It is time for Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley to end his love affair with Jerheme Urban.
Urban’s simply not putting out.
I understand why the Chiefs brought Urban to Kansas City a year ago. He was a big receiving target that knew Todd Haley’s offense. The team was weak at receiver and while Urban would never likely be a star, he could have provided a decent forth WR option to go along with Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers and Dexter McCluster.
That’s right, Urban was brought to KC in 2010 to be the FOURTH WR option among last year’s WR group.
And now he’s starting opposite Dwayne Bowe.
A couple of weeks ago, I said that I was alright with Urban starting the preseason opposite Bowe. Breaston is a natural slot receiver so he is technically the #3 guy. McCluster is moving to the backfield so that left Urban and Baldwin fighting it out for the other starting spot. The Chiefs didn’t draft Baldwin to sit on the bench so I figured Haley was just making the rookie earn his spot, rather than just handing it to him. He did a similar thing to Dwayne Bowe in 2009 when he started Terrance Copper in the preseason. It took Bowe a year to get his act together but that wasn’t Haley’s fault. So yeah, I was cool with Urban beginning the preseason as the #2 guy.
Now, however, with Baldwin out for the remainder of the preseason, the Chiefs have a serious problem at WR.
And Urban is not the answer.
Baldwin won’t be back until the first game at the earliest. Some outlets are reporting he could miss the first two regular season games. Even when Baldwin does come back, it is unrealistic to think he is going to make a big impact right away. This is a rookie who missed out on OTA’s and rookie mini-camp because of the lockout and then got injured after playing in only one preseason game where he caught one ball. It could take Baldwin half the season just to get to where he should have been entering Week One of the regular season.
The more immediate problem the Chiefs face is what to do in Baldwin’s absence.
I like Breaston best in the slot and I think the Chiefs do to so he will likely stay there.
That leaves Urban, Copper and Verran Tucker as potential fill-ins.
I think the Chiefs have to take another look at Tucker.
There is no question that Tucker makes the roster. He was the team’s best special teams tackler last season and at times, he showed flashes of being a big play receiver.
Tucker’s problem was inconsistency. When given the chance to start in place of an underwhelming and lazy Chris Chambers, Tucker was not able to get open on a consistent basis. This led the team to give Chambers another chance late in the year and even to kick the tires on Kevin Curtis the week of their playoff game.
Still, Tucker could be special. He was undrafted out of Cal. He showed his talent last season but he also showed his rawness.
In Friday’s preseason game, however, Tucker looked much sharper than he ever did in 2010. He ran crisp routes and showed nice athleticism in his cuts. Tucker has always had soft hands and they were on display against the Ravens as he pulled in three balls for 68 yards. The only ball thrown to Tucker that he didn’t catch was a poor throw by backup QB Tyler Palko. Tucker was open but the ball was over his head.
Tucker may not be ready for primetime yet but he is definitely a better receiver now than he was in 2010. He is young and processes tremendous upside. He is a player, in my opinion, that should be getting the most reps in Baldwin’s absence.
Urban on the other hand, has shown nothing since coming to Kansas City. He did nothing memorable in the 2010 preseason before getting injured. The same is true in 2011. He is 30 years-old and only has 87 catches for 1,231 yards in his entire career. He has a mere 7 touchdowns to his name.
It is unlikely that Urban is going to suddenly turn into a threat. He is what he is. Which is not very good.
Tucker, on the other hand, has loads of potential. He is only 23 years-old, has great hands and has shown a knack making the big play. He’s also showed value by becoming a factor on special teams and resiliency by showing up last week and standing out with some guy named
Falko Calabaloo Tyler Palko throwing him the football.
Haley knows what Urban his. I think the head coach should start Verran Tucker this week against the Rams so that he can get some time with Matt Cassel and the starters. Being on the field at the same time as Tony Moeaki, Steve Breaston and Dwayne Bowe might just give Tucker the opening he needs to make a big impact.
But is Haley willing to bench Urban to give Tucker a look?