So, the Chiefs finally drafted the huge world beater nose tackle everyone has been waiting for. Well, maybe not everyone. In fact, many a naysayer were, and are, not happy with the pick.
Can’t you feel the opposing forces readying for battle?
What we all want to know is, how is Dontari Poe going to do when he matches up against all of the centers or guards of the world?
I think he’ll surprise some people.
Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel has already decided to throw Poe into the fray by inserting him early in OTAs with the starting unit. “We were working on subs, so I think that helped to elevate him in that respect.”
The Chiefs look to utilize the monster rookie nose a lot this season. The question now is, how will he match up specifically against the teams the Chiefs play this year?
So, let’s take a look at some key games.
Game 1- Atlanta Falcons, at home, “Men In Black” game
C Todd McClure has been a fixture in the middle of the Falcons line since 2000 and has only missed one game in all the time. So, McClure will offer an immediate test for Poe in game one and should allow us to see whether or not Poe is going to be useful rushing the passer this year or not. McClure is a stud and using Week 3 as an example last season when the Falcons faced the New Orleans Saints defensive front he scored a +5.6 according to Pro Football Focus. That’s facing a Saints rotation of Aubrayo Franklin, Sedrick Ellis and Shaun Rogers. To be fair, the Saints employ a 4-3 defense and and their front line defensive players usually line up in the gaps, which means that McClure usually has help from one guard or the other. However, McClure is 35, 6-1 and weighs in at 296, giving up 50 pounds to Poe. If Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, or whoever else the Chiefs decide to place on the field in the sub packages, can give a strong push forcing Atlanta to double team on the outside, Dontari Poe could have a very good game. Especially with Arrowhead’s 12th man, woman and child cheering on. Give him an early taste of the Arrowhead chop-chill and it could help to boost his confidence. Then, he could be extra-worldly.
Game 2- Buffalo Bills, on the road, “The Avengers” game
C Eric Wood has been solid at the center position but, was hurt in game 10 of 2009, hurt again in game 9 of 2011 and remained out the duration of each of those seasons. If Wood doesn’t begin this season starting at center then Colin Brown will fill in as he did for most of the last half of 2011. Wood matched up with RG Andy Levitre and LG Kraig Urbik make the core of the Bills offensive line very solid if not one of the best in the league. Levitre is what Pro Football Focus calls a Secret Superstar. In the past two years he has only allowed 35 total pressures giving him a +15.1 during that span. Eric Wood? Last season, during the nine games he did play, Wood allowed only 3 pressures in 301 snaps. That places him at the top of the list for NFL centers. So, Dontari Poe will have his work cut out for him and if he come up with even one pressure during that game he’ll be ahead of the curve. Way ahead. With this being Buffalo’s home opener and this also being Dontari Poe’s first taste of the hostile road environment, we may learn more about Poe from this game than the first game of the season. While Wood is exceptional in pass coverage, he’s not as good at run blocking. If Poe can hold his own against their running game, which can be formidable with Fred Jackson, and Hali and Houston can serve to apply the primary pass pressure, Poe’s performance can still be of critical importance in beating the Bills. Many Chiefs will be looking to avenge two losses to the Bills last year: one, a heartbreaking opening day pounding at home and two, the Stevie Johnson blind side block that took out Eric Berry’s ACL. I wouldn’t mind seeing Johnson tackled on a crossing route and Poe piling on. I’d gladly accept that penalty. I’d even pay extra for that. Hey, wait a second, would that be considered a bounty? Heck, if they’re going to allow bounties, might as well let the fans get in on the action.
In game three the Chiefs face the New Orleans Saints and while they let G Carl Nicks walk in free agency they signed G Ben Grubbs for a lot less money but, not a lot less production. At mid-season in 2011 the Saints ranked #2 overall by PFF and were #5 in pass blocking and #5 in run blocking so this game will be a challenge for whomever the Chiefs line up on the DL.
Games 4 & 9- San Diego Chargers, “Battleship” games
Poe will face C Nick Hardwick who made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and continues to be solid. Poe will have his hands full. He and Hardwick will do battle and if Poe does well against Hardwick it will a breakthrough. I expect Amon Gordon to get a load of reps in this one (as Lyle Graversen has suggested in this post called, Tell Me I’m Wrong, a post you don’t want to miss).
In game five the Chiefs will host the Baltimore Ravens. C Matt Birk, who came into the league in 1998 with the Vikings, will be 36 years old when the season begins. While he’s been an excellent center with a Pro Bowl appearance under his belt, his age may soon be an issue. It will be interesting to see how Birk handles Poe late in the game.
In game six the Chiefs travel to Tampa Bay to face the Bucs. Jeff Faine has been the Bucs Center but, is now a free agent. With new head coach Greg Schiano at the reigns and many new pieces trying to fit together, it’s hard to predict what we’ll see in Tampa on October 14th. It looks like the Bucs will be going with third year pro Ted Larsen out of North Carolina State who started 11 games in 2010 and 3 games last year but, appeared in all 16 game in 2011. Larsen was high-jacked off of the Patriots practice squad and has performed very well when given the opportunity. At 6-2, 305 it will be fascinating to see how he handles Poe’s girth.
Games 7 & 14- Oakland Raiders, “The Dictator” games
The Chiefs will have been home for two weeks when the first Raider’s game rolls around because of the bye-week. As with any rookie it will be important for Dontari to make any adjustments the coaching staff has put in place over the break. So, far in OTAs Poe has been excellent about taking instruction and applying what he’s learned. Second year C/G Stefen Wisniewski should be lining up at Center for Oakland this year. Wisniewski goes 6-3 and 315 and looks to have a promising career in front of him. I remember wishing the Chiefs would have drafted him. However, he started week one out with a -4.6 rating by PFF and with only one year under his belt the jury is out. What will be of use in games against the Raiders is whether or not Poe is able to take the coaching up… and laying it down. Both putting pressure on Carson Palmer and helping to stop the running game resurgence of Darren McFadden will be key to seeing who dictates to whom.
Games 11 & 17- Denver Broncos, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”
I expect the Chiefs to plant Peyton Manning on his rear so many times we should see rookie QB Brock Osweiler by games end. In other words, these games will be more of a joke than the general public would expect. Why would I expect this? Here’s what Pro Football Focus has to say about C JD Walton of the Broncos,
There’s no way around this, J.D. Walton is the worst center in football. Bad as a rookie (-16.3), Walton was literally twice as bad in his sophomore season (-32.9), casting him adrift at the bottom of our center rankings by a distance. Walton surrendered four sacks on the year and his 23 total pressures allowed tied him for the second-worst mark in the league for centers–a particularly bad note for a player in the middle of the line that often gets help.
It’s hard to imagine that the Donks haven’t signed another center. Which center? Any center. Because what they have now is Peyton Manning’s worst nightmare and even if Dontari Poe has learned nothing over the course of this season, we should expect him to wipe Walton’s booty with Manning’s hands still in place, pre-snap.
A lot to expect of a rookie? I imagine. But, if Eric Berry can come in and tear it up, why not Poe. He’s got the right attitude, the ability and the physical tools.
Gonna be so much fun to watch: it’ll be like going to the movies!
What do you think Addict fanatics?