Well, KC fans, that wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for Saturday night was it?
The Chiefs team, as well as its fans, got knocked off their collective “high horse” by the Rams. The question now becomes “who are the real Chiefs?” Are they the team that looked so good against the Cardinals or the team that got punched in the mouth by Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, and the St. Louis Rams? The truth, of course, probably lies somewhere in the middle.
Being the veteran arm chair quarterback that I am, I think I’ve seen enough to make some assumptions about the Chiefs this season. Earlier this summer we played a little game called “Tell Me I’m Wrong“. Now that the Chiefs have packed up and left St. Joe and headed back to KC, I thought it was time that we play again. So I’m going to lay some of my opinions out there, and you tell me if I’m wrong.
Here we go!
1. Matt Cassel will be a good NFL-caliber QB under offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Cassel has looked really good through two preseason games, going 18-24 (75 percent) for 209 yards (8.7 YPA), 1 TD, 0 INTs, only one sack, and four scoring drives. The best part is that he and Daboll seem to be on the same page. Daboll seems to understand Cassel’s limitations and is playing to his strengths. Daboll is opening up the field with multiple targets, especially on short to intermediate routes. By my count, Cassel has already completed passes to eight different guys (McCluster, Boss, Charles, Draughn, O’Connell, Hillis, Baldwin, and Moeaki) in less than three quarters of play. Cassel will need to complete more passes down the field to his WRs than he has thus far to keep defenses honest, but the return of Dwayne Bowe should help in that department. Finally, Cassel has proven in the past that with a good offensive coordinator and weapons to work with, he can produce.
In 2008 with New England and 2010 in KC, Cassel had good offensive weapons at his disposal and offensive coordinators who played to his strengths. In those seasons he completed 61 percent of his passes for 7.0 YPA with 48 TDs and 18 INTs. In 2009 Todd Haley fired his offensive coordinator right before the season started and called the plays after. In 2011 Haley promoted Bill Muir to what looked to be a “figure head” offensive coordinator while Haley, Muir, and QB coach Jim Zorn appeared to have a “staff meeting” between plays to debate what play should be called. In those seasons Cassel also had less weapons at his disposal thanks to a bad overall roster in 2009 and injuries to Charles and Moeaki in 2011. The result was Cassel completing only 56.6 percent of his passes for 6.1 YPA with 26 TDs and 25 INTs in those two seasons. I have seen enough this preseason that I feel comfortable saying that Cassel is going to produce like the QB from 2008 and 2010 and have another good (not elite, but good) season under Brian Daboll.
Tell me I’m wrong!
2. Ricky Stanzi is a cool guy and a proud American, but not that great of a QB.
KC fans are SO desperate for the Chiefs to draft and develop their own franchise QB that they become instantly obsessed with any guy that shows the slightest glimpse of making that dream come true. I like Ricky Stanzi as much as the next guy, but anyone who has watched him play those first two preseason games has to admit that he’s the third best QB on a team that most don’t think has very good QBs. If you need someone to give you hair care tips or hang out with on the 4th of July, Ricky Stanzi is your guy. However, if you need a QB to take over if Matt Cassel goes down, that guy would be Brady Quinn.
Tell me I’m wrong!
3. The Chiefs can be a top ten defense without Kendrick Lewis, but not without Brandon Flowers.
I was as worried as anyone when I saw Kendrick Lewis on the sideline, visibly upset, and holding his shoulder. Lewis is a good, up-and-coming player that really seemed to improve as last season went along. That having been said, if he does miss significant time (that news may have been released by the time you’re reading this), I don’t think it will be near as big of a blow as losing Berry was last year or if Flowers doesn’t come back in time from his foot injury this season. In a nut shell, Romeo’s secondary consists of the CBs locking up WRs in man coverage on the outside, the SS is the “wild card” that sometimes is up in run support and sometimes drops into coverage, and the FS often plays “center field,” looking for the players that have gotten past their defenders.
