K.C. Chiefs: Signs of the Times


Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. There’s no time to stop and smell the roses right now. Not for the Kansas CIty Chiefs or their fans. When the Chiefs signed free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to a 5 year, $55 million dollar contract this week they may have made their all time best acquisition (trade or free agent signing) aside from Willie Roaf (2002) and Len Dawson (1959).

Signings came in a flurry this week in the persons of LG Ben Grubbs, RG Paul Fanaika, Safety Tyvon Branch, WR Jason Avant, TE Richard Gordon and Safety Kelcie McCray. We’ll get to them later but for now, let’s address the big signing of the week… the month… the year and perhaps of the past half century.

Some will point to 1993 when Joe Montana came to the Chiefs for 25 games and a playoff victory. However, Joe never said he was “coming home” when he signed with the Chiefs. Besides a super talented wide receiver, what the Chiefs are needing right now more than anything is… homeboys.

That’s all about the “L” word. Loyalty. Something lacking so much from today’s game and not only exemplified by Maclin’s signing but by Tamba Hali who basically handed money back to the Hunt family when he restructured, even though Hali had no assurance that they’d follow through on a promise to bring in more top flight talent.

That’s exactly what Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey did here and he did it with the Hunt’s blessing. All I have to say about that is… I love it! It makes me want to be a Chiefs fan. Wait. What? Well, it makes me proud to be a Chiefs fan for sure.

Some may pose the Alex Smith trade from two years ago and say that acquisition (a trade) has to be more important than bringing in a somewhat yet unproven WR (not sure why there are those saying that) who may look more like a #2 to some fans than a #1. The major difference here is, Jeremy Maclin already knows Andy Reid’s offense better than Andy Reid. Hyperbole? Not really. Maclin is the one who has executed the offense at every position. The X. The Z. Remember, Alex Smith came in having to learn the whole system. Jeremy Maclin stated in his presser that he will be helping younger players like De’Anthony Thomas and Travis Kelce with their careers. When asked, “How much do you know about Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce and what do you think it would be like to play with them?”

"“I know quite a bit about those guys. Jamaal is a phenomenal talent. Travis is one of the great young tight ends in this league. It doesn’t stop there, you’ve got De’Anthony Thomas. They’ve got some young guys here that I’ve seen play a little bit, that I’m excited to have the opportunity to try to help them move their careers along and kind of give them some type of experience. It’s going to be fun.”"

Fun indeed.

So, is this just another signing? To the contrary, this could also be the signing, the player, that helps the Chiefs turn the corner as an organization. Adam Teicher of ESPN and formerly of the K.C Star says,

"“You can’t understate how big getting Jeremy Maclin is. He’s exactly what the Chiefs need.”"

I’d argue that gaining Maclin would be like losing a Pro Bowl WR the day before game one… someone who’s been working in your system for years… then getting him back the day after the season ended only you didn’t lose him for any physical reason. He’s better than a plug-and-play player. He’s instant excellence. He’s the very definition of quick fix without the connotation that he won’t be around long. Jeremy Maclin is the pledge of allegiance to Andy Reid… Kansas City… and Missouri.

What more could you ask of a signing?

Question: What one stat stands out the most when you talk about the 2014 K.C Chiefs?

Answer: Zero. It wasn’t so much the lack of TDs from the wide out position — not to say that it wasn’t historically abhorrent — but it was their lack of consistency, their drop rate, their inability to get open, their red zone breakdowns and their overall ineffectiveness after the catch… those are more accurately the reasons for the WR corps’ abysmal season.

In 2014, Jeremy Maclin had 85 receptions. Gained 1,318 receiving. Scored 10 TDs.

In Maclin’s 5 active seasons (he was on IR all of 2013, an ACL) he’s averaged: 67 receptions, 960 yards from scrimmage, 7.2 TDs per year, and averages approximately 14 yards per reception (15.2 in 2014). Add to that 5,048 yards on kick returns giving him a 1,268 yards per season average.

