as a 2nd-year player should), if Junior Siavii continues to improve (as a 2nd-year player should), if Ryan Sims plays to his potential, if Derrick Johnson is half as disruptive to opposing offenses as he was in college, if Kendrell Bell stays healthy, if Kavika Mitchell builds on his improvement in the final few games last year and is ready to start at the MLB position, if Warfield's ascension to starting-caliber cornerback wasn't temporary (and he should be even better with a vastly-improved supporting cast), if Patrick Surtain has no lingering problems with his knee and continues making interceptions at his historic rate, if Sammy Knight continues to make big hits and cause fumbles at his historic rate, if Jerome Woods' work with a speed coach pays off and/or Greg Wesley returns to his rookie and 2nd-year level of highlight-reel hits, if Willie Roaf, Will Shields, and Priest Holmes still have at least one year of Pro-bowl performance in them, if Trent Green doesn't have a slump, if Kris Wilson and Mark Boerigter have fully recovered from last year's preseason injuries without any loss of speed or addition of rustiness (meaning they play as well as they did last preseason), if Samie Parker shows the starting-caliber performance he demonstrated at the end of last year is no fluke, if Craphonso Thorpe has now fully recovered from his broken leg and shows his sub-par senior season was because he was working with sub-par college QBs (by performing excellently with an excellent QB in Trent Green), if Boomer Grigsby revitalizes the kicking coverage team, if Dante Hall gets to focus on the return game and takes advantage of the additions to the kick protection team, if Johnny Morton restructures his contract and continues to move the chains on 3rd down like he did last year (little known fact, but Morton actually was among the NFL leaders for 3rd-down catches resulting in first downs...), and if the coaches teach the players, effectively integrate the new talent into the team, and don't make extremely bad play calls...

Well, if all that happens (and it won't, but if), then Kansas City will have one of the best all-time seasons.

If most of them happen, we should be able to win the Super Bowl.

But none of this projection means anything until we actually start playing game s that count, of course. Last year looked pretty good, too, until injuries devastated our WR corps, directly leading to three losses early in the season. And the defense's failure to progress meant we wouldn't have made it out of the first round of the playoffs last year even if we had won those close games that gave us a losing season.

But I feel a great deal of excitement about this year. Either the players we got in the draft or the players we got in free agency would be grounds for optimism and hope...having both sets of great acquisitions is grounds for great excitement.

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posted by Nathan on 12:10 PM | Comments (4)
» 红外测温仪 links with: 红外测温仪

April 27, 2005

KC's Boomer « Kansas City Chiefs »

Joe Posnanski is absolutely correct: KC Chiefs fans are going to love this guy!


"Before now, I played football for fun," said Grigsby. "Now it is a game which can take care of me. I'd be happy to play 10 years on special teams if that is what it takes. Of course, I have a few more goals than that."

And another:

A lot of people thought [Derrick Johnson] was the best linebacker in the draft," Grigsby said. "I'm pretty happy that I'll get a chance to play with him."

And another:

"They told me they have a lot of ambitions for me to be a big contributor on special teams. They have ambitions of me being a special teams captain," Grigsby said. "I have to earn that title and perform, but I'm happy they have confidence in me. How exciting will it be to block for (standout kick returner) Dante Hall?"

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posted by Nathan on 12:12 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2005

KC's Next FA Acquisition? « Kansas City Chiefs »

I see Detroit released Az-Zahir Hakim.

50/50 he signs with the Chiefs.

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posted by Nathan on 02:41 AM | Comments (1)
» SportsBlog links with: Advantage: Brainfertilizer!

April 24, 2005

Live-Blogging KC's 2005 NFL Draft, Redux « Kansas City Chiefs »

How can anyone not like KC's draft this year?

1st Round: Derrick Johnson, LB. He won All-Everything his senior year; considered a top-5 pick that fell because the teams ahead of KC were drafting for specific needs; some analysts consider him the best defensive player in the draft. With this pick combined with the signing of Kendrell Bell, KC's LB corps went from a weakness to a strength.

2nd Round: KC selected a guaranteed starting (and probable pro-bowl) CB by trading the 2nd-round pick for Miami's Patrick Surtain. Is there anyone they could have gotten with the mid-2nd-round pick that could be guaranteed to have that level of impact? No.

3rd Round: KC didn't pick until the end, because the normal pick was dealt to the Eagles for John Welbourn (who didn't work out that well at RT). But with the compensatory pick, the Chiefs took Dustin Colquitt, a top-notch punter. He has an excellent leg, excellent technique, and has all the skills you want: he can kick for hang-time, distance, direction... With the problems KC has had at punter over the last 5 years, this guy shores up the punter position for years. Oh, and his father was the punter in two Super Bowls for the Pittsburgh Steelers. You don't normally take a punter in the 3rd round, no, but the Raiders took Janikowski in the 1st round a few years back, and the Chargers took Kaeding in the 2nd round last year. As Carl Peterson put it: Colquitt was the only player left that was good enough to be projected as an near-automatic starter. Your punter can win or lose games for you (and KC's punters have lost games for us), so I gotta support this pick. In fact, I'm actually excited about it.

4th Round: This is where I start getting even more excited, because for some reason, KC actually seems to draft better in the later rounds. The Chiefs took WR Craphonso Thorpe. Aside from the unfortunate name, this guy could be awesome. His speed and production his junior year had people considering him for an eventual 1st-round pick, until he broke both bones in his leg at the end of his junior season. The injury was bad enough that his production slumped his senior year. Still, he had at least 5 catches against three of the top four CB in this year's draft. He says he's got all his speed back. To tell the truth, I'm surprised no other team took a chance on him...

5th Round: Boomer Grigsby, LB. Another All-Everything at LB, just at the 1-AA level. He's a little short, but apparently his motor is always running and he has a knack for being around the ball. Interestingly, he was a champion and All-American trampoline gymnast! So he should have good body control (whatever that means for a linebacker). I don't know if he will have an impact on the LB corps, but this pick really reminds me of Jared Allen last year: someone who dominated at the small-college level should be able to do well at the pro-level. At the very least, he should be a monster on special teams.

5th Round, 2nd pick: Aphonso Hodge, DB. Based on the description, I don't see how this guy didn't go earlier; he sounds a little like Deion Sanders, although perhaps he has hands of stone. Still, a nickel corner who shuts down a receiver is quite valuable. He's considered an underachiever based on his skills vs. production; could coaching and his own effort make a pro-bowl corner out of him in a few years?

..and KC still has 4 more picks to go. With the scouting dept's ability to find gems in the later rounds, we might still find a 3rd-string RB, a big TE, a Fullback, and a future LT starter project. That would meet every projected goal, with a chance to still sign a late-cut FA DT. There will be some different faces on the Chiefs this year, and KC will challenge for AFC Homefield Advantage and the Super Bowl. [/optimism]

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posted by Nathan on 11:16 AM | Comments (1)

April 23, 2005

Live-Blogging the 2005 NFL Draft « Kansas City Chiefs »

I gotta tell ya, even though we got the player I wanted more than any other in Derrick Johnson, and we got Patrick Surtain to shore up our secondary, it hurts to see an entire round (particularly good, possible-starter-quality-second round talent) going by without having a single pick...!

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posted by Nathan on 03:24 PM | Comments (0)
With the #15 Pick of the 2005 Draft... « Kansas City Chiefs »

The Kansas City Chiefs pick Derrick Johnson.

I'm tickled pink about this selection.

The Chiefs had addressed every position on defense even before the draft, finally making the trade for Patrick Surtain just yesterday. That already gave them a Pro-Bowler at CB, Safety, and LB, plus a 3-year starter to push for playing time at end (since Hicks has been only average for years and may be nearing the end of his career...).

