Window Watching The K.C. Chiefs


“Window, window on the wall, who’ll go farthest of them all?”

The classic “Mirror, Mirror” poem is an apt simile for the very real longevity issues facing certain Chiefs. Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali are the first who come to mind. Let it be known, there are at least a couple of dozen wizardly GMs in the land who would love to trade places with John Dorsey when considering his combination of two Pro Bowl edge rushers and a Pro Bowl QB. Each of them has a window to watch, but how many other teams in the league have a trio stronger than the Chiefs triad of Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Alex Smith?

So, why is that so important? Well, you may have heard this before but, it’s a quarterback’s league. You either have a good QB or you don’t and the same is true for edge rushers who spend all their waking hours designing ways to get to the QB and all their non-waking hours dreaming the same. While most teams are fortunate to have one sack master, the Chiefs have two of the best edge rushers in the circuit. The big question is, what’s the window for each of them… and what’s the window for all of them, together?

First, let’s look at some terms that may be helpful along the way:

Window Watching– when we’re keeping an eye on a player’s window of opportunity to win a championship. That’s what we’re doing here today.

Replacement Windows– bringing in a substitute player at that position. A temporary fix.

Closed Windows– when a player is beyond their prime and that window to a possible championship is closed or locked.

Windows Upgrade– getting a new player who has more upside and a longer window life at a specific position.

Taping an “X” on the Window– whenever Mulder needed to meet with the “Smoking Man” he taped an X on his window.

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All right, let’s get down to Window Watching business. While we talk about the Chiefs having one of the youngest teams in the NFL, you may be surprised that many players who contribute heavily to the team’s success are 28 years old or older this year.

Here’s a list of player who’s windows of opportunity may be coming to a close in the next few seasons.

Players name / Their age this year / Players birth-date

Derrick Johnson, 32 (November 22, 1982)

Dustin Colquitt, 32 (May 6, 1982)

Tamba Hali, 31 (November 3, 1983)

Dwayne Bowe, 30 (September 21, 1984)

Alex Smith, 30 (May 7, 1984)

Mike DeVito, 30 (June 10, 1984)

Anthony Fasano, 30 (April 20, 1984)

Husain Abdullah, 29 (July 27, 1985)

Joe Mays, 29, (July 6, 1985)

Weston Dressler, 29, (June 14, 1985)

Brandon Flowers, 28 (February 18, 1986)

Jamaal Charles, 28 (December 27, 1986)

Chase Daniel, 28, (October 7, 1986)

Chris Owens, 28 (December 1, 1986)

Ryan Suppop, 29 (September 19, 1986)

I can very easily see the Chiefs Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt sticking around for 6 or 7 more seasons without much of a decline in his performance. Colquitt has become a critical part of the Chiefs formula for success. He helps pin the opposition back and hopefully the defense can do the rest. At this point, I don’t believe it’s at all an imperative to talk about Dustin Colquitt’s “window” because it should be years and years before the Chiefs even think of making a move for another punter.

ILB Derrick Johnson will be 32 this year, by the end of the season. To figure out how many years he has left perhaps we can look to Ray Lewis. Lewis was 37 years old when he won his second Super Bowl but his health was not good during his last season and regardless of whether or not his team had won the big one, Ray was done. I wouldn’t guess DJ will play beyond the age of 35 unless it looks like the Chiefs are on the verge of taking it all. DJ appears to be at the top of his game having made the Pro Bowl the past three years. As long as DJ remains healthy, he should be able to continue to play at a high level at the ages of 32 and 33 and then tails off a bit at 34 and 35. So, that gives the Chiefs a 3-4 year window with Derrick Johnson in the saddle, to rope a championship.

Four years. Does that sound doable under HC Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey? Based on the progress of the team in 2013, I can’t see any reason why not.

For Tamba Hali, it may be a less time. For an edge rusher, how many NFL sack men do you know who continue to perform at a max level past the age of 33? However, if any one can make it happen it may be Hali. Hali’s sack totals for the past four years have been:

2010- 14.5

2011- 12

2012- 9

2013- 11  

The emergence of sack mate Justin Houston should help to revive Hali’s career and give him a longer league life. The uptick in Hali’s sack totals last season may be an indication of that. However, some have begun to observe Hali’s abilities falling off a bit. Hali prides in keeping himself fit throughout the offseason and will try new protocols, anything to become better. So, Hali likely has two more seasons playing at or near the level he’s playing at now but, it’s hard to imagine his window extending much, if any, beyond that.

The Chiefs need more of a pass rush… this season. Even with Hali and Houston coming off the edge, opposing QBs must feel more pressure for the Chiefs defense to return to the top notch level they were playing at in the first half of last season… no matter who’s playing QB for the opposition.

