Uh oh. It's happening. MNchiefsfan has gone dark side.
Remember all the sunshine and rainbows I put out in the "Arguing with Idiots" series? Well, get ready for some black clouds and thunder on the horizon. The wind is picking up. Lightening is flashing over your head. Hail is starting to fall, and you're pretty sure you see The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse coming down the road. And they look ticked.
Time to even the odds. Time to give quick and easy arguments to the so-called "Haters." Time to get myself blacklisted by roughly half of the people who have loved everything I've written up until now (there's gotta be at least one or two of you out there... right? Right? Guys?).
Yep, it's time to learn how to argue with Homers.
Note- Please don't flame me too hard. I'm a fragile man who may cry. Also, I don't necessarily BUY all these arguments. Come on, I'm a law student. We don't believe half the arguments we make. But that doesn't mean that the arguments aren't out there...Argument #1- "We'll be all right if Cassel reverts to his 2010 form. He was very good that year! Top 10 in QB rating, baby!!!!!! All we need is him to play like that again!"
Very good? Hmm... gonna have to go ahead and disagree there. Let's look at 2010. Yes, he had a fantastic TD/INT ratio. Yes, he made the Pro Bowl (as a first alternate, but it's something). Yes, we made the playoffs. And yes, Cassel really showed up in some of those games. That said... let's talk about that 2010
First, let's talk about QB rating, since that's the best argument for him being great that year. QB rating takes 4 stats into account: completion %, YPA, TD % per attempt, and INT % per attempt. Then there's a formula used and all sorts of mathematical fun to determine the final QB rating.
Let's throw out "other considerations" (such as strength of defenses faced, the offense the QB was in, etc.) for a second. Look hard at those 4 categories (all of which are given equal weight). Can you tell me what the problem is there?
The problem is that this formula is practically TAILOR-MADE to be "pumped up" by a QB who isn't asked to throw the ball much and is playing in a conservative, don't-make-mistakes-throwing offense. Sound familiar at all? Cassel was actually aided by the fact that he wasn't asked to throw the ball much, because it made his TD % and INT % look even better than they were. And when that's 2 of the 4 categories, you're almost guaranteed a good score if you aren't asked to pass much (and only in relatively "safe" situations).
The bigger problem, though, is the lack of context. Let's face it, we played a crap schedule in 2010. The defenses we faced were pretty much terrible across the board. You know how many top 10 scoring defenses we faced that year? Two: the Ravens (3rd in the NFL) and the Chargers (10th). Tell me, how did Cassel perform against those defenses? I think we all know the answer to that.
Another contextual issue that's ignored by QB Rating and TD/INT ratio is the nature of our team that year. Jamaal Charles was destroying teams and getting us in scoring position, but he's not a goal line back. On the flip side of that same coin, Dwayne Bowe is a fantastic Red Zone receiver. What does that mean? That means Cassel got an unusually high number of opportunities to get short TD passes. That isn't reflected in the stats.
Basically, Cassel was given a gift of a VERY effective run-based offense that didn't have a decent goal-line back but DID have an exceptional goal-line WR, all the while playing for a coach that stressed not throwing INTs. It's to his credit that he was able to avoid mistakes, but does avoiding mistakes make for a GREAT year? Well... no.
At the end of the day, 2010 Cassel will not get us far in the playoffs. We cannot have a QB that's good only against bad defenses and has a terrible completion percentage and expect to make more noise than we did in 2010.
Cassel needs to be better than he was that year. Anything less and we're looking at an early exit from the playoffs (if we get in).
Argument #2- "Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey don't NEED to rush the passer in order to be considered great players! You clearly don't understand the 3-4 if you think they should be going after the QB."
Yeah, right. Except here's the problem... other 3-4 DE's are getting to the QB. In fact 12 players listed as 3-4 DL had 3 or more sacks last year. 8 had 5 or more QB hits. 13 had 10 or more hurries.
In the meantime, Dorsey and T-Jax COMBINED for 1 sack, 3 hits, and 6 hurries. Yikes.
Now, I know what you're about to say, "our 3-4 is a different system, and they were taken out a lot in passing situations! Stop manipulating stats! You have far too much pubic hair and the jazz flute is for little girls!"