Some of the draft boards had the Chiefs taking Shawne Merriman. That's a DE projected as a pass-rushing LB. That's a risk, especially since KC needs people to produce this year...converting someone from DL to LB takes time and effort, regardless of the talent of the player.
Some draft boards had them taking Thomas Davis, a safety big enough to play LB. I wasn't that excited about this possibility, either, since it involves another position switch to get what the Chiefs need (more on that need in a second). KC already has a Pro-Bowl safety in Knight, plus good competition between Woods and Wesley (plus a few other good, young safeties in Shaunard Harts and Willie Pile pushing for playing time in the future) for the 2nd spot; the last thing we need is another safety cluttering up things.
And I'm probably a little hesitant about position switches. Kansas City drafted a number of former college safeties projected to be cornerbacks, and the only successful conversion was Eric Warfield, and that took nearly 5 years. We need people we know can produce now.
...and, come to think of it, William Bartee has done a great job as a nickel back, playing almost as an extra safety making big hits on slot receivers coming across the middle. That makes safety even more crowded, perhaps.
Some draft boards projected the Chiefs taking Erasmus Jones. I wasn't totally happy with that option, but it makes some sense.

With the addition of Sammy Knight, S; Patrick Surtain, CB; Kendrell Bell, MLB; and Carlos Hall, DE, the Chiefs are in good shape everywhere but OLB and DT. So taking a DT makes a certain sort of sense. But we have a good deal of money tied up in Sims; it's too early to call him a bust. And Junior Siavii was showing flashes of potential before being injured by a cheap shot. Lionel Dalton looks like he has revitalized his career at DT, and John Browning is still decent. That's 1 good player, 1 decent player, 1 player who costs too much to bench without one last season to see what he can do, and 1 player who may progress greatly in his second season. That's a position too crowded to get full value by dropping another 1st round pick into the mix.

So that leaves LB as the place where we need the most help. Scott Fujita is a smart player with good speed...but he struggled under Cunningham's scheme. Shawn Barber never reached his projected potential with the Chiefs under Gunther's or Robinson's defenses. Maslowski will probably never be a full-time starter again, and lacked speed even at the peak of his career. Quentin Caver isn't starter-material. A 1st round pick could have a great positive impact on this bunch, and go from there to being a solid starter and possibly even pro-bowl player for several years.

Derrick Johnson was originally projected much higher. Two weeks ago I was wishing we'd have a shot at him and accepting that it was probably a vain hope...and now we have him!

This was exactly what we needed, I think. But we'll see when the season starts, I guess.

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posted by Nathan on 01:30 PM | Comments (0)
» evolution links with: chiefs acquire CB Surtain/nfl draft

March 07, 2005

Ouch! --But Probably True « Kansas City Chiefs »
Lesson #4: Drafting and developing defensive talent is the best way to go and it’s the major reason the Chiefs are having problems on that side of the ball.

Of the 21 players who made a significant contribution to the Chiefs defense in 2004, 15 came through the draft. In the last five drafts, the Chiefs have not ignored defense, selecting 37 players overall, with 19 defensive players.

But the evaluation process and/or developmental process remain flawed. The Chiefs missed badly on second round picks like DL Eddie Freeman and LB Kawika Mitchell, and third round choices like DT Eric Downing and CB Julian Battle. Freeman and Downing are already gone after contributing very little on the field. The Chiefs are working the free agent market right now for players at linebacker and corner, making Mitchell and Battle’s futures very uncertain. Both Carl Peterson and Dick Vermeil have said that DT Ryan Sims has not played like the sixth pick in the draft and a player the team gave up three choices to select.

That’s five premium defensive draft choices (first day) that have not gotten it done. Imagine the difference in the Chiefs defense if those five players had lived up to their evaluations on draft day.

LBs Monty Beisel (fourth-round) and Scott Fujita (fifth) have been found wanting; as evidenced by the team’s search for linebackers. Vermeil has been quoted as saying the team needs help at safety as well, which doesn’t speak well to draft picks over the last five years like Greg Wesley (third), Shaunard Harts (seventh) and Willie Pile (seventh.)

The Chiefs found a fourth-round gem last year in DE Jared Allen. He must come back and show it was no fluke. DT Junior Siavii needs a strong off-season of work and improvement to justify the Chiefs selecting him in the second round last year.

No matter what moves the team makes in free agency, next month’s NFL Draft is a huge one for the future of the Chiefs. Ultimately, that’s how they will rebuild their defense.

Emphasis mine, the entire article here.

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posted by Nathan on 06:01 AM | Comments (1)

March 04, 2005

Mm-hmm, Sure « Kansas City Chiefs »

This* is just a negotiating ploy:

Hartwell was also headed for a visit with an undisclosed team. His agent, Harold Lewis, indicated Hartwell had decided he wanted to play for the Chiefs.

If he had really decided to play for the Chiefs already, he would have cancelled further visits. But if a team believes that Hartwell will sacrifice a million dollars or so to "play for the Chiefs, who he really wants", then they might be persuaded to ante up more like five million dollars to convince Hartwell he'd rather play for someone else besides the Chiefs.

In other news, we've lost Blaylock. Which is sad, but I think we'll get some compensation because he was a restricted Free Agent, which is good for us. We've actually had a little too much depth at running back the last year or so. I say "too" much, because we've had a startling lack of "topth" at cornerback and linebacker, to say nothing of "depth". So if the compensation I think we get for losing Blaylock helps us get another good defender, I guess I'm all for it, since we still have Larry Johnson to get breakaway TD runs and Priest Holmes for Red Zone TD runs.

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posted by Nathan on 06:17 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2004

Kansas City Embarasses the Denver Broncos « Kansas City Chiefs »

Wow! I expected the Denver-KC series to be a home-and-home split, but sheesh! --I didn't expect the Chiefs to make the Broncos look that inept!

A coupla thoughts: between the resurgence of Eddie Kennison and the development of Samie Parker, I think KC may be set up okay at wide receiver. Bennie Sapp is an excellent cornerback, despite being pretty dang short. I expect him to be the #3 next year. We still need a good #2 CB, and it looks like McCleon, Bartee, and Battle are all no better than a #4. We need a quality CB in the off-season.

And a couple of fast, rangy linebackers. Three players and we have a defense strong enough to match the offense to get us to the Superbowl next year. Now we just gotta find 'em.

But when you look at Dalton, Biesel, Allen, Sapp, Harts, and Pile, you see that KC can find good players. IF these guys improve at all by the start of next season, we'll have some difference-makers. We'll see.

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posted by Nathan on 01:26 PM | Comments (1)

December 13, 2004

Monday Night Football Update « Kansas City Chiefs »

Win or lose (and they've done a bad job of stopping much on defense but a good job of keeping on offense), I like the way the KC defense has stepped it up in the 4th quarter. They got a good stop by hustling on each play, gang tackling, hitting hard and not letting 'em get an extra inch.'d be nice if they could play like that from the first and keep it up for 4 quarters. But since KC has had the lead or been tied in the 4th quarter for 12 of 13 games, including 7 of 8 losses in which the offense usually couldn't do well enough to pull ahead and the defense often was unable to stop a late, game-winning drive, seeing this sort of intensity in a close game is good.

But Bartee, for all his good, strong tackles, is still getting burned too often as a cornerback. He'd be an awesome free safety, though. Am I the only person who can see that????

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posted by Nathan on 09:21 PM | Comments (0)
Kansas City In-Game Observation « Kansas City Chiefs »

I missed the 1st quarter and a portion of the 2nd. Obligations to the kids...

But when Eddie Kennison got open deep, if Trent Green had hit him in stride, it would have been a touchdown. Since it was badly underthrown, the defender, Waddell, had time to catch up and take position away from Kennison, and it was an interception.

The next series, Trent Green avoided what looked like a sure sack (he's good at that, you know). The cornerback defending Johnny Morton (Waddell again, I think), was looking into the backfield...maybe being ready to step up if Green decided to run for the first down, and Morton blew past him and was wide open. Trent Green lofted another pass...and it was only that Waddell was beaten so badly that Morton was able to catch the pass on the 1 and roll in for the touchdown. Again, badly underthrown...but an easy TD if Green had hit him stride.

So what's up with Trent Green underthrowing passes? Maybe his ribs still aren't 100%?

And I'm not surprised about Volek. I saw him playing against U of Hawaii about 5 years back and expected him to be an eventual starter in the NFL. He's got a great touch.

