Mind Readers, Snake Oil Salesmen and Prophets

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 19: Head coach Todd Haley (L) looks on from the sidelines during the second half of a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Whooooooohooooo!! 

You gotta love how positive the fanship here at AP is of late.  The number of positive fan posts concerning the ability of the team to go out and win games this season is at an all time high.  There must be at least one of those for every 10 negative, "OMG the party is over, B-Rich flat out sucks and should be put out to pasture, move Albert to right tackle, our receivers are a joke, Matt Cassel is now worse than at any time since he started playing football" posts. 

It's a joy to tune into AP right now and read all about how bad the 2010 AFC West Champions really are.  I haven't seen it yet, but I'll bet that given enough time we'd have a following here that would bandwagon the idea that the 2011 Chiefs will turn in six or fewer wins. For all I know, that following already exists and is just waiting for those first two regular season games to go wrong so that they can get that sweaty-palmed post on the grid. 

What is all the hub-bub? I thought that all were in agreement that Todd Haley had decided to 'punt' preseason games in an effort to get the entire team in proper condition and football shape for 9/11?  How soon we all forget!  Well, I am here to help keep those positive waves going.  What is going on here is that despite all the good natured agreement about what this preseason means to the Chiefs and Todd Haley, many fans just can't help themselves from reversing course when they don't see the A-team on the field throwing 40 yd TDs and watching Jamaal Charles go 'off' for 30 something yard runs. 

It's OK people.  It's called anxiety and it affects us all in different ways.  There are three mindsets that I see going on right now and we are gonna take a look at each.  Ready, steady, go!   

First off are the Mind Readers.  Folks who fall into this category are absolutely convinced that they have read the collective 'mind' that exists within the Chiefs organization.  They know exactly what Todd Haley and Scott Pioli intend to do this preseason and they are now certain that the team is falling short of those expectations.  This knowledge, you see, is what makes it OK for them to tear apart players at this point based on their poor showings in these 'meaningless' preseason contests (they are meaningless, right?)

The mind readers usually expose themselves (not like that, get your mind out of the gutter!) by making part of their comment clearly based on an assumption that they probably don't know.  For instance, I saw a statement in a comment thread that said something like, "If you think Haley told Matt NOT to go through his progressions and NOT to try and make those throws at all costs just as if this was a REAL game that COUNTS, you are CRAZY!!"

There is no way whatsoever that this fan knows that Haley said or did anything of the sort.  The reality of the situation is probably much closer to what he describes as being crazy, but mind readers tromp through the posts without regard for things like facts to support their theories.  They are so anxious about what they are seeing that they are willing to draw conclusions that are so incorrect that they will have to retract them once the regular season starts and the Chiefs start the season 4-0 (yes I said 4-0.  No that doesn't make me a mind reader.  It makes me a prophet -- more on that in a bit).

Next in line are the Snake Oil Salesmen.  You all remember the carpet bagger that sold snake oil in 'The Outlaw Josey Wales" don't you?  When the scoundrel tried to sell some to Lone Waddy, Lone asked him what was in it.  The carpet bagger was unable to answer and tried to impune Lone Waddy as an unbeliever.  Nice try carpet bagger, but Show Me State education requires a bit more than a single ingredient to define a potion. 

Attention Chiefs fans! When a carpet bagger tries to divert you to the darkside by selling you some snake oil in this fashion, never forget to ask what the ingredients of that snake oil are.  When you get a response that is less than sobering, just move on to the next frame.  These Snake Oil salesmen have the ability to sell fake patents to their own mothers.

I'll use a recent post about the pocket problem as an example. I suppose that all of us use stats to meet our desired ends occasionally, but this is an instance where I don't think it adds up.  I think you need to view Matt's achievements with a bigger microscope than that.  Matt Cassel threw 27 touchdowns with only seven interceptions last season with a receiving corps that only a junior college team would have been proud of.  One solid wide out and a tight end in his rookie season does not a competent receiver corps make.  No disrespect to DB and TM but you need a bit more than that to be able to keep the other side guessing when it comes to the passing game. 

Nevertheless, Cassel was able to throw those 27 touchdowns with only seven interceptions in spite of the supposed pocket problem, and it lead to 10 wins. Despite those that say Cassel did it in such an ugly way, those wins went on the big board and they won't be removed.

Another perfect example of this is the now, three year old argument that Brandon Albert should be moved to right tackle.  The snake oil crowd will now entice you with the fact that we have now signed the absolute most potent ingredient (Jared Gaither) that has ever been available to play left tackle. This is just more snake oil folks!  Gaither didn't play at all last year because of injury. In spite of that, the salesmen would have you believing that he is the second coming at left tackle. 

The truth here is that we just don't know how good this guy will turn out to be in this role, while we have a very well known quantity at left tackle.  Albert may not be the best left tackle in the league, but he sure is hell a lot closer to best than worst, if you ask me. These salesmen would have you believing that putting an unproven and untested since becoming injured player into a spot that doesn't need significant upgrading and subsequently moving that existing player into a position that he is unfamiliar with (Albert at right tackle), is a better plan than keeping Barry Richardson (whose strengths and weaknesses we know) in place and letting Albert do his thing while bringing Gaither along slowly to see how he progresses. Hmmmm...if you buy that snake oil, I think you deserve to get sick.

Keep an eye on'em Chiefs fans.  The preseason means NOTHING (right?).  These players are being asked to do things much differently than they will once the games begin to count.  Keep your powder dry and watch.

Finally, we come to the Prophets.  Prophets come in two brands.  One expounds on a positive future and one on a negative one.  We all know who is who.  I admit to falling in the Prophet group.  In general, I am currently a positive current in the force.  I believe that Haley et al know very well what they are doing, and that they are doing all they can with what they have to work with.  For those that disagree, I ask the simple question:  What have Haley and his group done to this point, to make you think that they are NOT improving this team?

If your answer is based on the three preseason games that we have seen so far this season, then you could be a mind reader or a snake oil salesman.  If your answer is something else, well we'll have to take those on a one by one basis. 

RELAX!!  It is amusing to see how many fans talk about how meaningless the preseason games are and then see how many jump to serious conclusions based on the outcome of those supposed meaningless contests!

The season is right around the corner.  Let's give Todd Haley, Matt Cassel and all the rest the benefit of the doubt until they at least start losing games that matter.  At that point, all of these concerns can be given adequate attention. 

Until then, we are just tilting at windmills.

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