You know that horrible feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know you've bitten off more than you can chew, are in way over your head, have no way out, and have no choice but to muddle through and pray that you somehow catch a break? No, I'm not talking about our offense last season. But imagine the scholastic equivalent of it. That's what I've been doing the last week. Law school sucks. So how was your day?
Let's move along. I don't have the time or patience to do a breakdown of a guy like Justin Houston or Jovan Belcher right now, because they just played too many darn snaps. I don't have the energy to try and write something original about our draft (in case you care what I think: I liked it except for Stephenson. Coulda done way better than that in the 3rd), and I'm way too drained to write something funny. So what to do? I'll tell you what we're gonna do...
(picture tense silence as a large audience waits in anticipation)
(Rodney squeals with delight and knocks over a child trying to get to the aisle. Once there he runs down high-fiving people acting happy but secretly seething that they weren't picked. Rodney gets to his spot and excitedly performs the "bus-driver" as the audience continues to obey the "CLAP!" sign)
Let's do this, Rodney...
****Usual Note- This is a breakdown of a Chiefs player using ProFootballFocus stats and game tape (or whatever the crap you call it when you re-watch the game). To avoid having to answer later on, here are links to Dorsey and Bailey, T-Jax, Powe, and Dex breakdowns.I'm gonna add a quick disclaimer here (that's right, a disclaimer following a note, with a sidebar in the middle. It just happened): I'm not Bewsaf. I'm no OL guru. All I can do when re-watching the games is tell you what I see. That said, let's start with PFF...
ProFootBall Focus Stats
For those who have been living under a rock, PFF is a nice site for detailed stats and grades on any given player. It is not, repeat NOT infallible, especially when it comes to their at least somewhat subjective grading system. However, it's always a good place to start when trying to formulate an opinion on a player. So what an we learn about our boy Hudson?
First, we learn that he took 136 snaps last season in 5 different games. I'm going to throw out the Vikings and Packers games because he only took 2 and 3 snaps in them, respectively. Instead, I'm going to focus on The Patriots, Steelers, and Bears games (Weeks 11-13). Hudson played 30 snaps against the Pats, every snap against the Steelers (his his lone start), and 38 snaps against the Bears.
So we've got SOME game tape to go off of, which is good. Now, as you all well know, OL don't get stats in the traditional sense, so our search for statistics kind of stops there. So we move on to his "grades" (again keeping in mind that these are not foolproof). PFF has a rating system in which 0.0 is average, with numbers going up or down depending on how you do. Hudson rated at 2.7 as a pass blocker and -2.8 as a run blocker, with no rating as a "screen blocker" (seriously, not one screen in 130+ snaps? I will NOT miss last year's play calling)
So we see with Hudson at least a little bit of a concern, as he rates below average as a run blocker. Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but I saw more than enough poor run blocking by our line last year. On the plus side, he rated as an above average pass blocker, which is pretty impressive for a rook getting thrown out there.
Well, that's about as far as we can go on PFF. Time to watch some games...
On The Field
First and foremost, let me make a controversial statement: Tyler Palko is a terrible, terrible, terrible QB. After watching those three games I have no problem telling you our line isn't NEARLY as bad as he made them look. Just awful stuff. Wow. Seriously. I need a moment to get past the fact that he was actually playing QB for the Chiefs this last year. And to get past just how poorly our offense had to play for us to lose that Steelers game.
(stares into space)
(struggles to contain rage)
(contorts face as rage turns to disgust)
(rushes to toilet, retching)
(walks back to computer wiping mouth)
OK, I'm back. Let's talk about what I saw in Hudson those 3 games. I'll discuss what I liked, what I didn't, and my overall impression of our future center.