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posted by Nathan on 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2004

Kansas City Chiefs « Kansas City Chiefs »

I won't have anything to say until after the Chiefs lose to the Titans.

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posted by Nathan on 09:06 PM | Comments (1)

December 08, 2004

Looking To Next Year « Kansas City Chiefs »

There’s still four games left to play in the season for the Chiefs. But it’s never to early to slap an ill-formed and ill-informed opinion out there for anyone to deride.

So here goes with my opinion of what the Chiefs’ need to accomplish in the offseason:

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posted by Nathan on 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2004

Hm. The Chiefs Actually Win. Huh. « Kansas City Chiefs »

I should be excited, but it's hard to get very happy when there is no hope for the playoffs.

However, I did see some good things.

First, Larry Johnson is an excellent running back. If we have to trade him, and can trade him, we should get a 1st-round pick for him. But I think it's more likely we'll let Blaylock go in free agency, which would hurt, because Blaylock is better as a receiver and as a blocker. Running well is only 1/3 of the RB's game.

In any case, with Priest Holmes almost retiring this last year, and being injured for much of this year, we really need to think about who will be our next featured back. My hope is that Holmes will consent to being the Red Zone back, and letting Blaylock play the rest of the field (trading Johnson for a top-notch WR).

Second, Willie Pile is a big-time player. He may lack some experience and veteran savvy, but he's a good hitter, not bad in coverage and most importantly, he tackles well. It's a shame Curry's foot was hurt on that tackle, but it really looked like Curry was going to slide through the tackle and go for a big gain...we've seen it all season, and the last half of last season. But Pile broke down, didn't leave his feet, and took him down. Lots of good tackling in the last two games, and much of it because Harts and Pile and even Bartee hit well. Bartee had 7 tackles! I'd almost rather sit Jerome Woods with Wesley and Pile as my starting safeties, and bring in Harts and Bartee for the nickel and dime. But to do that, we need a quality corner to play opposite Warfield, and neither Bartee nor McCleon are good enough. Nor is Julian Battle, and I doubt Bennie Sapp will get that good...although Sapp is an excellent tackler, too.

Third, just when I say Kennison has lost a step and is washed up, he has a game like this! Sheesh! Why can't our guys turn in a 16-game effort? Different players have been pro-bowl level in different games, but we can't find any consistency!

But it was a good win, on the road, and they showed some heart and desire by not folding at the end of the game. I think it also showed them what happens when they are ahead with less than 2 minutes to go, and how it makes things so much easier for the defense.

The run defense was good. Maybe the best players, aren't? Meaning, maybe some of the guys considered "starter" quality in terms of quickness and coverage and skill had "scrub"-quality tackling skills? We are definitely tackling much better. Maybe the team on the field this weekend gave up a few more first downs than with the season-starting players, but this group seems to give up less 4th-quarter 80-yard TD runs to 2nd-tier running backs. I prefer that, myself.

Jared Allen got another sack, showing he's for real and increasing the chance he may reach double-digits by the end of the season. He's got 6, and there are 4 games left. Even just 8 sacks from a guy considered undersized and a Div I-AA overachiever gives lots to build on for next year. He's showing me enough to convince me he's got potential for 15 sacks and pro-bowl after a full offseason of NFL-quality strength and conditioning programs.

Tomorrow I'll give you my early predictions for off-season roster moves.

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posted by Nathan on 05:17 PM | Comments (0)
Kansas City Loses Again! « Kansas City Chiefs »

Note the time stamp. The game against the Raiders today hasn't started yet.

After much thought, here's what I think is going wrong with the Chiefs this year.

Pride. Wounded pride and the avoidance of wounded pride.

What do I mean?*

It's a combination of things. First, everyone knows that Kansas City's offense is excellent, and no defense wants to be embarassed. It's also a challenge to see if you can stop KC's top notch players. So even though Kansas City isn't a contender this year, everyone wants to be the ones to shut KC's offense down. While it's not the biggest game teams will face all year, going up against the Chiefs this year gets everyone motivated. Even when KC is 3-6, no one wants to get humiliated by a 3-6 team. So the opposing defense is up for the game to prove they can stop the Chiefs, and the opposing offense is up for the game because they want to outdo the Chiefs' offense, and because they realize they might need to score early and score often to win a shoot-out. That's what I think happened in the loss to Tampa Bay, San Diego, and New Orleans.

But the other half of it goes back to the concept I first encountered in Steven Brust's Jhereg: that reputation is the best protection and the worst chink in the armor. No one will dare try to challenge an opponent's strength very much, especially if the few times they try they come up empty. But if someone succeeds, everyone else will try, and people will eventually succeed.

Kansas City's run defense is often quite good way into the 4th quarter. If an opposing team were down by two touchdowns**, they'd have to pass; but with fairly close games, you can still choose to run. Teams going up against KC choose to run more often, it seems, believing that if they keep pounding away, they'll eventually catch a KC defender out of position and it'll go for a long TD-run. That's true for just about every team, but with KC's reputation, they stick to the run longer. And it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, in that running extensively wears down the opposing defense. If teams didn't believe they could break a big one against KC's defense, they'd give up a little more quickly, and that weakness wouldn't be exploited...making KC's ren defense look better, and thereby making teams less likely to stick to the run against them.

Look what KC did against Jamal Lewis and LaDanian Tomlinson, two of the best backs in the league: they shut 'em down. Bad run defense teams can't do that. But teams still keep trying to run on KC, and so two RBs (the ones I know of) have the longest runs of their career against KC's defense this year. Michael Pittman's long TD run that helped clinch the win against KC came only because pass-happy Jon Gruden kept trying the run at a point that most other teams would have switched into pass mode.

Incidentally, this appears to be why Champ Bailey of the Denver Broncos is no longer a shut-down corner. Shannon Sharpe said he's never seen any team challenge Champ as much as they have this year, and as a result, he looks human and beatable, thus ensuring more teams to keep challenging him.

The last piece of the puzzle of why the Chiefs are losing so much, I think, is that KC's pride on both offense and defense is wounded. Theythemselves no longer believe they can get it done. Last year, they felt that somehow they'd get the long TD catch or the stop they needed when the game was close. And that sort of expectation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, too. You hold your blocks that split-second longer, you put on that little extra burst to get to the opposing QB, you juke with a little more fervor...and you succeed. Confidence makes a huge difference in a game of microseconds and millimeters, which football most definitely is.

Can Vermeil help them believe again? I don't know. That's one reason they shouldn't give up this year, even though I would if I were coach. If they can win the remaining games by at least 2 touchdowns, with the defense holding opposing rushers under 100 yards and less than two TDs scored, that would work wonders for building confidence next year. I just don't really think they can do it, and I no longer believe Coach Vermeil is the guy to help them get that swagger back.

Read More "Kansas City Loses Again!" »

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posted by Nathan on 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2004

The Chiefs Lose Again! « Kansas City Chiefs »

Maybe I should just change the category of these posts to "The Chiefs Lose Again!" [grin]

Okay, here's some thoughts on the loss:

Read More "The Chiefs Lose Again!" »

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November 23, 2004

Kansas City Loses Again! « Kansas City Chiefs »

This is getting to be a habit.

I was thinking about writing this review before the game, for humorous and/or tragic effect. I should have done so.

See, Kansas City just isn't getting it done, and it's pretty much always for the same reason:

The offense.


The defense isn't Top-10 (although they were for a while), and no one expected them to be so. However, I still blame the offense because it has the personnel and the ability to score 35 points every game against any defense. It hasn't even come close to that in most of the losses.

This is an offense that dominated three different quality teams three different ways. Ravens: Time of Possession. Atlanta: We ran at will, they couldn't run at all. Indianapolis: We won a shoot-out by being more flexible, dynamic, and explosive.

So how can we score only only 20 points against New Orleans? Only 17 points against Carolina? 21 points against Houston? Only 19 points against New England? How could we not get a first down against Jacksonville?

