Sometime in the next week, Peyton Manning’s future will be determined. He will either remain with a horseshoe adorning his helmet or start looking elsewhere to resume his illustrious career, all of this with the caveat of health.
If Jim Irsay decides not to saddle up and spend million, Manning will hit the road and become the most accomplished free agent in NFL history.It’s easy to narrow down the teams that will have interest in Manning, but none of them make as much sense as Kansas City. We’ve all heard the scuttlebutt. Washington needs a quarterback (among 52 other players), Miami has a billboard and great weather, Seattle has a gaping hole behind center, and New York only has a beleaguered Mark Sanchez.
The Chiefs not only are a better fit than all of them, but Manning and Kansas City need each other. The same can’t be said for the other suitors.
Washington is in a rebuilding phase. The Redskins can add Manning and are still arguably the worst team in their own division. It’s a hard sell that Manning will go to a team likely to never win while he’s there. At his age, it’s all about having a chance to win another Super Bowl now.
The Dolphins have a solid defense and a few playmakers but lack a real foundation on offense. Brandon Marshall is the definition of mercurial and while Reggie Bush is certainly a respectable back, he’s far from a star. It also stands to reason Manning won’t want to share a division with Tom Brady.
Seattle has already come out and said they’re not interested in a short-term answer at quarterback. It’s possible to make an argument for the Seahawks with Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice and Zach Miller on the team. However, the rest of the team is remarkably average and again, it’s tough to see Seattle making a serious run at the Super Bowl in the next few years.
New York is nothing more than a pipe dream. The Jets have major cap issues and would Manning really want to deal with that soap opera all season? No more needs to be said, this isn’t happening.
Now look at Kansas City. Matt Cassel has a large contract, but with the amount of cap space the Chiefs have it can be absorbed. Kansas City also has the talent to make a Super Bowl run without any major improvements.
Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, and Tony Moeaki are more than any of the teams above can offer…by a mile. If the Chiefs solidify the right tackle position, Manning is playing behind a good line and on the most loaded offense in the AFC. Who else can compete with that type of ability? Jonathan Baldwin and Dexter McCluster weren’t even mentioned above, and they would definitely be a top target on any of the other suitors.
Defensively, Kansas City has freakish athletes dotting the landscape. Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson and the entire secondary are elite (sans Stanford Routt, who’s no bum). For once in his career, Manning wouldn’t have to score 27 points per game to secure a win.
The biggest question mark is how Manning feels about Romeo Crennel as a coach. Then again, is Crennel really a lesser coach than Pete Carroll, Joe Philbin, Mike Shanahan and Rex Ryan?
Shanahan did win two Super Bowls, but has done nil since John Elway. Ryan has made it to AFC Championship games in back-to-back years, but he’s a loose cannon and seemingly on a sinking ship. Considering how well Crennel has game-planned Manning, maybe No. 18 feels like Crennel can get the job done.
The pieces are in place for Manning to come in and put the Chiefs over the top. If he ends up signing on the dotted line to play at One Arrowhead Drive, the AFC West goes through Kansas City without a shadow of a doubt. Heck, Manning’s presence makes the Chiefs odds-on-favorites to see the Big Easy in February.
The last time Kansas City saw the Super Bowl was the 1969-70 season. Wasn’t that game also played in a place named New Orleans?
So there it is. The Chiefs have now had 5 different head coaches in the last 13 seasons. That’s changing coaches on average, every 2.6 years. Haley was par for the course (pun intended). So how does it make you feel Chiefs fans? Feeling GOOD about our chances now? Looking into the future with a clear view of where this team is headed and how we’ll get there?
For those of you that said no, I have to agree. In fact, I have a lot less of a sense that this organization knows what it is doing right now than I have since Vermeil left. While I don’t necessarily agree with the firing of Todd Haley, I can agree that the performance of the team this season was well below it’s potential. The question is WHY. Since the two people who know why Todd was fired (Hunt and Pioli) aren’t talking, I think it’s safe to say that we will truly never know exactly why it happened in the way it happened. Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter.
It’s unfortunate for Haley, the team and the fans that were looking forward to bringing back a winning tradition to Kansas City. What Clark Hunt has now done is at best, set that goal back at least another season. I mean, come on–the odds of a new head coach making it to and winning the playoffs, with all the changes that would indicate, probably isn’t too high. At worst, we could be looking at another 2-3 year window of ‘inconsistent’ play on the field followed by the firing of another Head Coach and presumably it’s General Manager. If that happens my friends, Clark Hunt may create the reputation of an owner who is simply too impatient for coaches in this league to work for. If we reach that low point folks, well it just might be that we won’t see a winner in KC for a long, long time.
For better or worse, Todd Haley was brought to KC to be the agent of change. The team had gone downhill steadily from the time that Dick Vermeil left town. Vermeil came in and put together an offense that could score points and brought in vets to shore up the team to be able to get them on the win now page. It worked. The team was competitive during the regular season, actually winning 13 games in it’s best one. Problem is, that team simply wasn’t quite good enough to get over the hump and win playoff games when it counted. Marty had much the same problem. Something was missing in the recipe. The product was really good, it just wasn’t unique.
Todd Haley was the guy that provided resurrection of the dream. The dream that we could rebuild what had been left in KC and turn it into something special again. At no time in my memory of the Chiefs did this team have greater potential than when Todd Haley became the HC. This was true for me because of everything that happened after that. Bringing in Weis and then Crennel. WOW, what a combination! Haley had just had his own trip to the Super Bowl with a struggling team and now we bring in guys with enough rings to choke an elephant and a GM whose reputation preceeded him! Fabulous! Let’s get it done.
