The 2012 K.C. Chiefs: Paper Champions


The Kansas City Chiefs have done it! They’ve just won the 2012 AFC West Championship! Well, at least on paper anyway.

Looking at each team in the AFC West, on paper, can get you to the place I’m at: partying on the veranda… actually it’s my daughter’s kitchen. Anyway, when you look at what each AFC team has done this off-season you’ll probably come to the same conclusion I have: the Chiefs win the west in 2012.

Here’s how the west was won.

The Oakland Raiders

New Paper: players acquired this off-season
CB Patrick Lee, QB Matt Leinart, RB Mike Goodson, FB Owen Schmitt, G Mike Brisiel, DE Dave Tollefson, LB Philip Wheeler, CB Shawntae Spencer, CB Ronald Bartell.

Recycled Paper: players who have gone elsewhere and could contribute
CB Lito Sheppard, G Bruce Campbell, QB Jason Campbell.

Old Wallpaper: players who are probably better stripped from the roster
DE Jarvis Moss, DT John Henderson, WR Chaz Schilens, OT Stephon Heyer,  DE Trevor Scott, DE Quentin Groves, ILB Darryl Blackstock, CB Chris Johnson.

Paper Cuts: losing these players is really gonna hurt
OLB Kamerion Wimbley, RB Michael Bush, C Samson Satele, TE Kevin Boss, CB Stanford Routt.

The biggest move the Raiders made this off-season was at general manager where they have planted Reggie McKenzie at the helm. He should stabilize an organization that has missed the playoffs now for ten years. After a decade of defeats and the loss of their long time leader  Al Davis the Raiders were in a position to change approaches and McKenzie can be expected to get positive results — eventually.  However, dealing with their out of whack salary cap issues and making financially sound decisions in the past six month will not help the team much in the next six.

It’s rarer for new regimes to come in and succeed immediately than not. The Black Hole has also experienced too much change over this off-season for the stability that McKenzie offers, to help. The lack of a first round or second round pick this year means the Raiders won’t be getting the injection of new, young, top flight talent into their roster. The biggest positive for McKenzie’s roster may be that he is filling it full of his guy-type but, that’s not saying much.

Offense

On offense Carson Palmer, Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford could make for a mash of thrilling moments for the Raiders republic. Some of their fans are also excited about 6-3, 224 lb. WR Juron Criner out of Arizona. Criner is not the speed demon that the Raiders usually like to draft but, he’s big, has good hands and good moves and makes positive plays once the ball is in the air. Also, the deletion of some players plus a more disciplined approach would mean less penalties.

Defense

On defense Richard Seymour and Lamar Houston should both be excellent again. However, with a pulp fiction crew around them they’ll be losing an endless game of rock-paper-scissors and end up winning plays at approximately the same rate as that children’s game– which is 33% of the time. They finished 29th in defense last season and this year will likely be worse because of all the changes and personnel losses.

Pulp Fiction: The Oakland Raiders get my Pulp Fiction designation because they might look dangerous at times but, they’re not, they’re just a goopy mess that hasn’t come together yet. On paper they look to finish 6-10 or 7-9.

 

The San Diego Chargers

New Paper: players acquired this off-season
WR Robert Meachem, WR Eddie Royal, OT Jared Gaither, SS Atari Bigby,FB Le’Ron McClain, WR Roscoe Parrish, QB Charlie Whitehurst, WR Micheal Spurlock, TE Dante Rosario, OT Mario Henderson, ILB Demorrio Williams, OLB Jarret Johnson.

Recycled Paper: players who have gone elsewhere and could contribute
CB Dante Hughes, S Steve Gregory, QB Billy Volek.

Old Wallpaper: players who are probably better stripped from the roster
DT Tommie Harris, WR Patrick Crayton, LB Travis LaBoy.

Paper Cuts: losing these players is really gonna hurt
WR Vincent Jackson, RB Mike Tolbert, OT Marcus McNeill, G Kris Dielman.

No one is touting the Chargers roster like they were, even just two years ago, or last season for that matter. With an influx of key players and star players leaving or retiring, the Chargers roster has less of a blueprint design to it and taken on more of a kids hodge podge paper mache project. In a few short years the bolts have gone from premier RB LaDainian Tomlinson to Ryan Matthews and aging Ronnie Brown. That seems to reflect the story at several key positions for the Chargers. From Vincent Jackson to Robert Mecham. Marcus McNeil to Jared Gaither. From Shawne Merriman to Larry English (?).  From a healthy Antonio Gates to a not so healthy Antonio Gates.

