It looks like the Kansas City Chiefs have put themselves right back in the middle of a preseason fueled, nonsense driven, quarterback controversy. No, I’m not talking about Alex Smith. For now, he’s the undisputed starter and I really don’t see that changing anytime soon. In Kansas City, we tend to do things a bit differently. In Chiefs’ Kingdom, we like to argue more over who the backup quarterback should be.
It’s been going on with this team for a long time. However, the most recent and notable were the “Stanzi Lovers” who couldn’t understand why the recently departed “Real American” couldn’t get any time in a real live game. Now, without really trying, head coach Andy Reid and company have created another urban legend in Kansas City that I think will rival the Stanzi problem, mainly because unlike Stanzi, undrafted rookie free agent QB Tyler Bray has some skills to go along with his position on the Chiefs.
Those skills were quite evident during the Chiefs’ final preseason game of the season on Thursday night. If you haven’t seen it yet, let me just say that I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed watching the Kansas City Chiefs as much as I did when they stuck it to the Green Bay Packers.
Predictably (and smartly, if you ask me) Reid sat all of his starters for the fourth and final preseason game. That left 60 minutes of football for the players sitting on the “bubble” to prove their worth and play their way onto the team. The game started with apparent Chiefs’ backup quarterback Chase Daniel throwing an interception. The first play from scrimmage. It wasn’t even close. It went right to the defender. Even with my 70 inches of viewing pleasure muted (that’s what I call my television) I could hear the collective groan from Arrowhead all the way down here, 11 and a half hours away in San Antonio, TX.
Reid let Daniel have the rest of the first quarter and the first offensive series of the second to display more of his ineffectiveness before allowing the Chiefs’ third string QB to take the reins. Again, in case you missed it, Daniel’s stat line went like this: four completions on eight attempts for 27 yards through the air. He didn’t throw a touchdown, was picked off once and sacked twice…on consecutive plays.
Now, Daniel is the guy who backed up Drew Brees last season. And, of all the offseason acquisitions that Reid and general manager John Dorsey made this year, he was the only one that made me go: “wait…what?” The Chiefs brought him in, not to compete with Alex Smith – his position as the starter was cemented even before the trade could legally be finalized – but to be the #2 QB on the depth chart. And for that honor, Mr. Daniel received a ten million dollar, three year contract.
Now that kind of contract is not unheard of a good back up QB. In fact, I’m sure it’s similar to what some other notable backups in the league receive. However, and here’s the problem, should Chase ever have to earn that money, there’s a lot of confidence issues in his ability to do so. That stat line from Thursday night is just the tip of the iceberg.
But, every good backup needs a guy to hold their clipboard, right? Enter rookie undrafted free agent, Tyler Bray, formerly of the Tennessee Volunteers. One of the bigger draft stories of the offseason was the fact that Bray declared himself eligible for the draft after his junior season, was a source for many sports writers debate. Originally thought to go in the first round, it was quickly obvious the 2013 NFL Draft was not a “QB Friendly Event” and Bray’s stock continued to fall. In what Bray’s father described as “brutal” Tyler Bray, once thought to potentially be the future of some franchise, fell completely off the draft board and into the wasteland of rookie free agency.
Why did this happen? I have two words for you: Ryan Leaf. Although it wasn’t ever said, I think many scouts, coaches and general managers saw the same immaturity issues and personality defects in Bray that they mistakenly missed in the biggest draft bust of all time, Leaf. I have a bit of a personal connection to the former starting quarterback of the San Diego Charges, as we share the same hometown and went to rival high schools. Although he was a year ahead of me, and I didn’t know him personally, his reputation definitely preceded and to those that had a half a clue, his spiral that began in San Diego and ended in a prison a few months ago in Dillon, MT wasn’t that big of a surprise.
But, I digress. The point here is that Bray showed some of those same indicators. He was immature. He was hot headed. He was quick lipped and when he actually showed up for post game interviews, was quick to criticize everyone and everything, except himself.
And for this reason, I think this QB controversy should be dead before it even rears its ugly head. Yes, it’s true that the $10 million dollar backup QB only produced enough offense to move his team a quarter of the way down the field in over 15 minutes of football. Yes, it’s also true that the guy making just a hair north of the league minimum, rookie undrafted free agent threw for almost 200 yards and three exciting touchdowns. However, there’s more to football than just football.
I know that concept sounds ridiculous and may hit the ears of Chiefs’ fans sounding like nails on a chalkboard, but it’s true. While Chase Daniel may not be earning all $10 million of that contract, he’s a guy who has proven himself in this league to have a level head. He’s a guy that Reid and company can trust to hand off the ball to Jamaal Charles and not mess up the exchange 99 times out of 100. He can throw the short, accurate, high percentage passes that are the staple of Reid’s offense and manage the game well.
The bottom line is (and the superstitious part of me almost doesn’t want to type this) if there’s an injury to Alex Smith, Daniel needs to be the guy to step in and replace him.
As Chiefs’ fans, we’ve seen this all before. The recently departed (and no offense, Ricky, but good riddance) Stanzi is a perfect example. When the Chiefs’ quarterback play turned from bad to “what the hell is going on?” over the last two seasons, many fans screamed for Stanzi to get a chance. Say what you want, but there’s a reason he was never allowed to step onto the field. And he never had a preseason performance like Bray did on Thursday night.
Bray was fun to watch, but if you thrust someone like him who has had the personality issues already rise to the surface, the impending implosion of the team will make the San Diego Chargers’ 1998 season look like a day at Disneyworld.
I like Bray, and I want the kid to be the Chiefs’ quarterback of the future more than anything. Not to blow my own whistle or claim to be an expert evaluator of talent, but I was calling for the Chiefs to draft him well before it actually became a reality.
But I want him to become the starter similar to how it happened with Aaron Rodgers, sitting behind a known and trusted starter and mentor, for a few years before he’s handed the keys to the franchise.
I think Smith is the guy to not only lead this team, but mentor that young man. But, should anything happen to Smith, Daniel has to be the guy.
Am I wrong? Am I off base? I’d like to hear your thoughts, Addicts.
Either way, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!