The Kansas City Chiefs are changing the game. They’ve hired a new coach and GM and now they’re preparing for an off season of even more change. As the draft rolls closer we’ll hear more and more about what the Chiefs need to do to turn around a 2-14 record.
Some will say it’s all about strengthening the weakest links and others: adding the highest quality players indiscriminate of what positions those players play.
What has been missing from this conversation, and equation, is perhaps a less conventional view that, if, the Chiefs were in any of the games they lost last year… it would have “changed the game” and reshaped the way we are evaluating each player now as well as every position of need.
At first sight, it might sound like an absurd theory masquerading as … if the Chiefs had won more games last year then, their players would have looked better. However, this is not the case.
No, this piece is all about proactive decision making. Making decisions that have the highest percentages of… changing the game… decisions that can positively impact everyone on the team, and organization to the greatest degree.
The obvious primary improvement needing to be addressed this off season is the QB. As an example, if the Chiefs draft Geno Smith, considered by most analysts and outlets as the best QB available (BQBA) in the draft, it’s hard to imagine the Chiefs not being competitive in at least half of their games next season.
While it’s true that being competitive in half the games is not the ultimate goal but, if the Chiefs were to have been competitive in half their games last year… it would have changed a lot about how we evaluate every position on the field, including the QB. Then, we’d be looking at their performances from a much different point of view than we do now, which is to generally regard them as the most miserable 2-14 failure in franchise history. Consequently, going from 2-14 to 8-8 would be considered a major step in the right direction.
When a QB succeeds, thereby forcing the opposition to contend, it affects both the offensive and defensive game plans throughout the game and consequently every other player on the Chiefs squad, producing a more even, effective effort by all team mates.
You could say the Chiefs need to improve their defense against the run because they were ranked 26th in the league last year in rushing defense. However, if the Chiefs are able to improve their QB play next season… it will shift the balance of competition in those games… invariably changing the game, to the degree that the Chiefs defense will be able to compete on even ground.
If, on the other hand, the Chiefs stick to an old way of taking their bite at the apple, they could very well end up with another DL first in this draft (making it their 4th, first round DL selection in the past 6 years), a DL who ultimately won’t be able to substantially alter the result of any of the Chiefs games by themselves (something even Reggie White, the minister of defense, could rarely do)… because the Chiefs will once again be too far behind to stay competitive… as a result of not addressing the QB situation first and foremost.
When you view the Kansas City Chiefs organization as the high tech, highly complex big business that it is, it’s helpful to note that Andy Reid and John Dorsey are essentially managing Clark Hunt’s Chiefs-related multimillion dollar portfolio. The Chiefs are a major financial asset for the Hunt family and they well know that it would be unwise for them to put all their eggs in one basket, within the make-up of each of their affiliates. The Hunts managed the financial success they’ve experienced thus far by knowing how to diversify their investments as well as parlaying the billion dollar oil fortune of Lamar Hunt’s father, H.L. Hunt, into a sports conglomerate success since 1960 (Clark Hunt is the Chairman of the Board for the Hunt Sports Group — he oversees FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew of the MLS — and has served as the Charmian and CEO of the Chiefs since 2005).
The same approach holds true for players on the Chiefs payroll. Player investments are sorted by position and you can believe that Hunt, Reid & Dorsey (HRD) are fully aware of the apportioned allocations they have riding on each position on the field. With 3 of their past 5 first round — big dollar investments — going towards the DL it’s difficult, but not impossible, to believe HRD will go against the sound investing tenets provided by diversification… by then turning around and selecting another DL.
This is another reason why it’s hard to believe it when HRD tout they will select the best player available, that they are seriously referring to anything but a QB. Diversification is another reason why choosing a franchise QB like Geno Smith is the perfect investment. And there is no other investment that has the power to, change the game, as much for the Chiefs.
In game action, a game changer at QB makes all the difference in the world. This also dramatically changes what the Chiefs defense does as well.
When an opposing team gains a double digit advantage before the start of the 4th quarter, it changes the game too. Look at the following stats related to the Chiefs 2012 performances:
- 10 times the Chiefs fell behind by more than 10 points (double-digits), to begin the 4th quarter.
- The Chiefs held the lead going into the fourth quarter one time all season.
- In all of the Chiefs games in 2012, including their two victories, they were behind by a total of 183 points going into the fourth quarter, an average of 11.4 points per game
It’s an understatement to say that the Chiefs defense was playing from behind all season long. There is no more proof of that than to look at what was going on entering the final quarter of every game.
Consequently, in the 4th quarter of games, opposing teams would simply abandon the pass, and grind the clock down by going to their running game effectively ramming it down the throats of the Chiefs defense.
Does this affect the overall NFL stat sheet when it comes to tallying who ends up with the worst run defense and who doesn’t? Absolutely it does. Playing in a huge majority of 4th quarters while being out of striking distance takes its toll on everyone on the defense.
