September Mysteries Of The Kansas City Chiefs
By Laddie Morse
If I never read another story about bounty-gates, tainted-championships, stadium-bills, brain-studies, Brett Favre-texts, or NFL-extinction again… it’ll be perfectly fine with me. Here’s my new personal rule about NFL news: if it has a hyphenated title, then it shan’t pass me spectacles. My interest in NFL news stories of such ill-begotten ilk, is on hiatus.
Besides, the writing can’t even compete with a bad spy novel.
What does interest me is… the fascinating evolution of the Chiefs this offseason and the mysteriously interesting possibilities that this evolution will have on team outcomes in September.
All will be revealed in a series of novel stories: during these September cliffhangers.
The Long Good-bye: The Curious Case of Matt Cassel
It gets curiouser and curiouser. I think most fans are expecting Matt Cassel to get better this year or stay the same and that in either case, it will make the Chiefs’ decisions about what to do with him easy. It is D-Day for Matt Cassel in fountain town this season.
Around Oct. 1, last year I did some research on Matt and that led to a post I wrote called Matt Cassel: Time To Go. There, I graphically trace his erratic QB rating over 3 ⅓ seasons. While I can see that he may finally “achieve” something this season, it’s because he now has all the protection he could dream of. Patrick Allen hints that Cassel could be throwing behind the 4th best offensive line in the league. However, do I think it’s really going to work? I don’t know. That‘s what’s so compelling about this coming season… in fact… specifically… September. We’ll probably know most everything we’ll need to know about Cassel’s performance levels by the end of September. Except maybe how he’ll perform under the red hot pressure of a December division race or the white hot pressure of a playoff game… or three. At least we’ll find all of that out this season. Then we’ll either end up with a high functioning mid-level performer in Cassel or it will be the end of a long stay and a longer good-bye.
And Then There Were None: The Case Of The Disappearing Need
Will the Chiefs emerge from this coming season without any glaring needs? They say they’ve drafted well enough now to not only cover all of the “needs” positions but, claim that they are going for depth only. Many fans were calling for Luke Kuechly, an ILB, or David DeCastro, an OG, and consequently ignoring the so-called last remaining need position: nose tackle. With Dontari Poe, Amon Gordon (who is listed by the Chiefs as a DE) and Jerrell Powe, the Chiefs could be well covered at the nose.
We may not find out until Poe’s second or third season whether or not he’s a beast or a bust but, for now, it looks like when it comes to nose tackle, the Chiefs will be hanging out the, NO HELP NEEDED sign. I would have been happy with Kuechly. I still believe that ILB is a position of need but, the fact that it wasn’t addressed in the draft or free agency tells me the Chiefs don’t see it as a position of need: yet. I can see the Chiefs picking up another ILB when other teams make their camp cuts. That would be wise: Brandon Siler or no Brandon Siler.
The Hunt For Red October: A Case For Clark Hunt
I’m buying in. Hunt is paying out and I’m buying in. If there’s a free agent or a trade or someplace that Clark can spend his money to bring a championship to Kansas City, I believe he will do what it takes. Now, I might feel differently if they hadn’t signed Eric Winston but, they did. They signed the best free agent on the market. At any position on that date (although Peyton Manning didn’t technically sign with the Broncos until March 20, he had already committed to them verbally). Even though Winston was released by the Texans on March 12 and then shopped his booty around for five days until March 17, it still is meaningful that at the moment the Chiefs signed him, he was the most wanted free agent out there. Don’t forget, both Pioli and Hunt made a public play for one of the all time great QBs: Peyton Manning.
So, it follows that I believe the Chiefs are in the hunt: the hunt for a championship. Multiple credible sources site the Chiefs roster as one of the best in the league and the roster is still young. Yes, the Chiefs still have cap money to spend but, I see that more as a result of Scott Pioli micro-managing the cap and doing it well. With RAC all in… and Scott all in and Clark all in… the Chiefs are in the Hunt. Now we’ll just have to keep an eye on whether or not the cap Clark wears this year fits, because the one he’s been wearing was five sizes too big. Kinda like Yosemite Sam whose hat is way-big for his head (how do you like that classic literature reference?).
Sidetracked: The Dwayne Bowe Case
We’re all waiting for Dwayne Bowe to sign his franchise tender. I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’s just a feeling but, I don’t see Bowe as the perfect kind of “team guy” that Pioli dishes on. Not that I’d say he’s selfish but he’s been the kind of player – person – who would want to know what his market value is. I can see him waiting to see what kind of run on the bank he’d cause in free agency. So, while I think he’ll sign his tender I’m not so sure he’ll sign a long-term deal this year. I hope I’m wrong but, with Brandon Carr rocketing for the Cowboys of his dreams, there’s no telling what Dwayne Bowe is dreaming about.
When GM Scott Pioli talks about the “right kind of guys” he’s looking for and then I think about the players that are already on the Chiefs roster, Bowe’s name doesn’t match the qualities I believe he’s typifying. Yes, he’s talented and belongs in the NFL’s top 100. However, in the good old Patriot system and way of doing business, when a player doesn’t align himself with the team, financially, he’s gone. So, “right kind of guy” often means “fiscally compliant.”
I do believe the Chiefs will make Bowe a great offer but, I think there’s a better than 50 percent chance he takes the high road, financially. So that the Chiefs don’t get sidetracked with the possible loss of Bowe at season’s end, they’ve begun to make several moves in the WR department over the course of the last 13 months with the signing of Steve Breaston and the drafting of Jon Baldwin as well as investing in Junior Hemingway with a seventh-round pick this year. I want Dwayne Bowe to stay but, I can also see beyond his time with the Chiefs; and the Chiefs won’t get sidetracked without his game.