I was pleasantly surprised at Hudson's power. I think I heard so much talk about him being compared to Wiegmann and Lilja that it colored my expectations of him. Now, let's be clear, he's not a powerhouse. He IS stout, though, and delivers a pretty good pop. During the Patriots and Steelers games it was especially noticeable as he was forced a few times to take on their "big boys" one-on-one and did a and admirable job for the most part. In particular I got a chance to see him stonewall a couple of Vince Wilfork bull rushes. As a guy who believes we NEED to be stronger up front, this was really encouraging. Hudson's got the strength to hold his own one-on-one against bigger guys.
Another thing that I really liked was his (for the most part) understanding of his job. While there were a few rookie lapses, he overall showed good awareness on the field. This is especially true when pass blocking. He does a very good job keeping his head up when he's the free blocker, and makes quick decisions as to what lineman to help. He did a fine job once he arrived to help with double teams, either delivering a punch to help Wiegs halt his backward movement or delivering a shove to help Albert "direct" his guy around the QB. He was considered a very polished lineman coming out and you can see that he understands what he's supposed to do out there.
Still another thing to like about Hudson's game is his ability to move in space. He's got the athleticism to pull and block LB's at the second level. However, it was in space where I saw his biggest current weakness as a run blocker. He seemed to all too often take longer than he should to lock onto a defender. More than a couple times Hudson looked more like a defensive player trying to "flow" through traffic rather than an OL trying to BLAST a hole in traffic. He definitely needs to work on locking getting a hat on someone right away.
Another weakness in his game is that he'll occasionally overcommit to a lunge and end up grasping nothing but air, as pro defensive players earn their paychecks making OL pay for those kinds of mistakes. He needs to find a balance between aggressive and in control when trying to deliver a punch. From what I understand this is a common problem with young OL who are trying to adjust to bigger, faster NFL defenders.
Still another problem I saw out there is a failure to hold his blocks when run-blocking. Now, I'm almost certain that there's a rule against actual holding (someone grab me a rulebook), but great OL are able to stick on their guys and keep driving them back, rather than allowing them to disengage and get back into the play. I'd say of the things I didn't like when I watched Hudson this is the problem that stuck out the most, and I'd bet anything that's the cause of his negative grade on PFF with regards to run blocking. He needs to learn to finish when run blocking.
I gotta say, I'm more excited about Hudson now than I was 130 snaps ago. I've been worried all offseason about him replacing Wiegmann. Not because I think Wiegmann doesn't need to be replaced, but because I've been afraid that Hudson wouldn't help solve our line's biggest weakness: interior power. Given what all the scouting reports said I expected a guy a tad bigger than Wiegs with all the same issues.
That's no the Rodney Hudson I saw. For starters, I saw a guy who is NOTICEABLY bigger than Wiegmann. I suppose when you're only 6'2" that extra 15 pounds can go a long ways. I also saw a guy who went one-on-one against some of the biggest DL in the league (NE and PIT were great litmus tests for his ability to block powerful guys) and held his own. It was actually the quicker interior linemen of CHI that seemed to give him a little more trouble, and that was mostly an issue of Hudson overextending and the DL using that against him. Hudson's got power. This makes me a lot more optimistic that he can actually be an upgrade over Wiegmann against certain lines (like the powerful types that have given us FITS the last few years).
The problems I saw with Hudson were all technical in nature. Learning control when lunging for a block and learning to keep blocks engaged is something that takes a little time (and it's not like he was failing constantly at it as it was. More often than not he did his job well). Now his tendency to flow through traffic? That's a tad more concerning, because it's not a mistake he should be making at this point. But again, that could well be a "speed of the game" issue that will take him a little time to learn.
I'll say this; if Hudson comes in this next season and plays AS WELL as he played last season, he'll be as good as Wiegmann was last year and an upgrade against bigger, stronger defensive lines. That alone gets me excited, as it'd be great to see our interior not constantly overwhelmed by the "big boys" of the NFL. And again, that's if he stays where he was at last year. Given that he'll actually have a real offseason and has gone through the first year baptism by fire, it's tough to not imagine that he'll be at least somewhat improved from a decent rookie year.
(Now I'm off to cry myself to sleep and wonder how in the world we didn't manage to win that Steelers game)