The offseason continues to haunt me, with nothing to do but make lists, write out predictions that will almost certainly not pan out, and answer mailbag questions. I could, you know, do player breakdowns like I have in past summers, but these days I have a real life job during the summer. Apparently clients get really upset if you don't know their file because you spent all day watching tape. People need to get their priorities straight, you know?
So with the time crunch, I had a choice between three different gimmicks. I'm going with mailbag, solely because a couple of the questions I got absolutely needed to be answered.
I'm a slightly more than casual Chiefs fan, meaning that while I'm more than willing to read almost everything (I tend to cherry pick from Mellinger and Aiken because of my homer status) on AP and other sites, I have no time to do any kind of research based on my own.
So, given my lack of fact-based information, why is the DL not given any love for doing what appears they were asked to do last year: eat OL and let LBs make plays? By sending three LBs to the Pro Bowl, it looks to me like they did their jobs well. I know those LBs are some talented men, but my thesis is they wouldn't look so good without the DL eating blockers.
That's a tough question to answer, Brett. People could have any number of reasons for not giving the DL love while drooling all over our LBs. I think first and foremost are the stats. Most casual fans aren't going to take the time to re-watch game tape, and when they watch the game they watch the ball while listening to the announcers. So their sole takeaway impressions from the game are (in my opinion) influenced to a VERY high degree by two things...
1) Whatever happens around the ball
2) The names called by the play-by-play announcer and the observations of the color commentator
So when you've got a play where the opposing team's RB runs for two yards and the tackles is made by Derrick Johnson, all the casual fan is going to see and hear is the RB running, DJ hitting him, and the announcers saying something like, "a nice tackle by Derrick Johnson on that play." Every now and then, if the DL has been doing an exceptional job eating blocks all day, the color guy MIGHT say something about it in the 4th quarter. But it's unlikely. You could change the facts of the play I just mentioned and get the same result. Most of the time, it's not DL making the tackle, so the casual fan doesn't even think about them.
Also with DL eating blocks as a job, they don't collect stats. The only things more important to the casual fan (and many non-casual fans) than the takeaway they get from watching the game are stats / numbers. We like numbers because we like to think we know the whole story by just looking at a number. "Hey, Player X had 10 tackles, so he had a better game than Player Y, who only had 5!" You can see the appeal there.
A last thing is the scapegoat factor. The Chiefs defense just wasn't that good last year. People want answers. They look at the LB corps and see a bunch of playmakers. The secondary, while shaky, has Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry. So the DL becomes something of a scapegoat for people who want to find "the problem" as opposed to considering that there may have been multiple problems (not that the DL wasn't at fault at all, for the record).
Combine all those things together and what you've got is a situation where a DL is only going to get recognized if he gets sacks or makes an extraordinary number of tackles. Not saying that's impossible (see J.J. Watt), but in certain systems it's unlikely. So you can end up with perfectly competent (and even very solid) players getting no recognition whatsoever for their contributions, at least from the average fan.
Of course, ALL that said... the Chiefs linebackers are just better than the DL. I'm not trying to hate on the big guys up front (everyone who has read anything I've ever written knows I heart Tyson Jackson and think Dontari Poe did a decent job last year), but our linebackers are insane. DJ, Justin Houston, and Tamba Hali comprise one of the strongest 1-2-3 groups in the NFL. Which is why if Nico Johnson is even average, the LB corps jumps to the best in the NFL in this guy's opinion.
I do think that this year we'll see more recognition for the DL, though. With rumors abounding that they'll be attacking more than in the past, I can see both Poe and TJax getting a few more of those "flash" plays / stats that get play from the media and recognition from the fans.
Are the Chiefs going to win 8 games? A few friends of mine were wondering...
Obviously you are part of the new contingent of Chiefs fans I've seen lately; those who followed Alex Smith like a desperate ex who is glad to have moved on but just can't seem to stop driving by the guy's house "just to see how he's doing." Welcome to following the Chiefs! Fair warning... we almost always seem to feel let down. Don't say I didn't tell you.
As far as eight games goes... that sounds suspiciously close to a prediction to me, and I hesitate to set the internet on fire by adding one gimmick (predictions) inside another gimmick (mailbag). Just to be safe, I'm going to predict the number of wins WITHOUT saying what games and WITHOUT giving any justification whatsoever for my opinion. That sounds easier than actually having, like, reasons and stuff anyway.
So... the Chiefs win 10 games in 2013.
via Niners Nation
Question for a future mailbag: would you rather fight 50 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck?
You can't make this stuff up. I love everything about the internet and the people who read Arrowhead Pride, and clearly adding Twitter as an option to reach me was a good move. It brought us this fascinating question.
And it's gotta be the 50 duck-sized horses... right? I mean, think about it. horses are HUGE. You're talking about a duck that would weigh a thousand pounds or more. Don't get me wrong, the idea of a herd of rabid (I'm assuming), miniature, bloodthirsty horses trying to kill me is chilling. But a thousand-pound duck is freaking terrifying. That'll haunt my dreams from now on. So thanks for that.