One of the keys to understanding football is how much the game changes from when you are behind to when you are pretty much tied to when you are behind to when you are behind by a lot. Kansas City won 9 games in a row last year because they jumped to early leads and held them through the middle of the 3rd quarter. When you hold a 2 touchdown lead (or more) halfway through the 3rd quarter, the other team really can't waste time running the ball, making short passes, or dump offs. They have to go down the field, and that increases the opportunity for sacks and interceptions.

Kansas City can't seem to get the big lead they need to force the other team to change strategies. When KC does, the Chiefs win, like against the Colts, the Falcons, and the Ravens. But KC lost the other 7 games because the offense didn't dominate like it should, and so all of our opponents retained their entire gameplan and maintained their balance. And KC's defense wasn't quite good enough to win those games.

How many games has Trent Green thrown an interception in the end zone? I remember three. All losses. All three were momentum-turning, effort-killing picks. It would be much better to be 6-4 than 3-7, yanno?

If an offensive line can beat up the Atlanta Falcons D-line so well, why can't they protect Trent against the Bucs D-line at all? Why can't they open holes in the Red Zone for Blaylock that I could run through?

If Trent Green can get such gaudy yardage, why can't he score TDs like last year?

I started looking forward to next year last week. It looks like I wasn't wrong.

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posted by Nathan on 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2004

What KC Should Do « Kansas City Chiefs »

This season is a wash. They need to start preparing for next season now.

Nah, I'm not saying they should blow games to get a higher draft pick or anything.

But what should the priority be? What would the point be of winning 6 or 7 games this season? There's little to no chance of making the playoffs this year, and even if they did, they wouldn't go very far.

We need to start picking players for next year, I think.

We've got a lot of youth around the team with scads of potential. Let 'em show it.

For instance, how much time have we spent on Julian Battle? He's got the tools, but lacks the experience necessary, and so lacks consistency. Let him start the rest of the season. If he's still playing poorly by the end of the season, we can release him knowing he's not NFL-caliber. But maybe he'll figure it out during that time and the experience will be vital for him being a starter or starter-quality nickel back for next year.

Let Fujita, Biesel and Mitchell play LB for the rest of the year, with Fox coming in as the 4th LB. That may be what happens, anyway. But after 8 games, we'll either see a quality LB unit emerge, or know that this is an area of major concern.

Sims, Siavii, Jared Allen, and Montique Sharpe should get the majority of snaps on the D-Line. Sims should never come out, if possible. We've got too much money in him for him to be merely adequate. We can find "adequate" for bargain-basement prices. We can get 3 "adequate" DTs and still save money over his contract. This is a prime Free Agency position. Better to pick up 10 borderline free agents/potentially-washed up vets and let 'em fight it out. Lionel Dalton was a nice find...if we'd had 3 of him, we might have had a scary D-line.

Kennison is done. He can get open, but he can't protect the ball or get open consistently. #6 WR.
Morton should be a Ricky Proehl-style #5 WR from now on. Rotate Chris Horn, Jeris McIntyre, Samie Parker and Richard Smith until you find your #s 1-2, keeping in mind you have Mark Boerigter coming back with a vengeance next year (since medical advances mean season-ending knee injuries are no longer career-killers these days). If we get the young guys experience, this should be a position of strength next year.

Let's find out if Larry Johnson is a prime-time player. He should play the 2nd half for the rest of the season.

Jordon Black and Brett Williams should be playing tackle in the 4th quarter for the rest of the year. Dump Damon Huard and get Casey Clauson or other developmental QB for #3, and either play Todd Collins or the #3 in the 4th quarter so the 2nd-year tackles don't get Trent Green killed.

Sit Jerome Woods down. He's not getting it done this year, and should be an 'insurance' guy only. We let several good ST players go to make room for youngsters with potential, so let 'em play. Shaunard Harts has looked good at times, let him play the 1st half, and let Willie Pile play the 2nd half from now on. Leave Greg Wesley in, he's playing pro-bowl level with at least 1 significant lapse each game. If he doesn't correct it by the end of the season, Harts and Pile could probably start next year, and Wesley's upside would make him top-notch trade bait.

You stick with the plan no matter how close it is in the 4th quarter (and Green + Holmes/Blaylock might keep it close sometimes) so you can see how the young guys take pressure. Moreover, regardless of performance level, if someone commits too many penalties, they will be gone next year. Penalties have lost more games for KC this year than turnovers or defensive lapses, I think.

We'd probably win only 2 games the rest of the season. The upside would be:
-high draft pick position
-find out which youngsters have the ability/discipline/drive to succeed and excel
-soft schedule next year to help get home-field advantage

Then you bring in boatloads of low-priced veteran and rookie free agents to provide quality depth.

I think we'd have 3 Superbowl appearances and at least 1 SB win over the next 5 years if we'd do this. I doubt it will happen, somehow...

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posted by Nathan on 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2004

So What's Wrong With The Chiefs? « Kansas City Chiefs »

Like you care. You mock my pain.

...okay, okay. Here's what I think it is:

Shoot, I can't think of any one thing.

I think the coaches are good. I think the players are good. Every single player has played quite well at times. And lousy at other times.

And penalties. We already have pretty much the same as we had all last year, and the season is only half-done. So with the inconsistency problem and the penalty problem, is it just plain the coaches' fault?

Youth? We have alot of youth in our linebacking corps, with Fujita having less than 3 years starting experience, Mitchell less than 2, and Biesel less than 1.

We've been plagued with injuries. But good teams overcome those.

I'm baffled. I think the football gods just hate Kansas City, just like the baseball gods hate the Chicago Cubs and the basketball gods, well, hate the NBA.

Yeah, you can quote that last line.

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posted by Nathan on 04:29 PM | Comments (2)

November 14, 2004

Chiefs Lose! :( « Kansas City Chiefs »

It could be worse, I guess. I could be a Chiefs' fan...

--no, wait. I am. Okay, I guess life really sucks.

I can't say I anticipated this outcome, but I'm not surprised, either. The Chiefs haven't shown the ability to consistently win games.

The problem is the offense. Period.

The defense isn't the best in the league, no, but they do well enough to win games. Kansas City was up 10-0 at the end of the 1st quarter. Where did the offense go? The Saints defense is not known for its ferocity or tenacity, ranking even lower than KC's defense, I believe. So why couldn't KC's offense match the Saints score-for-score for the rest of the game and win by at least 10?

How can a team with a running back with over 100 yards in one half only have 13 points? How can a team less than 5 yards shy of 500 yards for the game have just 20 points? How can a team with an offense that stayed on the field for 2/3 the game against the Baltimore Ravens' defense not keep the Saints' offense off the field? How can a team that manhandled the Falcons' defensive line not do the same to every opponent?

Where is the offense?

Don't tell me it was cuz Priest Holmes was on the bench, because I didn't notice him having games like this in any wins this year. Blaylock was on fire.

Which brings up another point? Are we witnessing the passing of a torch? Blaylock is generally considered by team officials to be the best RB for picking up blitzes and so forth, and now he shows he can run with authority. Do you sit Priest Holmes down? What if Blaylock really does give KC a better chance to win?

...but I'm just messing with you, because Holmes can score inside the 5 when no one else can, and the Saints were like #31 against the rush coming in, I think I heard, so I could probably have broken 100 yards today....although maybe on 50 carries.

But I will close with a reminder that even before this game I was looking forward to next year. That's all we got left at this point. I think we might be lucky to hit 8-8.

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posted by Nathan on 02:45 PM | Comments (0)
» The LLama Butchers links with: Carville loses it---the morning roudup

November 11, 2004

The Football Gods Hate the Chiefs, Continued; Plus Musings « Kansas City Chiefs »

Did you know that two teams have had the longest runs of their entire history in games against Kansas City this year? Sure, the Carolina Panthers haven't been around that long....but Tampa Bay?!?!

The Carolina Panthers also had one moment when Delhomme was being slung around for a sack, and he flung up the ball....and it just happened to land perfectly in some back-up's hands for a touchdown. That should not happen in the NFL.

And even though it is tough to stop a 1-yard line plunge leap over the pile at the goal-line, Kansas City played it perfectly and stopped it. But he landed on his feet and was able to roll forward and score a touchdown.


This year, it seems, every possible break that can go against Kansas City, does.

