Monday, January 20, 2014

2013 chiefs in review: part dos

“Way back on the radio dial,
A fire got lit inside a bright eyed child.
Every note just wrapped around his soul,
From steel guitars to Memphis,
All the way to rock and roll.

Oh!  I can hear them playing!
I can hear the ringing of a beat up old guitar!
Oh!  I can hear them singing –
Keep on dreaming, even if it breaks your heart!”


--------------------

3. The Chiefs Report Card: Offense.

I do not grade on a curve.  Every player is graded according to performance, and expectation entering the season.  Obviously, Alex Smith will be graded far, far more harshly than Tyler Bray, for example.  Every player has a B entering the season.  Players who exceed expectations, will grade above a B.  Players who grade below expectations, will grade below a B.  Here we go.

All players appear alphabetically by their last name.

RT Branden Albert: B.  Turned in a decent season when healthy, but isn't worth the price of the franchise tag the Chiefs have on him.  John Dorsey has a very interesting decision to make on Mr. Albert this offseason, as removing that franchise tag would more than free up enough cap room for the Chiefs to sign the player improvements they need.  But it'd also create a huge gaping hole on the right side of the Chiefs offensive line.

LG Jeff Allen: A-.  Circle me impressed for the most part.  The Chiefs have a solid interior three offensive linemen for the next decade in place, barring injury or free agency defections.  (Or that pesky designation known as "retired".)  Mr. Allen is amongst that grouping.

RG Jon Asomoah: A.  For my money, the most impressive lineman this season.  Should be a fixture at right guard for the next decade.

WR Donnie Avery: D+.  Had two decent games all season -- the win over Dallas, and the loss at Indy.  Costly drops time after time.  He's better than this.  He'll have to be, if he's going to be back for a second season.

WR Dwayne Bowe: B.  Be honest, Chiefs fans -- he met our expectations.  He had some incredible performances; he had some games where you wondered if he was still in the Riverside lockup, he was so non-existent.  Next time you see me in person, I have a hysterical story about Mr. Bowe and his family, that for privacy issues, I won't post ... but let's just say, you'll laugh, and you won't be even remotely surprised at said tale, confirmed to me by at least three independent people I trust.  (Namely, they witnessed it.)

QB Tyler Bray: B.  Again, he met my expectations.  He held that clipboard with pride, never once to my recollection struggling to hold onto it, write on it, and/or otherwise utilize it ... and never once was there even a chance in hell he'd sniff actual bona-fide playing time.  That is exactly what I want out of my emergency / inactive quarterback.  Job well done buddy!

RB Jamaal Charles: A+.  Turned in one of the finest seasons in franchise history, and he's only in year six on the roster (and year three of actual meaningful playing time; he didn't play much in 2008 or 2009, and missed all but the opener in 2011).  Health and continued success should ensure he'll top the franchise rushing total list no later than week three of next season.  (He currently trails Priest Holmes by 247 yards for that honor.)

QB Chase Daniel: A.  Started one game, and posted an impressive effort (at Chargers, week seventeen).  Showed he is perfectly capable of going 2-2 if Sir Alex has to miss a month for whatever reason, and that's all you can ask for out of your backup.

RB Knile Davis: B.  This was one of the toughest grades to give.  On the one hand, the Chargers and Colts games to end the season showed the potential this kid has.  On the other hand, you have fifteen weeks of suckitude preceding those efforts, to weigh them against.  Given the ramifications of the last two games (do or die for the Chargers; do or die period for all involved at the Colts), I'll call it a wash and give him a B.  Circle me intrigued by this kid, Bert.  Circle me intrigued.

TE Anthony Fasano: D.  Couldn't stay healthy; didn't do much when he was.  Would be shocked if the Chiefs don't target the tight end position for a major upgrade and overhaul this offseason.

