Monday, September 5, 2011

a quick look at the fine 53

“So you take the right, and I’ll take the left;
Under arrest, we’re under fire –
Oh, oh, oh, oh,
I don’t wanna go to heaven if I can’t get in.

So you take the low, and I’ll take the high,
You lock the gate; I’ll hear the choir.
Anybody got a problem with the way I live?
Cause I don’t wanna go to heaven if I can’t get in …”
-- “Heaven” by OAR, my favorite song of the summer. Heaven returns when those gates swing wide, wide open come 8:30ish Sunday morning. God bless it, I am ready for this season! Fire up the grills, get the washer boxes out, and pour me a screwdriver, it's time to do this!!!

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I think I’ve recovered enough from the weekend to do this. And if not, well, I am never going to win an award for spelling and grammar anyways.

QB: Matt Cassel; Tyler Palko; Ricky Stanzi. I don’t think anyone is surprised by this outcome, although you could argue Stanzi outplayed Palko in the preseason. Like “The Voice of Reason”, I too am surprised the Chiefs never seriously contemplated going after a proven veteran backup like Derek Anderson or David Carr – like Gregg, I am not convinced Tyler Palko can step in and win a game for you.

RB: Thomas Jones; Jamaal Charles; Jackie Battle. I am shocked Battle made it onto the roster. I would assume he is extremely expendable. Jones and Charles, we know what we’re getting – 15-18 carries a game apiece, and Charles will be the more explosive player (while Jones, God love him, will grind out three yards a carry every time he touches the ball. I can live with that.)

FB: La’Ron McClain. No surprises here – Mike Cox has done next to nothing in his time with the team (did you realize he’s been here for four years! How? How has Mike Cox drawn a paycheck at One Arrowhead Drive for four years!) I loved the McClain signing when it happened, and I love it more now that he’s the established starter. This guy is a baller. No longer is 3rd and 2 automatically going to lead to 4th and 1. He’ll get the two damned yards.

WR1: Jerheme Urban; Steve Breaston; Jonathan Baldwin. The Chiefs have a sick abundance of talent at wide receiver. When your first round pick is essentially (depending on how you view the depth chart) your 5th or 6th option, there’s a ton of talent at the position. Especially in light of the catastrophe at the tight end position that is Tony Moeaki’s season ending injury (more on this in a moment), it’s vitally important that Breaston be the slot receiver we need to make the 3rd and 6 catch. The Chiefs have not had a reliable “sure fire” third receiver since Kevin Lockett, and that was a decade ago. A guy who you know will catch every damned thing thrown to him, a guy who runs a perfect 7 yard in on that 3rd and 6. If Breaston is garnering Team MVP talk come week 12, this season is going to be epic.

LT: Branden Albert; Jared Gaither. Do you realize the Chiefs kept as many wide receivers as they did offensive linemen? I think this means Gaither is healthy and ready to go. I think it also means Coach Haley saw the sh*tty line play that I did, and is going to be making some roster moves later this week.

LG: Ryan Lilja. Won’t get Cassel killed. A solid, dependable veteran, and we need some of those on this line right about now.

C: Casey Weigmann; Rodney Houston. Weigmann, again, a rock solid veteran center who never has a bad snap, never makes the wrong block. We need more of those guys. I like what I’ve seen in Houston, and he can play guard as well, which makes not keeping a backup guard a defendable decision. (The forecast for Sunday is 83 and mostly sunny, as of last night. Which means it’s going to be pushing 100 in the lower bowl, 105-110 on the field, if that holds true. Yet another reason I think the Chiefs will be making at least one roster move in the next couple days at OL – the heat factor on Opening Day.)

RG: Jon Asomoah. The kid is ready to go. This position does not concern me in the least, he’s up to the challenge. I fully believe he’ll be the next great guard in a long line of them for the Chiefs – the only two players to man this position in the last 20 some odd years are Brian Waters and Will Shields, with John Alt and EJ Holib before them. It’s a 35 year tradition of excellence, at least. Asomoah is the latest in a long line of excellence.

RT: Barry Richardson. NOW this gets interesting. Richardson was decent last year. He was dog-crappy awful in the preseason this year. And if Palko has to go Sunday, then Richardson has the blind side. Yikes. Let’s just say, if I was Bill Muir, I’d be focusing every ounce of attention on the offensive line this week at right tackle, the other four positions we’re good to go at …

WR2: Dwayne Bowe; Dexter McCluster; Terrence Copper; Keary Colbert. I’m a little surprised Colbert made it over Verran Tucker, but Colbert did have a solid preseason. Wouldn’t shock me if through injury and attrition, Tucker is resigned at some point, I hate to give up on him, he showed definite potential last year in a trying situation. We know what we have in Bowe – flashes of the spectacular, moments of “what the f*ck is this moron doing?!?!”, never more perfectly highlighted than by his catch and run at Green Bay last week – a beautiful crossing route, burns the coverage, rumbles 30 yards … and fumbles (thankfully, out of bounds) when tackled. The question mark is DMC – can he stay healthy? If he’s healthy, he’s a potential game changer. Watching him in the passing game reminds me so much of Dante Hall last decade. (I also LOVE that Bill Muir has brought back my favorite play from the Vermeil era – the quick toss to the slot WR (used to be Dante Hall, now it’s DMC), and the receiver just runs forward. Sure fire first down 6 years ago. I think it will be again.

TE: Leonard Pope; Jake O’Connell; Anthony Becht. Becht making the roster confirms what my suspicions were when Tony Moeaki was lost for the season – tight end simply isn’t going to be a major position this year. It’s now a 6th offensive lineman. I expect to see a LOT of four wide formations, or even three wide with two backs (likely Charles and DMC) next to Cassel in the gun this year. Pope and Becht are both tremendous blockers with decent hands, but no speed. O’Connell made the roster for special teams, and deservedly so.

