Things I Know After Three Meaningless Chiefs Preseason Games

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 26: Dexter McCluster #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs returns a punt against Josh Hull #56 of the St. Louis Rams during a pre-season game at Arrowhead Stadium on August 26, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Know what's awesome?  Paying five bucks to watch a game on TV, looking forward to it all week while you sift through dozens of foster children case files (and lose all faith in humanity because people don't look after their own kids) and finalize your move away from your family, then have the game "experience technical difficulties" for the better part of 15 minutes.  While your team is getting shellacked like the East Dillion Lions in their first game (Friday Night Lights.  Watch it, then thank me and everyone else who has told you it's awesome).

The experience is akin to seeing some decent trailers for a movie, thinking "Hey, that might be worth seeing", then going and finding out that it's the worst production of all time.  In case you're wondering, I'm talking about "The Box".  Don't watch it.  If you have a worst enemy who doesn't know he's your worst enemy, recommend it to him.  Because nothing else you try could do half the psychological damage of sitting through that movie.

But anyways, yeah, I missed some of the game.  It was not fun.  But oh well, life goes on.  

I was going to do a breakdown of the game.  But then I thought to myself, "Self, it's been 3 games.  Why break down players and plays from the game when that's time consuming and requires an annoying amount of effort?  Why not instead just make random points about everything and anything Chiefs related?"

Since I don't like to argue with myself (I mean, no matter what I lose, so why bother?), I figured I'd go with it.  So here are some things I know, some suggestions I have, and maybe even a random thought or two about our Chiefs.  They're based on the last three games.  And some are based on last night's game.  And some are just thoughts that popped into my head as I wrote at 3 in the morning on a Mountain Dew high (we drove home late from Minneapolis and I made the mistake of downing a couple of Dews about 20 minutes before we got home.  I feel like my eyes are being held open by force right now).  I'll even try to link all of the thoughts together like the really good writers do (guys like Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Dickens, and whoever wrote the Berenstain Bears books).

Shall we?

I finally figured out how Jon McGraw is still in the NFL

Trust me, I've given this a lot of thought.  He's old, slow, not particularly great at tackling (he'll lay the wood if he gets a chance, but isn't that great at stopping the guy dead in his tracks when he does.  He's not the worst but he sure ain't Urc Burry), and never does a whole lot to stand out.  But I finally solved this particular mystery.

It was Derrick Johnson's sack in with 7:50 left in the 2nd that allowed me to figure it out.  McGraw just BARRELS into the offensive lineman, leaving DJ a lane that he could've driven a Hummer through.  And not one of those new sissy Hummers either.  I'm talking an old school, 10,000 pound, gets-3-miles-to-the-gallon Hummer.  I still don't really enjoy seeing him out there.  Because he's, you know, old, slow, not particularly great at tackling, and never does a whole lot to stand out.  But that was a fun play to watch.  That man understands how football is supposed to be played.  On a kind of related note...

 I think we might actually have a pass rush this year besides Tamba Hali

This may seem odd after a game in which we only had one sack.  But "odd" is hardly the worst thing I've ever been called so I'll take the risk.  I like the way our front 7 could shape up.  With Kelly Gregg and Jerrell Powe rotating at NT, and with Justin Houston inevitably taking Andy Studebaker's job (more on that in a minute) I see us as much stronger at those two positions than we were last year.  Crap, Allen Bailey was even seeing time with the 1st team nickel defense out there and didn't totally embarrass himself.  Always promising.  If that guy can play 1/10 as well as he looks like he should (have you ever seen a guy that big that cut?  I mean, ever?  Plus, he killed an alligator with a shovel.  So he's got that going for him) we'll have another contributor.  Of course, talking about our nickel defense leads me to ask the inevitable question...

Where the crap is Wallace Gilberry?

Seriously, where?  Is he chillin' somewhere on a beach with Chris Chambers?  What happened to the "he's really looking in great shape" and "he's a little bulkier and stronger" reports we kept hearing?  I'm only a couple more invisible games from calling up "Unsolved Mysteries" to figure out what happened to the guy who was supposed to be our secondary pass rusher this year (I miss watching that show.  Best host ever.  That guy NAILED what they needed out of a host.  My nightmares are narrated by his voice.  "It was a normal day in the quiet town of Brainerd...".  Just gives me chills thinking about it.  By the way, have I mentioned it's 3 in the morning?).  Speaking of our pass rush...

There is no decent reason why Justin Houston should lose out on snaps to Andy Studebaker, Cameron Sheffield or anyone else we've got competing for LOLB.

