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Kansas City Chiefs mailbag: Overrated and underrated

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

You know that feeling you get when you've got a bunch of really good mailbag questions and you don't know how you're possibly going to get to them all? I feel as though this might not be a very common problem for people. Maybe all of you should start mailbags so you can feel my pain?

Come to think of it, that's not a terrible idea. Imagine if you had an open mailbag for your everyday life. Your co-workers, friends, spouse, kids, even strangers... they could just submit mailbag questions when they're curious about your opinion. I feel as though this would save a lot of pointless small talk. I'm onto something here.

Once that idea takes off I'll undoubtedly be rich and famous (I'm not sure about the next step, but step three is definitely "profit") and not have time to write here. In the meantime, let's get to those mailbag questions.

I, like most Chiefs fans, am happy to see the quick turnaround from game 1 by the O-line but wonder when will they get better, by how much, and will it take until next year.
The question for me is, will Stephenson's return make a huge impact since the guards are getting mauled or will his return only produce a slight increase in performance by the overall line. Will they not be above average until the year is almost completed?
Thanks for your insight,

KCFaninDC

I have to lead off with this question, because it was sent to me prior to the MNF game and shows where a lot of fans were at regarding the offensive line. The Chiefs had won against Miami and actually looked like a decent team against the Broncos, but concerns about the big uglies up front was arguably the most pressing issue facing the team.

Fast forward to this week. We're now coming off a complete and total beat down of an overrated Patriots team (saying that sentence never, ever, ever gets old), and one of the biggest story lines was the offensive line.

The line kept a clean pocket for Alex Smith almost the entire night (absent a single sack) and had an absolutely dominant game running the ball. Now, part of this is likely due to quality of opponent; the Pats just looked outmatched out there. But the line as a whole played really, really well.

The two most obvious examples of a remarkable turnaround on the line are Ryan Harris and Mike McGlynn. Both players looked like robots sent from the future to assassinate Alex Smith over the first few weeks of the season. Per PFF (again, not so much about their grades but enjoy their in-depth stats), neither player gave up sack, hit, or pressure on Monday night. And they did so while (per the tape) mauling the Patriots' defensive line in the run game.

In fact, Harris has played well enough as of late that there's some question as to whether Donald Stephenson (who fans were pining away for a couple weeks ago) will immediately return to his role as starting right tackle. What a turnaround for Harris.

Mike McGlynn might be the most interesting story on the line, though. After an opening week that was as bad as any game I've ever seen from a guard, McGlynn looked decent against the Dolphins (for most of the game, at least) and then had a solid day in pass protection while doing stuff like this against the Patriots...

In the meantime, Eric Fisher is looking improved (funny how none of the national pundits that have been killing him commented on the multiple great blocks he had Monday), Rodney Hudson is playing like a MAN, and Zach Fulton seems to be finding his feet. This line just might work out.

Of course, we'll see what happens against Justin Smith and the 49ers defense. We could be singing a whole different tune come Monday.

This season, the most underrated Chief is a toss-up between Allen Bailey and Sean Smith. Both have been playing solid football (again, we're ignoring Week 1 as some kind of odd aberration, just because). Smith in particular has been outstanding. Over the last three games he's been targeted 16 times and allowed only 7 catches (4 of them against Fivehead) for 71 yards. He's also knocked down 2 passes and had an interception while giving up no touchdowns. He's played very, very solid.

And Allen Bailey is one of the great stories of this season. Remember all the talk last year about how Bailey was never, ever taking advantage of the one-on-one matchups he received because of Dontari Poe's presence? Well, he's been winning them often enough this year to make our defense much more dangerous. He's not J.J. Watt, but he's providing a little pass rush to complement Hali / Houston / Poe, while being very competent against the run. As much as I liked Tyson Jackson, Bailey's been an upgrade this season.

Most overrated? Probably Travis Kelce.

(ducks)

Stop throwing stuff at me! It was a joke! Calm down!

If I were to actually choose a player who is actually overrated by the fanbase at this point, I'd say it's likely Marcus Cooper. He's flashed a great deal of talent, but he hasn't been what I'd hoped he would be this season.

The big touchdown Cooper gave up Monday was a great example of what he's been so maddening. He was actually in pretty decent position when the throw was made and missed breaking the pass up by just a FRACTION of a second. Unfortunately for him, he missed the tackle (likely because it was half tackle, half attempt at a pass breakup). Missed tackles are the difference between a 10-yard-gain and a touchdown when you play CB.