The defense isn't playing that badly. Excessive injuries to key players has kept them from having a fully-healthy squad on the field, and have forced inexperienced players into the starting lineup and sometimes into new roles (Biesel starting at MLB despite spending the whole preseason preparing for OLB).

...and yet, even though the defense isn't strong, they aren't exactly the problem. They held Edgerrin James to 34 yards on 10 carries and made the Colts abandon the run. They stuffed Jamal Lewis and made him a non-factor. They got critical stops in each of the wins. They've missed the critical stops in the losses, yeah, but the plain fact is: when the offense underperforms expectations, KC loses. When they play up to their level, we win. It's just that simple. The Chiefs' offense has not met expectations in 5 games this season, and that's just wrong.

I'm looking toward next year, now. Yeah, the Chiefs aren't mathematically eliminated from winning the division, but it would take a near-miraculous 2nd half just to make the playoffs at this point.

I'm thinking Dick Vermeil is done. If not, he should be. I'd bet that the nature of disappointment of not even challenging for the playoffs will be a bitter enough pill that he leaves coaching.

If so, who takes over next? I don't know, but whoever it is should be able to build on what Vermeil has built and take us to the next level.

Furthermore, despite complaints about Peterson's drafts and free agency moves, they have produced some impressive successes:
Trent Green, Priest Holmes, Monty Biesel (played to near-pro-bowl levels at times), Jared Allen (slowly building a case for Defensive Rookie of the Year, his stats aren't far off Julius Peppers' pace from a few years ago: on pace for 9 sacks from a 4th-round draft pick not expected to ever be a starter ain't bad), Tony Gonzalez, Willie Roaf, Casey Wiegmann, Jason Dunn, Dante Hall, Brian Waters, Scott Fujita, Derrick Blaylock...all are players any team would love to have as at least a starter-level back-up, all are players that any team could have had, and the only one that cost any significant price at all was Tony Gonzalez. Of all these players, the only ones that might be just about done are Priest Holmes and Willie Roaf, and Priest Holmes has decent replacements. Not sure about Roaf's back-ups, but then, he's good enough to keep almost anyone on the bench, isn't he?

Plus, KC has a good nucleus for the future at several positions for at least the next 3 years. To tell the truth, this year's draft and Rookie FA class may result in several eventual pro-bowlers. I can't wait to see what more experience will do for Keyaron Fox, Kawika Mitchell, Monty Biesel, Jared Allen, Junior Siavii, Benny Sapp, Kris Wilson, William Bartee, Shaunard Harts, Greg Wesley, Kevin Samson, Brett Williams, Derrick Blaylock, Chris Horn (a steal as a diamond in the rough), Willie Pile, Samie Parker, Jordon Black, Scott Fujita, Mark Boerigter, Montique Sharpe, Jeris McIntyre, Richard Smith, Aaron Golliday, and Scott Connot. That's almost a team right there, and even the practice squadders have shown enough flashes of ability to be solid starters, if not stars. Some of the current starters may reach pro-bowl level soon.

If Peterson keeps hitting good base hits on most of his picks and free agents like the last two years, we'll challenge almost yearly for the next decade. But at this point, I'm just about thinking the problem is coaching. Whatever mix we have isn't getting it done. I don't think the problem is Vermeil, necessarily, or Saunders, or Cunningham, or any of the position coaches. But the totality of their abilities isn't meshing well. What I mean is, without Vermeil's vision and his ability to make a family of his team, we wouldn't have even gotten this far! Evidence: Trent Green, who few believed would play at this level, and Lionel Dalton, who struggled under Shanahan's Mind Games technique, but thrives in Vermeil's Family Style. But Vermeil needs the right assistants to get it done. He is an excellent coach, but he has only one Superbowl win, and even that came when his coordinators had excellent seasons; both are Head Coaches now. Meaning, offense alone doesn't cut it, and Vermeil doesn't seem to realize that. If we are going to challenge for the Superbowl this year, we may have to lay off the offense side of the ball a little and see if we can't stock the defense.

I understand why they took Larry Johnson: no one knew for sure about Priest Holmes, and Derrick Blaylock hadn't emerged yet. And I can't fault them for adding Kris Wilson, because I still think he would have been a monster in our offense, feasting off of TG double-teams until it forced teams to lay off TG more, allowing him some monster games. I think if Wilson hadn't been hurt, we'd be 7-1 right now...
...and yet, we've got a #1 draft pick at third string running back. Imagine what an equivalent pick spent on a defensive player could have gotten us, particularly at linebacker where we could have gotten a strong speed-rusher who can blow up running plays and cover on pass plays....particularly one who wouldn't blow an assignment on a running play that allows a team to have their longest run of their entire history.... That might have won 3 of the games right there. Not to mention that if they were so correct on Jared Allen with the 4th pick, couldn't we have gotten a solid back-up on defense with the pick we spent on Samie Parker (a player who still doesn't have even one catch!)?
And I think you can chalk up the very first loss to the Broncos directly to going into the game with only 4 active WRs. I've thought about it 18 different ways, and there is no reason Chris Horn shouldn't have been on the team and active that night. And that judgment has been borne out by what Horn has done in extremely limited playing time. He never makes the highlight reels because he's such an unheralded unknown, but it seems to me like he's made one highlight-reel-worthy catch in every game he's seen significant action, including each of the last 3 games.

So I'm looking forward to the future. The team isn't good enough this year, but the right coach and a decent offseason of draft- and free-agent- acquisitions should let us contend for the Super Bowl for several of the next handful of years.

As always, we'll see...

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posted by Nathan on 09:42 AM | Comments (0)
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November 07, 2004

The Football Gods... « Kansas City Chiefs »

...really seem to hate the Kansas City Chiefs. That's the best analysis of the Chiefs over the last few decades, and also of their most recent game.

More soon, probably Tuesday or Wednesday.

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posted by Nathan on 01:56 PM | Comments (0)
» evolution links with: chiefs report: week 9 (3-5)

November 05, 2004

Winning the Big Dance « Kansas City Chiefs »

I'm not saying they will. There's too far to go to even hope, at this point. We've got two games against teams with losing records but still possess enough weapons to grab a win if KC has a bad gameday. Then the Patriots. Then 5 games against AFC West opponents, including an important game against the Broncos at Arrowhead and both games against San Diego.

I tell ya, I'm nervous. We're still in the hole. We've shown flashes of true brilliance lately, but there are still too many key players out for me to feel any of the following games are "in the bag".

Then again, that may be the way Chiefs' fans, and, more importantly, the Chiefs themselves, should feel. Last year, we almost had it too easy in the first 9 games. It left us all wondering: did we peak too early? Can we sustain this through the Superbowl? Obviously, the answer to that was "no".

Looking back, there were a few factors that led to the fast start and late-season demise. First, we pumped up our defensive record against inexperienced quarterbacks playing on otherwise good teams. Second, although we got in a good rhythm on offense and defense, we also got into a rut. The offensive production didn't really taper off much (we didn't punt against the Colts, either, remember?), but we did show enough of our hand that we left ourselves open to exploitation.

This year, the defense seems to be peaking with a nice timing. They are getting better every week, the performances are good enough, and the confidence is building that the players actually grasp the system. Gunther's system plays to our defenders' strengths, and it is no surprise that Warfield, Bartee, and Hicks are experiencing resurgent seasons: they are back under the guy that sought them out! They are getting better every week, and with a strong showing the next two weeks, we could actually end the season with a top-10 defense. Amazing.

But what's happened on offense is also significant. Lacking two of the potentially biggest playmakers, as projected from the preseason (Boerigter and Wilson), with defenders obviously having figured out the Green-to-Holmes Swing Pass, and the replacement of Tait with Welbourn, we struggled in the early season. With the offense we had last season, the offense should have had the firepower to protect the defense in the early part of the season, but did not. I still blame the offense for the losses, not the defense. The Jaguars should not have been close enough to pick off the win, yanno? But the good part of it is that it forced Saunders to innovate once more, and he apparently has found the right combination. I can't say for sure, but I'll bet that if other defenses figure out how to stop what we're doing now, it will leave them open for Priest Holmes swing passes and allow Eddie Kennison and Dante Hall to get 50-yard TD catches...

