June Seventh: Re-evaluating The Kansas City Chiefs Priorities

1 Feature From The Bleachers

My, how time flies. The NFL draft was a mere four weekends, and a couple of mini-camps, ago. What many perceived as the Chiefs greatest needs then, are now focused elsewhere. Why the change of heart, in such a short period of time?

Approaching the draft, nearly everyone in Chiefs-a-topia was calling for a wideout in the first round. Meaning, we all thought the Chiefs needed more firepower at wide receiver. It was deemed the number one priority by many.

Since the mini-camps have taken place, we’ve heard a number of stories that may have changed that idea.

The Chiefs assistant head coach and wide receivers coach David Culley spoke this week about WR Donnie Avery saying,

“I think the big thing about Donnie is, Donnie played three fourths of last year with, one shoulder. And now he’s completely healthy and… this offseason he’s a different guy, from the standpoint of extra speed and staying healthy and basically if he can maintain his health, I think you’ll see a different Donnie. A more productive Donnie.”

Head Coach Andy Reid has also been impressed with Donnie Avery,

“Donnie looks good, yeah. He’s running fast and I remember this time last year he had the high ankle or there was something there, so he really missed all of the OTAs and then he came back and he had the scapula there that he had hurt. He’s in good shape right now.”

A number of players and coaches have made much of the fact that so many players are in “year two” of this scheme and playbook. And that the players present at the mini-camps are learning a lot and catching on fast.

A good deal is also being made of the fact that Dwayne Bowe has shown up for camp this year… “in-shape.”

That’s good news for everyone who adores red and gold on green. When I visited the Chiefs 2013 training camp last summer our Mr. Bowe spent the whole day either running wind-sprints slowly or stretching in the opposite field’s end zone. Not an awe inspiring sight I must say. Although, it was a great opportunity to get some up close and personal photo ops of the Bowe “Show.”

Chiefs fans should not take that for granted. There’s a post on ProFootballTalk (PFT) stating that DE Da’Quan Bowers, of the Tampa Bay Bucs, needs to do some work to get in shape before the season starts. You’ll find no such story about Chiefs players as they arrive to Chiefs camps.

After drafting RB/WR/KR/VP/VIP/PC/QT/VC/MIA/KP… De’Anthony Thomas out of Oregon I have suggested that the Chiefs took him to primarily to play wide receiver… and that no one really even knew it.

Sticking with the attitudes related to wide receivers… WR coach Culley has also spoken about the role and improvement of Junior Hemingway and how the Chiefs have plans for him,

“Well, you know what, he (Hemingway) did a nice job for us in the limited role last year that he came in for us. And right now, when we go into our Nickel, our Zebra, our E Package, right now he’s the guy that would go in for us. He’s been very productive for us. He’s got a good feel in there. He’s very physical. He’s very strong. He can catch the ball. He’s a year in the offense right now. He’s having a very good offseason for us right now.”

It looks like the Chiefs have specific plans for A.J. Jenkins as well and coach Culley said as much.

Devereaux Frazier of Yardbarker recently offered a research piece on three of the Chiefs receivers in which he charted every play they were involved in last year. The post is called, “Breakdown of Wide Receivers AJ Jenkins, Junior Hemingway, and Donnie Avery” and says this about A.J. Jenkins,

“The fact that he does a better job than Avery using his hands has me hyped for the 2014 season. While he does need to work on his route running, he has tons of promise heading into Training Camp.”

Frazier says of Hemingway,

“Hemingway scored a couple touchdowns. Hemingway is a big-bodied receiver, like Dwayne Bowe. He already has consistent hands, if he could work on his route running, he would become a very dynamic receiver.”

Tis the season to be folly. So, fans and writers alike can postulate the possible greatness of all they like. It’s what we must do in the offseason. It’s nearly a mandate. However, I truly believe many fans see the Chiefs wide receiver situation differently now than they did before the draft. Especially now, since mini-camp has shown us a different reality of this year’s squad.