Offensive Coordinator: Bill Muir. I loved the hire of Muir, and nothing I have seen this preseason has changed my opinion. If anything, it’s only strengthened it. He’s a competent play caller who’s not going to put Matt Cassel in a position that he can’t handle. (The last team to win a Super Bowl without a quote/unquote “franchise quarterback” under center? The 2002 Bucs. Their play caller? Bill Muir. The guy can flat out coach). Also don’t overlook the influence of Jim Zorn, possibly our best offseason acquisition. Zorn is a brilliant offensive mind who turned Joe Flacco, Matt Hasselbeck, and Trent Dilfer into Pro Bowl quarterbacks. His input into the game plan will be a tremendous positive.

LDE: Tyson Jackson; Allen Bailey; Amon Gordon. Yikes. This … this might be the worst depth chart at LDE in the entire league. Let’s just hope these guys simply are average, that would be a victory.

NT: Kelly Gregg; Jerrell Powe. No surprises here. In hindsight, letting Edwards go and signing Kelly Gregg was a brilliant move, given that Edwards blew out his knee and is done for the season, if not his career. I like Powe, really promising young talent. Reminds me a lot of Joe Phillips. I think we have a keeper with this kid.

RDE: Glenn Dorsey; Wallace Gilberry; Brandon Blair. I’d personally have liked to see the Chiefs experiment with Gilberry in Jackson’s slot, but I have no complaints about this position. Dorsey is solid, but not spectacular. Gilberry will show off some spectacular moves and moments, but will whiff on a simple draw play. It’s a trade off that should work for the Chiefs.

LOLB: Andy Studebaker; Cameron Sheffield; Justin Houston. I fully expect Houston to be starting by the time San Diego rolls into town on Halloween night. If this kid can lay off the weed for a few weeks, he’s going to be a great one. Sick talent and potential. I like Studebaker, but you can only hold off the next great LB in this franchise’s history for so long. Besides, Studebaker is much more suited to be a third down backer who covers the safety valve – he does that very well.

LILB: Jovan Belcher. Time to sink or swim, kid. I think he’ll swim.

RILB: Derrick Johnson; Demorrio Williams; Cory Greenwood. Let’s just hope and pray Derrick Johnson is healthy enough to take 90 percent of the defensive snaps this year. If not more.

ROLB: Tamba Hali. If Joe Theismann was still calling the Monday Night games (and thank Jesus he’s not), you could have expected him to say something like “Tamba Hali has developed into everything Scott Pioli thought he could be when he drafted him”. (pause). No, Scott Pioli did not draft Hali; Carl Peterson did. For as awful as the early 2000s drafts were, once Bill Kuharick came on board before the 2005 draft, things turned around in a hurry in the player personnel department.

LCB: Brandon Flowers; Travis Daniels. No complaints, no surprises. Flowers’ progression indicates he’s making a Pro Bowl come late December.

RCB: Brandon Carr; Javier Arenas; Jalil Brown. Again, no complaints, no surprises. Carr might be the most underrated corner in the league. And the Chiefs definitely field the most underrated secondary in the league.

SS: Eric Berry; Donald Washington. Berry is already one of the five best safeties in the league. Washington is a competent backup who rarely gets embarrassed. Can’t ask for more than that out of your last line of defense.

FS: Kendrick Lewis; Jon McGraw; Sabby Piscatelli. Lewis might have been my favorite Chiefs player by the end of last season. His growth was awesome to watch unfold. McGraw is a competent backup who never gets embarrassed. I didn’t even know we had a Sabby Piscatelli on the preseason roster, to be honest. Guessing he’ll be shown the door if/when we pick up some OL depth.

Defensive Coordinator: Romeo Crennel. I loved what Crennel did in the preseason, essentially using the gameplan as his own personal sandbox, to try different stuff out and see what worked and what didn’t. Anyone who treats a preseason game with even an ounce of credibility needs serious help. It’s a glorified scrimmage that I pay $84 for the privilege of skipping twice a summer. Glad to see our coaching staff agrees with me that it’s a time to experiment, not a time to practice the week one game plan.

P: Dusty Colquitt. I’m shocked the Chiefs didn’t bring in any competition for Dusty C. He’s starting to slip. He needs a solid rebound season. Of course, if the Chiefs offense is even half as good as I think it’s going to be, Dusty C won’t be getting as many chances to pin the opposition as he’s used to, which is a very good thing. The less Dusty C is on the field, the better the odds of victory.

K: Ryan Succup. The only thing I care about a kicker, is that they’re automatic inside of 40, barring insane weather conditions. On a typical gameday, there is zero excuse for missing any kick inside of 40 yards. Succup has missed 3 in two years, and one of those 3 was in the sick wind during the Bills game last year (he redeemed himself later in overtime, perfectly compensating for said wind on his second try). So only two brain farts in two years, none of which affected the outcome of a game. Fits my definition of what I want in a kicker.

KR/PR: Javier Arenas; Dexter McCluster; Steve Breaston. Three solid options, although I prefer Arenas handle all return duties.

Special Teams Coordinator: Steve Hoffman. One of the best in the business, and it shows year after year, as the Chiefs under his watch have routinely ranked amongst the best in the league at all key special teams categories.

Overall thoughts: by far and away the most talented roster the Chiefs have had on Opening Day since 2006. And despite how awful that season started (to this day, I believed for a solid 3 minutes that Trent Green was dead on the field), we still rallied, made the playoffs, and had one helluva ride along the way. It's time to do it all over again. Except this time, without the "whoa, Trent Green isn't moving ... and doesn't look like he's breathing either" part ...

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