And we are doing all this with largely sub-par Special Teams play. If we get that aspect of the game firing on all cylinders during the playoffs, watch out!

In the end, if we do make it to the Super Bowl and win, it will be far more soul-satisfying to have made it this way than last year's "9-0, then back into the playoffs" method. Heck, with as badly as we started, just making it to the AFC Championships would have to be considered a success.

It will be an interesting 2nd half of the season, to say the least.

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posted by Nathan on 06:10 AM | Comments (1)

November 01, 2004

"No Significant Addition" « Kansas City Chiefs »

Well, whatever wasn't added to the KC Defense, it was worth 4 punts, a fake punt attempt, and an interception. That's 6 more stops than last year, right?

There are some troublesome aspects to the performance, however. Obviously, giving up 5 TDs and 470 yards of passing is never a good thing. If the Chiefs offense hadn't been clicking on all cylinders, this would have been a loss.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of reason for optimism.

Continue reading "No Significant Addition" at my post at Sportsblog.

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posted by Nathan on 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2004

AFC Offensive Player of the Week « Kansas City Chiefs »

Congratulations to KC Chief Brian Waters for his award this week.

It was unprecedented. Never before has an OL player won the award.

When you set an NFL record by rushing for eight touchdowns in a single game, you know that someone is going to be recognized. But the surprise at One Arrowhead Drive Tuesday was that left guard Brian Waters was chosen the AFC's offensive player of the week.

It marked the first time since the inception of the award in 1984 that an offensive lineman received the AFC offensive player of the week. Waters, who attended North Texas, was an appropriate candidate because he's having the best season of his five-year NFL career and because the Chiefs did a lot of their damage against the Falcons on Sunday by running behind Waters and left tackle Willie Roaf.

“I think Brian Waters is playing guard as well as any guard in football if not better right now,” Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. “It's nice that they recognized one of our offensive linemen.”

And you know what? He was converted to O-Line after playing Tight End in college. So he was the first lineman ever selected to be the AFC Offensive Player O' The Week, and it wasn't his original position. Wow.

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posted by Nathan on 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2004

What To Think? « Kansas City Chiefs »

I really don't know what to think about the Chiefs right now.

I had written off their season after the loss to the Jaguars. I was all set to write a piece titled, "Kansas City just isn't that good this year." I was going to go from there and talk about how despite all the criticism for KC not improving their defense, it was the offense that was losing games for KC, that despite the doubts and naysayers, the addition of Gunther Cunningham and the development of players from within was enough, because the defense was doing fine and improving every week.

The Ravens game seemed to bring it all together. The offense stopped trying to be so cute and really started to kick butt. We still missed Kris Wilson and Mark Boerigter on offense, but Jason Dunn and Chris Horn looked like they could do nearly the same thing. I was waiting for a win against the Jaguars before giving in to hope and thinking maybe the Chiefs could make the playoffs. It didn't happen, and the way it happened was both bad and good for the Chiefs. Good, because Leftwich is probably going to be one of the greats, showing John Elway levels of ability, strength of character, and comeback talent, so, no shame, right? Bad, because the offense could have iced the game with a first down, but they didn't. Losing like that isn't good for a team that started the season with Superbowl aspirations and now must scramble to make the playoffs.

But now, arguably the two best offensive performances of the season were both turned in by Kansas City, and one of the best defensive performances was also given by the Chiefs this last week. It took some time, but this was the defense we expected KC to have with Gunther in charge. Can mediocre-to-bad players absolutely shut down Michael Vick?!? Of course not. This is a good defense with good players.

But have they arrived?

Has the offense arrived?

I thought so after they dominated the Ravens defense, but they didn't show it against the Jaguars.

So what to think?

I guess I think Kansas City let too many games get away from them. They could have won any of the four games they lost this year. They led and were in control at some point in the second half of each of the games, but let them all slip away. There's reason for each, perhaps.
Denver: It was in the Mile-High Zone, and the refs refused to call a Defensive Pass Interference call on any of the muggings. But I hang the loss on Vermeil for not keeping Chris Horn on the roster for the opener. We were simply undermanned at the WR position. One extra WR and we might still have pulled it out.
Carolina: The turning point was clearly when Delhomme flung up a prayer while being thrown to the turf, a toss that usually gets intercepted, a toss that usually only Denver QBs get lucky enough to complete...and it went for a touchdown. But I still don't think there's much shame to lose to a team that contended in the Superbowl only a few games before.
Texas: David Carr is going to be one of the greats, also, just like Byron Leftwich. Kansas City should have been able to put it away, and didn't. We could have taken it out of Texas' (and Jacksonville's) hands, but didn't. But you have to hand it to those QBs, they are good.

As such, those four losses could be 4 of the 5 toughest games KC plays in all year. Looking at the schedule, the only teams that look to match up so well against KC are the Patriots and the Colts, and we should be able to win at least one of the very least, if we have any hope of winning a playoff game, we'll have to prove it by winning one or both.

And if the true Kansas City Chiefs team is the one we saw this week against Atlanta, well, then they have an outside chance of sweeping the rest of the season. And that would be what it would take to have a chance for home-field advantage, or to convince me we could be the favorite to make/win the Superbowl.

At this point, however, I'd be satisfied with a strong 9- or 10-win season, I'd be happy with a blow-out win over Denver at the end of the season, and I'd be ecstatic if we overtook the Broncos and won the Division. Going deep into the playoffs would just be icing.

So. Will they reach any of those hopes? We'll have to see, and the first test will be to see how they react to such a dominant win. If they become overconfident and lose another close game, that says something. If they get it done, that says something else. I really hope KC has learned to win the close battles, but at this point I have no such confidence. We'll see.

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posted by Nathan on 10:42 PM | Comments (0)
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September 20, 2004

Maybe I Should Be A Professional « Kansas City Chiefs »

If you happened to see any Kansas City Chiefs games this year, or if you understand and are interested in football, check out my dispirited review of yesterday's games (the most recent previous post), then check out this post.


In two games, the Chiefs offense has scored only four Holmes rushing touchdowns. For the team that led the NFL in scoring over the last two years, that’s quite a slow start.

So why are the Chiefs suffering on offense? Let us count the ways, for they are many. Injuries are a problem, that being the pre-season injuries to veteran receivers Kennison and Johnnie Morton; the loss of receiver Marc Boerigter for the season and rookie tight end Kris Wilson for half of the year. Opponents have scouted out their screen and short passing game to Holmes and blow up the plays before they even get started. Offensive line play has been inconsistent, especially at the tackles where John Welbourn has struggled and so has Willie Roaf

Hmmm....the only point I missed was regarding the O-line, and even that point might be debatable; after all, if our receivers were getting separation, then the O-line wouldn't have to block as long.

Has the Kansas City offense jumped the shark? In any case, they are certainly leaving a decent (if mediocre) defense out to dry.

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posted by Nathan on 05:38 AM | Comments (2)

September 19, 2004

KC's Season All But Over « Kansas City Chiefs »

They might (and I stress might) sneak into the playoffs with a 9-7 record, but that's probably about it.

Sure, there's still hope. If people start wrapping up on tackles and we find a wide receiver that can get separation, we might get pack in the chase. From what I've seen this season, the first game on the road against a team like the Broncos could be a fluke. Losing at home to a team with 3 new O-line players and two significant starters hurt is bad. Very bad.

If they turn it around and reel off 6 straight wins, well, then that will be evidence they've turned it around. But I don't think that's going to happen.

So now that I've pretty much given up on a Super Bowl this year, where shall we place the blame for this loss?

Lots of people are going to look at the defense. Uh-uh.

There's no way anything but a top-3 defense can consistently hold an opponent under 17 points, and that's what KC would have needed to win this game. Nope, it is the offense that is losing games, interestingly, and it starts from having absolutely no credible WR threat. KC could have put the game away several times, but each time, they went 3-and-out or maybe 5 downs max before punting. They left the defense on the field for far too long, and let the Panthers stay too close. In a close game, an offense can use the entire playbook...but when down by 14-21 points, they start having to pass, and the defense can tee off. Our offense should have helped our defense out like that.

