Tag Archives: NFL Football

What’s Coming Up for the Chiefs

The Chiefs are 1-7.  That means it is time to start discussing playoff scenarios!!!

And you know what?  I’m only slightly joking.

The Chiefs are 1-7.  But 6 of those losses came against teams teams with a winning record: The Patriots, Jets, and Falcons are all 5-3, the Bucs are 6-3, the Panthers are 6-2, and the Titans are 8-0.  We lost to these teams with winning records when were extremely unsettled at QB.  The only loss to a team with a currently losing record was against the Raiders.

So let’s say that for the rest of the season, we only lose to teams that  currently have a winning record.  We would end up:

8-8!  That would include giving the Raiders and Broncos another loss each, and handing the Chargers 2 losses.  With the way those teams are playing, and with their remaining opponents’ schedules, and with the Chiefs victories adding to their losses directly, I don’t think any other team would end up 8-8.  That would mean we’d win the AFC West with an 8-8 record.  That doesn’t sound very good, but we would go into the playoffs on a 7-1 streak and with one home game.  The chances of us winning a playoff game would be very good.

Don’t like that scenario?  Do you think that some of our opponents who don’t have winning records might also improve?

Okay, here’s another potentially likely scenario:

Let’s say the Chiefs take advantage of the current turmoil and weakness of the AFC West and win the rest of their games against AFC West opponents.  That’s 5 games.  And of the remaining 4 games, we win all our home games, and lose away games.

That would put us at…

8-8!  And on the same 7-1 streak!

Much has to happen for either of these scenarios to turn out.  The other AFC West teams would have to continue to flounder.  There’s reason to think they might not be able to recover this season, of course.

The Broncos?  They have lost all their RBs, and their defense started bad and was decimated by season-ending injuries.

The Raiders?  They are the Raiders, and the players have apparently already given up on their new coach.

The Chargers?  LDT is clearly deteriorating, they miss Shawn Merriman, and, most importantly: they have Norv Turner as their head coach.  Like Wade Phillips in Dallas, the curse didn’t hit immediately, but is in full force in 2008.

We need to continue to get good play from Thigpen, innovative playcalling from Chan Gailey, solid and continually improving play from our O-line, continued turnovers from our defense, and the defense probably needs to start getting pressure on the QB to slow down the passing game that’s killed us late the last few games.  Put another way: we need to build on the successes of the last two games, but turn the corner, play strong all 4 quarters, and win these close games.

It’s all speculation, of course.  It has been done before, but we are probably too young and too injured ourselves.  Mostly, I just want to us to win some games and have our defense gel and set the stage for a playoff run next year.

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Will Tyler Thigpen Be the Chiefs’ Starting QB in 2009 (and Beyond)?

Rick Dean says it is too soon to be sure, and lots of people interviewed in his article say so, too.

“He’s on his way. I’m not gonna jinx him and say he’s arrived, but he can play effectively at this level,” Gonzalez said after Thigpen staked the Chiefs to a 24-3 lead before falling 30-27 in overtime Sunday to Tampa Bay.

“He’s surprising everybody. He keeps playing like that, who knows?” Gonzalez said. “If he’s doing this well in just his third start, let’s see how he does down the road when he’s had even more experience and gets really comfortable. We’ll see how far he takes it.”

Can it eventually work out for Thigpen and give him a long-term future with the Chiefs? The odds are against it, especially if Kansas City takes the opportunity to draft the kind of impact quarterback likely to be available with an early pick in the spring.

“The more he plays, the more we’re going to find out,” coach Herm Edwards said last week.  “But let’s not anoint him yet. Let’s not put so much pressure on this poor guy.

There’s more, so read the whole thing.

But I’m going to go out on a limb and say: yes, Thigpen is Kansas City’s starting QB for the next decade, as long as he stays healthy.

Here’s my reasoning:

1) He is amazingly accurate.  On one toss to Gonzalez, he put the ball right between two defenders, right into Tony’s hands.  It was truly a perfect toss.  It had enough velocity to prevent either defender from getting an INT, but not so hard that Gonzalez had any problems holding it.  He doesn’t always throw with perfect accuracy — no one can — but he throws with good enough accuracy enough times, and occasionally hits these perfect moments.  Coaching and experience are only going to increase those.

