K.C. Chiefs: Changing The Game

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!

Go Chiefs!


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  • berttheclock

    Somewhere in all of this, I hope Dorsey will be able to land Stedman Bailey, the WR from both West Virginia and the same high school teammate of Geno Smith. Smooth running routes and has great hands. He has declared to come out early and might be behind the hype of the other wide outs coming out.
    My problem with Smith is, although, he had impressive numbers in college, he became a non-factor in the Pin Stripe, his last college game. Syracuse shut down the running attack and begged Smith to throw. He did have 2 TDs, one of which was to Bailey, but, he did not rally his team. If you check out the last college games, all bowl games of Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Russell Wilson and Kaepernick, you will find all won with the exception of Wilson, however, Wilson had his team in the mix until the end. Brady threw 4 TDs against Alabama, Montana rallied ND to a last second victory in the Cotton Bowl and Kaepernick led the winning drive in his. Smith disappeared.

    • ladner morse

      You think you should compare Brady and Montana’s bowl game success… to their success in the league? Don’t forget… newly crowned Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco led his Delaware to a championship game loss (49-21) and so did last year’s #1 pick Andrew Luck suffering defeat in the Fiesta Bowl.

      I’m not sure your going to find any research that equates college bowl game victories… and NFL success for QBs.

      • berttheclock

        Flacco led Deleware to two playoff wins to even be able to play Appalachian State in the championship. There, AS, simply, ran over Deleware. As for Luck, he completed 27 out of 31 passes for 347 yards and 2 TDs against OSU. I, also, included Wilson, who kept Wisconsin in the game against Nike to the end. Something, he did against Michigan State, as well. So, they lost, but, he gave the Badgers a chance. My point really goes with quality QBs being able to lead from behind in big games. Not just their pretty boy stats days against some team in the early going ofhe year. One of the main reasons Bill Belichick drafted Tom Brady was because a friend of his had sent him Michigan tapes which showed how Brady had led from behind. Many of those picked by pundits failed that “Heart” test of being able to lead from behind. Sort of akin to a Lt Winter leading E Company into battle and not just some 2nd Looie who had scored highly in Combat Infantry Officers School.

        • ladner morse

          I’m sure the Colts were glad they didn’t put too much weight into Peyton Manning’s last college game… a 42-17 shellacking of Nebraska over Tennessee in the Orange Bowl.

          I’m sure the Chargers could have cared less that Drew Brees lost in his last college game… a 34-24 loss to the Washington Huskies.

          I’ll bet John Dorsey didn’t think twice about Aaron Rodgers last game loss in the Holiday Bowl to Texas Tech, 45-31.

          I can understand on one hand what you’re saying about a QB performing in big games… but i in the end… it’s only one game and many successful NFL QBs did not win — nor perform in an outstanding way — in their last college game.

          Beyond QBing… I’ll bet Adrian Peterson, the 2012 NFL MVP, wishes he’s done better in his last college game too (82 yards rushing)… in a 55-19 loss to the USC Trojans.

          Do last college game performances… equal NFL success? I’m pretty sure there’s not a major correlation.

          That’s why you have to look at a prospects whole body of work.

          • KCMikeG

            Nice work on the post Ladner. Couldn’t agree more that we need QB #1 – Geno and CB #2 – Trufant or Poyer. Geno’s favorite WR Stedman Bailey at #3 and we are better than 8-8 in 2013. Thanks for keeping it real.

          • ladner morse

            Thanks Michael. Looks like you already have half a mock draft there and I like it… soooo, you might as well finish it. Who would you take or focus on in the later rounds?

          • KCMikeG

            Here is my master plan for 2013:

            Start with signing Bowe and if I’m allowed to dream Mike Wallace too! If not see my draft options below. Can you even imagine any QB not slobbering over Bowe, Wallace, Breaston (back at #3 where he belongs & has been most productive) plus Wylie, Baldwin (don’t give up on this guy yet) and lots of options to develop like Hemingway, Bellamy, Newsome with Copper going bye-bye because as good as he has been on ST he has never contributed at WR.

            Franchise tag Albert to give us another year to determine if his back problems will improve or persist before we pay him big $$ on a long term deal. This also allows us to watch Stephenson’s development.

            Trade or let Dorsey go and restructure Jackson’s contact. With a DE rotation of Jackson, Bailey, Pitoitua and a FA like Avril or Starks or an UDRFA we would be in good shape. Resign Colquitt and Hillis keeping the best four out of Hillis, Draughn, Gray, Eachus and DiMarco. I like Gray and DiMarco the best. Our RB/FB position would be deep and strong with Charles and McCluster as the starters.

            #1 – Geno Smith – BPA, most important position on the team and the biggest need on our team. I fear Cassel with be retained unless Alex Smith is picked up and I hope Stanzi and Tanney actually get a serious look as Haley and RAC ignored them. If for some ridiculous, off the wall reason we don’t pick Geno then CB’s Dee Milliner or Xavier Rhodes would be my #1 pick. This would be somewhat bearable if we could trade back to get them and pick up an additional #2.

            #2 – TE Zach Ertz – the importance of the TE in the passing game continues to grow (see the NE pair) and is critical in Reid’s system but I would ONLY take a TE this high if we know Moeaki AND Boss won’t be healthy. Otherwise I would go CB Desmond Trufant or Poyer. Other options if these are gone – OC Barret Jones or OLB/DE Ezekiel Ansah.