LT Eric Fisher: C+.  He got better as the season went along, and for his critics (which sometimes include me), his value was on full display for all to witness when he wasn't on the field at Indianapolis.  I would venture that other than quarterback, there's not a more difficult position to come in and start from day one at, than protecting the quarterback's blindside.  The Chiefs QBs left the field upright and ambulatory after every play this season.  There's something to be said for that.

TE Richard Gordon: B.  I have no idea who the hell this guy is.

RB Cyrus Gray: C-.  Wasn't asked to do much, but when his moment came (the wheel route at Indy), he couldn't make the play happen.  Not seeing a future in KC for this kid.

TE Demetrius Harris: B.  Spent the bulk of the season on injured reserve.

WR Junior Hemingway: F.  In hindsight, I probably had too inflated of expectations and hopes for this dude ... but can anyone name a single contribution he made all season, outside of a special teams tackle here or there?  Probably a one-and-doner in KC.

G Ricky Henry: B.  Another injured reserve member.

C Rodney Hudson: A+.  Came back strong from surgery that ended his season prematurely last year.  I do not recall a single botched center exchange all season, and given that Sir Alex was in the pistol or the gun 65% of the time, that's damned impressive.  The fact that Rodney Hudson (at 50) and Justin Houston (at 70) have performed so well, takes some of the sting out of the Chiefs botching the quarterback position in the 2011 Draft.  The fact that we took Jon Baldwin (at 26), just re-inserts the sting all over again.

WR AJ Jenkins: B.  Had a couple nice catches in the denver defeat at Arrowhead, and a couple big-time third down receptions in the playoff game.  But also had a couple huge drops in that denver game, and that Colts game (his two biggest stages to contribute on).  Curious to see his development; I think the Chiefs have a decent slot option in this kid.

G Rishaw Johnson: B.  I have no idea who the hell this guy is.

TE Travis Kelce: B.  Had one solid game (Giants), and then was done for the season.  About what you'd expect out of your third string tight end.

OL Eric Kush: B.  Didn't get on the field much, but that was due more to the strong play in front of him, than a lack of ability on his part.

WR Dexter McCluster: A-.  Did everything asked of him.  Made some big plays (the punt return that blew the Giants game open; the flat screen touchdown against denver; a couple of nifty YAC gains at Indy), but somehow seems disappointing overall to me.  I'll assume that's the medicine Rev. Al K. Hall prescribed me, and give him what he probably deserves: an above average mark.

TE Sean McGrath: A.  I expected nothing, and he actually delivered a few big moments.  At times, seemed like the only healthy and/or competent option at tight end, something the Chiefs need to address in the offseason.

OL Geoff Schwartz: A.  A rock solid backup who can man any position on the line well.  I can see him developing into a Wade Smith / Donald "Snacks" Willis type backup lineman who lasts six or seven years in the league.

FB Anthony Sherman: A.  No complaints.  A solid pro who delivered a better than expected effort this season.  Probably the best blocking back the Chiefs have had since Tony Richardson.

QB Alex Smith: A+.  Got better every week as the season went along, culminating with one of the greatest performances at the quarterback position in franchise history at Indianapolis.  Is worth the two second-rounders the Chiefs coughed up for him.  Like it or not Chiefs fans, Alex is a upper-middle tier quarterback who has a chance to break into the lower-rung franchise ratings.  Don't believe me?  Go team by team, and tell me if you'd rather have Alex Smith, or their guy.

In the AFC, I count three teams, I'd rather have their guy -- Patriots (Brady), Steelers (Roethlisberger), broncos (satan) -- and two more I could be talked into, the Chargers (Rivers) and Colts (Luck).  In the NFC, I count two guys I'd rather have than Sir Alex -- Packers (Rodgers) and Saints (Brees) -- and one more I could be talked into, the Panthers (Newton).  That'd put Alex somewhere between 6-12 out of 32, which seems about right when you look at the flotsam, jetsum, and wreckage floating about a few franchises out there at the position.  (Hello Cleveland!)