I'm guessing Eric Berry disagrees and would faint at the idea of a miniature-horse pack out for his blood, but I'm going with the 50 duck-sized horses on this one. I think I'd have to go with duck-sized ANYTHING rather than horse-sized anything. A thousand pounds is just a lot of pounds to fight. I'm going with the horses.
What's the biggest challenge to the Chiefs this upcoming season?
I kept thinking of challenges that are going to be problems, but one kept popping up in my mind: the Denver Broncos. Yep, the team I personally jinxed out of the playoffs (you're welcome, Ravens fans!)
The Broncos are the Chiefs biggest obstacle this season. We have to match their record if we want a decent shot at the playoffs. Wild card spots are always iffy (remember the time the Patriots went 11-5 and STILL missed the playoffs? Because I do), and there are plenty of solid teams in the AFC looking to claim them.
On a more practical note, the Chiefs play the Broncos twice. Pretty much the entirety of the NFL has both of those marked down as losses for the Chiefs, and it's easy to understand why. The Broncos have a solid team and are led by Peyton Manning, who came back last year as good as ever.
If we want to vie for a playoff spot and be considered a legit threat in the AFC West, we need to take one of those two games away from the Donkeys. They will (barring an injury to Manning) be the standard the Chiefs are measured against all year. They're the biggest challenge in 2013.
Plus, I'm really, really, really, really, REALLY sick of being told by Donkey fans that their team is "so stacked" they'd be an 11-win team even without fivehead. So there's that.
Who will be this year's David Mims in the preseason?
Well, to beat a very old joke even further to death, there is no David Mims but David Mims. But to honestly answer your question, i feel as though there are two types of "David Mims preseason hype" guys.
1) Guys we are legitimately excited about because of their physical traits but whom we know have only a long shot at doing anything in the NFL.
2) Guys we pretend to believe are world-beaters because it makes us feel good to hop on a bandwagon and let it get out of control (other than Mims, ZekeNation comes to mind). This group is more a meme than anything else.
As to the first type, I think Tyler Bray has a very firm grasp as our "dude's got physical abilities that are off the charts" guy to watch this preseason. Everyone knows that guy has an incredible arm and LOOKS like a stud QB when he's out there (you know, all tall and stuff, without being ostrichy about it like Mike Glennon). He played well against very high levels of competition throughout college, so you know he can handle the big stage without wilting and has confidence.
Of course, the issues that left him undrafted are just as well known as his physical talent. Immaturity and work ethic issues have haunted him (allegedly). That confidence I just mentioned could well be his biggest problem if he's got too much of it. Of course, I have a few thoughts in the guy's defense.
First, he's 21. Can any of you honestly say you weren't at least kind of a tool when you were 22? I know I was. I don't hold people all that accountable for stupid behavior (as long as it doesn't lean too far into dangerous) when they're that age. If I did I sure would have to hate on myself, because I did things WAY more stupid at that age than the stuff that's been reported on Bray.
And second, we've got a guy on our squad that's had two separate incidents involving domestic violence, but I hear hardly anyone questioning his character. But Bray gets a back tattoo and he's suddenly doomed to wash out of the NFL? C'mon now. I know many of us are old-school and don't like cocky attitudes, but when we're more concerned as a group with tattoos and a supposed "attitude" (what does that necessarily even mean?) than we are with legit incidents involving violence against women, it's time to take a step back. I'm not saying burn the guy I'm referencing at the stake, either. I'm all for giving people a fresh start. I'm just saying Bray has gotten perhaps a tad more hate than he deserves.
As far as the "meme" type of David Mims goes, that's a little tougher to figure. As I look up and down the roster, I'm not sure I see any guys that are capable of generating that kind of fake buzz. It requires a combination of sincere belief by a select few that a guy will be great along with a huge majority believing the guy will probably never amount to much. That's a tough combination to find.
My current guess is Devon Wylie. I've noticed more and more around AP that a very vocal minority seems to think that guy is the next white Wes Welker and could challenge for playing time with the big boys this year. I hear a ton of things about his "crazy speed and quickness." Those traits could be enough for jokes to start when one considers his utter lack of anything resembling production last year. You know, timeless jokes like...
"Devon Wylie would've raced light, but it was no challenge. So he raced the dark."
"Devon Wylie once outran a cheetah. While it was riding a jet. So really, he outran a jet. But also a cheetah."
"I thought I saw Devon Wylie out jogging once. But then I realized it couldn't be Devon Wylie, because Devon Wylie never jogs. He sprints. And when he sprints, he's a blur. This is how I knew it was not Devon Wylie. Also, it was a woman in her mid-40's."
Of course, those jokes will become old and stale within a week (or by the end of this column), but who cares? Let's have some fun with 'em!
Maybe another guy to become a meme legend around Arrowhead pride would be Eric Kush. The main reason for this is that for some reason, there ARE those out there who feel ol' Kush is gonna take the starting C spot from Rodney Hudson. I love the optimism (or is it more pessimism about Hudson?) but it seems like an awfully tall order for a guy who was a 6th round pick. If the "pro-Kush" crowd gets enough traction I could see a backlash of Kush memes. Plus, there's that name. Probably a good spot to stop before I get myself into any serious trouble.
(Email me mailbag questions at MNchiefsfan@hotmail.com, or tweet them to @RealMNchiefsfan)