Tough game, gang. I don’t have to tell you that. Todd Haley is out beating the “we’re not a good team yet” drum again, but at this point I’ve learned to tune that nonsense out. We’ve got a good defense and possibly the best offensive weapon in the league. We’re a good team. The Raiders won, and my hat is off to them. Honestly though, I thought they’d be better than that. That is most definitely not a playoff team. When they come to Arrowhead they’ll be lucky to escape with a 20-point loss.
Haley’s “we’re not good yet” talk is self-preservation, nothing more. Coaches and GMs get fired quick in today’s NFL. As a result, they start trying to protect their jobs as soon as they’re hired. Patience is always preached. They start talking about how bad the last guy left things, and how its going to take years to turn things around. “Hey, don’t blame me for this 4-12 season. Things were like this when I got here!”
This stuff isn’t even unique to Haley (or Pioli). Every coach and GM does it. It’s all about job security. Nevermind the fact that things can, and do, change quickly in the NFL. We’re supposed to believe this is a years-long process that can’t be judged until it reaches its completion. When is that? Whenever the men upstairs tell us (hint: never). Essentially, every new regime’s goal is to convince the owner and fan base that for their first few years, they are beyond criticism.
Haley finds himself in a weird position, because as it turns out, there was a lot of top shelf talent left behind. Herm Edwards couldn’t get production out of these guys, but Herm Edwards was an incompetent hack. These players are good. What Haley doesn’t want is for us to recognize just how good. Because if that happens, we’ll start expecting wins. With expectations come pressure. That’s the last thing this, or any, new regime wants. They want it to look like whatever progress we make is solely because of their genius. This isn’t about Jamaal Charles, Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali. It’s about The Patriot Way.
One more thing before we get to the grades: I’d love to hear some defenses of the running back split this week. Particularly from the “we’re saving Charles for a playoff run” and “Thom Jones doesn’t fumble” crowds. Jones had 19 carries to Charles’ 10 yesterday. To me that’s unacceptable no matter what excuses any of you care to invent. And really, the results spoke for themselves. We have a good running back and a mediocre running back. Our coach prefers the mediocre one. Numbers don’t lie. Brains that refuse to accept anything negative about the Chiefs do.
Mid-season grades for the defense (offense will be Wednesday morning) after the jump:
Tamba Hali- This is a no-brainer. Hali has 8 sacks and two forced fumbles in half a season. If we had any other legitimate pass rushers he’d probably have double-digits already. People say he’s weak against the run. I don’t really believe that, and even if I did, I wouldn’t care.
Brandon Flowers- My favorite player. Like Hali, Flowers is a sure-fire pro bowler. He’s awesome. What more is there to say? I just realized I’m five years older than him. That’s depressing.
Derrick Johnson- DJ is in the midst of the year we’ve been waiting for since 2005. Big ups to Crennel here. I’m crediting him with Johnson’s turnaround. Oh, and also Haley’s benching of Johnson last year, because that was brilliant. What a motivator!
Perv Smith- Granted, the Perv hasn’t been great. But he’s been pretty good, and that’s more than any of us expected. Plus all that penis-grabbing provided some laughs early on. I love to see him jawin’ at the offense, too. What can I say, this big ol’ fat guy has become one of my favorite players.
Sweet Ron- Our other fat guy with a heart of gold (I assume, I’ve never heard him talk). Sweet Ron isn’t a star, but he leads our line in sacks and is, like Perv, much better than we thought he’d be. Is it possible Edwards is one of the better nose tackles in the league?
Wallace Gilberry- Gilberry has done exactly what we’ve asked of him. He’s a great situational pass rusher, something our defensive line desperately needs. He may be undersized for the running game and thus not a four-down player. But he’s the second-best pass rusher on our team. Nothing to sneeze at.
Eric Berry- Berry has made a few costly errors, but that’s to be expected from a rookie. His mistakes have been magnified because he’s the last line of defense. But the guy is definitely filling out the stat sheet. It’s hard for me to say how good (or bad) he’s been in coverage because we don’t get to see a lot of that. But he’s definitely been good in run support. There’s a lot of room for interpretation in Berry’s play, so I could understand if some of you see this one differently. I’ve been pretty happy with what he’s given us.
Brandon Carr- It must be hard to play corner opposite Flowers. Carr holds up admirably. He gets beat some, but a bad corner would probably be getting straight-up picked on.
Jovan Belcher- I suspect Belcher isn’t much good in the passing game. But after three years of Pat Thomas, Nap Harris and Corey Mays, I’m all too happy to have a decent run-stopper in the middle again. Belcher looks like a younger version of Marvcus Patton.
Javier Arenas- Arenas made a few solid plays in coverage early, but I haven’t seen much of him these last few games. The rumors of him pushing Carr for a starting job appear to have been exaggerated.
Jon McGraw- McGraw is a decent player. No more, no less. He made a pick yesterday, but dropped another and also appeared to have taken one away from Eric Berry. Still, for right now, I think McGraw should be starting at safety opposite Eric Berry. Two rookies back there makes me nervous.
Glenngarry Glenn Dorsey- I’m sure some of you are going to cry foul on this, but Dorsey has been pretty quiet since his good first game. We drafted this guy fifth overall three years ago. The excuses are gone. He should be good by now. Some of you probably think he is. But then, a lot of people were just sure he was awesome his rookie year too. Dorsey is a divisive figure. For my part, I think he’s an occasionally good lineman who can’t rush the passer and will never live up to expectations.
Kendrick “Louis” Lewis- This isn’t a knock on Lewis, I just haven’t really seen him do anything good yet. I’m not down on him. I was going to give him B, but that felt like wishful thinking.
Mike Vrabel- Look, I know Vrabel is old, er, I mean, has veteran leadership. And I know he’s a coach on the field and a leader in the locker room and any number of other football cliches. He just isn’t a good player any more. He plays outside linebacker and has zero sacks in eight games. He doesn’t even really make tackles. He also has a few bad penalties and failed in his one chance to make a big play. Our coaching staff’s obsession with Vrabel has become counterproductive. It’s time for the Student Baker.
Tin Man- Tyson Jackson was a bad, bad pick. A friend (AA commenter The Centaur) recently asked if I’d trade Tin Man for Derrius Heyward-Bey. The answer is yes. In a heartbeat. Go ahead, say defensive linemen take years to develop. Tell me I’m an idiot for rating Jackson so low. Say I should’ve given him an incomplete. I know I’m not the only one who saw him get face-planted on that touchdown. My suggestion to those who feel I’m being too hard on Tin Man: watch him play. I mean actually watch him. His play speaks for itself.
OK Addicts, that’s my mid-season report card for the defense. Love to hear any grades you guys might want to throw out there. Something like this leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Was I too easy on them? Too hard? I know some of you will take issue with anything below a B for anyone, but keep in mind I gave more As and Bs than anything else. I tried to be as unbiased as possible.
I’ll be back later in the week with grades for the offense and special teams. Tough loss, but yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no darkness. For Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali and Jamaal Charles are the best threesome in the NFL. And I still love Dwayne Bowe.