OL Donald Stephenson: B+.  The local kid had a solid second season, providing quality backup and depth across the offensive line, and really only posting one costly penalty all year (the personal foul against the Giants for illegal hands to the face ... and Alex Smith promptly threw a 25 yard completion on the next play to Travis Kelce, to get it all back).

OL Rokevious Watkins: A.  I swear, the names some parents come up with for their kids.  Rokevious?  Really dude?  How the hell do you even pronounce it?  Is it Rock-Cave-Eee-Us?  Ro-Cave-Eee-Us?  Folks, it's simple.  Just name your kid Steve.  You can't go wrong with that.  (Says the dude who can tell a telemarketer instantly by how someone attempts to pronounce his screwily spelled last name.)

WR Kyle Williams: F.  And we signed this guy because?

4. The Chiefs Report Card: Defense.

Again, in alphabetical order by last name.

CB Abdullah Hussein Hussein Abdullah: A.  Had a couple nice plays, especially the interception to open the second half at Indy.  Also led to one of the funniest moments of my life, involving people with Muslim sounding names that are not Muslim.  Well, at least if you have an IQ above room temperature; I suppose the Glenn Beck's of the world still think Barry is consulting the Quran every morning before he starts his day.

DE Allen Bailey: B+.  Had a really good three game homestand in October, especially against the raiders … and then, like the raven in Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, “was heard from no more”.

S Eric Berry: D.  I know nobody wants to say it … but if you’re looking for a Paul Page Memorial “WHOA!” stunning cut on or slightly before March 1, Eric Berry is your candidate for the gig.  Not a good season.  A safety that can’t cover the pass, and can’t effectively tackle, in the words of Dean Wormer, “is no way to go through life, son”.

DE Mike Catapano: B.  Of whom nothing is expected, nothing is required.

DB Sanders Commings: C+.  Serviceable when healthy.  But dude, seriously – learn how to spell cummings (rimshot!).  (Pause).  Oh come on!  That’s my first tasteless, crass, absolutely gratuitous and unnecessary sex joke so far, and I’m on page 9 in Word!

CB Marcus Cooper: C-.  Perhaps no player symbolized the polar opposite season for the Chiefs, than Mr. Cooper.  A lights out corner up to the bye week, he made one meaningful play in the last eight games, his interception of peyton at Arrowhead.  Still, for a signing off the street literally two days before the season began, he held up well.  Really, really curious to see what a full season in the program will do for his growth.

DB Quintin Demps: D-.  The only thing saving him from flunking Professor Stevo’s report card is the kick return touchdown against denver.  Other than that, I got nothin’, yo.

DE Mike DeVito: A-.  Wasn’t as effective in the second half of the season due to injuries, but I maintain, the key to everything that worked through nine weeks, was Mr. DeVito eating up the entire right side of the line, freeing up Hali or DJ to sprint around the end unblocked (since the FB / TE would have to stay in to double Houston on the left side).  Arguably John Dorsey’s best free agent signing last offseason, he earned his contract and then some.

CB Brandon Flowers: C+.  You saw after his loss at Indy, how much the secondary needs him right now.  It was 41-24 when he left.  The Chiefs were outscored 21-3 in the sixteen minutes without him.  Fought injuries all season long, and could be another surprise cut candidate come March 1st.

LB Tamba Hali: A.  When it’s all said and done, Tamba Hali may go down as Carl Peterson’s second best first round pick for this franchise.  And I am fully aware Derrick Thomas, Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Dale Carter, and Derrick Johnson, went in round one on Carl’s watch.

LB Justin Houston: A.  He’s only in year three folks.  He’s only in year three!

DT Jaye Howard: B.  Who the hell is this guy?

DE Tyson Jackson: B.  He finally earned his contract!  Left unsaid in that comment is that he submitted to a nearly $10 million paycut last offseason, but hey, he finally earned his contract!

LB Robert James: B.  I have never heard of this guy, but he’s wearing the (depending on your perspective) sacred (if Donnie Edwards), repulsive, (if “cut” glen cadrez) or despised (if Jovan Belcher) 59 jersey.