You could add… from Philip Rivers to Philip Rivers because he never has seemed to be able to progress in a way that would allow him to lead his team to the promised land. In other words, he hasn’t matured. His response to situations is often silliness or temper  tirades. He hasn’t become the kind of person that others want to follow into battle. At least Vincent Jackson didn’t want to and that’s telling isn’t it. When your best receiver, and a premiere one at that, is not interested in sticking with his QB, something is rotten in Denmark. In this case, San Diego.

Offense

The offense will have Rivers and Gates hooking up more than usual and opposing team will likely work to take that away first. If Gates can be reigned in there aren’t many other dangerous playmakers to worry about. WRs Malcom Floyd and Robert Mecham can do some damage but, there are questions about why the Saints didn’t retain his services. Some will say money and others believe he never lived up to his potential. More OLBs will get around Gaither at LT than they did McNeil. RB Ryan Matthews can flash but, won’t be able to scare defenses like other Chargers backs have in recent memory.

Defense

On defense the Chargers were not good at getting to the QB in 2011 with 32 total sacks. Not getting pressure was not the only problem as coverage was worse than it’s been in years and the bolts gave up the 5th most TDs in the league through the air in 2011 (29). Their answer for that problem was to draft Melvin Ingram to help pressure the QB. They also drafted DE Kendall Reyes and SS Brandon Taylor, both of which may find their way into the positional rotation this season but, don’t expect any of their draft picks to be a difference maker like Shawne Merriman used to be.

Paper Diapers: The San Diego Chargers get my Paper Diapers designation because with GM A.J. Smith, when somebody has to go — everyone knows about it: think Brees, Merriman, and even soon to be hall of famer Tomlinson. He wipes everyone clean and he doesn’t care who you are to the team. I’ve really come to appreciate the way Chiefs GM Scott Pioli works, in a more discriminating fashion. Plus, there’s no getting around Philip Rivers’ immaturity. I see more regression than progression. On paper they look to finish 8-8 or 9-7.

 

The Denver Broncos

New Paper: players acquired this offseason
QB Peyton Manning, TE Joel Dreessen, WR Andre Caldwell, CB Tracy Porter, QB Caleb Hanie, TE Jacob Tamme, WR Brandon Stokley, DT Justin Bannan, CB Drayton Florence, S Mike Adams.

Recycled Paper: players who have gone elsewhere and could contribute
QB Brady Quinn, WR Eddie Royal, DT Brodrick Bunkley, DT Marcus Thomas.

Old Wallpaper: players who are probably better stripped from the roster
DE Derrick Harvey, FB Spencer Larsen, DT Ryan McBean, OLB Mario Haggan,

Paper Cuts: losing these players is really gonna hurt
QB Tim Tebow, S Brian Dawkins.

Alright, I said it. The Denver Broncos are going to miss Mr. Tim Tebow. Making that designation under the “Paper Cuts” category was difficult but, in the end I believe the Broncos will miss the intangible that Tebow is. It’s kind of like when a child comes to miss an abusive step-parent. Now, on to this year’s edition of the Donkos (cross a donkey and a bronco and you get: a donko).

Offense

Everyone is all abuzz about the mile high Manning steamroller. Will Peyton Manning help the Donks (short for a donko)? Yes. However, the kind of football they were playing last year was not conducive to building team chemistry because they became a one man hockey team. If the QB is the best RB on the team then the RBs don’t develop or know how or why they’re needed. If the QB can’t get the ball to the WRs on a regular basis then they don’t know what their role is and they also can’t develop their timing or rhythm with the QB, because there is none. In transition from last year to this season — you can’t just throw that history aside and pretend everything wasn’t stunted for a year.

Manning will help in that regard because he’s the transposed-Tebow. Better known as the real deal. In my mind, he’s the best that ever played QB. However, I believe that’s going to save these Donk -a- donks (a donko who F’s himself, plural). Think back over the transition of the Colts offense during Manning’s tenure. Yes, they finished a lowly 3-13 in 1998 but, you only have to look at the rise and fall of his passer rating over the years see  to he’s already come full circle statistically — and that was before his absence in 2011.