I still have hopes for Cooper, who is everything you can ask for physically as a corner. But he's got a ways to go before he's more than average.

So far, it would appear so.

Kelce's most impressive trait has been his ability to turn 2-yard catches into 15-yard (or more) gains. He gives our offense an explosive playmaker outside of Jamaal Charles. He creates mismatches anywhere he lines up. You really can't say enough about him.

Prior to the season our offense was thought to be a potential problem given our issues at WR. Now, with the emergence of dominant packages that include 2-3 TE's (largely thanks to Kelce's emergence), that worry seems like a distant memory. Andy Reid has re-made his west coast offense around the skills of Charles and Kelce. And if the last game is any indication, we still haven't seen all of what Reid has planned. This could get fun.

If Bowe continues producing the same results as his last three games, is he here next year? Great WR blockers are nice and all...
Note: this is before the MNF game so he'll probably have a phenomenal game which means I'll need to email you each week to continue the pattern.

Marc

Oof, that's a less fun question.

I really like Dwayne Bowe. I love the effort he puts in as a blocker, and every time he PLANTS a corner it makes me smile. That said...

Even with his MNF performance (catching every pass thrown his way, several on crucial 3rd downs), I'm just not seeing a future for Bowe with the team. At least, not at the price the Chiefs are paying for him right now.

Yes, blocking at WR is great. But not $14 million in cap hit great. You can't justify paying a guy THAT much money to produce at THAT far below the league leaders. It's just not the way to run a franchise.

The small piece of hope I'm clinging to comes out of Monday night's performance. Two things make me wonder if Bowe's role is going to be more crucial going forward.

First, the fact that Alex Smith went to Bowe in several key moments, and at least once when the coverage was good. Those of you who read Arrowhead Pride know that a big reason some (including myself) aren't sure about the Smith / Bowe fit is Smith looks for open throws, and Bowe isn't a guy who is always open in the traditional sense. He's a big, strong WR who physically takes the ball from corners. That's not Smith's game.

However, on 3rd and 8 in the red zone with the score tied 0-0 (it's hard to remember, but that game WASN'T always a blowout), Smith and Bowe made this connection.

chiefs

"Revis Island" (yep, after getting owned by Bowe when it mattered, he gets quotation marks on his nickname) is draped all over Bowe. And really, the throw is far from perfect, being a little behind Bowe (and thus closer to Revis). But despite that, Bowe snatches it away from Revis's grasp and powers forward to the goal line.

That kind of pitch and catch SHOULD lead to Alex Smith (who is, after all, a sharp guy) to say, "Well, if Bowe can take it away from Revis like that, maybe I should trust him to do the same against lesser corners."

One could look at the number of targets Bowe had (5) on Monday night and say, "Well, Bowe still isn't being used very much." But here's the thing; all 5 of those targets came in the first half. You know, before the game turned into a laughable blowout. Had New England managed to do anything resembling fight back, it's not hard to imagine Bowe seeing the ball a great deal more in the 2nd half.

Long story short, I don't see Bowe having a future here... BUT, the door is still open for me to change my mind. Step one is having two impactful games in a row.

At this point in my life? No.

Here's the thing about football; if you make it to the playoffs, you've got a shot. Well, generally speaking. The 2010 Chiefs playoff team didn't have a shot. But normally, that truth is, in fact, true.

Several of the last Super Bowl winners have proven this. The Giants, Ravens, Packers, and Steelers weren't the best team in the league throughout the season the years they won. In particular, the Giants and Ravens weren't considered serious contenders to win it all the years they did. Both teams rode a hot streak to a championship.

And that's the thing about a one-and-done playoff format. One stretch of 3-4 great games and you're suddenly the champion. football is unique of the "big four" sports in that aspect. It's probably why playoff games (and really, all other games) destroy other sports in television ratings. Every game has so much importance attached to it. Once the playoffs come, there very much could be no tomorrow.

With that in mind, I couldn't give up 29 years of that shot, even for a Super Bowl. Ask me again in a decade or so and my answer may be very different.

Next week on the mailbag we'll have a guest appearance from Mrs. MNchiefsfan. Until then, here's hoping for a "Monday night wasn't a fluke" performance against the Niners on Sunday.

(send mailbag questions to MNchiefsfan@hotmail.com, or tweet them to @RealMNchiefsfan)