2) He already knows how to lead his receivers well enough to give them a chance to run after the catch.  We have more yards after catches than I can remember in recent memory.  It seemed like going back maybe as far as Bono, our WRs were often taking big hits, rarely getting the runs after the catch.  Green and Grbac were especially bad about setting up their receiver to take a big hit.  Huard was better, but his best skill was just putting the ball high so that only Bowe or Gonzalez could sky up and come down with it.  But that still made receivers occasionally take a big shot.  Thigpen hasn’t done that, from what I can tell.  Heck, for as much as I liked Brodie Croyle, his quick sideline toss to the Bowe at the line of scrimmage was often high, which meant Bowe had to jump/stretch up, grasp the ball, come down with it, and then finally start running…the delay for having to reach up often took away at least 3-4 yards, if not more.  I’ve only seen that once from Thigpen that I remember.

3) I already mentioned the velocity in conjunction with accuracy in #1, but I want to mention it separately.  When needed, Thigpen can throw the ball on a frozen rope. He throws it with distance/speed/flatness as well as any QB I’ve seen, including Cutler, Elway, Favre, or Marino.  When the ball needs to get there, it does.  He’s shown it on two passes to Bradley already, the long pass this past game, and the TD pass to Bradley against the Jets.  And on the pass to the endzone that TonyG dropped against the Bucs: Thigpen was scrambling, about to get hit by the defender, falling backwards, of his back foot, and just sort of flipped it out there…and it still traveled about 25 yards, right to Gonzalez, impossible to be intercepted, and TonyG just dropped it after it hit him in the hands.  And yet: Thigpen has never thrown so hard it caromed off of a receivers shoulder pads.  He doesn’t make it difficult for the WR to catch it like Elway and Favre sometimes did.  He throws an extremely catchable ball, from what I can tell.

4) He’s durable.  He’s taken some big hits in the pocket, and only once got up slowly…then shrugged it off and kept doing fine.

5) He’s mobile enough to avoid sacks and buy time to get a big completion, or run it for a first down.

6) He’s making good decisions with the ball, and that will only improve with experience.

He’s already good enough to take a team with a suspect/inexperience O-line, lacking his pro-bowl RB, and an inconsistent, cobbled-together WR corps and led us to 14 1st quarter points, and 24 first half points against one of the NFL’s top defenses.  He still has weaknesses, but none in his physical gifts, and all in areas that will improve with coaching and/or experience.

I don’t know what his peak is.  He may never be a Pro-Bowl QB.  He may not have the ability to engineer a 4th-quarter comeback.  He may not be able to control nerves in playoffs…or if he can win in the playoffs, he may not be able to do so in a Super Bowl (not saying that we’ll make it there, I’m just saying that we can’t know if he will someday encounter a limit that means he should be replaced).  But he’s already good enough to be considered a good starter. 

Please name me another QB we could draft that would be guaranteed to perform as good or better in his 2nd and 3rd start as Thigpen did against the Jets and the Bucs?  Heck, it’s hard to find even a great QB who progressed this rapidly.  (Again: I’m not saying Thigpen will be great; he might have just rapidly maxed out his abilities at just mediocre with 2 good games). 

There’s just no reason to use a 1st-3rd round pick on a QB coming out of college this year, because there is no one that we know can outperform what Thigpen is already doing, and that pick would be far better spent on improving our O-line, our LB corps, bolstering our CB squad, and maybe even looking for help on the D-line, or RBs, or WR…

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Tired of Politics? Let’s Talk Chiefs Football

Great little article over here at Arrohead Pride.  He provides this data:

  • 14 first quarter points was by far the most the Chiefs have scored this season
  • Most (21) first downs in a game
  • Most (36) rushing attempts in a game
  • Most (384) offensive yards in a game
  • Least (26) passing attempts in a game
  • 2nd most (63) offensive plays in a game
  • Only one sack allowed, which has happened only once this season
  • Highest yards gained per pass (7.4)
  • 3rd best rushing performance of the year, based on yards and YPC
  • There’s lots more, and I agree with pretty much everything he said.  “The spread” is working quite well for Thigpen and the Chiefs right now.  You cannot argue with success, and our offense has finally been successful two games in a row.  The defense is helping quite a bit by providing turnovers, but is apparently weakening in the second half.  Of course, injuries didn’t help…but one more decent draft and/or development by some younger players like D-linemen Brian Johnston, Glenn Dorsey, TJ Jackson, and LBs Rumph and/or Dacus, and this team will be dangerous.

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    Bias in News Reporting

    Did anyone watch ESPN’s NFL Prime Time this week?

    After recapping the Monday night games, the Chiefs-Patriots game was the next feature.

    It was almost as if the Patriots didn’t play anyone.  They did not show a single Chiefs’ highlight.  They did not mention the Chiefs driving to the Patriots’ 5-yard line with 53 seconds to go.  They didn’t mention our starting QB, Brodie Croyle, was sent to the bench with a shoulder injury.

    The only time they mentioned a Chiefs player at all was when they said something like, “Bernard Pollard ended Tom Brady’s season.”  Sheesh!  With that tone and phrasing, I’m surprised they didn’t give out his phone number, address, and where he was likely to be found by himself (to make it easier to give him a beating)!

    That presumption of guilt continued:

    They quoted Randy Moss’ accusations that it was a dirty hit and the sportscaster went on to say, “Even the Patriots coach hinted he thought it was a dirty hit.”  The subsequent interview clip, however, would not have seemed like an accusation without that lead-in.

    Why didn’t they also include the quote from Bruschi, who says he doesn’t consider it a dirty hit?

    “(As a defensive player) I fight and fight and fight. To make pressure, to alter a throw, and in my mind that was what he was doing,” Bruschi said. “Did he intentionally want to hurt Tom there? I don’t think so.”

    Peter King, one of the biggest Patriot and Tom Brady fans in the sports journalist world, agrees:

    Lynch, watching from home in Denver, didn’t think it was dirty. Important man to ask; he’s spent his career in football blitzing and trying to get at quarterbacks the way Pollard did Sunday. And he got fairly close to Brady on a recent short trial with the Patriots.

    “There’s no way that was a dirty play,” Lynch said. “It’s easy to look at a play in slow-motion and say, ‘Oh, he should have been able to stop.’ Totally unrealistic. Things are moving so fast out there. Pollard was going for Tom, and it looked like he was somewhat blocked into him.”

    Somewhat blocked into him. Good way to put it, if you saw it. As Lynch says, it’s impossible to even imply that Pollard’s intent was to crash into the side of Brady’s knee.

    They ended up showing the hit 3 times, from slightly different angles.  But they cut the clip short so you don’t see Patriots’ RB Sammy Morris jumping on Pollard’s back and pushing him down when he tries to get up to sack Brady.

    An honest sportscast would have made it clear that Sammy Morris did as much to cause that injury as Bernard Pollard.

    I know it’s sports, and it doesn’t matter as much as war, the economy, or even politics; but I still think it was unprofessional and a violation of sportscasting ethics to imply Pollard or the Chiefs played dirty, and to completely ignore the Chiefs’ gritty performance in pushing the game to the limit without our starting QB.

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    Chiefs Sign Ingle Martin, QB (and P?)

    With Brodie out for 2-4 weeks, the Chiefs management apparently feels we need a little more QB depth.

    See Martin’s wiki page for his background.

    That raises some questions:

    Why would need 4 QBs?  Croyle isn’t going to get cut, right?  So why would we bring in someone as an immediate, long-term answer?  Is Thigpen not good enough?  Why would we want to sign someone who has bounced around on the Packer and Titan practice squad for two years?

    Huard has us covered for the short term. And some (including Herm and Chan, apparently) still think Thigpen could eventually be at least a solid starter. He may not be ready this week, but there’s no one out there that right now, clearly has more potential to be a solid starter than Thigpen.

    So if Huard gets hurt within the next 2-3 weeks, Thigpen gets a chance to show what he can do for a short stretch. That way he picks up some more valuable experience.

    So why even sign Martin?   Because we could use a 3rd working QB to help act as a scout team player and emergency QB in the next couple games.

    It seems as if the Chiefs’ management is thinking: why sign Rattay or Simms (and pay them “former starting veteran” money) to only be an emergency QB?  Sometimes one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. So while he’s with us, he’s auditioning to be our #3 QB next year (if we jettison Croyle, Huard, or Thigpen for demonstrating they now lack minimum ability to start).

    If you recall, that’s what the Chiefs did with their roster last year, signing Barksdale, Baldwin, and Tyler Thigpen to the team.  The #51, 52, and 53rd players on the team weren’t going to get any playing time, anyway; it acted as a tryout.  And while Barksdale and Baldwin were later cut, Thigpen stuck.  Later in the season, we brought in Pat Thomas; he’s now our starting MLB.  So expect the Chiefs to continue to play with the final few slots on the roster.  It’s almost like an expanded practice squad; the Chiefs will sign players for a few weeks and take a look at them, see if it is worth bringing them back in the spring.

    As for this specific situation: It’s a win-win. If he has some talent that the Packers or the Titans couldn’t see because he was buried on the depth chart taking a bare minimum of snaps with the 3rd team, then we win because we found that talent. If he is truly bad enough to not be a project for a future starter, well, what hopes for the playoffs or for a future franchise QB do you harbor for a what really amounts to a #4 QB? How much does it cost us to determine that for ourselves?  No draft picks; little money. It’s almost totally risk-free, and we get an extra arm to act as scout QB.

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