Two weeks ago, in those heady days of early January Before Babb’s Bounty (B-Cubed), I was grading the Chiefs. My plan was to tackle the offense last week and spend this week ranting about Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli. Kentucky Babb’s delicious dish stalled the process a bit. So we’ll just have to wait until next week to give Pioli his dap for the sweet deal he got on Darryl Harris (one word: substance).
This week I grade the offense. Naturally, you can expect them to score quite a bit worse.
Bad offense is as much a part of our identity as good defense.* Vermeil rocked the boat for a few years, but Herm Edwards was able to dismantle that juggernaut within a year. Since then, it’s been a parade of bad quarterbacks and scared play calling. In 10 years, will we look back on Bill Muir and Tyler Palko as rock bottom? I don’t know, for me that was probably Mike Solari and Brodie Croyle. Muir and Palko are like a poor man’s version.
*I refuse to believe this is because of bad quarterback play. The real culprit? We needed bigger backs!
Regardless, our offense was bad this year.
Dwayne Bowe- I am really going to lose my cool if we don’t re-sign D-Bowe. My suspicion is they’ll franchise him. I’m fine with that, if the goal is to buy time to sign him long-term. Bowe was clearly our best offensive player this season, and we have more cap space than we can possibly use. The apologist line has always been that we’ll spend when we need to re-sign our own guys. Now Pioli is saying “it takes two to marry.” I’m trying not to freak out here, but yikes. If you guys thought I was unreasonable before, wait til you see me if Pioli lets D-Bowe walk.
As a player, he has weaknesses. There will be important drops. We should just expect those. And if a couple late drops is the price for a season full of amazing plays, I’ll gladly pay it. Final grade: A-
Students Deserving Of Respect
Kyle Orton- I don’t want to make too much of Orton’s time with us. He has AA quarterbacks expert Jackie Rubbinson excited, and I know there are some other supporters here and there. He certainly looked better than Cassel. Kansas City: where going through progressions will win you a cult following.
You know what I wish? That Orton would accept far, far below market value to play here. Otherwise we’ll be way too smart to sign him. A great man once said “it takes two to marry.” Final grade: B+
Branden Albert- Is Albert still maligned? Are there people who don’t like him? There have always been questions as to his left tackle legitimacy, but in my mind those questions have been answered. He’s good, leave him alone. PFF likes his pass-blocking. And overall, they have him just four spots below Jared Gaither! Final Grade: B
Jon Asamoah- Asamoah was an excellent pass-blocker this year, and something tells me his run blocking will improve significantly with Jamaal Charles back in the fold. Solid pick by Pioli. A third-round pick on an offensive lineman is like a fish sandwich: I’m always down for one. Final Grade- B
Steve Breaston- Breaston is the player most often cited as a free agent success by Pioli. This conveniently ignores the fact that he came here specifically to play with the man the Chiefs are in the process of scapegoating. Not exactly a feather in Pioli’s cap.
Regardless, Breaston is here, and he looked every bit the capable #2 he was supposed to be. Its nice when things go as planned. Final grade: B
Jackie Battle- This isn’t saying much, but Battle was our best running back this year. He kept us from seeing Thom Jones get 20 carries per game, and for that I will be forever thankful. I’d like to see Battle back next year, and I’d be fine with him as the between-the-tackles complement to Jamaal Charles. This Trent Richardson talk is crazy to me. Charles, Battle, a late round pick or fringe free agent, and we’re good to go.
I have to admit I’m a little disappointed Battle didn’t make more of his opportunity. But I think we can all agree he overachieved. Final grade: B-
Ryan Lilja- Lay off Lilja, people. Yes, his play slipped a little this year. But he isn’t a bad player. If we go into next year with him as the starter at LG I won’t cry foul.
Of course, we should sign Carl Nicks. But I heard this great line recently about free agents. It really helped clear things up for me. Illuminated a new perspective. The line was, “it takes two to marry.” In other words, beat it, Nicks. You and your awesome play are gonna be some other owner’s family’s problem.
If we did sign Nicks, Lilja would be an amazing backup. As is, he’s a fine starter. Final grade: C+
Students we can work with
Le’Ron McClain- This is a rare instance where I will cite intangibles as a reason I like a player. Not that what McClain has fits the typical or ‘Vrabical” definition of intangibles. Just that the reason I like him is intangible.
