Is There A Method To The DJ Madness?

This is a bonus article from Big Matt. I was just sitting here trying to bang out some content on a slow Saturday and I check my AA email and BAM, Matt sent me an article. The dude is sitting around on a Saturday in July thinking about the Chiefs just like me. He’s sick. I love it. And you! What is your excuse? You are reading about the Chiefs on a Saturday in July. That is why we love you. That is why we are Addicts!

DENVER - JANUARY 03: Linebacker Derrick Johnson #56 of the Kansas City Chiefs intercepts a pass by Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos and returns it 45 yards for a touchdown as Orton is unable to make the tackle to give the Chiefs a 27-17 lead in the third quarter during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on January 3, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Orton eating some of DJ's dust. (Photo Source: Yardbarker.com)

If you’re at all like me, or Paddy, or anyone else blogging about or even thinking about the Chiefs, you’ve spent a significant portion of the last year complaining about Todd Haley’s misuse of Derrick Johnson.  Rightly so.  DJ is clearly our best inside linebacker, yet spent much of last season on the bench.  All in the name of some vague motivational plan that clearly didn’t work*.  The closest we got to an explanation was Haley’s insistence that Demorrio Williams and Corey Mays were doing a great job.

*Did any of Todd Haley’s motivational plans work?

Both the stat sheet and the eyeball test agreed that wasn’t the case.  Mays in particular looked like a total stiff out there.  It felt like watching Pat Thomas with dreads.  And although I like Demorrio Speedwagon, he really wasn’t much better.  Sometimes on running plays they’d fill the same lane.  I half-expected them to bonk heads like Curly and Larry.  Neither recorded a sack (despite the estimated 6.3 billion blocks Tin Man and Dorsey devoured), forced a fumble or made an interception.  DJ, on the other hand, did all of these things.  In less playing time.  But The Patriot Way means no explanations, so we’ve all spent the entire off-season wondering just what happened to Derrick Johnson, and, more importantly, if it will happen again.

Well, there may be some news on that front.  Not necessarily good news, but news nonetheless.  A week or so ago I stopped by Royals Review to post a comment or two hating on Willie Bloomquist and Jason Kendall when I discovered an interesting Chiefs nugget in a fan post by commenter 306008.  It was about a Q & A he attended with none other than Dayton “intangibles beats tangibles” Moore.  Moore said about what you’d expect.  Praised Kendall, mentioned injuries, used the phrase “developmental plan” several times, and said rebuilding is an 8-to-10 year process (snicker).  You know, classic bad GM sound bites.  What really caught my eye were some comments from Mitch Holthus (apparently he spoke too):

“Mitch said they have to be very careful how they use DJ because if he gets too many snaps he can’t breathe effectively and becomes an ineffective player.  Because of that, the Chiefs are trying to figure out the best times to use him and how often to use him so that he is at peak performance……It seems as though Mitch thinks we’ll see him more in the second half than the first half.”

I don’t know about you, but those words definitely raised my eyebrows.  True, it’s a blog commenter paraphrasing the words of a radio announcer.  But Holthus does work for the Chiefs, and DJ having respiratory issues would certainly explain a lot.  Namely, how he can look brilliant in the first quarter and then totally disappear.  It also may explain why Haley kept him on the bench throughout last year.  The only thing I can’t figure is if DJ was having trouble breathing, wouldn’t Herm and Gunther have figured that out years ago?

Just kidding, gang.  Those idiots couldn’t figure out a Chinese finger trap.  The question is, do we believe Holthus’ statements?  I don’t know, I’d certainly like to.  A breathing problem I can understand.  Breathing problems exist.  Good play from Corey Mays does not.  I just wonder why the Chiefs haven’t clued us in before now.  Pioli’s front office is savvy enough to know what the fans are thinking.  His credentialing of Arrowhead Pride alone proves that (as will his future credentialing of AA).  These guys know what is being said about them, even on the internet.  Someone knew enough to ban your boy Big Matt from having a brick, for Christ’s sake.  They’re definitely aware of who’s out there talking Chiefs.  They’ve heard the DJ rumblings.  If there was a simple explanation, I don’t understand why we didn’t hear it a long time ago.

This is something about The Patriot Way that really bothers me.  The Chiefs are far, far too concerned with keeping things from their fans.  I’m not suggesting they tell us everything, but if there’s no discernible benefit to keeping a secret, then why do it?  Is telling us about DJ’s ailment going to give our opponents some kind of edge?  If the Chargers or Broncos really want to design their game plans around Johnson’s possible condition, I say more power to them.  Boy will they be surprised when he’s on the bench and they have to contend with way less talented.  That’ll throw ‘em for a loop!

I’m going to stop before this becomes a rant.  The Chiefs are certainly under no obligation to inform me of their every move.  And I can understand the secrecy some of the time, such as in the months leading up to the draft.  The Chiefs want to keep things from their enemies.  I get that.  The thing is though, we aren’t their enemies.  Yes, we’ve been confused and maybe a little angry about DJ.  We care because we love.  Would it have killed Todd Haley to mention that there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for why our boy isn’t on the field more?  How would that have hurt the team?  It wouldn’t have.  Couldn’t have.  Keeping a secret like that is pointless.

Of course, my problems with The Patriot Way will all be instantly forgotten if we even sniff .500.  I’ve probably overreacted to this DJ news already, but it’s a Saturday in July.  This is a weird time for us die-hards.  Nothing is really happening yet, but our world is about to change.  We can feel it in the water.  We can smell it in the earth.  We can feel it in the air.  We’re on edge.  If someone called me right now and told me Maurice Leggett tweaked a hammy I’d probably spend the next hour outside pacing and smoking cigarettes.

The bottom line is that we desperately need DJ on the field making plays.  Here’s hoping the Chiefs can make that happen consistently.  Last year they couldn’t.

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Tags: Derrick Johnson Kansas City Chiefs Todd Haley

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