Window Watching The K.C. Chiefs

1 Feature From The Bleachers

“Window, window on the wall, who’ll go farthest of them all?”

The classic “Mirror, Mirror” poem is an apt simile for the very real longevity issues facing certain Chiefs. Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali are the first who come to mind. Let it be known, there are at least a couple of dozen wizardly GMs in the land who would love to trade places with John Dorsey when considering his combination of two Pro Bowl edge rushers and a Pro Bowl QB. Each of them has a window to watch, but how many other teams in the league have a trio stronger than the Chiefs triad of Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Alex Smith?

So, why is that so important? Well, you may have heard this before but, it’s a quarterback’s league. You either have a good QB or you don’t and the same is true for edge rushers who spend all their waking hours designing ways to get to the QB and all their non-waking hours dreaming the same. While most teams are fortunate to have one sack master, the Chiefs have two of the best edge rushers in the circuit. The big question is, what’s the window for each of them… and what’s the window for all of them, together?

First, let’s look at some terms that may be helpful along the way:

Window Watching- when we’re keeping an eye on a player’s window of opportunity to win a championship. That’s what we’re doing here today.

Replacement Windows- bringing in a substitute player at that position. A temporary fix.

Closed Windows- when a player is beyond their prime and that window to a possible championship is closed or locked.

Windows Upgrade- getting a new player who has more upside and a longer window life at a specific position.

Taping an “X” on the Window- whenever Mulder needed to meet with the “Smoking Man” he taped an X on his window.

~ ~ ~

All right, let’s get down to Window Watching business. While we talk about the Chiefs having one of the youngest teams in the NFL, you may be surprised that many players who contribute heavily to the team’s success are 28 years old or older this year.

Here’s a list of player who’s windows of opportunity may be coming to a close in the next few seasons.

Players name / Their age this year / Players birth-date

Derrick Johnson, 32 (November 22, 1982)

Dustin Colquitt, 32 (May 6, 1982)

Tamba Hali, 31 (November 3, 1983)

Dwayne Bowe, 30 (September 21, 1984)

Alex Smith, 30 (May 7, 1984)

Mike DeVito, 30 (June 10, 1984)

Anthony Fasano, 30 (April 20, 1984)

Husain Abdullah, 29 (July 27, 1985)

Joe Mays, 29, (July 6, 1985)

Weston Dressler, 29, (June 14, 1985)

Brandon Flowers, 28 (February 18, 1986)

Jamaal Charles, 28 (December 27, 1986)

Chase Daniel, 28, (October 7, 1986)

Chris Owens, 28 (December 1, 1986)

Ryan Suppop, 29 (September 19, 1986)

I can very easily see the Chiefs Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt sticking around for 6 or 7 more seasons without much of a decline in his performance. Colquitt has become a critical part of the Chiefs formula for success. He helps pin the opposition back and hopefully the defense can do the rest. At this point, I don’t believe it’s at all an imperative to talk about Dustin Colquitt’s “window” because it should be years and years before the Chiefs even think of making a move for another punter.

ILB Derrick Johnson will be 32 this year, by the end of the season. To figure out how many years he has left perhaps we can look to Ray Lewis. Lewis was 37 years old when he won his second Super Bowl but his health was not good during his last season and regardless of whether or not his team had won the big one, Ray was done. I wouldn’t guess DJ will play beyond the age of 35 unless it looks like the Chiefs are on the verge of taking it all. DJ appears to be at the top of his game having made the Pro Bowl the past three years. As long as DJ remains healthy, he should be able to continue to play at a high level at the ages of 32 and 33 and then tails off a bit at 34 and 35. So, that gives the Chiefs a 3-4 year window with Derrick Johnson in the saddle, to rope a championship.

Four years. Does that sound doable under HC Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey? Based on the progress of the team in 2013, I can’t see any reason why not.

For Tamba Hali, it may be a less time. For an edge rusher, how many NFL sack men do you know who continue to perform at a max level past the age of 33? However, if any one can make it happen it may be Hali. Hali’s sack totals for the past four years have been:

2010- 14.5

2011- 12

2012- 9

2013- 11  

The emergence of sack mate Justin Houston should help to revive Hali’s career and give him a longer league life. The uptick in Hali’s sack totals last season may be an indication of that. However, some have begun to observe Hali’s abilities falling off a bit. Hali prides in keeping himself fit throughout the offseason and will try new protocols, anything to become better. So, Hali likely has two more seasons playing at or near the level he’s playing at now but, it’s hard to imagine his window extending much, if any, beyond that.