Good man-to-man corners are hard to find, and shut down ones like Flowers are incredibly valuable. Likewise, a player like Berry that can be so good in run support and has CB like coverage skills are impossible to replace. Although the Chiefs may not have a single player that can produce at Lewis’s all around level at FS, I think a combination of Abram Elam (run support) and Travis Daniels (playing “center field”) can fill his void without a major drop off in production (as long as Berry stays healthy). On the other hand, if Flowers is out or hampered with his foot injury for any amount of time, it will really hurt the Chiefs defense. Jalil Brown and Javier Arenas may be solid as a 3rd or 4th CB, but neither can take away a side of the field like Flowers can. Obviously, the worst case scenario would be both Flowers and Lewis missing extended time. In that case, the expectations of the defense would be greatly reduced.
Tell me I’m wrong!
4. Jovan Belcher is the most under-appreciated KC Chief.
As I mentioned above, the mere possibility of the Chiefs developing their own QB has led to a cult like following of young Ricky Stanzi. Stanzi is 24, has never thrown a pass in a regular season game, and hasn’t even looked very good in preseason action. Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Belcher has two years of NFL starting experience and has showed consistent improvement since he joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent out of Maine (yes, Maine). Belcher has been a solid, but not spectacular starter since he earned that spot two years ago. Romeo talks highly of him. Derrick Johnson has said multiple times how vital Belcher is to his success. Yet many KC fans entered 2012 hoping Belcher would get beat out for his starting spot by 26-year-old Brandon Siler. Siler has less starting experience, less proven production on the field, a major injury to over come, is older than Belcher, and wasn’t developed by KC. I don’t get it! Belcher is only one year older than Justin Houston and Kendrick Lewis. Why isn’t anybody excited by Belcher as an up-and-coming player? I’ve got news for you. There is no “battle” for the starting ILB spot next to Derrick Johnson. That spot belongs to Jovan Belcher. Brandon Siler needs to worry about Leon Williams who has looked faster and more productive than Siler.
Tell me I’m wrong!
5. The Chiefs need to try Jerrell Powe in the sub package on passing downs.
Okay, here’s the situation as I see it. Jerrell Powe is low on the Chiefs depth chart at NT because he doesn’t play the position the way Romeo wants it played. The KC NT is suppose to “2 gap”. This means he lines up over the center and is responsible to stay put and “plug” both gaps on either side of the center if the play comes his way. Thus far, Powe has stood out at NT because he is penetrating into the backfield on a regular basis. This has led some KC fans to think he deserves more playing time at NT. The problem is that when Powe penetrates through one of the gaps on either side of the center it leaves the other gap open for the running back. It means that for every play Powe stuffs or disrupts there is another that hurts the defense. Romeo is not a fan of this kind of inconsistency. At the rate things are going, I won’t be shocked if Powe were to not make the final 53 man roster. Anthony Toribio is playing the position “how Romeo wants it played” and Dontari Poe was the #11 overall pick. That leaves Powe as the #3 guy at a position where teams don’t usually carry more than two.
So my question is, if Powe is showing the ability to get good penetration into the backfield, why not try him in the sub package on passing downs? Thus far, I’ve seen KC use Bailey, Poe, Jackson, Gordon, Pitoitua, Bair, and Long in the sub package. Surely they could find a couple snaps in the second half to give Powe a shot too. All I know is that I’ll be furious if they cut Powe this year and he goes on to be a disruptive force in the middle for another team. The Chiefs need to give him a shot on passing downs. Besides, being able to have the Po(w)e Boys pushing the pocket on passing downs would be fun to say. You know it’s the kind of thing they would like to say on ESPN.
Tell me I’m wrong!
So there you have it, Addicts. I’ve laid it out there for you. Now I’m daring you to tell me I’m wrong. If you think so I can’t wait to read your arguments in the comments below.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!