The Seven-percent Solution: The Return Of The Jedi
The Chiefs lost the division by the smallest of margins last year coming thatclose to a second playoff game in two seasons. The return of Tony Moeaki, Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Brandon Siler could be the solution that brings the Chiefs more time in the postseason. Obviously they will make a difference. The big question is: how much of a difference? Are they completely healed? If so, that margin could be rather fan friendly.
I’m not going to speculate about the addition of the most recent draft choices added to the return of these four because the re-entry of these four alone would have easily been worth four points: enough to beat the Raiders late in the season. The game many claim lost the Chiefs the division crown. If everyone comes back at 100 percent, then there’s no reason not to believe the Kansas City ceiling is in February in New Orleans. Don’t call me a homer just because I think that’s a realistic ceiling. In that case, it is.
Beastly Things: The Case of Dontari Poe
To beast, or not to beast, that is the question.
I know I’ll be spending a lot of time with my eyes fixed on the center of the defensive line to see if the Chiefs new Atlas really can hold up the world. Of course I don’t expect that to happen overnight but, it would be great to see him make a couple of positive plays per game to get the daydream juices flowing.
One point that keeps surfacing is Poe’s potential effect on the players around him. Couldn’t Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey make the same claim that Matt Cassel apologists have been making for years: get the right players around me and I’ll do great! Honestly, I’m peppy-silly-giddy-excited to see what effect Poe will have on Dorsey and Jackson and if their level of performance goes through the ceiling. Wouldn’t it be great to be talking next summer about the outstanding trio known as DDT~ Dorsey-Dontari-&-TJack. The Chiefs have invested three out of the last five first rounders on this defensive line. If the payoff is as good as the payout… it will mean the playoffs. If they’re all that good together, it will mean lots of playoffs.
The Thin Man: The Re-appearing Case of Jonathan Baldwin
In the spirit of Big Matt… Tom (Thomas) Jones once sang, “But he thinks that the fight is worth it all. So he strikes like Thunderball.” It’s no mystery that without TJ in town to whittle Baldwin’s ego down to the size of a penile implant, he could be amazing this year.
Shortly after the Chiefs drafted Baldwin I posted my great hope for him in a piece called Jonathan Baldwin: A Number One Hit. With one long TD bomb from Matt to Jon last season, it was enough to whet my whistle and I look forward to getting punch drunk on that brew crew. One of the vivid pictures I still have in my head from researching Jon Baldwin for that post was him jumping out of the stadium. I thought that might mean the Chiefs could utilize him vs. the field goal. I can only imagine he’s still got the biggest leaping ability on the roster. However, it’s not “blocking field goals” that has me excited about Baldy boy. Steve Breaston said recently that his best days with the Cardinals was playing across from Larry Fitzgerald with Anquan Boldin in the slot. Baldwin could be a match-up nightmare for most pint-sized DBs who typically cover the slot.
Patrick Allen recently wrote about high hopes for Jonathan Baldwin with Dwayne Bowe missing camp. Things are looking up for Jon Baldwin. Now, that brings me to the intrigue and creativity of Brian Daboll. Obviously, Daboll’s use of Baldwin could be nasty.
The Buddha In The Attic: The Casebook File of Brian Daboll
I’m sure many of you have heard the phrase, “If you meet Buddha on the road: kill him.” For Brian Daboll that should probably read, “If you meet Belichick on the road: kill him.” Of course it’s not meant to be taken literally. The open notion is that each person may travel their own path to gain their own experience: wisdom and enlightenment. Brian Daboll is etching out his own path. Daboll was with the N.E. Patriots throughout all of their Super Bowl years serving as a defensive assistant in 2000-2001 and the wide receivers coach from 2002-2006. Daboll then served as a QB coach for the NY Jets from 2007-2008. Since then it’s well documented that he’s been an offensive coordinator for the Browns and then the Dolphins. The point? Not so innocent. In fact, Brian Daboll comes down hard on the aggressive side of the ledger. I don’t know about wise or enlightened but, he’s definitely carving out his own shingle. Shortly after the Chiefs tabbed Daboll as their next OC, Rodney Lay of the Bleacher Report stated that,
"He has some good talent to work with in Kansas City. What we do know, or at least what we should know, is that offensive coordinators, just like head coaches, defensive coordinators, etc., can only work with the tools that are given to them, and success or failure is at all times a combination of scheme, talent, and a certain amount of luck…. A lot of people in south Florida are sorry to see Brian Daboll leave."
Brian Daboll is a young coach with a bright and promising future and hopefully that future is in hot red and bright gold. For now, I just can’t wait to see what he can do. I can’t wait to see what thinks he can think. Game plans. Schemes. How he utilizes his talent base from week to week. With so many colors available to him on his palette it’ll be great to see if Daboll’s a Matisse or a mistake. Casey Wiegmann is a year older than Brian Daboll but, younger doesn’t always mean inexperienced. September will tell many tales.
The Chiefs 2012 draft was a piece of literal literary license: from Poe to Hemingway. This season will be unique, declarative and of course, novel: with many character’s case studies yet to be composed. So, settle in for the long haul because the Chiefs 2012 season will read like a good book. Especially if you’re a Chiefs fan. For I am lost in the “Dream Of The Red Chamber”… and I’m referring to Arrowhead there, if you didn’t get ma drift.