With four days to the Draft, we still have no idea who the Chiefs are going to pick first in the Draft.
I myself have argued for Poe, for Tannehill and for neither. The fact is that there is not a single right answer in this year’s Draft for the Chiefs. I believe strongly there are multiple ways they could go that will pay off for them down the road. It’s one of those beautiful times when the question is more about how the Chiefs will get stronger, not whether.
With that in mind, over the last few weeks I’ve been reviewing the Chiefs’ tape. In an admission of total powerlessness to my NFL addiction I paid the $69.99 to re-up my subscription for the NFL Gamepass to be able to watch NFL Network and all the games of the 2011 season on demand until August.
While I’ve already watched every game the Chiefs played in 2011, some stand out more memorably in my mind due to a mix of factors. Because I watch live games from 8-9 hours ahead of Eastern Time all year (meaning noon kickoffs at Arrowhead are either 9 or 10 p.m. here), sleepiness/alcohol remain obstacles to proper analysis. I also feel like the offseason narratives tend to take a life of their own the further and further we get away having actually seen some football played. We all agree that the Chiefs are going to be better and in contention for the division title again this year. But they were downright bad in certain areas last years – and not just at positions where we had injuries.
Therefore, I decided I would take a look a back at the season of ups and downs in a mixed order so to not just look at the awful start and the inspiring finish, but try to see how players played in the season as a whole. My final goal of looking back was to scout the Chiefs’ additions this offseason.
Week 15 Raiders at Chiefs, L 16-13
- Why: I was actually physically present at this game and long wanted to revisit it, because, although I had great seats and a marvelous view of how it went down, I continued to find it very hard to wrap my head around just how we managed to lose this game. Save for an easy field goal that was blocked as time expired, this would have won the division for us. I also figured it would be a good chance to scout CB Stanford Routt, who saw the light and joined the Chiefs after being cut by the Oakland freak show.
- Moving the ball: The Raiders have a very good front seven, and while the Chiefs didn’t run all over them, we overall did not have problems getting downfield. The fact that we only put 13 points on the board was due primarily to two blocked field goals, some questionable penalties and one AWFUL Kyle Orton interception in the endzone.
- Game-changing defense: Overall, it’s pretty clear that the majority of the Chiefs’ playmakers are on defense. We all love Hali and Flowers, but what was most interesting in this game was the play of S Kendrick Lewis and CB Javier Arenas. Each are young and promising players who also make bone-headed moves at times. Arenas, 24, had a timely interception that could have changed the game in the Chiefs’ favor. But as usual, he also drew a few penalties and got beat on a throws to the flat (although depending on the coverage scheme for that play, it could have been intentional). Lewis, 23, broke up two key passes, and again had a game of stout run support, but he also got beat BADLY on the first play of overtime, which was a deep pass to Denarius Moore that ended up sealing the Raiders’ victory. I have a love/hate relationship with both of these guys. They make plays, plain and simple, plus Arenas is a very valuable special teamer. At times they look so great I hate the idea of drafting or signing their replacements through free agency. But they also make some really deadly mistakes. In the end I think they will keep getting better and will be great for the Chiefs down the road. What gives me pause is the idea: can we afford it if they don’t?
- Stanford Routt is very, very good: Look, Brandon Carr was a great fan favorite and Routt had horrendous 2011 numbers. He both gave up more touchdowns than any other corner in the NFL, he was also the most penalized guy at his position. But, if you actually watch him play, you understand why. First off, the Raiders are a blitz-happy, man-on-man defensive team, which means that whoever is covering the other team’s #1 option is screwed a good portion of the time. That defense was designed for Nnamdi Asomugha, who can handle being on an island, but Routt just doesn’t have his phenomenal ability. Still, he did very well with what he had to offer. As for penalties, the Raiders are the most penalized team in the league and this Week 16 nearly beat the single-game record for penalties. The fact is that it was clear Routt knew the score, knew he had no help half the time, so whenever he felt like Dwayne Bowe was about to break away from him, he took the 10-yard defensive holding penalty rather than give up a touchdown. In the end, he had an interception and held Bowe to six catches and a touchdown (a beautiful, undefendable left-arm bullet-pass). In my mind, that is overall a wash, which, on a team with crappy D-backs against the clear #1 target, is more than admirable. As for his stats and performance for the Chiefs, I think he will be a great #2 CB, and with S Eric Berry able to get to both sides of the field to help out in pass support with his insane athleticism, I think Routt will be safe to lay up on the penalties and just do what he does. In KC, he won’t have to carry the entire defensive backfield on his shoulders.
- Our offensive line is serviceable: Even against the solid Oakland front seven, the Chiefs were very productive running the ball, and only passed it when it was absolutely necessary, despite the fact that the Raiders were overall weaker in the secondary. For what G Ryan Lilja lacks in pass-blocking, he remains a very good run-blocker, especially when pulling to the outside.
- The “not getting it done” factor: The Chiefs suffered from this all season long. Sure, we lost by the freak probabilities of having a game-winning field goal blocked as time expired. But the Chiefs should have never been in that position. We outplayed the Raiders for all but a few big moments. We should have won by two scores, but we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities the way that winning teams find a way to do.
- Insight for the Draft: This was a very evenly matched game and when we play the Raiders next two times, it will not be so close in terms of the level of talent on the field. With all of the Chiefs’ injured players back plus free agent acquisitions and the Draft (Oakland is all but skipping the Draft this year), we should be able to roll these clowns on paper going into the next meeting. However, they will still be able to shoot at our Achilles’ heel – if Berry is out or is covering a different guy, we do not have any other pure athletes in our secondary that can keep up with the Raiders’ signature track-squad WR corps. If we continue to have problems scoring, this tendency to give up big plays late will still kill us in the end. Lewis may be a great run-support banger safety, but he is a liability against speedy downfield weapons. If the Chiefs trade back in the first round, I will have no problem with selecting Mark Barron with our first pick.
Barron to KC? What do you think?