What stopped it from happening? I would say that many things played a part, but from the get go this group of change agents set themselves up as the KGB. They refused the kind of access that the local press had become used to under previous regimes, and it’s not hard to believe that they resented it. Why do you suppose that so much of what was printed in the local media was so negative about the team? Even during last season when the team won 10 games, the top stories were usually about Haley being a monster who couldn’t get along with anybody. I believe that it was the bias caused from limiting the press access. They didn’t like it and they looked for every possible angle to pry the lid off with negative stories. The thinking here is that if you tell a one sided story long enough, eventually the silent side MUST speak out to balance the books right?
It didn’t, and hasn’t, yet happened. All of the the things that have been printed or aired about Hunt, Haley and Pioli since the beginning are still there, creating this very negative view point about who these guys were and what they were doing. Since they decided not to discuss their plans (rightfully so, I would say) then the only thing left to do is look at performance. This is as it should be. The performance wasn’t there and the press (and a lot of the Chiefs fans) were right there waiting for their pound of flesh. Time to pay the piper. The chickens have come home to roost. Time to fish or cut bait.
Well, last Monday, that press and the fan base finally got a reaction from Clark Hunt. He fired the head coach. In mid-season, while the team was still mathematically alive in the playoff race. That is not something that is regularly done, and in this case, it smacks to me of panic. Panic on the part of a new owner who bought in to his new GMs plan, hook, line and sinker. I think that Clark Hunt, being a businessman, had a lot to do with this decision. I think he is upset with where the team is, and I think he is also upset with Scott Pioli.
I know that this wasn’t addressed in the press conference, but I have been in situations similar to what happened to Coach Haley in my life and I recognized some of my (and other actors in those interactions) actions and reactions in their words and posture in that presser. They were loath to give a reason that made sense for the Haley firing. Hell, the initial press release didn’t even use the word ‘fired’, it said Haley had been relieved of duties as HC. What? Were they thinking of keeping him as OC? I seriously doubt that was the case.
The unsupported and purely hypothetical truth in my mind is that they both very much liked Todd Haley and did not like the step they took. If you will recall, Scott Pioli said that Todd Haley was not a ‘mistake’, when asked that question by some of those in the media. He went on to say that Todd Haley was a very good football coach. You don’t say those things if you don’t really believe them. You say them so as not to detract from that person’s contributions to the organization even though those contributions did not achieve the desired results. I believe that they took this step because Clark Hunt needs to find out what he has in Scott Pioli.
When you get to the level that Pioli has in an organization, you become the face of that organization to a degree. The ownership literally trusts you with their business. You become the person who makes most calls on a day to day basis. You have a large degree of autonomy in doing that. The word trust, doesn’t even begin to describe the necessity of this type of relationship. Why do you think Lamar Hunt held onto Carl Peterson so long? He trusted the man. Even with all his warts. That is the ideal relationship that an owner is looking for and often times they will overlook some transgressions on the part of that person if they feel like they can trust that person.
I think Clark is trying to find out if that relationship exists between him and Pioli. From an owner’s perspective, this relationship must exist before they can give full authority to that manager. Given all that has transpired here with Haley and Pioli and all the rumor and inuendo surrounding the leaks in the Chiefs organization, Clark Hunt is now searching for who it is that he can trust.
That is all well and good, but the downside is that the team will suffer for it until the situation is resolved. Todd Haley was a victim of a sick organization. The inability to win games this year and be consistent was the reason given for his departure. Whether or not you like Todd Haley, the poll that Joel took about whether or not Todd should have been fired was very interesting. Nearly half that took the poll thought Todd should have stayed. I think the reason for that is that the extenuating circumstances that helped cause this season’s roller coaster type highs and lows were REAL. Yes, every team has to try and overcome injuries, but on a team with so little depth, to lose THOSE particular players was truly a season changing event. The eventual loss of Matt Cassel should have been the get out of jail card for Haley, not the final nail in the coffin. I believe that in a situation where the front office had more stability and a longer track record, Todd Haley would still be the HC until sometime next season to see what he could do in a more ‘normal’ year.
Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough. Many here routinely talk about posts being too long so I am trying to keep mine shorter. I have less confidence in the short to medium term success of this team BECAUSE of firing yet another HC. The last five have averaged 2.5 seasons. That just isn’t enough to get a real fix on how good (or bad) that coach is going to be. Particularly when it’s that coach’s first time in the big chair. Hunt should have known that going in. If he wasn’t convicted of giving a new Head Coach his due in the beginning, he shouldn’t have given him the job to begin with. That’s called setting someone up to fail. It’s not good business. Don’t think it’s been lost on the young NFL minds laboring away right now for those HC jobs either. It might be just a little harder to draw the best coaching talent when they realize that they have about two and a half years to prove it or get canned. From the outside looking in, it also doesn’t help attract coaches when there is a perception that the organization is not professional and well run. Right now, given the fact that they fired the HC under questionable circumstances and are getting sued for age discrimination in their front office, it could be argued that the Chiefs organization is sick.
Romeo Crennel. I love me some Romeo–as DC. Romeo may well have learned something during his last try at HC. Maybe he’s the answer. Just remember, that Romeo had four years in his first attempt at HC to prove himself and he, like Todd Haley, only had one winning season. He, like Todd Haley, won 10 games in that season. Unlike Todd Haley, Romeo’s win percentage for those four years was a dismal .375. Todd’s was .422. Based on performance, we just traded down. Tell me, if the Chiefs were to beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, would that be Romeo’s team or Haley’s team? I’m just curious because we spend a lot of time talking about how the current team is really Herm’s team and how Herm’s team was really Vermeil’s.
I really wish Romeo luck and I think he’s a good coach. We could easily do worse. The problem is, Nero is fiddling while Romeo is burning…I wonder how long before the fire is out.