Of course, the defense isn't blameless. The defense, as a group, is playing quite well. They get some amazing run-stuffs, they get into the backfield and blow up plays, they hit the QB as he throws...but they are almost invariably a half-step too slow to get the sack-and-strip, one half-step too slow to hit the WR as he catches the ball to prevent the lunge for the first down. With just that extra half-step on merely a few of those dozen plays, and KC would have dominated the game. In a game of inches, KC was consistently short those inches.

Okay, I'll grant you that we were missing Vonnie Holliday and Pro-Bowler Jerome Woods. But that should have lesser impact than the Panther's missing Stephen Davis and Steve Smith.

One point: the Panthers have pretty much used up a season's worth of luck in one game. When a QB throws up a duck as he's been spinning around, the best thing that can happen is an incompletion...except against KC, when it results in a TD. Amazing.

Interesting thought: last year, a bunch of completions, yards, and big gains came from that little swing pass to Priest Holmes as he turned up the sideline, catching him in stride at full speed so he'd get 7-8 yards before anyone could even try to put a hand on him. I haven't seen that pass attempted even once this year. What happened to it?

Final analysis: I still think the Chiefs did the right things in the off-season. They mainly developed players from within, and several of the young players are going to be very good. But injuries are the wild card, and they robbed us of two players that would have starred: Kris Wilson and Mark Boerigter, as well as delaying the development of Samie Parker and Jeris McIntyre who could have played significant helping roles, and preventing the establishment of timing and rapport between Green and his starting WRs Kennison and Morton. There's still time to turn it around, and they may do it yet. But it is difficult to improve very much during the season, and so it is most likely that KC will be right around 8-8, and providing some good experience to young players for next years' Superbowl run.

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posted by Nathan on 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2004

Preview: Wk 2, KC vs Carolina « Kansas City Chiefs »

Normally, I don't like it when people place too much emphasis on one game. Every team plays 16 games, and teams can get hot and go cold. An injury at the wrong time can make a huge difference in a team's ability to win. Weather can affect home-field advantage, as well.

But all that being said, I am going to go against my typical attitude and say that this game may be the most important game we play all season. At the very least, it will be an important indicator of what we can expect for the rest of the season.

Denver is a darn good team, and we played at their stadium for their home opener. They were more polished than I expected, more prepared and ready to go. My feeling is that Kansas City was still trying to figure out exactly how they were going to deal injuries to significant role players at the LB, WR, and TE positions, and that they didn't do it right.

Well, the advantages Denver enjoyed are now mostly in KC's favor: playing at home with one of the best homefield advantages in the NFL, in the home opener, against an opponent reeling from an unfortunate drastic injury to a significant player.

Kansas City had a chance to see how the new elements and new schemes and new approaches worked, and identified some problems and blindspots. But in the Panthers, we are facing a team that has a mediocre and relatively inexperience QB, a powerful but unspeedy/unshifty RB, and a possibly sub-par offensive line. An average offense, in other words, rather than one of the best, rather than one designed to sow and exploit confusion. This should give us an accurate assessment of our defense, and give them a chance to build some confidence and rapport, as well as growing one week more comfortable with Gunther's system.

On the other hand, I haven't seen KC do anything, really, to address the problems on offense. I hope that one step was to contact the NFL regarding the non-calls on defensive interference being inflicted on Tony Gonzales. If that doesn't get resolved, then TG can't draw attention off of the WRs, and it may be difficult to get our offense truly untracked. And don't forget that the Panthers have one of the best D-lines in the NFL, and their secondary isn't shabby.

Then again, we won't face another DB of Champ Bailey's caliber. (and the truly ironic aspect of Bailey's acquisition is it seems Denver has finally developed some excellent DBs of their own...although it is possible it was just Champ making everyone look better...?)

And so while a loss this week won't be a total disaster (the defense could still grow better and getting players healthy could result in a late season surge), a win is likely enough that a loss would be a major hit on our hopes and expectations for the season. If we lose, I don't think we'll make the playoffs this year. And even if we win, the way we win will be important, too, in predicting how the rest of the season goes. We need to avoid injuries and have smooth execution on both sides of the ball.

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posted by Nathan on 08:26 AM | Comments (4)

September 15, 2004

Musings on KC's Defense « Kansas City Chiefs »

You can find it here,, but I'm going to copy the whole thing below:

From Ivan Carter (one of the most insightful and accurate of the KC Star's sportswriters):

Here's the thing that sticks about the defensive performance last night: there were several opportunities to make a play and get off the field but the D couldn't do it. That's a problem. Every defense is going to give up some big plays. Look around the league, there are just too many freaky athletes on offense these days. Sometimes you are going to get gashed. But good defenses find a way to make the plays they have to make in tight spots. Denver did it on that big third and seven in the fourth. Their rookie corner made a nice tackle on Kennison and forced the Chiefs to punt. When Denver faced a third and seven situation late in the third quarter, Plummer hooked up with Rod Smith for a 13-yard gain. And then of course, your defense can't allow a team to go on a 13-play, 87-yard drive which eats up seven minutes of clock when your team is trailing 27-24 and needs the ball back. I really do believe that this defense will improve as the season goes and Gunther gets the guys playing his way but that was not a great start.

I think that's a very accurate and realistic assessment. I am disappointed in KC's defensive performance. They needed a stop and didn't get it. But it's a long season, you can't win every battle, and I think the defense will continue to improve and win more than they lose. Ignore the idiots.

From Vermeil:

The problems are basically the same and with the same people. People need to play with better discipline and better technique and more consistently than they are. They will do it or someone else will do it for them.

That is truly interesting. I can see some obvious aspects, and a good third of the things I point out show up later in the professional's assessments later in the week. But I have a hard time picking out which players are actually playing out of position or with bad discipline. Anyone have any insight as to which players Coach was talking about?

From the KC Star's "Chief Notes":

Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said middle linebacker Monty Beisel “played much better” in making his first regular-season start Sunday night and could hold onto the starting job once Kawika Mitchell returns from an ankle injury he suffered in the second preseason game.

Please remember, you heard it here (from me) first.

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posted by Nathan on 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2004

Reactions on Week 1, KC vs Denver « Kansas City Chiefs »

Post-game reactions up at Sportsblog.

All in all, this is a very fair and accurate assessment of the game. The writer focuses on some different aspects. Two things I didn't really make note of until he pointed out: Trent Green had a sub-60 QB rating, and Dante Hall was a complete non-factor.

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posted by Nathan on 06:38 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2004

Oh, Yeah: « Kansas City Chiefs »

The momentum shift was Denver going for it on 4th down and making it, I think, rather than the 23 yard sack. If the momentum hadn't already shifted, I don't think Denver would have gotten that sack.

So as long as no one else gets injured, I'll consider this a successful game even if we lose, as long as the defense still plays fairly tight and doesn't give up any huge runs. would be nice if they'd force two or three turnovers, tho...

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posted by Nathan on 07:32 PM | Comments (1)
KC vs. Denver: 1st Half Impressions « Kansas City Chiefs »

1) Champ Bailey: wow! I don't think there was anyone else in the NFL who could have made that interception.

2) The crowd is making a big difference, just in being able to keep KC from getting in a rhythm.

3) KC's injuries at WR are making it difficult to get momentum, as well.

4) KC's defense is quite a bit better this year. Only one real break-down: giving Quentin Griffith the 26-yd TD. But kudos to Denver for going right at the place where KC was blitzing from.

5) The single biggest factor in this game so far is that the refs are not calling the contact downfield that they said they would. I haven't seen Denver's WRs get mugged, but Tony Gonzalez has been chucked, arm-blocked, and grabbed beyond the 5-yard space on 2 separate occasions that I could see. So was Eddie Kennison on at least one. It is absolutely pitiful to let Denver's get away with it after all the off-season talk about enforcing the rule.

6) John Lynch: non-factor. The only time his name has been called in the first half of the game was on a dirty hit, leading with the helmet to the facemask/chin of Dante Hall. And he took 2+ steps to take the hit, which is generall accepted to have time to not take the hit.

