KANSAS CITY MO - DECEMBER 26: Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with Thomas Jones #20 after scoring a touchdown during the game against the Tennessee Titans on December 26 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
A while back we talked about the Chiefs salary cap situation. I gave my (totally uninformed and completely based off nothing but my own instinct) opinion that we would know how Scott Pioli feels about our team's "core" by how hard he tries to re-sign our own FA's (especially Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, Dwayne Bowe, and Tamba Hali). I then went on to talk about our defense and discuss whether or not we've got that core in place to contend for a SB.
Long story short (and by now you should know when I say that, it isn't even remotely true), I decided that our defensive core is either place or just one significant addition away. Needless to say, (who else hates that expression? Good God don't say it then!) that makes me a happy camper.
But what about our offense? After all, if you take a look at today's league, there's no question: it's an offensively driven league. Rule changes allow receivers more leeway across the middle and with sideline catches, defenses are discouraged from being as physical as in years past, and I think the current penalty for hitting a quarterback too hard is death by guillotine (although I may be wrong on this one. It might just be a firing squad).
Anyways, the bottom line is the days of bad or even average offensive teams winning a Super Bowl are dead and gone (looking at you Ravens). You need to have a team that can put points on the board if they have to. So do we have the core in place to make it to the Promised Land? Or are we, like the Israelites, doomed to wander the desert for another 40 years?
Let's look at the different facets of our offense, shall we? How about we look at each position group? WR's, RB's, O-line, and QB? I know it sounds like I'm asking, but I'm not. That's what we're gonna do. Why? Because I'm mad with power, that's why. Also, I'm not gonna do a breakdown of every single player we've got. This is an overview, not a scouting report. And really, does anyone want to read a breakdown of Chandler Williams? Seriously?
This is the group that immediately jumps out as the weakest in our offense. Dawyne Bowe is a solid receiver with flashes of spectacular, but after that the bottom falls out. And also, Bowe had seven games last year in which he had three or fewer catches. This is not the mark of a great receiver (although in his defense, it's tough when every team we play knows they can put four guys on him). So obviously, we're not off to a roaring start here with our best WR being very good but not quite great (with inconsistency hurting him).
After that, our next best receiving option is likely going to be rookie Jonathan Baldwin. And believe me, that's not exactly a ringing endorsement. It's just kind of the way things go. I don't like trusting rookies, even ones with freakish talent like Baldwin (if you haven't watched bfett's Cassel video yet, do so. There's some great footage of Baldwin in college, and he was just a man among boys). But honestly, who else is there? The Disappearing Man Formerly Known As Chris Chambers? Please. If he's not cut this year there may well be a riot on Kansas City. Jerheme Urban is our next most "proven" (using that word VERY loosely here) receiver after Chambers. Dexter McCluster looked more comfortable coming out of the backfield than in the slot and is supposedly going to play more of a scatback role this year. So what do we have? A bunch of unproven guys who have done nothing to inspire confidence. Yikes.
Tight end is a little less depressing (although it's not hard when being compared to such a lackluster group). Tony Moeaki was excellent as a rookie and should see more targets (not to mention his absolutely studly blocking). Leonard Pope is a decent veteran option who is OK at everything and great at nothing (which is more than adequate for a number 2 tight end). And astonishingly enough, Jake O'Connell actually made a couple of decent plays last year. Which was a 10000000000000% improvement on what we'd seen previously. I can't include Cottam in this group. I just can't. He's had one good game and a scary neck injury.
So basically what we've got here is Bowe and Moeaki as solid players. Then one average player, a rookie, and a bunch of nobodies. This is not a group that is poised to take us to the Super Bowl unless Baldwin becomes beastly enough right away to demand a lot of attention (not totally out of the question, but hardly likely). In other words, we need help here. A slot WR would go a long ways towards helping us have a decent group. In addition our depth guys need to either improve or be replaced. So... yeah. Not what I'm assuming you'd like to hear. But hey, we run the ball more than we pass it, right? Which leads me to...
I refuse to get dragged into another Thomas Jones debate. Let me be clear... I DON'T want him to be cut and I DON'T want him to lose all his carries. But he needs to have a lighter load this year. He was bad, bad, bad down the stretch. And don't tell me he was "paving the way" for JC or "wearing out defenses". I've seen the man run. He is not a punishing back and isn't wearing anyone down in a significant way. He's a great, older leader who can be productive as long as he's not asked to do too much (seriously, PLEASE look at the drop in his numbers down the stretch. You cannot tell me that was all the O-line's fault or due to defensive scheming. Because JC did just fine down the stretch). Basically, TJ needs to lose some of those carries. If he does that, I'm confident he can produce at a solid pace.
What is there left to say about Jamaal Charles? He's great. There ya go. He gets good-to-great yardage almost every carry, makes big plays, led the NFL in yards after contact, helps the passing game, and probably fights crime in his spare time while inhaling carbon emissions, exhaling oxygen, and crapping oil. That's how awesome he is. Not just good for the Chiefs, but America. No problems here. If Jamaal Charles is your feature back you're doing very, very well for yourself.
After these two we've got Jackie Battle and (apparently, from reports and from what Haley is saying) Dexter McCluster. I know Battle is a favorite here, and for the life of me I cannot figure out why. He's never done squat to prove he can play ball when it counts. That'd MAYBE be acceptable if he was a 2nd or even 3rd player, but the man has been in the league four years now. It's time to find a power back who can actually earn carries during the game. Dexter, I'm more excited about. Most of his best plays last year (cue H2E joke, "All two of them?") came from out of the backfield. Go back and look at the Jaguars game. He can make plays for us. I think he could be a significant contributor, maybe along the lines of 5-7 carries a game and multiple plays where he comes out of the backfield as a receiver.
While I wish we had a genuine power back on board (and I hope we find one), I'm comfortable with this group as a whole. Of course, we're one JC injury from having a very subpar backfield, but that's how it is in the NFL. I'd take our RB's as a GROUP over any other group of RB's in the league. Is most of this because JC is a freak of nature who may very well be the Second Coming? Well... yeah. Add in TJ being solid in limited doses and Dex's playmaking ability, and you've got a good group there.
And now for the controversy. The drama. The debate. The eternal question. The ultimate divider on Arrowhead Pride. Matt Cassel.
Next week (admit it. You hate me. It's ok. I hate me a little right now too). I'm already at 1300 words, and let's be honest, no one wants to read much more than that when I'm the writer. So next week, we'll cover the O-line and quarterback positions (unless I feel like writing about something else. Then we'll do it another time. Like I said, I'm MAD with power right now).