I went over this last week, but I'll reiterate after yet another game in which Houston vastly (is that the correct usage of that word?  Anyone?) outplayed Studebaker.  I don't say things like, "If the coach doesn't do such-and-such he's being an idiot" because I tend to leave the X's and O's to the professionals.  But if Romeo Crennel or Todd Haley or Joe Biden or whoever is making this decision DOESN'T give Houston the lion's share of the snaps this year (in our base as well as our nickel defense), he's being...well, you know.  Houston's much, much better at rushing the passer than Stude or Sheff.  And you know what else?  He's better against the run.  

You can say this and that about coverage, but here's the deal... I watched a few times, and Houston looks pretty comfortable back there.  I'll try to say this diplomatically... he ain't Tamba back there (sorry Tambahawk.  Please don't kill me.  I'm legitimately scared of you and feel as though you'll know I poked fun at you).

So you've got a guy who is significantly better at two of the three aspects of a job, with no noticeable (to my untrained eye at least) difference in the third aspect.  This is a no-brainer, Todd.  Or Romeo.  Or Joe.  Play Houston.  Let Sheffield and Stude fight it out for backup.  And while we're talking about backups...

Is it my imagination or is our backup QB situation slightly less hopeless than it was a few weeks ago?

If I'm going to go off just what I've seen in preseason (which I am) and was the type of guy to make quick decisions based off limited information (also me), I'd say yes.  Ricky Stanzi looked all right in there.  A couple of pretty decent passes and he looked comfortable.  I think he's gonna be OK.  And he seems to be able to make some tough throws.  Is he a threat to Matt Cassel?  No.  Could he be in a year or two?  Well... maybe?  Kinda?  Could happen.

As far as the much-maligned Palko goes, I'd argue he's our most improved player over the course of the preseason.  Now, believe me, I don't want him in there come crunch time, and I know we didn't finish that 4th quarter drive.  But frankly, he threw one catchable and one arguably catchable ball into the endzone.  And the only reason we got that far is he made some pretty crisp passes to get us there.  Given the utter crapfest  that was his level of play only a few weeks ago, he was practically Peyton Manning and Dan Marino's lovechild by comparison.  He even managed to throw to receivers in a way that allowed them to run after the catch.  Hey, speaking of receivers...

What are we doing wrong that other teams are doing right when it comes to open receivers?

Am I the only one who feels like other teams constantly have open receivers, while ours have opposing teams' players stapled to them?  Seriously, even on completed passes it seems like our receivers are hit instantly.  In the meantime, we see other teams' receivers wide open getting the ball.  We've got a talented secondary and some decent receivers.  What gives?

You know when I realized how bad it's gotten?  When Steve Breaston caught a routine pass in the 2nd quarter (after Derrick Johnson's ridiculously awesome INT) on the left side.  I remember thinking, "Wow, he was wide open".  Then it occurred to me that I'd seen guys that wide open before.  A lot.  It's just they were constantly wearing Ram jerseys.  And any other team we happen to be playing.  I was stunned that it happened to us.  That (being stunned) is not a good emotion to have when a receiver is open.  

So why not us?  Is it our receivers?  Is it Cassel?  Is it that Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers aren't as good as we all think?  Is it our nickelbacks and other secondary guys?  Is it our scheme?  Why in the name of all things holy is it so rare that we see open receivers?  I demand to know the answer to this.  Looking at you Romeo Crennel and Todd Haley.  We want answers!  Talking about the Answer...

Allen Iverson is really small.  Jerrell Powe is not.

And he's also the answer to our "who is the future at NT?" question (see how I used "answer" on two levels here?  I'm telling you, I'm the Tolstoy of this blog.  Period.  Nuff said).  He's not ready yet, but he will be soon.  I feel the need to repeat this truth just to put more truth out there in the world.  If that repetition makes me a boring jerk, so be it.  Speaking of jerks...

Who would you be willing to fight to have Josh McDaniels as our offensive coordinator?

I think I'd be willing to fight anyone alive (or dead, for that matter.  In fact, I think I'd prefer dead.  It seems like it would be easier).  Hopefully if it's a guy like Anderson Silva he'd just knock me out quickly and be done with it.  

I can't stand the guy, and he's an awful head coach/team builder.  But Sam Bradford looks GOOD.  And for all the hype last year he was slightly above average at best.  That whole offense looks about 10x better than it did when we faced it last year.  Like I said, I can't stand McDaniels and would constantly want to throw stuff at him, but I'd wear a sign saying "get back in the kitchen!" at a feminist convention to get him as our OC.  Since I mentioned offense...

I think our 2nd round pick from last year may make more waves than our 1st round pick this year.