OK, how about this: Tyson Jackson was in a "pass rushing" situation 225 times last year. Dorsey was in there for 244 snaps in the same. It's not like they were only on the field sometimes when the QB went back to pass. Our "pass rushing specialist" Wallace Gilberry was on the field for 265 snaps rushing the passer. It's not like those guys are never out there. Their weakness as pass rushers hurts us way more often than is acceptable.
And before you argue that their job is to eat double teams so OTHER guys can get sacks, let me ask you... were they doing that? We were 3rd worst in the league last year when it came to sacks. In fact, it would have been even worse, but after Justin Houston started coming on we managed to increase the number of sacks we were getting. Dorsey and Jackson were on the field all year, but the sacks didn't start coming until we had two gifted pass rushers out there. That tells me that Dorsey and Jackson weren't exactly making life easier for our other pass rushers.
T-Jax and Dorsey may not PRIMARILY be pass rushers, but their being as bad as they are at it is something that could well prevent us from being an upper-tier defense. Your DL needs to be able to apply pressure on passing downs in today's league. You can't have two guys that just aren't doing it. They're decent players (everyone here knows I love T-Jax in particular), but can't really be considered better than that until they fix a gaping hole in their games.
Argument #3- "Our offensive line is going to be awesome this year. Big Jon's a stud, Lilja will rebound (or get replaced by Jeff Allen), and Hudson will really help our strength up front!"
Maybe. But maybe not. Come on, let's look at the facts. Lilja's coming off a pretty bad year. Even he admits to that. What guarantee is there that he'll all of a sudden be better? And if he's not, why would we assume that Allen's ready to play at even an average level in the NFL? Counting on rookies is almost always a dubious proposition.
On a similar vein, people need to stop counting their chickens before they hatch with Hudson. The guy has never played a snap at center in a regular season NFL game. Yeah, he's bigger than Casey. But Casey knew absolutely every trick in the book. There's no guarantee whatsoever that a second year guy with zero experience at center will be even as good as Casey was last year, let alone better.
Finally, Big Jon Asamoah. I'll give you that he's a solid pass protector. But he was NOT a good run blocker last year. He was hardly the mauler he's made out to be here. In fact, if one is to take PFF stats as Gospel (which one shouldn't, but for the sake of argument...), he was the 8th worse run blocker in the league last year.
Albert and Winston are solid tackles, to be sure. But that interior line has questions that need to be answered before we crown our OL as ready to be great, or even that good.
Argument #4- "Jonathan Baldwin is going to tear it up this year. Did you hear how good his OTA's were?"
Maybe, sure. But here's the problem: OTA's don't have contact. Baldwin's biggest weakness by far last year (other than weak thumbs, apparently) was that he struggled when jammed at the line of scrimmage. Now, I have no idea how that's humanly possible when you're his size, but it's the truth.
OTA's are built for a guy with that kind of weakness. Baldwin gets a clean release and he can allow his physical gifts (which are considerable) to take over. But until he shows us that he can get off the line with a guy jamming him, there's no reason to believe he'll be a whole lot better than he was his rookie year.
Argument #5- "Justin Houston is the next big thing! Watch out, Pey-Pey!!!!"
Well... hopefully. But let me ask you a question: remember when Wallace Gilberry was the "next big thing" as a pass rusher? It might be a good idea to have a little more evidence than half a season before we crown the guy and declare ourselves the "Midwest Steelers."
Argument #6- "Denver has way too many holes to beat us, even if Peyton Manning is the same guy he was before getting hurt."
This is just silly. No, I don't think the Broncos should be getting quite as much love as they get. But let's be honest here... Manning led the same Colts team that FELL APART without him to the playoffs and a very, very narrow loss to a good Jets team in the wild card game.
A healthy Manning may not completely cover up every weakness on the Broncos, but he sure can make them look like lesser problems than they are. Weak receiver corps? No problem. Manning's made receivers look great his whole life. Average running backs? Pey-Pey never needed better than average to put up points in IND. A sketchy OL? Manning's ability to read defenses, quick release, and ability to move away from pressure makes any line look better.
I don't think we should crown the Broncos. We have no idea what Manning will show up. But if it's the same Manning from 2010, they're going to be tough to beat for the division. He's that good.
(All right, I need to go take a shower now. I refuse to even proofread this)