~ ~ ~

Another position of need before the draft was defensive back and the Chiefs came through and selected Phillip Gaines out of Rice. Since that time we’ve learned that the Chiefs knew what they were doing when it comes to building a better mousetrap… or in this case… a better passing defense.

Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said this week,

“It takes everybody to play. It’s not any different than offense. You can be highly skilled in the passing game but if you can’t protect it doesn’t do you a lot of good. The same is true on defense. You can be good on the back end. But, if you can’t rush… and vice versa you know. If you can rush but you can’t cover. So, it takes a combination and I think a system we do here have enough flexibility between pressure, four-man rushes, three-man rushes that we can mix it up and do it. But, I think our guys are working hard at rushing and improving. And I think we’ll be a little better there.”

Sutton seems to have hit the nail on the head. With Dunta Robinson and Kendrick Lewis out  and Sanders Commings and Phillip Gaines in… the defense is better for sure.

Just three days ago, on Wednesday, I wrote in a piece called “The Kansas City Chiefs New Look Defense” and said,

“For a defense that ranked 25th at stopping the opponents passing game (net passing yards) the Chiefs look like they have done the most to improve that than any other part of the team.”

Justin Houston and Brandon Flowers may not be in camp but more than anything, their lack of presence has stolen the focus from the fact that the Chiefs have gotten better this offseason, overall, on defense.

Matt Verderame of Arrowhead Pride stated on Thursday of this week,

“Anybody who thinks Flowers is overrated should go to NFL.com and buy NFL Rewind yesterday. Flowers is one of the very few corners who can play both outside the numbers and in the slot with great effectiveness, despite his relatively diminutive stature.”

Verderame doesn’t stop there either. He goes on to explain why.

“While we are on his size, the narrative that general manager John Dorsey would get rid of Flowers because he likes bigger corners is crazy talk. If Dorsey liked slower, power backs, would he cut Jamaal Charles? The idea is to get the best players.

Last year, the Chiefs lost a playoff game 45-44 to the Indianapolis Colts.You might recall the game. You know, the one that ended with T.Y. Hilton streaking past Kendrick Lewis and Quintin Demps. What you might have forgotten was the score of the game while Flowers was covering Hilton.”

Then Verderame goes further to explain that in an earlier article he had written, and I paraphrase, Chiefs players who allowed the Luck-luster Colts to score 42 points in 35 minutes were, Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper but with Brandon Flowers on the field… in the previous amount of time… allowed only 3 points. That’s a huge discrepancy.

As Bob Sutton pointed out earlier… it takes a pass rush plus solid coverage… for a defense to improve and become special.

I think many fans now see the defense… including the Chiefs pass defense … as a strong point for the team.

~ ~ ~

In the case of the offensive line… the more things change… the more they stay the same. Simply put, the Chiefs offensive line started out before the draft with loads of question and four weeks later… there are still loads of questions.

Yes, the Chiefs picked up a couple of prize winners in developmental OL prospects Larry “The French Canadian” Laurent-Duvernay and Zach Fulton out of Tennessee.

Still, with their presence, we don’t know any more about who will start come opening day than we did on May first.

Do I like the picks? Yes. In fact, I love the picks. But, it appears we won’t know anything about the starting OL five, until it happens. Rodney Hudson will start at the Center position but after that it seems that every other position is up for grabs:

LT- Mr. 2013, first pick in the draft, Fisher isn’t even allowed to take his spot there yet because of a rehabbing shoulder. So, Donald Stephenson slides over and someone else replaces him… for the time being.

LG- Jeff Allen probably has this spot nailed down… but no one knows for sure with OL.  Allen wasn’t very good last year… so, we’ll have to continue to wait.

Center- The center should be Rodney Hudson and if that doesn’t happen it will be considered an upset. Hudson will be the stabilizing force on the OL so you can go ahead and pencil him in with a pencil not a pen.

RG- This is the position that is up for grabs more than any other. Players have come and gone but the position mostly remains unconquered territory. I like Rishaw Johnson for it but… once again… we’ll see.