The Chiefs need more of a pass rush… this season. Even with Hali and Houston coming off the edge, opposing QBs must feel more pressure for the Chiefs defense to return to the top notch level they were playing at in the first half of last season… no matter who’s playing QB for the opposition.

So, the Chiefs should be looking for anyone who can pressure the QB in this draft. The Chiefs should be looking for edge rushers in every draft… and players who can help create instant pressure.

If the Chiefs spend any time at all thinking about “windows” of opportunity, they should probably be most concerned about Tamba Hali’s window, than anyone else on the roster.

QB Alex Smith will be 30 years old in 6 weeks. Smith is just now coming into his prime and if it were to be anything that ended his career it would be a concussion. Continued concussions ended Trent Green’s career and for a mobile QB like Smith, you have to consider him a higher risk in that department, especially after his November, 2012 concussion that changed the tide in San Fran and was essentially the reason he lost the QB job there. Although, Colin Kaepernick was an ascending player on their roster, I still believe Alex Smith is the better QB of the two. If the Chiefs can keep a solid set of O-linemen lined up in front of him, Smith should play past the age of 35. So, I’d say his window is five more seasons. In fact, I will predict it will be his five best seasons.

Now that Dwayne Bowe is turning 30 this September, the Chiefs better be thinking about his heir apparent sooner than later. A down year for Bowe in 2013 (57 receptions for 673 yards) was not a positive sign that he’s still an ascending player. Quite to the contrary. However, like many, we’re holding out hope that his postseason production (8 receptions for 150 yards) was a sign that the rumor of his passing was a gross over-exaggeration. However, Bowe was targeted 13 times in that game. 6 misses, whether or not you can hang those on him or not the misses have been all too much a part of his legacy. I still say Bowe will end up the K.C. Chiefs all time leading wide receiver. Currently, Bowe has 6,401 yard receiving. Henry Marshall is 144 yards ahead of Bowe and Bowe should surpass him in a game or two. Otis Taylor has 7,306 yards receiving, which puts him 905 yards ahead of Bowe but, if Bowe returns to form and has a good year, he should surpass Taylor later this coming season. Not many receivers perform at a high level past the age of 32 and with Bowes downturn in production last year, it looks like his window of opportunity is three years: ages 30, 31 and 32. Yes, Bowe could be productive beyond the age of 32, but his contributions will likely be diminished by then too much to save a roster spot for him.

Now, the point here is not to be a broadcaster of doom and gloom, but simply what the likely scenarios are for our currently beloved roster favorites.

Since we’re talking about the OLBs AND QBs here, I thought I might condense what many spend great hours calculating as the: formula for Offensive Success (OS).

First of all, there’s “O P S,” the formula for “Offensive Passing Success” and “O R S,” the formula for “Offensive Rushing Success.”

However, OPS + ORS  ≠  winning.

To calculate the formula for winning, it must include a defensive component.

To calculate the formula for “Defensive Success”… “DS”:

PDS – the formula for “Passing Defense Success” = P Q B “Pressure on the QB” + “DC” “Dominating Coverage).

So, wins = OPS + ORS + PQB + DC.

Why the funny formulas? It may be easier to talk about what happened with the Chiefs last year using this form of evaluation and easier to decide what to do next.

For instance, at the beginning of last season, the Chiefs were having a lot of defensive success because their PQB was tremendous and possibly made up for some early season lapses in the DC. When Justin Huston went down, the hole in the DC became apparent and the defensive results were never again the same.

For the Chiefs to return to the dominance they were enjoying early last season, they will have to,

a) insure a high level of PQB and,

b) increase the DC above and beyond the capabilities of last season’s roster.

Meaning, one of the Chiefs greatest needs, based upon last year’s performances, is clearly in the defensive backfield. The offseason addition of new, and huggable, DE Vance Walker (#SwaggerVance99) may help in the pressure the Chiefs can place on opposing QBs but, that move alone will clearly not be enough, especially with Bob Sutton scheming the same blitzes he used last year.

I haven’t touched on the “window of opportunity” for Jamaal Charles but, suffice it to say, he is only one misstep away from this becoming Knile Davis’ team. That’s always been the way with running backs. I don’t make the rules so don’t get mad at me, just look back two years ago. Think of the amount of time Trent Green and Priest Holmes had together. A few years and that was it.

So, the time is now.

It always is.

It always should be.

Yes, the Chiefs are trying to build for the future. I’m not suggesting they do otherwise.

However, I’d love to see the Chiefs sign WR DeSean Jackson. Andy Reid gave him a vote  of confidence earlier in the week. Reid’s word is good enough for me. Plus, Big Red is on the hunt.