There’s going to be plenty of coverage (and already has been) on former Kansas City Chiefs OC Charlie Weis taking the head coaching job at the University of Kansas. Many of the media outlets that covered him with the Chiefs — the KC Star, the local TV stations, 810 WHB, 610 Sports, etc. — are now covering him with the Jayhawks.
There’s plenty of talk about the move, which will be officially announced this evening at a 5:00 p.m. press conference, so I figured we’d take a look at what people are saying about the news.
We’ll start with KU’s initial statement that Weis was headed to Lawrence:
Kansas Athletics will introduce Charlie Weis, former New England Patriots offensive coordinator, former Notre Dame head coach and current offensive coordinator at the University of Florida, as its new football coach at a press conference tomorrow (Friday) afternoon. (Time TBA).
Interesting that one job is missing there — the Chiefs. Assuming KU didn’t simply rush this statement and forget the Chiefs, it’s interesting that they made the decision not to include his second-to-last job in there. Why?
More reactions after the jump…
Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has issued statements to the Star and the (other) AP: “I’m very happy for Charlie and we wish him nothing but the best in his new endeavor as the head coach at Kansas.”
This has to be weird for the Chiefs. He just left 11 months ago. There are a couple of ways to look at this. First, does Weis now coming to KU strengthen the arguments that he and Todd Haley didn’t get along? That’s the definitely the route some of the Chiefs-centric reactions are going. But another way to look at it: the Chiefs are simply the third of four stops for Weis in the last four years. He’s a football version of a nomad. Maybe this is more or as much about Weis than it is Haley (though you can say the same about Haley and his annual OC search).
Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger: “At the end of the day,” Zenger told The Star, “I would tell you, what Charlie Weis brings to Kansas is someone who is regarded as one of the brightest X’s and O’s minds in the country and a national profile that we’ve not had at this institution in football before.”
Weis gives KU a big name at head coach, which is what they needed, I think. The college game is about recruiting and Weis had some solid classes early on at Notre Dame so there’s potential.
(Side note: I’ll never forget hearing the story about someone from my high school was getting recruited by Weis to play at Notre Dame. He walks onto campus and sits down with Weis in his office, stretches his hand out — with all his Super Bowl rings on. He committed to ND.)
This game is also about quarterbacks and, if I’m a 17-year old quarterback, I’m thinking long and hard about the guy who coached Tom Brady, Brady Quinn, Jimmy Clausen and Matt Cassel (the 2010 version). Those guys all had a lot of success under Weis, you can’t ignore that.
Kent Babb of the KC Star had this tweet that sums up my feeling on the hire: “For where KU football is now, Zenger hit a home run. He might be KU’s Huggins, here and gone, but he knows his way around a football field.”
Sam Mellinger, KC Star: “This is what desperation looks like.” …. “Weis will try to sell this as his second chance to run a college football program, while most people with even short-term memory can see him as a failed head coach with a list of health problems now taking a fourth job in four years.”
As much as I think Weis is a good hire, there are plenty of other reasons why it’s not. Check out Sam’s piece for some of those reasons.
Bud Elliott, SB Nation: “Charlie Weis’ timing was really quite poor for the Florida Gators. After a poor offensive showing in his only year with Florida, Weis abruptly quit and took the Kansas head coaching job. And he did so less than 36 hours before Florida was set to host one of, it notthe biggest recruiting weekends it will have in the 2011-2012 recruiting cycle.“
It’s interesting to look at his departure from KC and now his departure from Florida — both came at poor times. For the Chiefs, that came directly after the final regular season game and a week before the playoff game. For the Gators, that came before one of the biggest recruiting weekends of the year.
If the Steelers were playing almost any other team in the NFL tonight, they would have lost……but they didn’t. Ben Roethlisberger completed 21 of 31 passes for 193 yards with 1 TD pass and 1 INT as he looked uncomfortable tonight with his broken right thumb. Rashard Mendenhall had to fight for every yard he got today as he rushed for 57 yards on 17 carries (3.4 ypc). He also caught 2 passes for 10 yards (5.0 avg) in this game. Isaac Redman pitched in with 22 yards rushing on 3 carries (7.3 ypc) and he also caught 2 passes for 8 yards (4.0 avg). Antonio Brown led the way in the passing game for the Steelers tonight with 4 grabs for 84 yards (21.0 avg). The Steelers finished up with 108 yards rushing on 28 carries (3.9 ypc) and they also completed 21 of 31 passes (67.7%) for 182 yards in this game as they had possession of the ball for 33:30.
The Steelers’ D played pretty well against the awful Chiefs’ offense tonight. Safety Ryan Mundy (10 tackles, 1 pass defensed and 1 interception), LB Lawrence Timmons (7 tackles) and LB Jason Worilds (6 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 sack and 4 QB hits) led the way for the Steelers in this game. DE Brett Keisel (fumble recovery), CB Ike Taylor (interception) and CB Keenan Lewis (interception) made big plays for the Steelers today. The Chiefs finished up with 90 yards rushing on 34 carries (2.6 ypc) and they also completed 18 of 28 passes (64.3%) for 162 yards. The Steelers are now 8-3 on the season.
Well, it’s happened. The Chiefs are a few games into the season and the pitchforks are already out. Let me make a bold statement. If Todd Haley is fired, then the Chiefs are committing a grave injustice.
A head coach can only coach the players he’s given to work with. But naturally, the head coach is the first person you look to when the fingers start pointing. Some of the Chiefs’ problems in 2011 are due to poor decisions made by Haley. Some are due to extraordinarily bad luck. Yet more are due to the fact that this team is still a little flawed regardless of who is coaching.
Would the Chiefs have been competitive had Moeaki, Berry, and Charles been healthy? Did Scott Pioli give Haley the pieces to field a competitive team? And, while Todd Haley has made some mistakes as a head coach, how many of those mistakes could have been avoided through front office intervention?