In March of 2013, Reuben Frank said this about Jeremy Maclin,

John Dorsey is fully aware of just how significant this signing was,

"“What I wanted to do is give Andy as good of pieces to fit his system as I possibly could… Any time you can get a player like this, it’s very rare.”"

Mission impossible accomplished!

Just last week in my post called “7 Chief Concerns For The 2015 Off-season” I mentioned I was troubled by the possibility that the current brass’ thought the “N” in NFL stood for nepotism. Yes, the signing of Jeremy Maclin could fall under that umbrella but I couldn’t be happier about it. Mainly because Maclin is even more of a system fit… and a geographical/cultural fit… than he can be labeled a nepotism nab.

By the way, the Eagles current coach, Chip Kelly, could be the poster boy for the Nepotism Football League of America. Talk about getting your Oregon Ducks in a row. With the signing of CB Walter Thurmond, Kelly now has ten ex-Ducks in the Eagle’s nest and he’s accomplished this Duck feat in just two years. Waddle he do for an encore? My apologies to Ducks everywhere (AA in no way supports biased comments towards Ducks as these are solely the opinion of the author).

So, what does Andy Reid go and do? He signs a Guard he drafted in 2009 while with the Eagles: Paul Fanaika. Although this signing also appears to fall under the “N” umbrella, it can also be seen as Coach Reid bringing in a player who will have no lag time because of their own personal familiarity with his scheme, playbook and personality. All of that could be invaluable unless you consider that in 2014 Fanaika was ranked 71 out of 78 OGs in the NFL (Mike McGlynn was #78) by ProFootballFocus.com

Although Paul Fanaika could be considered a Reid homeboy he never got an opportunity to start for Reid in their first go round together so we can hope their association will produce some positive progress going forward. He started all 16 games for Arizona who went 11-5.

The move that doesn’t fit the homeboy mold is the Ben Grubbs signing. However, his presence on the Chiefs offensive line could be the best thing for the OL since Will Shields was roaming Arrowhead. Others have pointed out that Grubbs is ranked 35th by PFF overall in 2014 but if you isolate LEFT Guards ONLY, he ranks 12th overall among those Guards. And judging by his stats, category by category, he only had a negative number in one of those columns: run blocking. I wouldn’t bet on that being the case in 2015. Since quick draw Jamaal Charles has come to town his linemen only need to hold their blocks for .9 seconds or some other unbelievable fraction of a second for him to break through. Plus, I believe Grubbs just had a down year in 2014 — after all things were going south in New Orleans from early on when the team started out 2-4 — and he should be reinvigorated by Andy Reid, the OL-whisperer, and his OL friendly schemes.

Ben Grubbs could conceivably be given credit for helping second year LT Terron Armstead excel in his first starting campaign at LT. Armstead finished the 2014 season with no negative ratings by Pro Football Focus and ranked 16th overall among all LTs. Chiefs current LT and third year starter Eric Fisher could use Ben Grubbs’ steadying influence.

While Eric Fisher is expected to take one giant leap for mankind this off-season, working next to Grubbs should facilitate the progress instead of having to suffer through another year of “The Mike McGlynn’s un-Cover Band Show” and him doing his impression of Van Halen’s “Jump” while scissor kicking his way through, “I ain’t the worst that you’ve seen/Oh, can’t you see what I mean/Might as well jump/Jump!/Might as well jump.” Uhhhh… wait one second, McGlynn IS the worst that I’ve seen. So, consider this your personal Kansas City welcome Mr. Benjamin Richard Grubbs: we hope you like Barbeque, Fountains, Jazz, the Arts and incredibly loud fans.