So… we head into May’s draft weekend needing only some defensive thumpers and an offensive lineman. Sure I’d still like to pick up a WR but the Chiefs wouldn’t be so desperate to do it then.

Then… the window of opportunity for every Chief on the roster is thrown wide open for several years to come

How’s that sound to you? Sounds doable, and good, to me.

~ ~ ~

Patrick Allen shared this video with the AA writers yesterday. Please don’t judge DeSean Jackson before you see this:

Next Chiefs Game View full schedule »
Saturday, Aug 2323 Aug7:00Minnesota VikingsBuy Tickets

Tags: KC Chiefs

  • berttheclock

    Quick take on this thread.

    The Chiefs need to get younger. Funny thing about that is when you have excellent drafts including finding jewels in undrafted free agents, you not only get younger, you help your cap space enormously.

    Yes, Andy Reid knows Jackson. Jackson knows Reid. So, looks as though this could really work, eh? I suggest everyone review the year 2011, when, Andy Reid and his buddy Jackson had some problems. First, Jackson held out in training camp to just showing up the day before he would have lost a year of free agency qualification. Then, for whatever reason he missed a Special Teams meeting and Reid had to deactivate him for a game. Reid, also, had to bench him for a 4 quarter of play because Jackson had dropped two gimmes for TDs. In addition, his punt returns were the worst of any time he spent in Philly and he had zero TDs on returns. Please, look past his better than any Chiefs stats and review what his ridiculous salary would do to the cap problems for, not only 2014, but, 2015 as well. plus, his constant whining about needing more money. Jackson has become an NFL model of the college “One and Done” rule which is exactly what one has with Revis. KC does NOT need any more Meism, either on their team and/or locker room. Philly has excised a cancer cell of major proportions and KC does not need to bring it to town. Now, let me return to yet another re-run of “Grumpy Old Men”.

    • Calchiefsfan

      I like Cooks but if Philly takes him that would still leave the Chiefs with one of the following still available, Beckham, Lee or Benjamin. Or we could go to the third round and get someone like Moncreif or Abbrederis. Better long term solution and they would save a ton of dough.

  • berttheclock

    As proven by Belichick, it is often better to release one year early than one year too late. In some ways, the military version of having to blow up a city or town in order to save it. Many excellent cities in France and Germany came from rubble. In the NFL, it is foolish to become long in the tooth. Atlanta tried it to their peril. Seattle cut vet after vet to get younger. It is time KC should begin to get rid of some of the names and start anew.

    • Josh Landers

      You’re right. I think in a perfect world scenario, though, we would draft their replacements and let them learn for a season first. For example, if we grabbed Michael Sam in the later rounds, he could learn behind Houston and Hali next season (or 2) and become our starting rolb. I think that r and d are already putting this plan into motion with a few position groups. We’ll get there.

      • Calchiefsfan

        The only problem is the odds of Sam being even half as good as Hali or Houston are slim. He’s projected to go somewhere around the 5th round. There are better prospects.

    • Tony Parker

      I agree Bert, 100%. I would say the Hali has already started his decline. trading him now for draft picks, if possible, would be a wise move.

  • Daniel Mayfield

    I guess what you’re saying is…it’s time to go window shopping.
    I think Bowe still has quite a few yrs left in him. If they can just get plays working that go for him. It would work better with another WR on the other side, like Jackson.
    Hali might have 2 or 3 yrs left in him, just like DJ. But at their age, they might go out with weaker bones. I’d do some window shopping. Maybe get a young player and let Hali or DJ take him “under his wing” or let the player shadow and learn more. The trainers are good but the older/better players are someone to learn from too. Use them as a mirror.

  • micah stephenson

    Alex the pro bowl QB? Lol. He made it as the 10th guy down the list. Lol. Would you b ok if the Chiefs drafted a QB in the 1st rd?

    • berttheclock

      My response would be two words and the second one is NO.

      • micah stephenson

        I know its no. Its always no all the time every yr.

    • freshmeat62

      I don’t know who you were watching, but Smith each week became a better QB as Reid became more comfortable w/ him and opened his offense up more each week. By the end of the season Smith was probably one of the top 5 QB’s in the league.

      • Troy Utt

        One would be hard pressed to find a QB on the field playing better than what Alex Smith was down the stretch the second half of the season & into the WC game. Regardless what we all know to be fact, Micah is not going to admit it…so it really makes no difference!
        Smith put up a perfect passer rating, and according to Micah the D won the game. There is always an excuse & never a concession…

        • micah stephenson

          Only kc fans would have the odasity to say Smith is a top ten QB. Kc standards for a QB are extremely low. Outside of kc Smith is a bum!

