Yes, you heard me, Jon Ole’ Man Timber McGraw has to be able to come back from his injury and play in this game.
But I know what you’re saying: “What? McGraw? You mean the nursing-home guy so slow he’d be faster playing safety mounted on a Rascal? The guy so frail and uncoordinated in his senile, injury-riddled last years that he can hardly make a tackle?”
Yes, him. If you want to know why, you have to click below.
Why? Because KC’s last game proved that McGraw’s withered old mind is the smartest pile of mush we have currently at the safety position. I don’t think it was fully clear until last week just how much the Chiefs pass defense leaned on the reliable decision-making and extreme physical ability of Eric Berry at free safety. With his good instincts, he was always around the ball. With his physical talent, even if he bit on the wrong target, he was fast enough to get from sideline to sideline to break up the pass once it was in the air.
That allowed the Chiefs to leave the Brandons on their respective islands to do what they do while being able to rush extra linebackers and even some D-backs in creative blitzes to make up for their total lack of effective pass rush.
Then Berry went down, then McGraw, then Arenas. What followed was a comedy of errors in the secondary against the Dolphins.
First, there are no radio-friendly adjectives to describe our pass rush against a team that is able to neutralize Tamba Hali. Matt Moore could have assembled a puzzle back there with the amount of time he had to pick and choose targets unmolested — not that he needed to. Our coverage was so bad Moore should be disappointed he didn’t put up a forty-burger on the Chiefs. There were only a few instances where the Dolphin catching the pass was not wide open.
The Brandon’s were clearly still trying their best but they had absolutely no help. Television viewers became accustomed to the sight of some Chiefs player wearing number 27 throwing his arms up in confusion about who was supposed to cover whom after each completion. This was Donald Washington, failure of a human being. He was a fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft so he clearly has at least some physical skills, but he appeared to be using them like a squirrel darting back and forth in the backfield indecisively. I’m pretty sure at some point I saw him digging for buried acorns during a 3rd-down play.
Washington, of course, only saw action in this game due to the Chiefs’ putrid depth (at basically every position except running back) and with McGraw down, they had to put someone in there. The loss of Arenas compounded the problems, because although he hasn’t exactly been a superb corner, he clearly has decent vision and good physical skills as he’s been one of the league’s top 10 return men all year.
Again, I know what you’re thinking: “Say what you will about Matt Moore, but he at least is a winning quarterback, a guy who is a legit, albeit wholly uninspiring, pro. Tim Tebow is Justin Bieber in football pads.” And you are largely correct.
There are a lot of reasons to look at Tebow like a joke. This year he has taken more than double as many sacks (14) as he has made TD passes (6). This season he’s averaging 5.5 yards per pass with a 46.4 completion rate. That means he’s averaging 2.5 yards passing per attempt (by contrast, Matt Cassel, who I continue to hold is the definition of a middle-of-the road QB, averages 4.1 yards per attempt and Aaron Rodgers averages 7.2)
Thus, there is nothing even remotely scary about Tebow in the passing game. However, Tebow is in reality part quarterback and part fullback, and until he gets seriously injured (and trust me, he will eventually), he’s likely to play that way. The Broncos were able to beat down the sputtering Raiders by playing off of Tebow’s skills set in running a college-style option system, with Tebow running it 13 times for 118 yards.
Oakland’s overly aggressive defense (somehow) did not see this coming at all, but the Chiefs will have the film on this and will be well-prepared.
If I’m Romeo Crennel, I’m having McGraw line up and spy Tebow the whole game, a role I think he’s perfect for if he’s healthy. Although Tebow probably has quicker straight-line speed than McGraw, Tebow can’t juke anybody – again, he runs like a fullback. Thus, provided shadowing Tebow the whole game is McGraw’s primary task, I highly doubt the veteran is going to let that silly Boy Wonder get by him in the open field.
Sure, we have more physically talented guys behind the D-line that could keep up with him a bit better, but I think the Chiefs will want to keep guys like DJ and “Studston” stuffing the run. The Broncos do have a pretty good O-line, and McGahee showed last week that even at the ripe old age of 30, he’s still got the wheels to break a big one. KC is going to be better off having their linebackers focused on crowding the pocket and filling gaps.
I firmly believe that if we keep Tebow in the pocket and make him pass, we can win this game handily.
But, if Tebow does what Tebow does, which is the opposite of whatever everyone expects him to do, and is able to be a precision passer downfield, McGraw will be the key to stopping that too.
While McGraw doesn’t have anything close to Berry’s speed back there, we need someone with his smarts to be able to put together coherent coverage packages. Washington left the game without a single tackle, but he at least made his presence known by giving the Dolphins a key pass interference call. Sabby Piscitelli, who was occasionally subbing in for him was also not a (positive) game changer, clocking one tackle all game.
McGraw can do better than that, hands down.