The '07 Season: Gone by November


Christmas Six Weeks Early

I’m guessing most Chiefs fans are feeling more than a little Minnesota, especially since the immediate future isn’t looking too California (c’mon, Badmotorfinger, people). After all, losing to the Denver Broncos always goes down like an unexpected Three Wise Men shot.

The good news is that yesterday’s loss is great news. Chiefs fans who think we can accomplish anything meaningful this season are about as wacked out as that Astronaut lady. Seriously, what would happen if we were the sixth seed in the playoffs again and had to go to the ‘Burgh or Naptown? Even if we pulled off a minor miracle and advanced, could we then pull off a major miracle and steal a playoff game on the road in Foxboro? Hell no. We couldn’t come within 40 points of the New England Patriots. That sentence is probably hard for Chiefs fans to digest, but it shouldn’t be.

We aren’t going to catch the San Diego Chargers in the AFC West. We might not even catch the Broncos. We definitely aren’t going to catch the Patriots, or even compete with them. Our season is over, but, honestly, it was over before it started. The Patriots are essentially a lock to win it all, and if anyone does pull off a shocking upset it definitely won’t be the Red and Gold.

That being said, I’m glad we lost the last two. Sure, it burns to drop one to the Broncos, especially at home. In the long run, however, it’s for the best.

Now that Brodie Croyle is the starter we have seven games to evaluate him. Without Larry Johnson, I only seeing us winning two more games (Oakland at home, and the New York Jets on the road). That would put us at 6-10. That would likely give us a top-10 draft pick. Plus, it wouldn’t allow Carl Peterson to cheapskate it and just roll with the status quo. If Brodie performs well, or even moderately well, then we give him another year with L.J. back, a better offensive line and a better fullback (Kris Wilson is no longer cutting) it. Brodie has enough playmakers — Dwayne Bowe, Eddie Kennison, Jeff Webb, L.J., Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez — to play well. He’ll just have to adapt to his piss-poor O-line, scramble and get rid of the ball quickly.

If Brodie fails miserably, we draft another quarterback. Brodie would still likely be the starter next year, so he’d still get another chance. The difference is we’d have another long-term option. Sorry, Joe Posnanski, but Herm Edwards did the right thing in starting Damon Huard this year, and sticking with him for this long. At this juncture in the season, there is very little pressure on Brodie. Think of it as training wheels for a kid’s bike. Still, I expect better things from him than Huard was producing. Brodie’s much more mobile, and his quicker release and stronger arm will allow him to make throws Huard couldn’t. Brodie is also tougher than Huard. Just trust me on that one.

I don’t feel that bad for Huard either. The guys a millionaire, and any of us would get replaced even quicker if we weren’t doing our jobs. He’s a smart guy with a nice family — he’ll end up doing just fine in life.

The L.J.-Priest Debate

"“I have to put my plug in for Priest Holmes here. The guy carried the ball twenty times (about 10 times more than I thought he would be able to) for only 65 yards on a horrible Bronco run defense. But Holmes looked faster and fought harder than I’ve seen Larry Johnson try to do all season. I really do think that Priest Holmes is a much, much better fit for this offensive line than Larry Johnson.” – Chris, Arrowhead Pride“But I am positive about one thing: even at age 34, Holmes is 10 times the back Johnson is in the passing game.” – Jason Whitlock, The Kansas City Star"

Now, Chris is my guy. He’s been a huge backer of this blog, I absolutely love Arrowhead Pride and 99% of the time I completely agree with his viewpoints. That being said, I don’t agree with what he says here at all. I definitely don’t agree with Jason Whitlock. Yes, Priest is a better blocker, and more suited for the part-time role of third down back. But did he completely miss L.J.’s huge 30-yard reception last week? Did he blank out and forget about L.J.’s 78-yard reception last year (The high of Priest’s much longer career is 67 yards)?

I’m not going to hide it — I’m a Larry Johnson guy. I think we all know that. So, I’m probably more than a little biased here.

Still, I actually almost think it’s laughable to think Priest is a better fulltime back — for this team, or any team — than L.J. at this point in his career. Did Priest look pretty good? Sure, he looked like an adequate feature back out there yesterday. On the other hand, he could only muster 65 yards rushing on a defense that is arguably the worst against the run in the league. A defense which allowed Kevin Jones to rack up 71 yards on 17 carries last week. Yes, the same Kevin Jones who spearheaded the Detroits Lions’ -18 rushing yards Sunday, an NFL record low.

Does Priest start games a little better and find seams a little quicker? Maybe. What he doesn’t do is both wear defenses down and get better as the game goes along. Plus, he doesn’t possess Larry’s penchant for big plays any longer (I’m not sure he ever did). L.J. is an emotional guy and a physical beast of a back. As games progress, he grows stronger as opposing defenses grow softer. Quite often, this results in him ripping off huge plays late in games.