          • Troy Utt

            What I said was you would be hard pressed to find a QB on the playing field better than Alex Smith down the stretch during the second half of the season. THAT IS FACT!!!
            Manning & the Bronco’s may have had the most prolific scoring offense in the NFL, but Alex Smith & the Chiefs put up more points down the stretch! You are always quick to judge & absent with the praise even in the presence of black & white facts!
            (above noted per rotoworld & cbs sports)
            Smith finished the season (2013) ranked in the top half of the starting QB’s, & with the draft & shuffling will start 2014 even higher! The only thing holding him back is the lack of offensive play-makers, drops by WR’s, TE’s on the IR, & the amount of time it took for the offense to catch on to a new system!
            Look at what Gannon did after leaving KC. It’s no different for Smith… I don’t care what transpired prior, I’m only interested in what Smith can do going forward…And based on the last 2 1/2 yr’s I like KC’s chance’s!!!

  • freshmeat62

    One of the problems I remember Stram had, was that he hung on to his star players too long. As much as I love Hali and his attitude, if I could get a high draft pick for him, I’d do it. Maybe w/ that high pick and something else they could get a higher 1sr rd pick and take Kony Ealy, for a much younger replacement, and be set w/ him and Houston for the next 7-8 years.

  • freshmeat62

    I’d like to see the Chiefs draft Ealy, and then come up with some hybrid defense where DJ and Mays are the ILB’s, Houston and Ealy the outside rush guys, and Hali a roving LB/D-lineman. Gives me goosebumps.

  • berttheclock

    I have written on more than one occasion I believe the Niners may try to move up from 30 to 23 because they really need a young and fast wide out. However, they have another immediate problem to fill. Culliver, their 3rd round draft pick at CB, has created a major problem for them. Hit and run on a suspended license, then, when a witness stopped him, he got out of the car wearing brass knuckles to try to take him out. So, it looks as though corner back just rose in their needs list.

    • ladner morse

      Let’s hope the situation they are in with Culliver… becomes a motivation to move up and the nthe Chiefs can gain more picks. The Chiefs desperately need more picks in THIS draft.

      • Tony Parker

        This is true but I would hate see them lose out on an impact player at 23, then watch that player be a star for another team. part of me wants to trade back and the other part says stick with the 23rd pick and grab a difference maker.

  • tm1946

    Windows – isn’t that what Denver is trying to do, win a Super Bowl in the next two years. Manning will retire and they will try to reload. Now our Chiefs, if they cannot make a move to the superior level of the NFL, they will have to start a new rebuild because of age and injury. This conflicts with Denver, doesn’t it?

    To me that is why this cap issue is such a problem. Denver can make a push, not saying they will succeed, but they have the money to try. We do not, period. If Super Bowls are to point of the exercise, we have problems that cannot be answered very easily. Just look at the ages of our better players.

    • ladner morse

      I think the Chiefs have the better group of players across the board than the Broncos… expect for QB and WR…… and if you’re in a QB centric league then having the best players there is going to help you win… most times, except maybe the Super Bowl. The new regime started out last year eating up cap space by signing players … yes… but much of the cap damage was done before they ever got here and now… it might be a hard pill to swallow but, this regime might have to sign players (like DeSean Jackson) and leverage some of the 2015 cap space to do so. Why… because after 2016… we may not even have DJ and Hali. So much of the vision fans have of this team includes them… and it should… but that only means that the Chiefs must take advantage of their considerable talents …. now.

      • tm1946

        Dead on target. Just do not see how we operate in the “now”. I would suggest the Chiefs are at least one good draft or a couple of good FAs from challenging Denver for the AFC West. But I am with you 100%

  • Lyle Graversen

    Good write up Laddie,

    I think Tamba is the first to go. I don’t see him back in KC in 2015 unless he takes a major pay cut.

  • jimfromkcj

    I still say that Hali and Flowers need to be shopped for picks. We aren’t going to win anything this year anyway so let’s get our cap under control for the future. I still prefer Matthews for pick 23. and if we could get a high 2nd rd pick for hali or Flowers I would pick up the OG from Miss State.He never gave up a sack playing some of the best defences in the country and his team had a tremendous run game. As for the Stanford players, I think for the most part they are soft. I would also get rid of Bowe as soon as is financially feasonable.

  • Stan Colbert

    The draft is always interesting! I think Vance will increase the pass rush & would be shocked if a Safety and WR are not drafted. Andy loves linemen so one of those makes 3 choices. Those other three choices will increase competition, & where might be interesting!

  • Tony Parker

    You just keep rolling out excellent articles, don’t you Laddie. Great job, hits the nail on the head. keep up the great work, I tip my hat.