RT- The more the LT position is on the outs, the more the RT position won’t settle down. It’s all “Wait-and-see” mode.

So, the priorities for the Kansas City Chiefs have changed away from the wide receivers and defensive backs… to the offensive line. The issue for the Chiefs? Who will actually lineup on opening day to take snaps under Center, or more appropriately, next to center?

So, what say you Addict fans? Has your perspective evolved since the draft has taken place?

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • area

    Really hope Avery’s hands healed up along with his shoulder this last off season, all that blunt force trauma from the football bouncing off his palms reportedly left a lot of contusions.

  • tomflex

    Nice breakdown Laddie….it seems the hardest thing for us as fans to accept is the possibility that the new regime in KC might actually know what they are doing. A big indicator that this might be fact is…. more often than not it’s us and not them eating opinions that now look amazingly like crow. Laddie you need to consider a new policy of erasing all comments we make after say an hour…..

    • ladner morse

      lol… you made me laugh… but your probably right!

  • berttheclock

    One point about Hudson. Many have commented about the positives of this being the second season for many working with the same system which was was installed last year. However, this is really the second season for Hudson, as well. Last year, he was coming off injuries and he had not had much time learning the much needed calling out defensive schemes to his fellow linemen. Playing center is far more than just squatting, grabbing hold of the ball and snapping. A quality center is needed for leadership. So, Hudson is, now, going into his second year with valuable playing time behind him.

    • ladner morse

      Did you just say… “squatting, grabbing hold of the ball and snapping.”??? cuz I read nothing after that… but thanks for the reminder that i need to schedule a prostate exam.

      • berttheclock

        Hurry as the schedule for Dr Werner Schloffengut and his patented two finger method is quite full. (He is the “MD” on the CBS Cares commercials)

  • berttheclock

    Must thank the City of Dallas for putting positive pills into their water system.

    • ladner morse

      I only shower in it… no drinking involved.

    • freshmeat62

      Yeah, but look what that’s done to Jerry Jones!!! Scary stuff!!!

      • berttheclock

        Peyote lacing does strange things to folks.

  • freshmeat62

    W/ all the talk of the receivers, we must remember that TE’s are receivers also. What w/ Fasano and Kelse being healthy now, and we know that McGrath can catch a ball, I like that part of the team, and can foresee some multiple TE sets, ala New England.

    I’m beginning to get a little concerned about Fisher’s shoulder. They keep saying that he’ll be fine by the time of summer camp, but it seems his rehab is dragging on. I thought last year his biggest need was more strength, but w/ this surgery he hasn’t been able to improve in the weight room.

    • berttheclock

      Yes, if the rest of the O-line can come together as a unit. Far too often in the past, the TE had to stay in to block which negated any down field throw.

    • cd3382

      Stating the obvious here, but I think they are just being very cautious with Fisher this time around and don’t won’t to have any minor setbacks with him so he can be fresh by TC.

      • Anthony Poole

        I think a lot of us are concerned about the OL. Looking closely at the schedule, we have several games facing opponents with a really nasty defensive front seven. It will be difficult to execute our offensive if Alex is running for his life. It’s not so much that we’ll have a terrible OL. it’s just that it seems to be our weakest link against some teams that will exploit it. This will definitely be an interesting year.

        • mnelson52

          I remember last year thinking the same thing, but the O-line kept getting better, and to everyone’s surprise, the defense ended up being our weak link.

  • berttheclock

    Ever see highlights of Green Bay games with both Donald Driver and James Jones racing into the end zone for TDs after catching passes from Aaron Rodgers? What the highlight films never showed you were the many drops by both receivers as they were two of the worst offenders in the league for drops.

    • mnelson52

      I remember when we were the only team to beat GB the week Romeo took over as HC. I also remember we won mainly because of passes they dropped, more than our defense being awesome. Defense played pretty good but still would have lost if they hadn’t dropped Rodger’s passes that were right on.