LB Derrick Johnson: A.  As solid as DJ has been, I still argue nine years later, my fifteen minutes spent nearly throwing down with “The Voice of Reason” over the Rodgers / DJ debate, has proven me right.  (Pause).  You’re damned right that is about one of only three arguments, I’ve ever won against Mr. Reason.  Hence the name, “The Voice of Reason”.

LB James-Michael Johnson: C+.  Didn’t show much, but didn’t look good when he was on the field either.

LB Nico Johnson: B+.  Was making some nice contributions by the end of the year in nickel / dime situations.  Alabama linebackers have had some success on this team in the past.  Might be worth keeping an eye or two on this offseason.  Especially if your name is …

LB Akeem Jordan: A-.  Phenomenal first year, great signing, and still has at least a couple solid seasons in him covering the tight end / running back running across the center of the field.

S Kendrick Lewis: F.  Yeah, bring your playbook, K-Lew.  Ray Farmer definitely wants to see you.

LB / DE Josh Martin: B.  I have no earthly or heavenly or hellishly idea, who this tito is.

LB Dezmon Moses: B+.  Another young player (second year) who got some spot duty in the second half of the season, and looked damned impressive in the “backups, women, and children only!” starters performance at The Murph to close the regular season.  The Chiefs have an embarrassment of riches at linebacker.  I think that’s a good thing.

DB Ron Parker: F.  Got toasted twice in Indy, once as it unfolded in front of me.  Pack your bags pre-flight dude.  It’s zero hour, nine am***. 

DT Dontari Poe: A.  I’m going to make a statement that on the surface sounds absurd, but if you think about it, you will probably agree with me.  Dontari Poe is the best nose tackle this team has employed since (pick one) Joe Phillips or Dan Saleaumua.  And he’s only in year two folks.  He’s only in year two!

DL Jerrell Powe: B-.  Docked half a letter grade, because I can’t tell one fat black dude named Poe, from another fat black dude named Powe, on the replay 95.21% of the time.

CB Dunta Robinson: F.  In the words of Boyz II Men: “so now we’ve come (clap!) to the end … of … the road (clap!), and I can’t … let … go (clap!) …”

CB Sean Smith: B-.  Serviceable veteran that doesn’t make stupid mistakes, and doesn’t get you beat.  That’s all you can ask for out of a corner in this pass-wacky collection of teams we call the National … Football League.

LB Frank Zombo: B+.  Raised a half letter grade because I kept calling him Zombie.  Also, he had a solid second half filling in when injuries hit Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.

(***: I trust you know what song that line is all but completely plagarized from.  If not, get a clue.)

5. The Chiefs Report Card: Special Teams.

LS Thomas Gafford: A+.  I can’t recall a single botched snap all season, save for the blocked punt at Jacksonville, and that was more a blocking scheme issue, than snap issue.  He’s no Kendall Gammon … but he’s no Mike Junkin.  (Cue every New York Giants fan cringing at reading the name “Mike Junkin”.)

P Dusty Colquitt: B.  You can do a helluva lot worse.  I’d argue the team I despise more than any, did better by signing his younger brother.  But Dusty C’s ok in my book.

PK Ryan Succup: A.  Docked half a letter grade for his inexcusable miss at San Diego to end the season.  Other than that, no complaints.  Hit all three field goals in Indy, and none of them were a gimme (two were longer than 45, the other was a glorified extra point, which are sneaky tough field goals to make).  Welcome back man.  Welcome back.

6. The Chiefs Report Card: Coaching Staff.

Brad Childress (Spread Game Analysis / Special Projects): F.  Everyone knows this is a nepotism hire, and Chris Ault is the “spread game analysis” expert.

Brent Salazar (Assistant Strength and Conditioning): B.  He’s survived five administrations in eight years, he can’t be all bad.