After answering those questions, it’s hard to be too tough on Todd Haley. More after the jump.
Would the Chiefs have been competitive had Moeaki, Berry, and Charles been healthy?
Tough question. The argument you make is that the Chiefs made the playoffs in 2010 with the same pieces, but they also added Le’Ron McClain, Kelly Gregg, and Steve Breaston–three players who significantly upgrade the Chiefs. Yes, the Chiefs had an easy schedule in 2010. And yes, it’s possible that Charlie Weis was largely responsible for some of the Chiefs’ success last season. But I still believe the Chiefs could have been bubble playoff contenders in 2011 had they fielded a fully healthy roster. A team as thin as the Chiefs simply cannot afford to lose that many key contributors and expect to stay competitive.
Did Scott Pioli give Todd Haley the pieces to field a competitive team?
The success of a football team 9 times out of 10 starts with the Quarterback. This is clearly the most critical question we have to ask in year 3: is Matt Cassel a “good enough” Quarterback or is he a Super Bowl calibre Quarterback? If he’s not a Super Bowl Quarterback, then what’s the Plan B? I don’t fault Pioli at all for taking a chance on Cassel and, frankly, Cassel still deserves time to work some things out with Jim Zorn. I like that Pioli made the trade, gave Cassel a huge contract, and then immediately gave him the keys to the franchise. You have to take those kind of chances on a Quarterback.
What I have a hard time understanding is why the team treated him like Neo from the Matrix. Why was he treated like “the One?” They decided he didn’t need a Quarterbacks coach in year 1 and even after some struggles in 2009, they never tried to bring in a young Quarterback to groom in the background. When the Patriots had Tom Brady, they drafted multiple Quarterbacks to compete for a backup position. Why wouldn’t the Chiefs do the same with Cassel? How far does that set the Chiefs back? Well, barring some kind of miracle where Cassel either shows tremendous improvement or the Chiefs somehow manage to bring some kind of elite Quarterback into the mix, the Chiefs will probably need to draft a Quarterback next year. You figure that will take about 2-3 years to develop a championship-level Quarterback. If you’re wrong on that Quarterback, you set the team back another 3 or 4 years. On most rosters, you see a struggling Quarterback and immediately think of an option they believe has an outside chance of being a good Quarterback in the NFL. If you start that process early, if you don’t like the backup Quarterback in year 1, you draft a new backup in year 2. The Chiefs didn’t have that until this year and nobody really knows if Stanzi is a guy you want to rest the future of the franchise on.
But more importantly, did Pioli land a franchise Quarterback in Matt Cassel? At this point, it’s tough to say “yes.” When I watch Aaron Rodgers drop back to pass, I feel confident that most of the time he’s going to make a smart decision, understand his pocket, and throw the ball in the perfect spot. When I say he’ll throw it in the perfect spot, I’m saying that in many cases it’s going to be inches away from the defenders’ fingertips and it’s going to be on the exact shoulder it needs to be thrown to. Cassel doesn’t inspire that same confidence yet. He looked sharp against the NFC West, but in other cases, you still worry about his pocket presence, you worry about his ability to throw a catchable ball (let alone the accuracy to throw pinpoint strikes), you worry about him getting the ball into the player’s breadbasket let alone to the exact shoulder, and you worry about some of his decision-making, whether that’s holding on to the ball too long, being unable to see beyond the primary read, or too quickly opting for the safety valve instead of taking chances downfield.
I get that the Chiefs are a running team, but they can’t always rely on Jamaal Charles to dominate defenses that throw 8 men in the box. Defenses aren’t going to do that anymore with Charles out of the lineup. Cassel needs to prove he can throw downfield. If Cassel isn’t the answer, then you make it really difficult for Haley. You have to ask the coach to work around the Quarterback. You have to build a solid running game, even though the passing game is ineffective at moving defenders out of the box. You ask Romeo Crennel to coordinate a defense that exhausts itself because the offense can’t stay on the field.
The past few games and even to a large extent last year, you saw the Chiefs make some extremely conservative playcalls. Last week, you saw a lot of runs and dump-offs on third and long situations. That indicates one of two things, and neither of them are good. That means the coaches either don’t trust Cassel in those situations or Cassel is checking off too soon to his safety valve because he doesn’t trust his ability to throw downfield.
What about the… other guys?
Here’s another question that should be asked: did Scott Pioli force-fit the Patriots’ system into Kansas City? In Pioli’s search for character players, look at who he passed on. The Chiefs purposely chose character over talent when they selected Tyson Jackson over B.J. Raji; Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas over Terence Cody. In 2011, when he chose talent over character, he maybe passed up on a legit starting QB in Andy Dalton, who looks like he could be a pretty good young option.
In Atlanta, Thomas Dimitroff is running a totally different defensive system. You have to wonder if the Chiefs should have too. I’m torn on this and I’ll tell you why. It does worry me that the Chiefs are relying on a 2-gap 3-4 system that even the Pats don’t use anymore, largely because it requires bigger, slower personnel that creates limited pressure from the front 3. On the other hand, in watching the Chiefs lose to the Chargers on Sunday with a depleted cast, a thought occurred to me (and it’s a thought I stewed on quite a bit in 2010, even when Cassel supposedly had a good season. Supposedly). Romeo Crennel relies on a “bend don’t break” defense and to his credit, it’s worked remarkably well in games where the offense hasn’t asked too much of their defense. Dating back to last season, Cassel has been tremendously ineffective at 3rd down efficiency and there are only so many times you can allow costly turnovers to give the opposing offense tremendous field position. Too often, the Chiefs go an entire first half with less than a handful of first downs. People forget that against Baltimore, the Chiefs really held their ground on defense. I still believe they lost largely due to costly mistakes on offense in the third quarter.