In 1998, his first year, his passer rating was 71.2. Try and set that aside simply because he was a rookie. From 1999 to 2010, Peyton Manning’s passer rating looks like this:

There’s a clearly defined rise and fall to Peyton’s career passer ratings. After completing this graph I became very happy that the Chiefs couldn’t sign Manning.

Defense
New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio should help this rag-tag crew. Yes, they have Von Miller but, is Elvis Dumb-er-what-vil going to even be available? Yes, Champ Bailey is excellent but, he’s on the last half of the back nine — he’s probably shooting on 18 this season. Why the Donk-dongs-for-brains (you’ll have to guess) drafted a quarterback in the second round (Brock Osweiler) when they needed so much defensive help is beyond anyone’s comprehension — even fans of these creatures.

Failed Origami: The Denver Broncos  get my Failed Origami designation because it looked good while they were putting it together but, they either lost the directions or got confused about what they were making in the process. Maybe they were using paper that was too old and brittle. On paper they look to finish 7-9 or 8-8 or 3-13.

 

The Kansas City Chiefs

New Paper: players acquired this offseason
OT Eric Winston, CB Stanford Routt, RB Peyton Hillis, TE Kevin Boss, QB Brady Quinn, DE Ropati Pitoitua,.

Recycled Paper: players who have gone elsewhere and could contribute
QB Kyle Orton, FB Le’Ron McClain, TE Leonard Pope, DE Wallace Gilberry, NT Kelly Gregg, S Jon McGraw, RB Jackie Battle.

Old Wallpaper: players who are definitely better stripped from the roster
OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson, OT Barry Richardson…………………

Paper Cuts: losing these players is really gonna hurt
CB Brandon Carr, C Casey Wiegmann

The Chiefs have all the elements to become a championship team. Some will say they need a championship caliber QB. However, how many people would say Trent Dilfer was a better QB than Matt Cassel? The Ravens beat the Giants 34-7 in the 2001 Super Bowl and that team didn’t even need a QB. All signs point to Cassel having an excellent year. If he made the Pro Bowl two years ago during the Todd Haley/Charlie Weis feuding,  he shouldn’t have any problems producing better results under the harmonious trio of HC Romeo Crennel, OC Brian Daboll and QBC Jim Zorn.

Offense
Assuming Dwayne Bowe returns to the field this season, the Chiefs will have one of the most balanced attacks in the NFL. Add Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston, and Dexter McCluster to the mix and you have playmakers at every receiving position. Consider Peyton (the Peyton who will do incredibly well this year) Hillis and Jamaal Charles will be occupying the same backfield and the Chiefs should be scoring at a pace not seen since Trent Green and Priest Holmes shared this stage. The difference between those teams and this one is: these Chiefs have a defense.

Defense
With Glenn Dorsey in the last year of his contract and Tyson Jackson nearing his last year you can expect the best ball they’ve ever played. Which translates to even better run stopping defense and better pressure on the QB. The reality is, neither  of those two may even be in the game when the Chiefs decide to put pressure on the QB. Either way, expect them to take their games to another level. If that happens, you can hope coach Crennel has his rookie first round NT all coached up and ready to go and if the Chiefs can shut down other team’s running games at will then controlling their passing game should become easier. With Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry playing top flight football the defense should be able to take over games or parts of games, like they did against the Green Bay Packers last December. Throw rising star Justin Houston in the mix and you have a top tier defense.

The Chiefs have consistency in — the front office — the head coaching position — the starting roster — the back-up players, and so the Chiefs are as good as any team in the league.

A big plus for the Chiefs going into (and out of) camp is the extra 16 million plus that they have in salary cap room. Keep in mind the way Scott Pioli likes to do business — picking players up cheaply — and I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see him pluck a waived player up at the end of camp. Not just any player, an excellent one. Stay tuned.

Paper Champions: The Kansas City Chiefs get my Paper Champions designation for a 1,000 different reasons. Right now, that’s what’s differentiating the Chiefs from so many other teams in the league. They’ve been doing things the right way for enough years in a row now that it really is making a huge difference. On paper they look to finish 10-6 or 11-5.

There is something I’d like to see the Chiefs improve on though — someone needs to tell that them we’re living in the digital age — so they can go paperless if they want.

It’s up to them. No pressure. Go green!… I mean Chiefs!

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