Travis Crittenden (Assistant Strength and Conditioning): B.  Considering the Chiefs only major injury issues all season (prior to the playoff game) were not caused by strength and/or conditioning issues, these dudes get a decent grade.

Barry Rubin (Strength and Conditioning): A-.  Rock solid season for the training staff.

Matt Nagy (Quarterbacks): A.  You can’t point to a single inept, incompetent performance by either Sir Alex or Chase Daniel, save for possibly at Buffalo.  Last year, you couldn’t point to a single solid, competent performance by a Chiefs quarterback, save for maybe against Carolina.  Who says coaching doesn’t matter?

Mike Frazier (Statistical Analysis Coordinator): A+.  Do you realize “Fat” Andy Reid was 7 for 8 in challenges this year?  Seven for eight!  Unreal!  Someone upstairs is doing their job well on gameday, and it’s this dude.

Emmitt Thomas (Defensive Backs): A+.  One of the finest men to ever wear the Red and Gold, and one of the finest coaches this franchise has ever employed.  To say nothing of being one of the finest men period, to ever walk through the door.  Here’s hoping he’s returning next season for at least one last run at repeating 1969.

Kevin O’Dea (Assistant Special Teams): A+.  When the only special teams play all season long you can find fault with, is either (a) the blocked punt to open the Jacksonville game, or (b) the non-called illegal formation penalty on San Diego where Succup missed the game winning kick (and should have had a do-over), you pass with flying colors in my book.

Mark DeLeon (Quality Control): B.  Do we really need three “quality control” coaches?

Britt Reid (Quality Control): F.  Especially nepotistic hires like your own son, for the job?

Corey Matthaei (Quality Control): C.  I guess we do need three. 

Al Harris (Secondary Assistant): D.  If you were at Indy like I was, you’re probably in utter shock and awe this isn’t an F.  Only the Chiefs secondary to force two costly interceptions (that led directly to ten points) in that second half, up double digits, and find a way to lose.

Eugene Chung (Assistant Offensive Line): B.  Just like Maury Povich, everybody Wang Chung tonight (rimshot!)

Tommy Brasher (Defensive Line): A-.  Outstanding year from the front wall.  Made the back eight work perfectly for most weeks.

Andy Heck (Offensive Line): B+.  A very, very young outfit (Branden Albert is your senior statesman with six years’ experience) that is molding quite nicely.

Tom Melvin (Tight Ends): F.  The Bermuda Triangle of the offense. 

Dave Toub (Special Teams): A.  Mike “Doesn’t Matter, He’ll Make It!” Stock, Pete Rodriguez, and Frank Gansz Sr. finally have some competition in the “best special teams coach this franchise has ever employed” category.  Unless you count Richard A. Vermeil (who was the first coach to ever emphasize special teams as a separate unit) as one.  And I don’t.

Gary Gibbs (Linebackers): A+.  If you’d told teenage Stevo that he’d love, admire, and respect the former OU head coach, he’d have laughed himself into a coma.

Eric “Sleeping With The” Bieniemy (Running Backs): A+.  Again, if you’d told teenage Stevo that he’d love, admire, and respect the former Colorado standout running back, he’d have laughed himself into a coffin.

Doug Pederson (Offensive Coordinator): A-.  The unit got better every week.  Put it this way: it ain’t the offense’s fault, we didn’t reach the divisional round.

“Bulldog” Bob Sutton (Defensive Coordinator): C.  Charles Dickens put it best, in the opening to “Great Expectations”: “it was the best of times; it was the worst of times”.  I’d have fired him, but I respect “Fat” Andy for standing by him after that debacle I’m still at least 142 straight drinking days away, from being able to properly cope with.

David Culley (Wide Recievers / Assistant Head Coach): C.  Too many drops when it counts.  I get that Mr. Culley isn’t the one making the play … but he’s the one coaching these guys to make the play.  There has to be some accountability.