Tyvon Branch is probably tucked away in the consciousness of Chiefs fans somewhere between Sanders “Goings and” Commings and Stanford “Paper” Routt. If either or both of these young Safeties,  Branch and Commings, stay healthy for a whole season, the Kansas City Chiefs defensive backfield is going to continue to be very good and the future there will be very bright. When Branch came out of Connecticut in 2008 his two best 40 times were 4.26 and 4.31. In 2012 PFF ranked Branch at #20 for all Safeties. In 2011, Branch was ranked 11th by PFF among all Safeties overall but had a negative ranking in rushing defense. However, the Raiders were ranked 27th in the league in rushing defense in 2011 so much of that blame can not be placed upon his shoulders. In 2013 and 2014 Branch played a total of 5 games so there’s not enough there to evaluate but I can recall he was pretty darn good his first few seasons in the league and if he becomes that player again, and stays healthy, then the Chiefs could have just uncovered a hidden treasure.

The Chiefs were also busy this week signing WR Jason Avant, TE Richard Gordon, and Safety Kelcie McCray. The important aspect of these signings is… they are all RE-signing. John Dorsey and Andy Reid are quietly putting together a team in which… nearly everyone knows the playbook, the schemes, and the coaches. In other words there’s not going to be much first year jitters or wasted assimilation time taking place… except for the rookies coming in, which is unavoidable, unless you’re Chip Kelly. The Chiefs roster is one of the youngest in the league and the Chiefs bringing Avant back is going to help tremendously in veteran leadership. Tying up Gordon gives the Chiefs a set of three tight ends who are perhaps as good as any three the Chiefs have ever had. Another good bit of news to etch away in your brain bank is that Kelcie McCray was the #2 Special Teams player in America in 2014.

While this post has focused on this week most specifically, there are some other players the Chiefs have procured this off-season who’ve impressed me.

  1. WR Da’Rick Rogers (pronounced like “The” Rick only you place the “Duh” sound first)- His career has taken a few unfortunate turns and his landing on the Chiefs roster may turn out to be a huge boon. At 6-3 and 217 he reminds me a lot of WR Jaelen Strong in this year’s draft. If… and there are some ifs involved… if he allows Andy “I believe in you” Reid to tap The Force within him and he resists the Dark Side… he not only has a chance to win two free tickets to see the new upcoming Star Wars movie but he could be everything we hoped Dwayne Bowe would be. Dorsey signed Rogers on January 7th which was early enough in the off-season to give him a chance to digest the meat and potatoes of Reid’s West Coast-ish offense.
  2. OT Derek Sherrod- Rotoworld calls Sherrod a “no-risk, high-reward lotto card for Andy Reid” and I am intrigued. Derek has had the majority of his career sidelined because of a major leg injury (broken right tibia and fibula late in 2011) after being the 32nd pick in the 2011 draft by the Packers. Some guys careers get started late while some never get going at all. If Sherrod has a leg to stand on (see what I did there?) then the Chiefs may have their answer at Right Tackle in house. I can’t wait to drive to St. Joe and watch him at training camp.
  3. ST/LB Josh Martin- I still recall Tamba Hali working with Martin last off-season and Hali praising him as the season progressed. Defensive Coach Bob Sutton said Martin came to camp not willing to settle for being a Special Teams player only. He had a sack on Oakland’s rookie QB Derek Carr in week 15 which opened some of our eyes. However, Martin’s real contribution to the team came on Special Teams where he ranked as El Numero Uno among all Special Teams players in the NFL in 2014.

In the past week the Chiefs have accomplished one large-scale change in perception: no one believes they are desperate to draft any specific position any more. Some might suggest they should take a Center early in this draft and while I think that’s a possibility they really don’t have to at this point. That places John Dorsey and Andy Reid in the enviable position of leverage and clout. They can rope-a-dope their way to nearly any draft position while not needing to make a move one way or the other. Yes, they would like another wide receiver to match with Jeremy Maclin but this draft is so deep in wideouts it will be surprising if they don’t reel in an excellent WR.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, the Kansas City Chiefs go into draft day, nearly needing nothing.

Now that’s a true sign of the times for our beloved K.C Chiefs.

What do you say Addict fans? Was there some move this week you didn’t like or are you like me and pretty darn happy with the haul?