      • berttheclock

        Romeo took his first read away from him. He ended up trying to throw very quickly and, as you state, there were several drops.

  • tm1946

    Glad to see such optimism from everyone. It will work out when the season starts. Better hope so, because there is not much help outside the roster this year.

    I have concerns for the 2014 season. Avery, Hemingway, or rookie, one needs to be a regular #2 WR not a rotation of what is on the roster.

  • Chris Tarrants

    I would be ok if Avery seldom sees the field. With Bowe, Jenkins, Hemmingway, and the black mamba we would be automatically better than last year. I really like Jenkins for some strange reason that I can’t put my finger on. Add in our TEs actually wearing helmets this year and Alex should have plenty of ammo to go to war with

  • Stan Colbert

    The draft seemed to show the coaches feel they have the talent to compete. That is reason for raised confidence. The Chiefs did pursue a WR & S in FA which causes concern. I do not trust Avery’s hands, however, Marquise Lee looked a lot like Avery to me.Hemmingway and Jenkins and this Williams seems to be opening eyes. I do not sense anybody with Chiefs concerned with personnel issues.

  • Nicholas Wilkinson

    I wouldn’t quote Verderame. He’s wrong more often than he’s right.

  • e_racer

    The Chiefs cannot afford to pay Flowers and get a deal done with Houston. Houston is much more valuable at this point in his career. The issue is really not that difficult to understand. It is getting really difficult to discern how it could not be obvious to those with a smidgen of intelligence. Flowers is a very good player, but the team has to make a football decision, and it looks as if Flowers is going to be replaced. If the Chiefs can pull off some magic, and get everybody’s contract to fall within the CAP, then I would be all in favor of Flowers rejoining the team. The fact that is not in camp despite the fact that merely showing up would garner him thousands of dollars, would seem to indicate that a deal is in the works.

    The point Vanderame made was valid only to the point that the Chiefs had no other option at corner, once Flowers left the game. That does not provide an argument for Flowers as much as it casts a shadow on the rest of the Chiefs’ defensive backs. Smith is too slow to defend against speedy receivers. That does not mean he is not useful in this defense. Quintin “Skates” Demps had plenty of speed, but no clue how to defend. Lewis was equally lost at FS. Dunta Robinson was horrible.

    To say the Chiefs need Flowers because they lacked options last year is a straw man argument. You could take guys off the street who were better than guys in the Chiefs’ secondary last season. The fact that they played against a pretty good young QB, in Luck, further complicated things.

    The Chiefs need a cheaper solution at corner, and they did this in the draft. They need a better solution at FS. They got that. They need more pressure on the front line, so that QBs, such as Andrew Luck or Philip Rivers don’t have a field day with all day to throw the ball.

    The Chiefs did not get it done last year. They were good, but it was not enough. They lost to every credible team on their schedule. This was not a result of a bad team, or because of a few things going the wrong way. The Chiefs made a lot of progress over the 2-14 season in 2012. However, they were still flawed. Everyone but the Chiefs knew Dunta Robinson was toast. Yet, this was hailed as our salvation for the secondary. Lewis was awful, and the Chiefs tried to replace him. However, their other veteran FS needed to knock the rust off after being away from the game. The Chiefs’ other FS was a highly regarded rookie, and he went down to injury before the preseason began.

    The Chiefs should be much better. They would be better off with Flowers on the team. That may not happen. Good teams find ways to overcome hardships. The Chiefs need to man up.

    • cyberry

      If you cut Flowers this year, the Chiefs don’t get his 10.5M adding on to the cap. They would only save 3.5m because he has 7m of dead money. Next year (2015).. cutting him would save 7.5m then just throwing away 4m. Which still is a lot to eat.. But (2016) they would save 8.7M and with only 1m in dead money… They still have 2M for Duante Robinson and about 1m to Jonathon Baldwin this year. You can’t keep cutting players to “save” money when your actually still paying them to play for others teams.. especially ones that could be valuable to the team..