L.J. is just the better back. You can disagree, but if you do, then ask yourself this question: Would Larry Johnson only have mustered 65 yards rushing against the league’s worst running defense? Even with the Best Bros. and three other bloggers blocking for him? No matter what plays Mike Solari called?

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

We all know that No. 27 would have cruised past the century mark yesterday. Anyone who disagrees with that is either a Priest apologist, an L.J. hater, in complete denial or all of the above.

Regardless of who’s better, I’m all for the Chiefs sitting down L.J. for the year. Let Priest wear more tred off of those old tires of his. Let Kolby Smith get a little burn. Let’s see what the kid can do. Let’s save Larry Johnson for when the games actually mean something. I know some of you are saying to yourselves that we don’t pay him Tom Hanks money to sit. No, we don’t. We pay him to grind out big performances, win meaningful games and make the playoffs. He did all of that last year, but none of that is in reach this year. Not with this offensive line. That’s why we sit him and have him return next year rejuvenated and ready to make a run at 2,000 yards.

His contract is a marathon, not a sprint. We’ll need him in Pro Bowl form down the road more than we need him now. Not even L.J. can get it done in Foxboro in January. Not behind what I call The Five-Man Freeway.

(I want to rant about Adrian Peterson real quickly here. My buddy, a Chiefs fan, was talking about how much better Purple Jesus is than L.J. OK, you can say that if you want. You know what? He probably is a little better. A little more explosive, a little shiftier, a little faster. But L.J. isn’t running behind lineman like Bryant McKinnie and Steve Hutchinson. He isn’t running behind all-world fullback Tony Richardson (nice one, King Carl).

The other Peterson note I want to make is about his injury. Even rookie running backs get hurt. NFL running back is a grueling, dangerous job. It was real easy for Whitlock, the opportunistic virus that he is, to come in and use L.J.’s injury as a reason why the Chiefs shouldn’t have re-inked the Penn State product. I’m here to tell you that both shit and injuries to NFL running backs happen. That’s just the way it is.)

The Defense Denfensible?

Yes, the defense can be defended, at least to a certain extent. A ball-control team like the Chiefs can’t ever go -3 turnover wise and not control the time of possession and win, especially at home. That happened yesterday, and that’s on the quarterbacks and the offense.

The defense played far from perfect, though. Jared Allen wasn’t exactly his usual One Man Gang self against the Broncos, for the second game in a row. Our defensive tackles straight got their asses kick. Only Tank Tyler had a tackle, and he only had one. Turk McBride also made a play, but we need more than two plays over the course of 60 minutes of football from that group. Paging Alfonso Boone… Paging Alfonso Boone…

As for our corners, they made Brandon Marshall look like D-Bo (he’s far from being as talented). Those guys put the “S” in slow, I’m telling you. I can’t wait until we play them in Denver, and they have Javon Walker back. That’s just going to be a blast. We absolutely have to draft at least one cornerback in the first three rounds next year. Have to. Our safeties aren’t burners either, but they played much better than the corners. Much better.

The other guy I want to single out chastise is Napoleon Harris. Does he have blazing speed for a midlle linebacker? Yes. Is he built like a Greek god? Yes. Is he softer in the middle than a melting ice cream sandwich? Yes. Homeboy needs to step up — quick. We aren’t paying him big bucks do run around fast and avoid contact. I blame Selvin Young‘s career day yesterday on him and the defensive line, because Derrick Johnson and Donnie Edwards certainly brought it, as usual.

I want to give Bernard Pollard some serious props here, too. If he isn’t the finest punt block specialist in the National Football League, I’m not quite sure who is. If Dave Rayner could just be a little more consistent, we’d have 75% of special teams covered. The other screw up, Eddie Drumond, needs to go. Why did we let Justin Phinisee leave again? I heard Drummond flipped off the home crowd yesterday. He needs to flip off his legs — they betrayed him long ago.

Watching the Chargers game last night, I yearned for players like Antonio Cromartie and Darren Sproles. We need some burners on this team. Desperately. I don’t care if we play the Cover 2 and grind it out on offense. Speed kills in the NFL. Period.

Where Do We Go From Here?


Besides that?

We go to our young guns. Let’s play Tank and Turk extensively. Let’s keep on giving Tyron Brackenridge P.T. Let’s actually take a look at Bobby Sippio. Let’s see some more Boomer the Battering Ram. Let’s see some of the young offensive lineman play a little more. Let’s start auditioning return specialists. Most of all, let’s keep feeding Dwayne Bowe.

What else can we do? We can lower our expectations and start salivating over what will be our best draft pick since we blew the No. 5 overall pick on Ryan Sims. Start reading Mel Kiper Jr. and mock drafts, because that’s about all we have to get excited about at this point.

Well, besides Mike Solari getting demoted or fired.