            #3 -WR Stedman Bailey (Geno’s favorite WR since high school) or CB David Amenson if we don’t take Trufant/Poyer. Amenson is taller and bigger a round later. If we have already taken a CB then SS Johnathan Cyprien. Other options if we want to wait a round for a safety or if we end up with a compensatory pick #3 for Carr would be WR Dobson/Patton unless we got Wallace in FA. QB EJ Manuel would be an option like the Skins did last year if we don’t get A. Smith (please NO) or have ruled out Stanzi or Tanney as options (I still want to see them get a shot).

            #4 – SS Bacarri Rambo unless we get Cyprien. If we have safety covered then I would really like Senior Bowl stand outs at OL depth/development like OT Quessenberry/ OC Schwenke. WR’s Wheaton/Stills would add value if we haven’t gotten a WR yet and RB Lattimore would be a huge upside risk reward at this spot.

            #5 – DE/OLB Lavar Edwards, David Bass or Stansly Maponga. There are SILB’s like Kiko Alonso and Michael Mauti still around at this pick but I would take my favorite thumper Andrew Jackson who is listed as an UDRFA on Draftec. So getting a talented vocal leader w/o using a pick is my preference. Still available if we haven’t land one already are TE Dion Sims (Huge and hands), CB B.W. Webb

            #6 – CB Depth – Johnny Adams or Micah Hyde. RB Stefphon Jefferson, FS Josh Evans or OLB Zavier Gooden would be good depth picks.

            #7 – OT Xavier Nixon or TE Zach Sudfeld or SS/OLB DeVonte Holliman.

            UDRFA – These are some really strong, underrated players who could easily become 6th or 7th round picks – OT Garret Gilkey, OC Graham Pocic, SILB A.J. Klein, OLB/WILB Sio Moore, CB Tyrann Mathieu, TE/FB Kyle Juszczyk.

            Are you sorry you asked? Let me know what your thoughts are.

  • john

    Hey Bert….I can’t post on the Star anymore and don’t know why.
    I agree with everything said about the Chiefs defensive line for the most part. I think they are much better than they appear and you laid out a very good case. I also think Poe, as the season progressed, proved he may very well have been an excellent pick despite all the heat Pioli took, because he was, well, Pioli.
    I also tend to agree with Bert about Geno Smith. I think it would be a mistake to take him with the top pick in the draft, largely because I don’t think the drop off is that big from him to about the next four available picks…Glennon, Wilson, a couple that I’m not remembering the names of now. I’d also like to see the Chiefs draft TWO QB’s, one maybe with their last pick, like Chase Retig out of BC.
    I have no problem with them picking up Alex Smith, depending on the price. Maybe the third pick, which is actually the first pick in that round so it’s a pretty good pick.
    Lastly, for all those who say Matt Flynn is another Matt Cassel, based on Bert’s logic, check out his college career and more specifically, his Bowl Games. He won the National Championship and was the MVP of the game.
    That’s a tad better than disappearing the in “Pinstripe Bowl”.

    • berttheclock

      John, one of the reasons I decided to come to this site is I really respect the various writers and their knowledge. Even if I may disagree with something they write, they will step up and discuss the issue. I have read comments from some fans at the Star who have knocked on-bloggers. In many instances, I have found many of those bloggers have far better insight into the game than some of those accredited to write for newsprint. Plus, it was as though Teicher was afraid to print anything without prior approval from Pioli. Look at the supplemental draft, last year. The Cleveland Plain Dealer staff did cover it, but, nothing from the Star and the Chiefs had a chance to bid for Gordon. Arrowhead Addict’s crew have done exceptional work on free agency, training camp, that draft and the regular draft. Remember, newsprint is beginning to fade. Look at what Hearst has done with the Seattle P/I and what they may do with the SF Chronicle. That is why we, as sports fans, really do need the erudite bloggers who work for such as this site.

      • TAZMOSIS

        Hey, Bert.
        I won’t even comment on Smith’s last game in 20 degree temps, because I think it is not relevant. But what I will say about Teicher is that he has no business bring a sports writer for any major newspaper. He is, for the most part, clueless. Go back and archive this guy and you will see exactly just how bad he really is.

        • ladner morse

          I wouldn’t classify Teicher as clueless. What happens for a lot of beat writers who are employed by a specific newspaper or magazine enterprise is… they are confined as to what the can and can not say. So, his hands are tied many times to say how he really feels. Whereas here at AA… we are bound by no such limitations.

          Of course… I’m not that familiar with Teicher so I don’t really have an opinion about his actual writing portfolio but, I can recall times when I came away asking myself… “did he really say anything?”

  • Spencer

    just saw a minor issue (havent finished or even really started reading) you posted if the chiefs finish “9 and 9″, i assume u either mean 9 and 7 or 8 and 8…there arn’t 18 games in a season silly^^

    • john

      No, I think he meant 8-8 in the regular season, that’s 16, then win their first wild card playoff game, that’s 9-8, then lose in the next round, 9-9.
      OK, I’m sure he didn’t really mean that, but I can dream, can’t I???

    • ladner morse

      Good catch. I appreciate it.

  • ArrowFan

    This is a very good argument for why the QB is so important. However this argument is not needed to convince me that Geno should be the #1 pick in the draft. Fact is Geno doesn’t need an argument because he is simply the BPA.

  • chiefridgy

    QB is definitely most important position and you just proved why. Chiefs are playoff bound last year with a good QB.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647645645 Jordan Clark

    No more Geno talk! Let someone else waste a high pick on him. Either take TW and the best CB available in the 2nd round or trade down to maximize the number of picks this year and try to snag Dee Miliner from Alabama.