In summary, the question you have to ask is, did Scott Pioli give a good enough roster that Bill Bellichick (without Brady) could have taken to the promised land? I just don’t think you can answer ‘yes’ to that. The team is talented enough to easily support Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork. But Matt Cassel is no Tom Brady and Ron Edwards is no Vince Wilfork.
How many of Haley’s mistakes could have been avoided through front office intervention?
Todd Haley has taken a few gambles that haven’t panned out. I’m sure if he could do things all over again, he maybe would have conditioned his players better in the preseason. But Haley also made several mistakes that could have and should have been prevented through front office intervention. After all, Pioli is the boss of Haley, not the other way around.
For the record, I don’t know the answer to the following questions, but they’re things to stew over. Was either or both Chan Gailey and Charlie Weis forced on Todd Haley? I wonder if Gailey was preferred by Clark Hunt and Weis by Pioli. Because clearly nobody is jazzed up about Bill Muir calling the shots. The answer to that question is pretty important, because it either indicates that the front office intervened when they shouldn’t have or it suggest that Haley is simply impossible to work with. If it’s the latter, that’s not any kind of achilles heel, since Haley would probably do just fine calling his own plays.
Does Todd Haley deserve to keep his job?
Again, there are things that go on on the inside that we’re just not privy to. Maybe Haley doesn’t command respect from his players or anyone. But I do believe he has done the best with what he was given. He coached up Derrick Johnson and Dwayne Bowe in ways previous coaches could not. He inherited a fat, lazy squad and turned them into a disciplined group of veterans who are eagerly re-signing contracts to stay in Kansas City. During his time, we’ve seen Flowers, Carr, Hali, and Dorsey blossom. We saw Jamaal Charles become an elite Running Back.
The only guy who hasn’t peaked is Cassel. But is that due to poor coaching or was the talent just not there to begin with? Charlie Weis and Jim Zorn are two good coaches to learn from. Yet, in three years, I’ve seen more strides from a lot of the drafted players like Matt Stafford than I have from Cassel.
I know some of this post may sound critical of Scott Pioli for the way he’s run Kansas City, but it’s not really. I still believe that with a very good Quarterback and a healthy roster, the Chiefs are a legit contender. Haley takes some gambles that make you cringe sometime, but I think he puts together a good gameplan week after week and he gets the most out of his players. I sure hope he doesn’t take the fall for mistakes that trickled from the top-down.
It’s almost go time, which means that I need to get on the ball with these “State of the Chiefs” evaluations.
Today, let’s talk a little bit about the offensive line:
The Chiefs Offensive Line Grade: D
Chiefs’ Offseason Grade: C-
This time, I won’t be so generous. I could probably sum this all up in one sentence: “If the Chiefs lose any of their starters, the team is screwed.” But still, more after the jump.
Look, I’m definitely not an irrational guy. I know that for three years, the Chiefs have had to gradually piece their team together. They didn’t want to overspend on free agents and last year’s CBA restrictions really limited the pool they could have drawn from. Regardless, there’s one thing that’s painfully clear: the Chiefs have one of the shallowest, if not the shallowest, offensive lines in the NFL. That’s really bad, especially in a season where you might see more injuries than usual.
It’s a really bad sign when the head coach is banking on players to play multiple positions to fill each void. Rodney Hudson, for example, should be solely focused on one day being Casey Wiegmann’s replacement. This preseason, he should have taken quality in-game reps at Center. Instead, the Chiefs’ lack of depth forced him to play Guard because he has to be ready to play at a minute’s notice because he’s all the depth they really have at the position. Jared Gaither should have helped the Chiefs at Right Tackle, whether that meant starting him there or moving Branden Albert there. Instead, they have two talented players playing the same Left Tackle position while Barry Richardson continues to struggle at Right Tackle.
Let’s also keep in mind that this offensive line isn’t nearly the same calibre as the unit in 2003. The Chiefs had a bit of a revolving door at Right Tackle during that time and, while they had questionable Left Tackle depth, they were able to make it somewhat work even with Jordan Black as the starter. When your unit has some questionable starters, you have to have players on the bench that can compete to take over because the starters aren’t good enough yet to make up for a weakness somewhere else on the line. Casey Wiegmann is getting older and looked gassed toward the end of last season, Lilja hasn’t always been the healthiest of players, Asamoah is a good prospect but still has to show his worth on the field, and Barry Richardson has looked like a complete liability in pass protection.
As for Branden Albert, he has proven to be a good not great Left Tackle so far. I actually still like his potential. He’s looked a little bit sharper in the preseason in pass protection and I really like him as a run blocker. He just has to learn to play more consistent, but that’s to be expected given that his learning curve out of college was a lot higher than most Left Tackles. It’s pretty easy to blame the Left Tackle when you have protection issues, but so far, Barry Richardson looks to be the biggest culprit by a mile. Richardson may be a good run blocker, which is good because the Chiefs are a running team, but he is getting manhandled in pass protection. I think Ryan Lilja is very underrated and I really like Asamoah’s potential–I think they’re both going to be solid in the interior. I think Wiegmann is adequate, but I have a bad feeling he’s going to really struggle toward the end of the season. If that’s the case, then you have to ask Rodney Hudson to become a quality starter in mid-stream–not an enviable situation, but what can you do? To sum it all up, the Chiefs’ starters as of today are adequate with the potential to probably be passable, but that’s about their ceiling. In order for the Chiefs to be above passable, three things have to happen: Branden Albert has to prove he can be consistent, Jon Asamoah has to play at a consistently high level week after week, and Barry Richardson has to step up big time as a pass protector. I hate to say it, but I think the chances of all three things happening at the same time are pretty slim.
