On Sunday, Reflect on Monday:
Breath Deep, Get Honest, Meditate
Most of the time, when I follow games closely which I will do today, I then anticipate the Chiefs playing their game — win, lose, draw.
There are times when I dread a contest against a good team where I think we have a matchup that we cannot win. But this year, no matter what, I have different expectations. I know things look a little bleak with the two recent losses. I know other teams are facing far more adversity than the team that I follow, root for, curse and swear about when things don’t go our way. They are the Kansas City Chiefs. It has been so since 1963 and my fandom extends across what seems like eons.
We humans who are fanatics, live lives of quiet desperation as Thoreau observed. We pick and choose things that we think in the moment, are meaningful and then the process of our choosing this or that becomes the light or darkness of life. After all, when you think about it, win, lose, or draw, when all is said and done, we will in our consciousness fail to see what is really there: It is a game. That’s all. Not important in reality. We will sleep at night and wake or not and the outcome of the game matters little. I don’t dream about playing the game any longer and have not for decades now. I use the NFL as a “diversion” of consciousness, moments to hide behind the facade of that distraction.
But I am a fanatic.
Monday, the Chiefs play the Broncos. The Chiefs are the better team. Clearly. The contest will be between two organizations who have faced problems as almost every single team of the 32 have faced year in, year out.
Living the Distraction
The Chiefs have a lot of things that those who follow the game should step back and take a look at.
- Al Smith is playing lights out as QB. – Check!
- When he is under center, he has the offensive tools to win the game, both on the ground and in the air.
Kareem Hunt, RB – has played the game running and receiving as a rookie in the NFL that, as John Dillman observes, is far beyond what anyone expected!. Big Time Check!
King of the Tyreek Hill, WR – Hill provides something that the Chiefs have not had in this current era under Andy Reid: A true #1 type receiver. Big Time Check!
Towel Thrower Travis Kelce, TE – Kelce is always a threat. Teams gear their defense to ensure he doesn’t break the bank. That is goodness either way. They use personnel to shut him down and that leaves Hill and Hunt and the next guy to be covered with less force, zone or not. One good thing that I have seen recently is less childish outbursts by Kelce. He is settling in to be an adult. Kelce is probably the best receiving TE in the business. Big time Check!
Demarcus Robinson, WR – Robinson was not scheduled to be the #2 WR but he is showing he can handle the job. Chris Conley went down with injury and it took Robinson a game or two to get his NFL legs under him. I believe he has done this. Check!
Demetrius Harris and Ross Travis, TEs – Both our 2nd and 3rd Tight Ends have made progress. Both have had catches that were meaningful moving the chains. Neither has become the TE that will be the threat Kelce is but put all three on the field at the same time? Or go with a double TE set with Harris and Kelce? Opposing teams are exposed to two men who have size, speed and hands(yes, Harris has hands). Harris and Travis don’t appear to get the jitters any longer. Not many teams can field three such players as the Chiefs are able to exploit.
Albert Wilson, WR – I really hate to give him the credit but Wilson as the #3 WR had used his talent and skill as well as speed to a benefit for the Chiefs. When others are covering any of the above, Wilson can fit and has done so. Now, every one know that long before the end of the 2015 season, let alone 2016, I was in the camp of “anybody but Albert”. Basically, I would have liked Chesson, for example, to begin to step in and take on this role. Logically, had Conley not gone down to injury, We would be discussing the #4 WR. This is not the way it has worked out and to Wilson’s credit, he has made plays, run crisper routes. He has been a factor in the aerial game. Give me next season and we will see how that works out. For a #3 in 2017? Small Check!
My bottom line for the offense and Players with tools KC has threats that can and should match up with any team they face and Suddenly Al Smith has guys he can go to in a diverse offense(that I remain critical of — it takes players on offense too long to get the hang of the playbook.
The Offensive Line
The offense though, goes as far as the Offensive line can protect Alex Smith and that is where our weakness is exposed. The Chiefs lost three starters for a period of time. One is back and hasn’t taken over his previous position as starter. He remains a question mark in every game. Here of course I am speaking of Parker Ehinger and Bryan Witzmann. The second is LDT. He will be back soon and is practicing. The third? Starting center Mitch Morse. But week 8 should show us a lot more about how important players are. LDT won’t be back but Mitch will. Zach Fulton can go swing for all positions on the OL. Cameron Erving has seen some duty finally. He has had ups and downs but one thing to remember: he was tossed into the mix and once again remember that both he and Witzmann have not had time to digest the playbook and translate their play to that system. Again, I am critical of the playbook complications.
Book-ending the interior mix are Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. Now these two may not be pro-bowl players. But they are pretty good Tackles. When LDT gets back we are down to one position at guard where experience remains a factor. That should be week 9.
Am I saying this is the best OL in the biz? Nope. But with all the pieces in place it is a pretty good group.
Consider this: in 2017, the team is averaging 29.6 PPG. That is pretty darned good, especially considering the outages of key players. Even with players out, this means a lot. At the end of the season, those players being out gave us two more men who gained valuable time and being able to mix people in so the starters get a breather is a very good thing.
Oh: that 29 PPG is all scoring by the offense. I am willing to bet you counted on defensive scoring and S/T to figure predominately in that figure. It’s not the case.
The Defense Is My Worry
Marcus Peters, CB – Teams don’t throw the ball at his side. He is not getting the Turnovers via Interceptions. So okay. Big Time Check!
DJ, ILB – So okay he is more aged. This could be his last season. But he remains a true leader and he is playing better than average
football. I have detected that his speed isn’t what it was but he remains a major factor. Check!
Justin Houston, OLB – Houston remains a top player in the game. Check!
Front Three: Bennie Logan, NT, Chris Jones, DE and Allen Bailey, DE(plus others). The Chiefs have the players to mix in such as Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Jarvis Jenkins. No big time stars here, no true force that displaces the opposition. All three starters leave something to be desired in the outcome. I am not sure that this is not due to the defensive Schemes used by DC Sutton. More than average play though.
Other LBs — Nothing stands out. No cream of the crop.
Missing Pieces: Slot defender and figuring out how to replace what Eric Berry does. Nelson coming back is a big factor, I believe.
Mitchell is doing the bare minimum opposite Peters but he is thrown at time and again because, as noted, other teams don’t throw on Peters side of the field.
We need what we didn’t get in the draft and that is why I have made comments about drafting Patrick Mahomes. Water under the Bridge.
Looking at the balance of things though, The Chiefs have a single high Safety, Just not Eric Berry. Ron Parker – Check! is that guy. Sorensen has his role and so does Murray (newcomer). Not enough though at safety.
I ran it through my wringer.
Overall the Chiefs have a lot of talent to win games week in, week out. The world isn’t going to end either way. But for one day each week, we can all make that diversion count big time. This week it is the Broncos on Monday night.
David Bell – Avery, ID
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