Bottom line: KC's defense is much improved, but so is Denver's. Denver has control of the game and can probably cruise to a victory unless KC gets its offense untracked. At least 10 of Denver's points were from winning the battle of field position, so if KC's offense can get back on track, I think KC outscoring Denver by 14 in the 2nd half is possible.

...unlikely, but possible.

Nice job, Broncos!

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posted by Nathan on 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2004

September 03, 2004

Roster O' Guesses, Pt 2 « Kansas City Chiefs »

Updated Roster Guesses. 'Nuff said.

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posted by Nathan on 05:35 PM | Comments (0)
» evolution links with: chiefs report: cutdown day
Thoughts and Impressions on the Last Preseason Game « Kansas City Chiefs »

Some good things and at least one disastrous event in last night's game.

Good things:

Richard Smith is ready for the NFL. He might be starting by the end of the year. If he continues to improve...

The rest, as always, is over here.

I'll be providing my Preseason Wrap-up and predictions for the first week by next Wednesday.

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posted by Nathan on 10:49 AM | Comments (2)

September 01, 2004

KC's Roster Cut-Down « Kansas City Chiefs »

My thoughts are up at Sportsblog.

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posted by Nathan on 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2004

KC NOT Looking Good « Kansas City Chiefs »

But all is not lost.

I didn't get to watch the game, but I watched the statistics and read the reviews afterwards. Here's my take:

The rest of the article can be read here.

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posted by Nathan on 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2004

Who Makes the Team? Roster Guesses « Kansas City Chiefs »

It is still early in the preseason, and I'm guessing at how many players Vermeil will keep at each position as much as I am guessing who will make the team. Based on my impressions of their performances thus far, and potential for improvement within the season, I think the final roster will look close to this:

Read More "Who Makes the Team? Roster Guesses" »

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posted by Nathan on 06:01 AM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2004

Amateur Eyewitness Report on the KC-STL Game « Kansas City Chiefs »

That idiot 'Brain Fertilizer' has another stupid, overly-optimistic post up again. Blah, blah, blah, KC will win the Superbowl 245-0 over the Denver Broncos, blah, blah, blah. Doesn't this guy ever shut up??!?!?!

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posted by Nathan on 10:02 PM | Comments (7)

August 14, 2004

KC's Preseason Game #1 (loss to the Giants) « Kansas City Chiefs »

I am quite pleased with KC's first exhibition game, a loss to the NY Giants.

The 1st team was up 14-0 and the second team had us up 17-7. I didn't get to actually watch the game, but from the online stats, it seemed as if Kansas City put in thw 2nd team and then the 3rd team one series earlier than the Giants each time. Playing "one level down" resulted in 14 of the Giants points, from what I can tell. But that's really immaterial, other than the back-ups getting some excellent work.

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posted by Nathan on 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2004

Early Indications From Camp « Kansas City Chiefs »

I've been reading everything I could about the Chiefs' progress at training camp. Here are some thoughts and impressions:

It was hard to really gauge whether the defense has improved or not at first. It seemed like the defense wasn't making many good plays against KC's offense... but then, we are talking about the best and most balanced offense in the NFL over the last two years. But after one day of practice with the Vikings, it seems there has been significant improvement. Sure, no one can really stop Randy Moss, but who can? However, this article (registration probably required) makes it sound like KC's defense has made significant strides:

The Kansas City defensive front seven generally won the nine-on-seven running drill and an 11-on-11 red zone drill while Minnesota's first team had the upper hand during the seven-on-seven passing drill.

When the team's met for the closest thing to gamelike conditions — an 11-on-11 drill at midfield — the teams traded good plays.

I really like that we won during the running drills, since our biggest problem was stopping the run last year.

This next paragraph was also intriguing:

Click on this link to Sportsblog to read the rest of the article...

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posted by Nathan on 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2004

Listen Up, Chiefs' Fans « Kansas City Chiefs »

Bob Gretz has a nice article about how the Chiefs can significantly improve despite not making a significant Free Agent signing in the offseason.

He profiles Jimmy Wilkerson, Julian Battle, Jordan Black and Brett Williams, and Eric Downing.

Makes good sense to me.

The most interesting aspect, though, is if the Chiefs are significantly improved, they are most likely well set to establish a multi-year dynasty. The only significant player whose contract ends after the season is Casey Weigmann. The players most likely to decline due to age have young, talented back-ups. And if the last few years of draft choices pan out as well as it seems they will, the Chiefs have become masters at finding the players they need in later rounds of the draft., as opposed to teams needing to hit a home run with a top-10 pick they can build their team around...
This allows the Chiefs to take more "projects" in the draft, mainly by projecting need 2-3 years in advance.

But that's mostly conjecture. We'll see how it plays out over the next few years.

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posted by Nathan on 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2004

AFC West Predictions « Kansas City Chiefs »

After going through several preseason magazines and digesting the various judicious guesses and educated opinions found therein, I offer you the following personal pre-training camp, pre-season guide to the AFC West.


Kansas City: 11-5
How it could go good: As scary as it sounds to opposing defenses, KC's offense could actually be better this year: Trent Green is throwing with even more accuracy and confidence, Priest Holmes starts the season fully healthy and a renewed determination, they added a pass-catching TE and a speedy WR in the mold of Az-Zahir Hakim. They have added depth at nearly every position, including their glaring weakness last year: D-line. Young players like Julian Battle, Ryan Sims, Montique Sharpe, and Scott Fujita are poised for break-out years. Gunther Cunningham brings in a new defensive system and attitude that plays to the roster's strength rather than to its weakness. Dante Hall could win another three games all by himself.

How it could get ugly: If it is truly the players who are mediocre, then the Chiefs did very little to upgrade the defense and it could be a long year where you can tell the Chiefs W/L record by the number of punts the other team has to make. John Tait might not be replaceable at RT. The schedule is tougher this year, and the Chiefs may have squandered their best chance for home field advantage. Another year of badly-positioned players and missed tackles, and Kansas City will become known for suffering from a "Schottenheimer" curse to never win a playoff game ever again.

Strengths: QB, RB, TE, O-line + O-line Depth, FS & SS, Dante Hall, and turnover differential.
Weaknesses: D-line is a big question mark. They have the bodies now, but do the bodies have the skill? The CBs also have the potential to shut down opposing WRs, but have never yet fully demonstrated what they should be able to do, which says something about their heart and brain.

Bottom Line: How important is a coach? If Gunther can't make a difference, can KC's offense get far enough ahead to protect the problems and weakness on defense?
But if Gunther can maintain last year's ball-hawking while stopping one more big play per game, Kansas City will have an above average defense...even if only #14. If that happens and the Chiefs avoid injuries (which cannot be coached), then Kansas City goes 15-1, sets a record for scoring, wins the Superbowl, and goes down in the history books as one of the all-time great teams. Most likely, however, Kansas City will play well enough to edge the Broncos for the Division crown, but because of a tougher schedule, will actually have a worse record than last year despite being a better team. They will be in a position to make the Superbowl, but hardly a lock...not when there are so many potentially top-notch AFC teams, including the Broncos, the Colts, the Patriots, and the Titans. This will be an exciting year, and every victory will be tough and earned.

Follow the above link for the other three teams.

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posted by Nathan on 01:37 PM | Comments (5)
» resurrectionsong links with: Football Season is Almost Here

July 14, 2004

Another Glance at the Chiefs « Kansas City Chiefs »

I blogged this at Sports Blog yesterday. Go check it out if you want to see two fools arguing about unimportant things like football...

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posted by Nathan on 05:59 PM | Comments (6)

July 07, 2004

Chiefs: Comments and Guesses « Kansas City Chiefs »

(Writings on The Chiefs will become more frequent as the season approaches)

If you've followed the Chiefs' offseason much at all, you've heard The Question, to wit: (how) can the Chiefs be any better on defense when their only significant addition was Gunther Cunningham?

Read More "Chiefs: Comments and Guesses" »

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posted by Nathan on 09:38 AM | Comments (3)