So, the Chiefs should be looking for anyone who can pressure the QB in this draft. The Chiefs should be looking for edge rushers in every draft… and players who can help create instant pressure.

If the Chiefs spend any time at all thinking about “windows” of opportunity, they should probably be most concerned about Tamba Hali’s window, than anyone else on the roster.

QB Alex Smith will be 30 years old in 6 weeks. Smith is just now coming into his prime and if it were to be anything that ended his career it would be a concussion. Continued concussions ended Trent Green’s career and for a mobile QB like Smith, you have to consider him a higher risk in that department, especially after his November, 2012 concussion that changed the tide in San Fran and was essentially the reason he lost the QB job there. Although, Colin Kaepernick was an ascending player on their roster, I still believe Alex Smith is the better QB of the two. If the Chiefs can keep a solid set of O-linemen lined up in front of him, Smith should play past the age of 35. So, I’d say his window is five more seasons. In fact, I will predict it will be his five best seasons.

Now that Dwayne Bowe is turning 30 this September, the Chiefs better be thinking about his heir apparent sooner than later. A down year for Bowe in 2013 (57 receptions for 673 yards) was not a positive sign that he’s still an ascending player. Quite to the contrary. However, like many, we’re holding out hope that his postseason production (8 receptions for 150 yards) was a sign that the rumor of his passing was a gross over-exaggeration. However, Bowe was targeted 13 times in that game. 6 misses, whether or not you can hang those on him or not the misses have been all too much a part of his legacy. I still say Bowe will end up the K.C. Chiefs all time leading wide receiver. Currently, Bowe has 6,401 yard receiving. Henry Marshall is 144 yards ahead of Bowe and Bowe should surpass him in a game or two. Otis Taylor has 7,306 yards receiving, which puts him 905 yards ahead of Bowe but, if Bowe returns to form and has a good year, he should surpass Taylor later this coming season. Not many receivers perform at a high level past the age of 32 and with Bowes downturn in production last year, it looks like his window of opportunity is three years: ages 30, 31 and 32. Yes, Bowe could be productive beyond the age of 32, but his contributions will likely be diminished by then too much to save a roster spot for him.

Now, the point here is not to be a broadcaster of doom and gloom, but simply what the likely scenarios are for our currently beloved roster favorites.

Since we’re talking about the OLBs AND QBs here, I thought I might condense what many spend great hours calculating as the: formula for Offensive Success (OS).

First of all, there’s “O P S,” the formula for “Offensive Passing Success” and “O R S,” the formula for “Offensive Rushing Success.”

However, OPS + ORS  ≠  winning.

To calculate the formula for winning, it must include a defensive component.

To calculate the formula for “Defensive Success”… “DS”:

PDS – the formula for “Passing Defense Success” = P Q B “Pressure on the QB” + “DC” “Dominating Coverage).

So, wins = OPS + ORS + PQB + DC.

Why the funny formulas? It may be easier to talk about what happened with the Chiefs last year using this form of evaluation and easier to decide what to do next.

For instance, at the beginning of last season, the Chiefs were having a lot of defensive success because their PQB was tremendous and possibly made up for some early season lapses in the DC. When Justin Huston went down, the hole in the DC became apparent and the defensive results were never again the same.

For the Chiefs to return to the dominance they were enjoying early last season, they will have to,

a) insure a high level of PQB and,

b) increase the DC above and beyond the capabilities of last season’s roster.

Meaning, one of the Chiefs greatest needs, based upon last year’s performances, is clearly in the defensive backfield. The offseason addition of new, and huggable, DE Vance Walker (#SwaggerVance99) may help in the pressure the Chiefs can place on opposing QBs but, that move alone will clearly not be enough, especially with Bob Sutton scheming the same blitzes he used last year.

I haven’t touched on the “window of opportunity” for Jamaal Charles but, suffice it to say, he is only one misstep away from this becoming Knile Davis’ team. That’s always been the way with running backs. I don’t make the rules so don’t get mad at me, just look back two years ago. Think of the amount of time Trent Green and Priest Holmes had together. A few years and that was it.

So, the time is now.

It always is.

It always should be.

Yes, the Chiefs are trying to build for the future. I’m not suggesting they do otherwise.

However, I’d love to see the Chiefs sign WR DeSean Jackson. Andy Reid gave him a vote  of confidence earlier in the week. Reid’s word is good enough for me. Plus, Big Red is on the hunt.

So… we head into May’s draft weekend needing only some defensive thumpers and an offensive lineman. Sure I’d still like to pick up a WR but the Chiefs wouldn’t be so desperate to do it then.

Then… the window of opportunity for every Chief on the roster is thrown wide open for several years to come

How’s that sound to you? Sounds doable, and good, to me.

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Patrick Allen shared this video with the AA writers yesterday. Please don’t judge DeSean Jackson before you see this: