Merlin’s Guide: What To Look For In Training Camp and Beyond

 

 

 

Well A1’ers, the dog days are upon us, so of course, training camp is upon us. I think I have finally warmed up from sitting in the stands during the playoff game with Pittsburgh, frustrated that the Offense could only move the ball well at the beginning and the end of the game and frustrated that the Defense couldn’t stop the run or get stops on 3rd down until Pittsburgh was in field goal range. So, it’s time for my scattershot thoughts on training camp, the preseason and what I will be looking for.

 

Training Camp

Move back to River Falls, Wisconsin. Don’t give us this “We need to prepare for the heat” crap. Football is not played in the summer for a reason. Players will practice better in the cooler temperatures. You are local for one reason, money. It’s cheaper to travel and you are charging fans to come see practice. Because, you know, the Chiefs need an extra couple of thousand dollars a day. When I went to River Falls, it was free to get in, free to park. It was really neat going there. I got to talk to Dustin Colquitt and Will Shields. That was a lot of fun, plus the town was really into the Chiefs.

 

Shiny New Toys

Oh, everyone loves the draft and the shiny new toys the Chiefs get to play with. It’s halcyon days for the fans. Every 3rd round pick is another Travis Kelce. Every 5th round pick will have a Tyreek Hill impact. Sober minds understand that with a team like the Chiefs, most rookies will have little impact. Hunt could have an impact, assuming he can be quick and fast enough and be stable enough to get a lot of YAC. He reminds me some of Emmitt Smith. Smith never seemed to have the explosive speed or shiftiness, but he piled up yardage. Running behind a stellar line never hurts.

 

Who Steps Up?

While most people are drooling over the rookies, I will be looking to see what second and third year players take a step up. Some questions are easy and obvious. Can Chris Jones build on his impressive rookie season and become the dominant force on the defensive line? Can Tyreek Hill avoid the sophomore slump (as well as the NFL having lots of tape of him to study) and become a stud? Can Chris Conley become a bigger threat in the passing game? I will be looking to see if players like Eric Murray, DJ White, Ross Travis, Steven Nelson, and Ramik Wilson take their game to a higher level.

 

Incubation Time

Our shiny new toy Quarterback, he of the howitzer arm, needs to incubate for a year or two. After preseason, I don’t want him to take a snap, outside of garbage time. Alex Smith is an excellent Quarterback for Patrick Mahomes II (PM2) to learn from. Alex’s strengths are PM2’s weaknesses. To develop well, he needs to take a few pages from the smart, risk adverse QB in front of him. As much as fans want to see PM2 develop into a QB that can take the Chiefs to a Super Bowl and win it, we are all going to appreciate Alex Smith more when he is gone. Speaking of appreciation….

 

So Long Dorse, Thanks For The Picks

Losing John Dorsey was a major blow. Say what you will about his cap management. The man can find players. He is easily the best talent evaluator the Chief have had since Bill Kuharich, arguably since King Carl first came to KC and even possibly since the 1960’s. It is hard to compare drafting from then to the modern era. The modern era in drafting is very different and requires a different set of skills. Of course, the term modern era means different things to different people. For me, it’s football after the 70’s. For the youngsters, it’s football in the 2000’s. For Bert, it’s when the forward pass was legalized. Yes folks, the forward pass was not legal in football until 1906. When it was legalized, passes couldn’t be thrown more than 5 yards to either side of the Center, an incomplete pass was a 15 yard penalty, and a pass that wasn’t touched resulted in a turnover. I kid Bert, but A1 is a richer site with his contributions.

 

Continuity? Don’t Talk About Continuity!

Talk about a line of poor reasoning. You hear the Chiefs and many pundits talk about how the Chiefs will have great continuity with their Offensive Line. All five starters returning from last year, yada, yada, yada. One problem, Parker Ehinger. If healthy, he is expected to start at Left Guard. There goes your whole continuity argument. If you want to talk about the continuity on the right side of the line, that’s fair.

 

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News

The Chiefs needs good news from the Doctor. Is Justin Houston finally healthy and ready to terrorize Offenses? Can DJ make another comeback and play at a high level? How much gas is left in Tamba Hali’s tank? Will Justin March-Lillard ever play a full season or will he Sanders Commings his way off the team? What’s the major problem with all of the above? They are all Linebackers. The Chiefs better stockpile numbers of Linebackers to call, just in case.

 

Final Score

If you got the Jim Mora, Robert Palmer, and Douglas Adams references, you scored 100%! Sound off below. What are you looking for in training camp and the preseason?

 

 

 

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  • Laurels and limitations

    “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

    • Merlin

      Ahhh a second Douglas Adams quote. Good one!

      • Laurels and limitations

        I haven’t read any of his stuff in decades, I might have to dust an old book off or something.

        • Merlin

          What can I say, I am old.

          • Laurels and limitations

            lol, I’m yet to meet the person who is getting younger.

          • ladner morse

            Not old but vintage, classic and… smarter than any millennial could ever hope to be… 🙂

      • ladner morse

        Merlin, I loved reading those quotes and “The Final Score” was a pure stroke of the pen genius!

        • Merlin

          Aw thanks Laddie. Sometimes articles take on a life of their own. I started with reworking a phrase from Douglas Adams and it went from there. Thanks for dressing it up with some neat graphics. The Red Grange card was an amazing idea.

  • Laurels and limitations

    not sure where LOC got there info from, but here is an update.

    New salary cap info…#Chiefs cap now stands at $ 9.874 million after Mahomes signing— LockedOnChiefs (@LockedOnChiefs) July 25, 2017

    • Laurels and limitations

      Spotrac is saying 9.1M, and OTC is saying 9.06 so the truth is somewhere in the middle of course. These kind of numbers really makes a person really wonder as to the Maclin situation and why they didn’t just ask him to restructure.

      • ladner morse

        Why does that cap number look familiarly like… the exact same number posted a week ago, a day before Mahomes signed???

        • Laurels and limitations

          I thought we were at about 12 something before Mahomes was signed, I might be wrong.

          • ladner morse

            Probably… my memory isn’t what it used to be… Probably… my memory isn’t what it used to be…

            🙂

          • larry mckinney

            What? Can’t hear you.

  • Laurels and limitations

    While I agree 100% that Alex Smith will be an excellent tutor for PM2, I find myself yearning for clarification of the phrase “Alex’s strengths are PM2’s weaknesses”. A think a viable argument could be made for the inverse of that phrase also is all I’m saying.

  • ladner morse

    When preparing for his initial interview with Clark Hunt, Brett Veach got help from an old co-worker: https://t.co/upxe92xXM8— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) July 25, 2017

    • Laurels and limitations

      lol, got me!

      • ladner morse

        hehe

  • Laurels and limitations

    hmmm, it looks as though Veach had a ton of help from Chris Ballard in preparing for Veach’s current role as GM. I really don’t believe that the NFL is such a big wide world but rather a small circle. Ballard understood that Veach was on the fast track and helped prepare him for it.

    When preparing for his initial interview with Clark Hunt, Brett Veach got help from an old co-worker: https://t.co/upxe92xXM8— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) July 25, 2017

  • ladner morse

    Ravens, Texans and Saints…
    .

    Three Potential Trade Landing Spots For Chiefs Tamba Hali https://t.co/al3vNPGxaO #ChiefsKingdom #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/DEB9LBVWF7— Chiefs on PFS (@spot_chiefs) July 25, 2017

    • Laurels and limitations

      I just can’t see this happening. No matter what Tamba says, other teams with the slightest interest could watch tape and see just how limited he was physically last season. That is aside from the very high one year price tag. Then lastly, I’m torn as to what making jettison of Hali would say about the Chief;s organization.

      • Laurels and limitations

        KC would get 1.583 million in dead cap both this year and next year regardless according to spotrac.

      • Chiefly Bacon

        I don’t see any way Chiefs trade Tamba. Either he’s physically limited, and nobody wants him, or he’s got something in the tank, and Chiefs need him.

        • Laurels and limitations

          agreed

      • freshmeat62

        Wonder if Hali would retire if he thinks he’ll not get to play more. Believe Chiefs would be off the hook for any more of his salary. Even though he doesn’t get to the QB much any more, he does still put pressure, and he can play the run better than Ford. But I think he is to the point he’s not worth his salary. No body is going to trade for his salary.

        • Laurels and limitations

          you’re absolutely right about the salary, the run stopping and I’d even throw in that’s he’s better versus the screen. About the only thing Ford is better at than Hali is age but that is probably enough at this point.

          I really doubt Hali is going to retire, nor do I wish he does so but you never know.

  • berttheclock

    Excellent breakdown, Merlin. I had placed myself on a self imposed PUP list to not comment. However, as several have questioned my ability to discern anything regarding the Chiefs lately, I should, probably, say I have placed myself on more of a MUP list.

    Read a very sobering thought by someone heavily involved with calculating DVOA. The writer wrote his very long piece concerning the Chiefs before the recent draft. However, what is really sobering about it is he opined that the main body of the current Chiefs were all younger players who really needed time to mold themselves into better productive players. Ergo, he opined, the Chiefs might be at least 3 years away from really contending as a major force in the NFL. Having gone through so many rebuilding programs with this team since the sixties and truly believing prior to the recent draft that all that really needed to be done was some tweaking, the very thought of having to wait for more than 2 more years is chilling. Included in that is the fact the same author of the piece believes the Eagles will be far stronger this coming season and the Chiefs have to play them in early September.

    I will leave one and all with another quote by Douglas Adams, who penned, “Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do so.”. I did not know whether to change the title of President to, either, Dictator or Puppet of another nation.

    • tm1946

      Golly gee but I hope you and him are wrong. If I can infer from what you left out….. the joining the elite will happen in just over 3 years… that means Mahomes is the real thing and elite without having thrown a pass. Also most if not all our today stars will be gone due to age, cap issues, or stops fitting in the system. Could be a long wait and if it fails, just another rebuild.

  • Laurels and limitations

    "Based off this practice, they're going to win the Super Bowl" – @RealMikeWelch LIVE at Training Camp #Chiefs— 610 Sports Radio- KC (@610SportsKC) July 25, 2017

  • larry mckinney

    Hey! Lighten up on ole Bert. Think I am as old as he.

  • Laurels and limitations

    More :30 video views from camp, incl Derrick Johnson, Kareem Hunt and Veach on sidelines. (Phone edited clip.) @KCStar @SportsDailyKC pic.twitter.com/4rXTDo1a1s— David Eulitt (@davidphotokc) July 25, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations

    Would you like to see #Chiefs QB Mahomes at camp? Sure you would, that's why you follow me on the Twitter. (Phone edited vid) @KCStar pic.twitter.com/b0b5tLAw1T— David Eulitt (@davidphotokc) July 25, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations

    He's back! @superdj56 returns to the field for the first day of #ChiefsCamp. pic.twitter.com/xsvjghtmuJ— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) July 25, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations

    perspective

    K.Hunt on Chiefs RB tradition: "I know about Larry Johnson, Priest Holmes, Jamaal Charles. Those are big shoes to fill if I make the team."— Soren Petro (@SorenPetro) July 25, 2017

    • Roswell Incident

      I like the humility.

  • Laurels and limitations

    I was thumbing through the photos on the link and I noticed a couple of things:
    TK is a VERY large human being.
    There a few photos of Marcus Rush, the pre-season Phenom, in there. I had to look him up because I forgot about him. I’m betting he ends up being a practice squad guy but he IS someone to keep an eye on.

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  • ladner morse

    Had a chance to catch up with Andy Reid yesterday for a 1-on-1 and ask about his contract extension, #ChiefsKingdom, and new GM Brett Veach. pic.twitter.com/kXACU4dMfr— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) July 25, 2017

  • freshmeat62

    Almost 3 days w/o internet. Hopefully the twitching will subside soon.

    I think Tamba is still better than Ford at pressuring the QB, as Ford gets ridden out of plays too easily. He may be quick off the ball, but that is the end of his advantage. As for playing the run, so many times I’ve seen him spinning like a top in one spot, or lagging behind a play and if he does get to the runner before he’s down, he will stand by if someone else has already made contact instead of helping finish the tackle. I think the biggest problem I have w/ Ford is I expect him to play up to his 1st rd pick, and he doesn’t. I’m going to try to be more open minded. Look at him more like a 4th rd pick.

    I went back and got caught up on the columns of the last few days, and the one thing that sticks out to me the most, is the constant message coming from Reid that he doesn’t want to have the GM responsibility. But it looks to me that the GM had better agree w/ Reid, and do as he wants, or he’s going to be out the door.

    • Last Point: Yeah, it was Reid and yeah that caused the front office problem. Hunt stated he was “unsure” there was a problem but the way it came down resulted in Dorsey’s departure and that is a huge talent finding machine gone in the sunset.

  • Frank Rodela

    Just read that Mike Vick will be join Reid and Co as a coaching intern for camp. It is not unheard of for a former player to come to camp as an intern, with all of the extra players on the field, the coaches need extra eyes. And who better than people that have played the position.

    • Laurels and limitations

      Al Harris first started coaching in KC as an intern himself, iirc. Talk about a helluva find.

      • Frank Rodela

        I’ve been wondering if it would be with the Chiefs, Vick said last month that he was ready to start the next Chapter of his life which he hoped would be coaching. That same week, Reid said that he thought Vick would make an exceptional coach, given the chance

        • Laurels and limitations

          to be entirely honest, I like it and I hope Vick sticks. This might get kind of long so please endure.

          Michael Vick coming out of college was a singular weapon and he brought that mindset to the Falcons when they drafted him. Yeah, he had an arm and all that jazz but the real threat was Vick’s legs and every team that the Falcons faced knew that. Vick wasn’t tasked with understanding defenses and stuff because the team either relied on Vick’s legs or his improvisation after a defense was forced to account FOR his legs.

          Here we skip a chapter in Vick’s life and fast forward to when Vick became aware that he had to be more of a cerebral QB. Under Reid, Vick had a down year in year one but after that he continually threw near 60% completion rate which is respectable but not great. Still, there are a lot of NFL QBs that wish they could boast of that. Vick wasn’t running near as much but at the same time, you could see that he was finally having to use his brain instead of his legs..an entirely new frontier if you will.

          With the not so new spread offenses concretely in place across the collegiate circus, I mean circuit, nearly every QB coming into the league will be more versed in scrambling/running/option plays than they ever will playing under center. In fact, NFL teams are using more collegiate sets than colleges are using NFL sets I would bet. Vick fully understands both having been there and done both in a very respectable manner. In a nut shell, Vick, in my eyes, is a perfect instructor in tutoring a prospect across the chasm of college ball and into the NFL.

          Last point, Vick is a felon, but Vick has fully paid his price in the eyes of the courts and regularly speaks candidly before audiences about his ordeal. To say that Vick has accepted responsibility for his past actions and is continually working past them would be an understatement. It seems that so many kids coming out of college have baggage nowadays, Vick is a living example of what can happen, AND how to carry it with you without said baggage taking over your life.

          • Laurels and limitations

            where’s DAICF at? he’d appreciate how long that missive is, lol.

          • Frank Rodela

            Couldn’t have said it better myself

          • Laurels and limitations

            thanks, bub.

  • tm1946

    KC Star is reporting M. Vick is in the coaching trainee program… did not know we had a dog fighting field in St. Joe or Arrowhead.

    • ladner morse

      Vick in St. Joe??? Isn’t that a little too close for comfort in relationship to Leavenworth?

    • Laurels and limitations

      Vick's internship is a part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) July 25, 2017

    • Chiefly Bacon

      I love bringing in Vick. He’s a good dude, made genuine restitution for his actions.

  • Laurels and limitations

    lol, fair point..

    If you can't beat em' join em'? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/yFQLMjWUSP— Chiefs Kingdom (@KingdomChiefs1) July 25, 2017

    • Roswell Incident

      That was a great game.

  • Laurels and limitations

    this outta be interesting:

    IM GOING LIVE ON FACEBOOK AT 8pm EST TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT… TUNE IN —> https://t.co/UlfXNblEdd— Tamba Hali (@TambaHali91) July 25, 2017

    • Laurels and limitations

      it’s been delayed 15 min.

  • Laurels and limitations

    “There aren’t many people in the world who have that kind of experience,” Alex Smith.“You listen to everything he says," @PatrickMahomes5. https://t.co/34H3qbtOAF— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) July 26, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations
  • Laurels and limitations

    Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt and Patrick Mahomes spoke with the media today.What we learned ➡️ https://t.co/0kVzWqxzjh pic.twitter.com/cT8vR5uCHQ— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) July 26, 2017

  • I’ve been thinking things over since you posted this, and in reflection of my own view which was shifting. Hali, Ford, DJ(PUP) give me a huge reason to re-address myself to getting an ILB. Now it may be that all of this is false concern once we get to the season opener. True. I agree Hunt is a key — but I cannot see how the Chiefs didn’t improved their backfield with Hunt. So for me, watching how Hunt begins to meld his skill set to the Chiefs running game and how quickly he picks up the play book will tell me a lot.

    I am the constant 3 C’s guy: Consistency, Continuity, Cohesiveness. Mostly this is my consideration after the GM presents the 63 men to the Roster and Taxi. Well, okay, I think we lost a huge talent with Dorsey being forced out. I cannot see Veatch matching his ability – and yes, I am a big Wolf GM School guy. Dorsey will make his mark elsewhere and proly learned a lot of how to do the salary/cap/negotiation component of the job. He will reflect and move on. I am sad he is gone. But agreed here, that this has caused a problem for some of the players who have verbalized about Dorsey’s dismissal. Veatch will be okay but in my view, Reid is the problem and Reid should have been the one fired not Dorsey. Hunt saw it different. I think this was internecine to a T.

    The front end opener and guys already on roster to step up… good points. Incubation period for Mahomes? You bet. No snaps unless the world crashes.

    Glad you are writing and keep it up.