Hedging Our Bets


I’m not going to talk much about Saturday’s Chiefs/Bucs clash of the titans.  I saw most of the first half, but on a shitty feed with a slow Internet connection.  I’m not the best guy to break this game down, and I’m not really that into dissecting preseason games anyway.  I came away from the game encouraged that Matt Cassel looked better, but discouraged that Thomas Jones is still starting*.

*Everyone has their explanation for this.  Some make sense, some don’t.  Until I see some evidence that Haley actually favors Charles over Jones, I’m viewing this as a potential problem.

Its hard for me to get excited about a loss to the Bucs.  Coming into this game the general consensus seemed to be “we should beat these guys.”  Then we lose and the consensus is “It was close.  Progress!”  Over the past three years I’ve heard Chiefs Nation call every loss that wasn’t an absolute blowout progress, and to me the word itself has gotten stale.  I need to see wins to declare progress, particularly when playing against one of the worst teams in the NFL.

But that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about a tactic I’ve been using over the years when looking towards the future.  A tactic that upholds optimism while limiting disappointment.  It’s also a good way to test your scouting eye.  This wonderful, magical tactic is called hedging your bets.

I may have oversold it with all that “wonderful, magical” stuff.  It’s actually pretty simple.  Whenever there are two Chiefs in a similar position, I limit myself to only expecting success from one of them.  Play the odds, if you will.  If you live and die with one player’s development, you’ll often end up disappointed.

Players don’t usually become what we want them to be (see Parker, Samie).  Widen the pool, and the odds become better.  I like to put players in pairs and think “OK, as long as one of these guys does well, I’ll be satisfied.”  Then I get the pleasure of trying to predict which one is destined for success.  Of course things aren’t really this cut-and-dry, but it’s fun to make predictions, isn’t it?  Of course it is.  Just yesterday I predicted I’d eat fish today.  And you know what, gang?  I had that fish.   Tilapia, $2.67 per pound.  At that price I’d have been stupid not to buy.

Here are some Chiefs pairings I’ve been hedging my bets on:

Jovan Belcher and Andy Studebaker- These guys may play different positions, but they’re both young linebackers we found on the scrap heap and are hoping overachieve.  I know a lot of you are high on both, but the odds that both will become viable starters is slim.  One of them, however, could easily be the real deal.  Which is more likely?

I’m going with Studebaker* on this one.  I’ve got nothing against Belcher, and I’d like to see him start, but I’ve never actually seen him stand out in a real game.  Studebaker, on the other hand, won us that Pittsburgh game.  I’ve got much more hope invested in him given Mike Vrabel’s age and our desperate need for another pass rusher.  I can’t help but think Belcher might end up being nothing more than the next Corey Mays.  Remember how high we were on Mays at this time last year?  I had him ranked #7 on my “10 Chiefs I’m most excited to watch” list.

*AA commenter and Big Matt colleague The Centaur calls Studebaker “The Student Baker.”  I don’t know why, but that nickname really tickles me.  If anyone wants to photoshop a picture of Studebaker wearing a chef’s hat, I’d appreciate it.

Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas- I didn’t like either of these picks when they were made.  Both seemed like luxury picks we couldn’t afford.  But you Addicts’ enthusiasm has since worn me down a little on that front.  I’m now thinking one of these guys is likely to make me eat my words.  Which one?  Really hard to say.  Paddy loves Arenas, Joel Thorman loves McCluster, the Chiefs love both, whats a Big Matt to do?

I’m gonna go with Arenas here.  I really want to move all in on this secondary, and by all accounts Arenas should be a legit return man.  Like Tamarick Vanover without the drug ring.

Plus I’ve just got this feeling its going to be harder than we think to get McCluster the ball.  I wonder about his ability to consistently play receiver.  And if we have to get him the ball on sweeps and screens, aren’t we just using him for stuff Jamaal Charles could do anyway?  I think I’m like the one person in Chiefs Nation not thrilled with McCluster.  But I’m also the only one hyping Alex Magee, so it all evens out.

Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson-You guys probably saw this one coming.  Well, why not?  It’s impossible to separate these guys.  The LSU Block Eaters.

I know we’d like to think both players are going to make huge strides this year.  The Chiefs are counting on it.  But we of all fans should know better than to expect that.  I’ll be satisfied if one of them takes a noticeable step forward.  And just so we’re clear, “noticeable step forward” means actual good plays, not just being on the field.  One of these guys needs to figure out how to get a few sacks.  I know its the 3-4, but they were top five picks, for crying out loud.  Three sacks shouldn’t be out of the question.

If either Tin Man or Glenngarry Glenn Dorsey becomes a legitimately good defensive end I’ll be happy.  We’re just going to have to try to forget where these guys were drafted or it’ll drive us crazy.  They probably won’t ever justify the huge contracts.  I’ll settle for one solid player.  It looks to me like Dorsey has the better shot.  I know this is pessimistic, but I’m expecting Tin Man to live up to the name.

But then again, whats in a name?  If a Tin Man were called by any other name, would he not eat as many blocks?

Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel- Yes, I hedge my bets on coaches too.  Especially when they have such similar fashion sense.

I think some of you are expecting both of these guys to work wonders.  That just isn’t going to happen.  Coordinators can only do so much.   For a bad team, at least one coordinator usually has to play the fool.  There can only be so many heroes on a sub .500 team.  At the end of the season, odds are one of our coordinators will have had his reputation tarnished somewhat.  As long as the other still looks like a genius (your words), I’ll be OK with that.

As I’ve written before, I think Weis is our huckleberry here.  He’s got more to work with, and in my mind is more of a proven talent in his field.  Crennel is going to struggle this year.  This defense still has a long way to go, and I don’t think he can change that.

The silver lining is that no matter how bad Crennel does, he was still an improvement for us.  He could show up to the games in a diaper and bonnet and I’d still be confident he was doing a better job than Clancy Pendergast.  I heard Pendergast sells widgets door-to-door now.

How about you, Addicts?   If you had to hedge your bets and count on only one guy to succeed from each of these pairings, who would it be?

note: Send some positive vibes out for my boy Maurice Leggett today if you get a chance.  Mo-Leg is one of my guys, and I was psyched to see him get a look at safety this year.  The hush-hush nature of his injury is a little unsettling.  If you worship a deity, shout him/her a holler on this.  Neck injuries are a scary thing.