I should be used to this by now. Should be, but most definitely am not. I had actually tricked myself into believing we could take this one. As it turns out, all those “doubters” were absolutely right. The Chiefs weren’t ready.
This isn’t the time for harsh criticism. You don’t want to hear it, and I don’t really want to sling it. The Chiefs won more games than I thought they would. Three more, to be exact. A pleasant, though not earth-shattering, surprise.
But this isn’t the time for praise, either. Not after two consecutive blowout losses to end the season. The reality is the Chiefs had an opportunity to do something special here and they didn’t. Once again, “wait til next year” will be our battle cry. That’s a hard pill to swallow. There have been too many next years. Far too many. I barely remember our last playoff win and I turn 30 in June. That is some pretty serious futility. But hey, at least the business has remained profitable. Three cheers for Clark Hunt! That man is a HERO.
My initial intention was to wait a week or so to start my report card. But now I’m thinking grading players might be a good way to take shelter from my grief. And despite how it ended, some of these guys (particularly on defense) played really well over the course of the season. They deserve to be recognized. Hopefully this process of recognition will help soothe our troubled football souls.
Your boy Big Matt drops his grade card after the jump:
Jamaal Charles- No surprises here. This guy is BY FAR the most explosive offensive weapon in the league. He’s the class valedictorian, hands down. Personally, I don’t think Haley values Charles as much as he should, but thats neither here nor there and doesn’t affect the grade. I love Jamaal. We all do. He’s got Barry Sanders‘ moves, Chris Johnson‘s speed and Priest Holmes‘ ability to use blockers. Perfect.
Ryan Lilja- Lilja was a great free agent acquisition by Scott Pioli. It’s been hard to judge our line as a whole this year, but Lilja has unquestionably been the best. He doesn’t get penalties, he doesn’t give up sacks, and if you watch him, you see a guy with an uncanny knack for getting in people’s way (sometimes multiple defenders in one play).
Remember when Jason Whitlock talked about what a great signing Lilja would be? Seems like he hit the nail on the head, right? In any case, great pickup by Pioli. his best free agent signing thus far (other than Corey Mays, of course).
Tony Moeaki- My boy Big Bear showed up to the game yesterday wearing a Moeaki jersey. I was jealous. To say Moeaki was a pleasant surprise would be an understatement. Rarely does a late third round pick come in and start right away. Our new Tony did that, played well, and never really looked like a rookie. Perhaps the most encouraging part was his ability to stay healthy, as that was a huge concern. When he was drafted I called him the next Brad Cottam. I may have to send him a fruit basket for that one.
Dwayne Bowe- I’m not exactly objective on this one, as we all know. I was wearing a Bowe jersey while watching him lay an egg yesterday. It was frustrating, and obviously it wasn’t the first time he’d disappeared this season. Dwayne Bowe is inconsistent.
Having said that, he had a massive year. Without him, Matt Cassel‘s season would’ve been a lost cause. Bowe had 15 touchdowns and 19 catches of 20 or more yards. Those plays couldn’t have come from anywhere else. Bowe disappeared yesterday, but so did our entire non-Jamaal offense. This guy is an amazing talent. He’ll be back with more huge numbers and amazing plays next year, and we should all be thankful for that.
Matt Cassel- Cassel proved a lot of people wrong this year…..or did he? I’m sure many of you are giving him an A, and thats your prerogative. The case can certainly be made. For me, its hard to overlook the meltdown yesterday. Essentially our quarterback started and finished the season very poorly.
But there was a pretty sweet stretch in there too. At the very least, Cassel proved he can be a part of a successful offense. For a while there he looked like a damn good quarterback. But not yesterday. And really, his weaknesses are still pretty easily defined. The reality is we’re going into next season with our quarterback still a bit of a question mark. But he’s our guy, and that isn’t going to change. I don’t know that I’d want it to. It seems to me we’re better off sticking with Cassel than rolling the dice and starting over.
Branden Albert- I wanted to give Albert a B, but expectations and responsibility come into play here. Albert has yet to become the human shield we hoped for when that pick was made. In fact, I don’t think he’s improved much from his rookie season. We all assumed his ceiling was much higher than it appears to be.
I’m comfortable with Albert at LT, but I can’t say I’m thrilled by the way his season ended. I doubt Matt Cassel is either.
Brian Waters- I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this was Waters’ last season. His play has slipped, although not fallen off a cliff (Pro Bowl!). People love to gush about leadership and intangibles, but in Waters’ case I think that praise is warranted. He’s been a great Chief for a long time, and he deserves our respect. Still, you see him get beat from time to time. If he wants to come back, I’ll be glad to have him, but if not, I’m ready for the switch to Asamoah.
Dexter McCluster- At the time, I thought McCluster was a questionable use of a high second round pick in a deep class. This season has done little to change that opinion. There was a lot of hype surrounding this kid, and I can’t honestly say he lived up to any of it. We got very little of the excitement we were promised. That high ankle sprain totally derailed his season. Hardly an encouraging development.
On the plus side, he’s got a whole offseason to heal, and our coaches have that time to figure out how to make better use of him. If we temper our expectations he may surprise us.
Casey Wiegmann- I’m glad Scott Pioli signed Weigmann, if only because it saved us from having to watch another season of horrid play from Rudy Niswanger. But Weigmann is old and gets pushed around. It’s time for him to retire. Center is definitely a position of need heading into next season.
Barry Richardson- Maybe “the shove” poisoned me against Richardson, because up until that point I thought he was a decent, if not necessarily starting caliber, player. Everything seemed to fall apart after that. I’m putting a lot of the blame for Cassel’s end-of-season struggles on Richardson. He really fell apart in the home stretch. We got what we could out of him, now its time to move on. Next year should bring yet another new starter at RT.
Terry Copper- Was given a golden opportunity; failed to take advantage. Nothing more to say really.
Thom Jones- Whatever you think of the carry split, Jones had an awful year. And it just kept getting worse. His season ended at a truly ghastly 3.66 YPC. Would’ve been worse if playoff stats counted. It was downright painful to see him getting meaningful carries yesterday. Painful, but not surprising.
Jones needs to be released. Those who say he’s a perfect complement to Charles are fooling themselves. A perfect compliment to Charles would be good in short yardage situations, which is where Jones, unbelievably, is at his worst. He was an anchor weighing our offense down all year. We need a back to keep Charles fresh. We also need that back not to be Thom Jones.
Chris Chambers- Got his last paycheck and quit trying, just like most of us thought he would. No surprises here.
Brodie Croyle- I’m still waiting to see some of that potential I’ve been hearing about for the last five years. Every time we see Brodie he plays poorly, we lose, and people make excuses for him. This year was no exception. I wonder if he’s still part of Todd Haley’s core?
note: I didn’t grade guys like Lenny Pope and Tim Castille because it didn’t seem necessary. Role players playing roles. My defensive grades will come later in the week, and the coaches will be graded next Monday.
OK Addicts, thats my offensive grade card. Feel free to jump in and grade my grades, as it were. I’m interested to see how our evaluations match up.