Dexter McCluster, I may owe you an apology.  I'd given up on you completely.  But you look like a different receiver coming out of the backfield.  It's just right in your wheelhouse.  We've all been talking about adding Breaston and drafting Jonathan Baldwin, but ol' DexMex (no, not DMC.  I know, his initials make it work.  But there's a Pro Bowl caliber running back who's had that nickname for years.  Are we seriously going to swipe a nickname from a Raider, and one who is quite frankly a better player?  Can't do it.  So can we please stop with the DMC?)  may be the guy who helps our rather anemic offense get potent.  He looks to have a very expanded role this year.  And yeah, I said it...

Our offense looks anemic  

Preseason is preseason, sure.  But we (as in our first team offense) haven't scored a touchdown.  Not one.  And we've had GREAT field position on multiple occasions.  To put it succinctly, that's bad.  I think we'll be all right offensively, but so far we've been blah.  Cassel's looked mediocre at best (and I'm being kind.  Don't jump on me.  I like Matt.  But c'mon now, the man hasn't played well).  Although I'll give this to him...

Cassel's a shifty SOB

I could be wrong, but MC is looking more athletic this year.  Now, I wish I didn't know this because I figured it out watching him run for his life last night and two weeks ago.  But still, he's more slippery than he was last year.  He's gotten better at extending the play with his legs rather than just going down or chucking the ball out of bounds the instant he sees pressure.  He's still not getting through his progressions while doing it, but hey, it's fun to watch for a few seconds at least.  Speaking of fun to watch...

You know how I REALLY know Todd Haley doesn't give two craps (and maybe not even one) about preseason, especially this preseason?

Jamaal Charles has carried the ball 6 times this preseason...  You know what?  I'm not even going to bother to talk more about this.  If this doesn't make it obvious that we're saving most of our offensive playbook for the regular season, nothing will.  He's still our best weapon, and Haley's made it pretty clear he knows this.  I cling to that fact when I watch our offense sputter.

Another telling sign was Haley taking Cassel out way, way, WAY before QB's are typically taken out in 3rd game preseason action.  He put him back in to practice a 2 minute drill, but that's it.  Haley has clearly decided that, with a shortened offseason, preseason is one long practice.  For about 30 seconds it looked like Matty Nice was gonna get something going in that 2 minute drill too.  Until a dumb penalty, that is.  By the way...

Is there ANYTHING worse than a dumb penalty derailing a drive?  

We had a couple of holds and a delay of game that drove me batty.  That's been a problem for us all preseason, and we've GOT to fix it.  Especially these holds getting good plays called back.  It just crushes momentum.  Crushes it. It makes me just sick.  Know what else does?  The fact that I'm about to say this...

I'm actually finding myself wondering how Brandon Albert would do at RT.

I hate myself for even going down this road, but Albert's not looking too hot.  He doesn't look terrible, but he doesn't look like he's gotten any better than average at pass protection.  More importantly, Barry Richardson looks BAD.  He looks like the player he was before he made giant strides last year.  Just awful play from a starting RT.  

Plus, Jared Gaither looked good out there from what I saw.  He had the ugly-looking "hold AND sack" play, but he was pretty clearly expecting Mike Cox to give the DE a chip (at least based on the way he was directing the guy), and Cox totally whiffed.  So while I hold him partly responsible, I can see how it happened.  If Cox even gives Quinn a baby tap rather than totally missing, that play goes off without a hitch.  Well, until Cox gets the ball, but that's a whole separate story (I'll just say this: we'd better do as much to get Le'Ron McClain involved as we do Cox when he's in.  Because McClain is about 5x better at making something happen with the ball.  I'm not saying, I'm just saying).

But yeah, back to Gaither.  Before you give me the, "Well, he only looked good against scrubs" argument, I'd like to kindly point out that the guy he spent the night owning was in fact Robert Quinn, the Rams supposed stud rookie who is supposed to be an ace pass rusher.  Now hey, maybe Quinn's overrated (I've heard that does happen sometimes with rookie pass rushers), but it's worth noting.  Because Gaither was demolishing him.

I hate myself right now, but when you add in that Gaither has played LT in the league at a significantly higher level than Albert... and that Gaither looked perfectly healthy... and that we desperately need to upgrade the pass protection to at least average on the right side of the line... and that Albert and Gaither are friends and would likely handle a weird situation pretty well... and that Albert has had a few years to get to very good rather than just "decent"... and that Cassel is going to get killed out there without better pass protection from both tackle spots... it starts to make a little sense to at least CONSIDER the idea that it would be a good move to bench B-Rich, put Gaither at LT, and put Albert at RT.  

I seriously hate myself right now.  But after looking at Albert play, then looking at Gaither play, I can honestly say that all other things being equal I'd take Gaither ten times out of ten to be my LT.  And it's not even a question as to whether or not I'd replace B-Rich with Albert if that happens.  I don't care that Albert has never played RT.  I would bet my life that he could go in there without a single practice at the position and do a better job than B-Rich has been doing.

I hate myself.  But at least I tied all my thoughts together.

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