And, to be fair, Matt Cassel has to also be more consistent about doing this offensive line more favors. He got better toward the end of the season of getting rid of the ball faster, but that has to happen more consistently.
The Chiefs made two terrific moves this offseason in bringing in Rodney Hudson and Jared Gaither, both at a tremendous value, but it wasn’t enough. While it would have been nice to bring in a replacement for Barry Richardson, I know that the Chiefs are really limited by what they can actually bring in. What I would have liked to have seen is more effort put into finding viable bench depth (and undrafted rookies is not the way to build toward that). While I understand the rationale for cutting Brian Waters, it still leaves the team with a tremendous gap at the position. The Chiefs had opportunities to bring in players like Sean Locklear, Leonard Davis, Chris Chester, Nick Kaczur, etc…. None of those guys have to be starters, just quality guys you can bring off the bench for depth in a pinch. They would cost nothing and would be an enormous upgrade over the Chiefs’ current backup options.
Scott Pioli still has time to fix this and I would hope that as the season approaches, he’s going to make that a top priority. The Chiefs absolutely cannot afford to walk into the 2011 season with this kind of bench depth. The good news is that the Chiefs have some nice young options that have a bright future. But for the short term, the Chiefs walk into the 2011 season with some serious question marks at Offensive Line.
The Packers were thoroughly outplayed last night but they still won the game somehow. Aaron Rodgers looked sharp in a brief appearance as he completed 3 of 4 passes for 20 yards with 1 TD pass and 0 INTs. Matt Flynn had a night to forget as he completed only 2 of 10 passes for 12 yards with 0 TD passes and 1 INT. He also carried the ball 2 times for 7 yards, lost a fumble and he has sacked in the end zone for a safety. Ryan Grant led the way on the ground for the Packers in this game with 31 yards rushing on 4 carries (7.8 ypc). TE Tom Crabtree led the way in the passing game for the Packers last night with 2 grabs for 12 yards (6.0 avg) with 1 TD grab. The Packers finished up with 80 yards rushing on 21 carries (3.8 ypc) and they also completed 8 of 19 passes (42.1%) for 42 yards as they only had the ball for 20:04 in this game!
The defense gave up a lot of yards last night but they also made game altering plays in the Packers’ favor. CB Pat Lee (9 tackles, 1 pass defensed, 1 QB hit and 2 fumble recoveries), LB Peanut Joseph (9 tackles, 2 QB hits and 1/2 a sack) and CB Brandian Ross (8 tackles) led the way for the Packers’ D in this game. LB Cardia Jackson (5 tackles, 1 pass defensed, 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery) and LB Vic So’oto (3 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 pass defensed, 2 QB hits and a interception that he returned 33 yards for a TD) were also very active for the Packers’ D. The Chiefs finished up with 124 yards rushing on 35 carries (3.5 ypc) and they also completed 34 of 47 passes (72.3%) for 281 yards. The Packers finished up the preseason with a 3-1 record.
Finish up the open game threads here. The Kansas City Chiefs will reportedly address the Jonathan Baldwin-Thomas Jones fight after the game. We will be covering that.
To get caught up, here are the previous game threads from tonight, which are organized by quarter:
As a somewhat delusional Kansas City Chiefs homer, I often make bold predictions, such as the Chiefs winning it all last year. Joel Thorman recently did a story on How To Get Your FanPost Rec’d And Promoted, and in the post Joel said something that was interesting to me:
The Kool Aid Drinker’s Manifesto by KCPorkchop
Porkchop’s post is a great example of rising up with a positive, intelligent post in a sea of negativity. Frankly, the straight up irrational homers annoy me, which is why Porkchop’s “homerish” post hit home for me. The post was right before the Chiefs’ loss to the Jaguars and still managed to get major recs.
It was very well written and very logical and reasonable in its analysis. Again, just great writing. Stuff you want to keep reading.
“Frankly, the straight up irrational homers annoy me”
With the name Chief-Blinders-On, it is very obvious that I am a Chiefs Homer. Am I Irrational? Why yes, yes I am. Though I feel that when I write my posts, I use solid points for why I believe that the Chiefs can be such an outstanding football team. In my mind, the Chiefs did have an honest to goodness shot at winning the Super Bowl last season. I went as far as trying to prove why in two posts based on the history of the Super Bowl.
This season is no different. While the Chiefs have a very difficult schedule. They also have in my opinion, one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, and also have a realistic shot at winning the Super Bowl if there is a season. So while I am irrational, I attempt (sometimes in futility) to make my point in the most understandable ways that I can.
This week again, I am going to talk about how the Chiefs are among the best in the NFL in terms of talent. We are going to look at the Top 10 Kansas City Chiefs. One thing for you to consider when reading this list, is just how difficult it is to rank these guys, and just who to leave off. That is a tremendous indication of the talent level on your football team, if you try and list the 10 best players and have trouble leaving five or more Chiefs off. So let’s take a look at this list, and then you can flame me, tell me how big my blinders are, or inevitably tell me how wrong the order is.
So without further ado, your Top 10 Kansas City Chiefs, in the eyes of an irrational homer:
10. Jonathan Baldwin
Even at number 10, it was hard to include Jonathan Baldwin on this list. He is an unproven rookie at this point in his career. In my Chiefs optimism, I can envision him being the biggest difference maker on the Chiefs roster, even if he doesn’t rocket out the gate with 100 yard games. The fact is, the Chiefs offense is already so potent, that Jonathan Baldwin’s mere presence is going to make this football team.
Jonathan Baldwin is 6′ 5″ and 225 lbs, and he has awesome talent (watch.) Other teams, are not going to be able to ignore that, and if they do Jonathan Baldwin can and will burn them. He, has great size, blazing speed, and catches the ball reminiscent of Randy Moss.