I think it’s good to have a confident loudmouth with a big weird body out there mixin’ it up. I believe confidence plays a large role in every game, and that an offense can be humiliated by a defense who is stopping them while abusing them verbally. Offensive linemen aren’t usually the best trash-talkers. So I guess what I’m saying is that I believe Le’Ron McClain is worth a roster spot, primarily for the purposes or morale. I realize this may sound ridiculous, coming from me. Decoy: I’m eating a toaster strudel right now. So good, right? Final grade: C
Jonathan Baldwin- Do I have to give Baldwin worse than a C? I’d really rather not. I know PFF graded him badly, and he didn’t put up numbers, and apparently he dared question the locker room supremacy of the greatest leader in football history. But hey, remember that awesome catch? For some reason, supposed pessimist that I am, I feel like I saw enough from Baldwin to convince me he’ll be good. I’m really excited to watch him next year. Hopefully with an average quarterback this time! Final grade: C
Rodney Hudson- Pretty similar to Baldwin here. I want to say Hudson looked pretty good in limited duty, but what am I basing that on? Nothing, I guess. Eyeball test. PFF numbers are decent. I wanted to see him unseat Wiegmann, but that was a tall order for a rookie, obviously. We’ll have to wait until next year to see what we have here. I’m looking forward to that. Final grade: C
Dexter McCluster- I am not a fan of this player. He’s been more of a distraction than a weapon. Maybe a creative coordinator could make good use of him. Personally, I’d rather see touches go to Baldwin, Bowe, Charles, Breaston and Moeaki. Even assuming no additions, that would make McCluster our sixth-best option on offense. His role needs to be reduced. I will be closely monitoring how our new coordinator handles this situation. Final grade: C-
Matt Cassel- Have you guys heard about my Cassel bandwagon? Our motto is, ” three years down, three to go.” It’s not enough to think Cassel is decent, or tacitly support him. To be a part of this group, you have to commit to Cassel as starter for three more years. And no, Scott Pioli doesn’t have a gun to my head as I’m typing this. Come on guys, that’s crazy talk. Our leader, in his infinite glory and wisdom, would never do something like that. All hail Pioli! Cassel in ’14!
In all seriousness, we should keep him around. He had a bad year, but a solid number two QB is not a resource to be tossed away. Final grade: D
Students who should pursue their academic endeavors elsewhere
Casey Wiegmann- Wiegmann wasn’t bad this year. He’s never bad. But it’s been a long time since he’s been good. It’s time to move on. Nothing but love for ya, Casey, there is video footage out there of me 10 years ago drunkenly gushing about how excited I was you were coming to KC. You did not disappoint. Final grade: C
Terry Copper- Enough already with Copper. He’s fine on special teams, but seriously, enough. We can do better. Final grade: C-
Lenny Pope- Our man Lenny was never supposed to play 617 snaps. But it happened, and it was ugly. I like Pope, but even with an injury, we really should be past the point of featuring players like this. If Moeaki is going to be the starter, we need a solid backup.
I figured when Moeaki went down the Chiefs would reduce the role of the tight end. Nope: 617 snaps for Pope, 281 for O’Connell, 351 for Anthony Becht. We didn’t adjust, we just played bad players. Maybe if Baldwin hadn’t gotten Jones’d preseason, he could’ve taken away some of those snaps. But it probably wouldn’t have mattaered, as adjusting an entire offense like that is most likely beyond what Bill Muir was capable of. In any case, this should be our last year with Pope. Final grade: D.
Tyler Palko- Palko should henceforth be known as “Haley’s Bane.” The player that finally let us know just how bad things had gotten with our head coach. What a strange time in our team’s history, when a quarterback who wasn’t good enough for the California Redwoods was starting for us on Monday Night Football. What was Haley trying to prove with Palko? Why was Pioli content with him as #2? Best not to dwell on those questions. It’s over now.
I still think Palko was better than Croyle, but that’s like saying a slap in the face is better than a knee to the groin. Not enough to earn a passing grade. Final grade: F
Barry Richardson- Paddy’s boy, Push, was 13th among offensive tackles in snaps this year. The cruel irony of this terrible player has been his durability. He’s there, ready to play, every week. But Charles, Berry and Moeaki all go down for the year. Very funny, Jesus.
Richardson should teach us, and hopefully Scott Pioli, a valuable lesson. This is what happens when you go into a season hoping marginal players can be “good enough.” Sometimes they aren’t. It was straight-up irresponsible of Pioli to have Richardson penciled in as the starter this year, and our offense paid a heavy price for that error. “Good enough” isn’t good enough. Final grade: F
Thom Jones- Our leader in carries for a second straight season. Living proof that yes, the depth chart does matter. Never has a player frustrated me like Thom Jones, in any sport. Yuni, Bloomquist, Dexter McCleon, Lenny Walls, Jason Kendall, Adrian Jones, Nap Harris, Angel Berroa, Junior Siavii. KC sports has provided an endless hobo camp of terrible players who function as examples of a coach’s or GM’s incompetence. But none of them have done it quite like Jones.
Our coach loved him, our GM loves him, a certain type of fan (and most announcers) insisted he was good despite all evidence to the contrary. You knew Jones would get his carries, and you knew what he’d do with them. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a running back look this consistently bad. Bam Morris was bad, and he too was a nominal starter for two years. I looked up his numbers. He was better than Jones. Higher average, more touchdowns, far fewer carries. And I remember at least being able to laugh at Bam. There was nothing remotely funny about Thom Jones.
We may well have been watching the pound-for-pound worst player in Chiefs’ history these past two years, and he was getting the ball more than anyone else. KC Chiefs: meritocracy. Final Grade: F
OK, Addicts, sound off. Where was I wrong, where was I right? Next week we take a stroll with Hunt, Pioli and the coaches. And maybe I’ll even invite Mark Donovan to tag along…..