“Fat” Andy Reid: A.  He restored a pride and a level of success to this franchise few (including me) thought even remotely possible entering the season.  He guided this team to its best start in franchise history.  He had this team believing in itself, and this city and fanbase believing in these guys, like no Chiefs team since 2003, or possibly 2005 pre-December.

He (along with the front office and ownership) has made the franchise open, honest, and willing to listen to the fanbase, in a way that it hasn’t since … uuh … yeah … uuh … gee … uuh … well, ever. 

He inspired me to take $400 I don’t have, to make a trip to Indy – with Snowapalooza 2014 bearing down on us – to watch this team lose the most gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, ball-busting defeat in franchise history … and I’m still giving him an A, despite his horrific clock management in that game (that cost the Chiefs one last chance with the ball), and questionable challenge early in the game, that kept the Chiefs from challenging late.

Because he made this team, our team, the Red and Gold, matter again.  And not just to the five county metropolitan area at large … but to me specifically.

In a year in which I routinely found myself asking “where the hell is the morning after already?”, from one disaster to one broken friendship to one downsized co-worker to one death after another, Mr. Reid provided that morning after the disaster, for this franchise, the team that is my passion in life, my escape when I need it, my (bob dylan voice) Mr. Tambourine Man.

Job well done sir.  Job well done.

7. The Chiefs Report Card: Front Office and Ownership.

GM John Dorsey: B+.  My only beef is that the 2013 Draft isn’t shaping up all that great … but the 2008 draft looked horrific sixteen games in, and all we have to show for that is our starting RT (Albert), starting RB (Charles), starting primary CB (Flowers), and former starting CB (Carr), all of whom have made at least one Pro Bowl.

Everything this guy did, at least functionally worked.  That’s more than you can say for his predecessor.  And as I used to note about Herm Edwards replacing Dick Vermeil, “Herm did as much in one season, as Dick did in five: make the playoffs once, and lose to Indy once he got there”.  Jesus, will history EVER stop repeating itself!?!?!?!

Chiefs Sales / Ticket / Fan Relations Staff: A bleeping plus.  Allow me to note guys and gals at One Arrowhead Drive, us “die hard” season ticket holders LOVE the early-in pass.  We LOVE the parking nazis leaving us the hell alone.  We love how the cones are now merely a suggestion, not a guideline.

We love that the early-entrance debacle at the home opener, was address BEFORE the gates opened to everyone else.

True story: ten years ago, when the parking issues began (that would be the 2003 season, for you following at home), I emailed then-parking director Steve Schneider (who, in fairness, is one helluva nice dude, and always responded in a timely manner anytime I emailed him about anything – and those of you who know me best, know that if I got a beef with ya, I’m throwing it in your face the first chance I get, no matter who you are) to inquire about how we were supposed to coordinate parking cars arriving from (at the time) western Shawnee, Overland Park, central Illinois, Omaha, (occasionally) Dallas, and southern KC at the same time, if we couldn’t head down and save a spot for ten, fifteen minutes before the gates open.  Mr. Schneider’s suggestion was that we all meet up somewhere, and caravan in.

Anyone who has ever entered the gates at Arrowhead when they first swing wide open – especially at Gate Six off Stadium Drive – knows this is an impossibility.

This year?  Saving spots was fine.  Pulling out of line was acceptable.  It was like 1998 all over again, at least in Lot G, and it felt good.

Enjoy the offseason.  Oh, and no need to call me – I’m not only renewing, as noted up top, I’m re-acquiring my second.

Owner Clark Hunt (and the Hunt Family): A+.  They did everything we demanded they do, at a significant financial loss to themselves.  (They are currently paying three head coaches, two general managers, and whoever dropped the candy wrapper in the stairwell three years ago.)


Keep it up Hunt Family.  And eventually that sleaze john elway and the spawn of satan known as peyton manning, won’t be holding Your Trophy in celebration.

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also, apologies on the layout ...

Something went bat sh*t crazy when I tried to upload the previous post.  I'll work on fixing it Tuesday.  I didn't change a thing; t...