Sure, Todd Haley is going to be all over the young rookie, but in Kansas City that is a good thing for your career. Just ask Dwayne Bowe and Derrick Johnson about that. If nothing else Jonathan Baldwin is going to open up things in third down situations for Dwayne Bowe and the rest of the Chiefs excellent offense. Watch and see!
9.) Dustin Colquitt
How can you leave Dustin Colquitt off of this list, he is one of the best punters in the league, and he excels at placing the ball in the 20. The Chiefs don’t get a lot of third down conversions, and that is where our hero Dustin Colquitt comes into play. One of the reasons Dustin isn’t in the Pro Bowl every year is because he is such an excellent touch punter.
Dustin Colquitt does exactly what the Chiefs ask him to do, and that is punt for position. They don’t really ask him to have the highest net average in the league. However, I am sure if that is what the Chiefs were looking for, then Colquitt would be able to do it very well.
8.) Tony Moeaki
Showing the picture of his one handed catch against San Francisco is where it is at, making some people think that Tony Moeaki is overrated because after all, it was just one spectacular catch. Where is David Tyree playing these days? Someone might ask, just to make a point about special catches.
What is underrated about TOMO, is his all around game. Look at the picture up above. They say Tony Moeaki is a great knee bender on the line, what do you think. He gets in his position correctly, explodes out of his stance, blocks exceptionally well for an often injured (in college) rookie tightend, and he plays through the whistle.
Not to mention, he seems to be clutch, just look at his overtime game versus the Buffalo Bills last season for proof of that. Tony Moeaki is an exciting football player, he definitely belongs on this list, seeing how he took over for Tony Gonzalez. I think number eight is a good place for him, because right now it seems he has about half of number 88′s potential.
7.) Glenn Dorsey
Glenn Dorsey had a lot of expectations coming out. He was drafted fifth overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. Tagged with the over used best defensive linemen in the last 20 years that the “experts” throw out there every year. Much like they do with the word genius and decent Offensive Coordinators during a good winning stretch.
Is Glenn Dorsey the best lineman in the past 20 years? No.
Though he is one of the best players on the Chiefs and requires being double teamed consistently by opposing offenses. It is my belief that with the additions of Justin Houston, Allen Bailey, and Jerrell Powe that Glenn Dorsey will be a Pro Bowl defensive lineman. Maybe even an All-Pro, if Tyson Jackson breaks out of his shell and stays healthy.
Glenn has improved every year, and I expect this to be his break out season, and by this time next year all the misplaced trade Dorsey talk will cease.
6.) Derrick Johnson
When Derrick Johnson was drafted, I was one of the many fans of Chiefs Nation that was absolutely thrilled. What a selection, he was our guy that we wanted the Chiefs to trade up and get. Though he just kept falling down the draft board until the Chiefs picked him up.
Early on in DJ’s career it looked as if the Chiefs made a bad move and the other teams were smart for passing up on this athletic linebacker from Texas. However in 2010, DJ played like a man possessed. Sure, he still disappeared on occasion, but for the most part, during the stretch of 17 games, Johnson played like an All-Pro
5.) Dwayne Bowe
Dwayne Bowe was the most improved player on the Chiefs team in 2010. After Herman Edwards left the team, Dwayne really regressed, he fueded with Haley for the better part of the 2009 season. Todd Haley was constantly on Bowe on the sidelines and in any viewable practices. In 2010 it paid off, Dwayne started to listen to Todd Haley and even joined in on the now semi-famous Camp Larry Fitzgerald.
This past season, Dwayne Bowe ran more consistent routes, he caught the ball with his hands instead of his body, and overall he just looked more focused. Dwayne has always had potential and it was shown this year big time with 15 TD’s, and if he does that again. Do you think it will be hard to argue that D. Bowe isn’t the best player on the roster?
4.) Tamba Hali
Tamba Hali, with his patented TambaHawk chop is a QB head hunter. On seemingly every pass play, Tamba was close to the QB. He made Peyton Manning run for his life at Lucas Oil Stadium last season, and almost finished the year as the undisputed sack king.
The Chiefs need to get Tamba Hali locked into a big contract as soon as a new CBA is done, or a team will try and trade for this this absolute motor powered beast. With the new draftees, Glenn Dorsey’s Pro Bowl season, and Tyson Jackson shaping up, I believe that will give Tamba the chance to be the sack king again this year. I would say the 3-4 LB experiment worked out incredibly well.
3.) Eric Berry
Speaking of incredible, Eric Berry is “The Incredible One”. Just look at this athlete in that picture above, great form. Eric Berry was a pitcher in high school, but he gave it up for football early on. I have a feeling that had he stayed in the sport he would be an All-Star instead of Pro-Bowler.
Though, I am glad he made the change because that would mean that he wouldn’t be a Kansas City Chief right now. Oh, and what a Chief he is, he is one of the most exciting players on the field. Capable of making a big hit one moment and taking one back to the house for a “Pick 6″ the next.
Eric Berry has out standing body control for a guy his size, he will hit like a train, and juke someone out of their shoes in the same drive. This man will be the best defender in the league within two years, and smile Chiefs fan because he’s on our side.
2.) Brandon Flowers
ESPN’s John Clayton wrote a story including Brandon Flowers as one of the most under rated players in the league. Because not only is he arguably the best Chief, the guy is the best CB in the league. Darelle Revis and Nmandi Asomugha are in the conversation and might be better pure cover corners than Brandon Flowers.
However, Brandon is a much better tackler, and more physical in my opinion, coming off of the line of scrimmage against great receivers like Andre Johnson. After only missing one tackle the entire season, even hobbled for part of it, I feel that B-Flow will have an awesome 2011 and will not be snubbed again.