Then, another team’s strategy becomes demoralizing: to keep running the ball even if they don’t get a first down… because they know the Chiefs can’t do anything with the ball in their own hands.
Consequently, it’s hard to believe the Chiefs defensive line is as bad as many are making it out to be. It’s hard to evaluate anyone on a defense that plays from behind as much as the Chiefs defense did in 2012. You could argue that it was the Chiefs defensive line that got the team in a hole to begin with but, stats don’t bear that out as much as it does for the offense. The offense simply could not keep up with opposing offenses and so the Chiefs defense found themselves in a hole time and time again.
If the Chiefs take the best DL in this draft, it would be a mistake. It’s just placing another good player in a hole and expecting him to fix what functionally isn’t theirs to fix. There are no championship defenses, that I know of, in the history of the NFL, who were so good that they could make up for their own offense that couldn’t score.
So, what do the Chiefs need to invest in most and who can change the game the most for them? A franchise quarterback of course.
And beyond that? It has to be a CB.
If the Chiefs can change the game offensively, by staying in games, they’ll face far more situations where opposing teams are forced to stay in their base-offense, which entails more passing from those offenses.
Then, the Chiefs will need a better passing defense. Some will say that the Chiefs need a better push up the middle and I won’t deny that. However, the Chiefs finished 12th in the league in pass defense in 2012. This too, may be traced to the Chiefs not having to defend the pass late in hotly contested games. The Chiefs just didn’t play in hotly contested game.
So, with increased competition in games, comes an increased need for pass defense. There was clearly no replacement for Brandon Carr last year so, CB has to rise to the top of the needs-list right behind QB.
The good news for Chiefs fans is that this draft is rich in solid CBs so they should be able to get a good one in the second or third round but, if they want a really good one I can see them trading back into the first round to get him.
Some are pulling for, and predicting, LT Luke Joeckel will be the Chiefs first pick but, Bill Williamson of ESPN points out the folly of doing that:
…the Chiefs want to re-sign left tackle Branden Albert. I expect them to give Albert an offer early next month. If Albert leaves in free agency, Joeckel then becomes the likely pick. If that is the scenario, the Chiefs better use the money that would have went to Albert on a premium free agent. A simple Albert-Joeckel swap would not be the greatest use of the top choice.
“A simple Albert-Joeckel swap would not be the greatest use of the top choice.” I would concur.
A rush package DT like Star Lotulelei, who might give the Chiefs some push up the middle, is a possibility but, a CB is going to stay on the field for every defensive down. In this rarefied and “air-ified” era of the NFL’s pass-intensive game, the need for two good CBs is a must.
By improving the QB position… the Chiefs may have won the games they lost last season by margins of 7, 6, 3, and 3.
Four more victories could have, changed the game for the whole team and transformed most every way we gauge the Chiefs this off season. No, a 6-10 record is not even a passing grade but, 2-12 is atrocious.
- Improve the QB play… and every offensive receiver on the Chiefs team gets better.
- Improve the QB play… and the already outstanding running game for the Chiefs becomes even more potent and takes some pressure off of Jamaal Charles (who probably feels like he has do it all by himself).
- Improve the QB play… and the Chiefs OL looks a whole lot better too.
And… it would also, change the game, for an unappreciated defense that spent the whole season playing from behind.
Call it the “Changing the Game Factor.” Is there any one position that can change a game more than the QB position? Adrian Peterson may have won the MVP this year but, this only points to how much the league has evolved to a passing first league because he’s only the second non-QB to win it since the year 2000… and it took a herculean performance (2,097 rushing yards for the year) while overcoming major knee surgery last off-season to do it.
If you look at the history of the league and the greatest players to ever play the game… at the top you’ll find it is filled with QBs, receivers and running backs and then a LB like Lawrence Taylor or Derrick Thomas are mentioned.
As this new era of passing takes an increasing hold of the games’ current offenses, you’ll find a decreasing emphasis placed upon the running back but, players like corner-backs and outside linebackers move up in value. Why… because they can change what a QB does. Why is that so important? Because the QB is the one who can change the game more than any other position player on the field now.
For better or worse (see Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn).
So, the QB in this era has a, change the game value (CTGV). In today’s game, the QB’s CTGV can not be equaled by any other position player.
The BPA ≠ the highest CTGV. However, the BQBA frequently does = the highest CTGV. Therefore, the true BPA = the player with the highest CTGV which is most often a QB.
10 of the past 12 NFL drafts have seen a QB go first overall.
The CTGV is the reason that a player like QB Ryan Tannehill can fly up the charts and end up being drafted at #8 overall. If he can go from second round talent… to #8… can Geno Smith go from #10 to #1? The CTGV says yes.
These moments rarely come around and we can only hope that the Chiefs take full advantage of their opportunity to choose the player with the most ability to change the games. I believe that man is Geno Smith. So, I’m pulling for the Chiefs to, hit the G-spot, so they can — change the game — and quickly!