1.) Jamaal Charles
I posted this picture of Charles receiving an award, because he wins it all in this Top 10 for me. How can you argue a man that is almost breaking Jim’s Records. Jim Brown is often referred to as the greatest running back of all-time. Guys, get excited that we have Jamaal Charles on the Chiefs. 6.4 YPC, sounds so much better than 2.7 doesn’t it Larry Johnson?
What can I say that hasn’t already been repeated in a million different stories. Jamaal Charles is my Top 10 winner, because he is simply better than every defense when he has the ball in his hands, and is borderline unstoppable.
Uhhh? Blinders didn’t you leave ________ off the list and what about Matt Cassel, he was in the Pro Bowl?
Guys, that is the best part. It is hard just to name 10 players on the Chiefs team to simply call the best. Look at this list of names left that I was choosing from. (No Particular Order)
Jerrell Powe (Yeah I know he is a 6th rounder, but tell me you didn’t want him in the 2nd or 3rd.)
You can make a case for all of them to be in the Top 10, depending on your perspective of potential versus production. These Kansas City Chiefs are going to be very good, and I know the schedule is going to be brutal, but they have the talent, and the coaching to go head to head with the big boys, and they will this season.
Yes I am irrational, but I know for certain that these Chiefs are ready for the big time now, not in 2012, 2013, 2453. They are ready to go, you win in the NFL when the window is open. Because, in the blink of an eye, that window snaps shut and you are rebuilding again.
From the FanPosts. Many of you know Buffalo Rumblings is my favorite SB Nation blog so the links at the bottom are more than worth your time. -Joel
Greetings, Arrowhead Pride!
Over the past several days, I’ve been taking my sweet old time – thanks, NFL lockout – reviewing last year’s overtime game between your Kansas City Chiefs and the team I cover here at SB Nation, the Buffalo Bills. In case you’ve forgotten (you probably haven’t), the Chiefs squeaked by a winless Bills team on Halloween, winning 13-10 with just a few seconds remaining in overtime.
While it’s true that the emphasis of the review was to look at Bills personnel, I thought I’d drop by and offer a few thoughts – from an admitted Chiefs outsider – on some of your team’s players. I don’t profess to be an expert, and I’ve only really studied the Chiefs in this one contest (something that will change should the lockout end in time for our two teams to square off in Week 1), but I wanted to share some of this with you anyway. It’s all after the jump.
First, I’ll state the obvious: Jamaal Charles is a stud. Y’all know that. I also understand that Charles has a ton of respect around the league, not only from players and coaches, but from observant fans. Yet is it just me, or is the bulk of the “best runner in the NFL” rhetoric still centered on Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson? For my money, Charles very much belongs in that discussion. Guy’s a freak.
Similarly, though more pronounced, Tamba Hali deserves way more press than he gets. Buffalo was forced to start Cordaro Howard (you don’t know who he is, and that’s kind of the point) at right tackle, and Hali owned him all day. He got the best of our OK-could-be-solid left tackle, Demetrius Bell, too. Again, in a discussion of the best 3-4 outside linebackers in the business, Hali should be part of the discussion. Maybe it’s just my isolation up here in Western New York, but I don’t hear enough of it.
Two players that stood out to me in this Week 8 contest were Andy Studebaker and Wallace Gilberry. I don’t know if their roles changed or not as the Chiefs’ season progressed, but those are two very useful and talented situational pass rushers, and like Hali, they gave the Bills fits. Gilberry in particular was impressive and fun to watch.
The Bills haven’t had a good tight end since Pete Metzelaars, so I’m probably quick to oversell a tight end’s attributes out of a desperate desire to find even average skill in a Bills tight end. That said, I was really high on Tony Moeaki coming out of Iowa, and he absolutely killed the Bills in overtime of this game, making two huge catches on the game-winning drive. On one play, he lined up in the slot and served as the lead blocker for Charles on an end around, and looked great blocking in space. He’s a good in-line blocker. He won’t make y’all forget Tony Gonzalez or anything crazy like that, but I think Moeaki’s going to start – and excel – for you guys for a long time.
I paid a little bit of extra attention to Branden Albert in this one, because I am trying to see which of the Bills’ mediocre defensive end group was best as a pass rusher. I’m really curious to know how Chiefs fans perceive Albert, because I was not overly impressed. Again, I realize it’s one game, but he was not great against Buffalo, like Brian Waters was. He was good. But nothing about him really stood out. (And that’s not always a bad thing in a lineman, either.)
I’m glad I’m not a Chiefs fan – not because I have anything against the Chiefs (nothing could be further from the truth, save for when they play the Bills, of course), but because I am wholly convinced that Todd Haley would drive me to drink. I’m a bit of a football conservative; that’s why I like Chan Gailey. Haley’s the polar opposite. I just kind of shook my head as I watched Haley continuously go for it on fourth down, allow Charlie Weis to dial up random passing plays on 3rd & short against a Bills defense that gave up 274 rushing yards in the game, and in general be far more balls to the wall than I’d like a head coach to be. I realize he’s working with averages as his rationale, but almost everything went against him in this game, and it kept the Bills in it to the point that he had to call a timeout to negate a game-winning field goal.
Lastly, I’ll just say that I feel badly for Matt Cassel. He’s got good tools, but there’s not been enough continuity for him between Gailey’s firing in 2009, Weis’ hiring, and now Weis departing. I’m thinking he might statistically regress this year, but that shouldn’t be cause for concern. He’s still got upside, in my opinion, and if the Chiefs can protect him with defense and their outstanding running game, I think he can play for a long time, and continue to get marginally better.
If any of you are interested in reading through the posts I ran on the Bills’ side of things (yes, they contain some Chiefs dialogue), you can check out the links below: