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Albert Wilson is becoming a force for the Kansas City Chiefs

Wilson's second start was even better than his first, torching Oakland downfield.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, you knew this was coming.

After Albert Wilson finally (to the delight of many fans who fell in love with him during training camp) managed to crack into the rotation at wide receiver, I was unable to prevent myself from watching his routes on All-22 to determine if he could possibly help the Chiefs at a position they desperately need it. And, of course, I wrote about it, because I'm a giver.

I was tentatively optimistic about Wilson after watching him against a solid corner duo in Arizona. Of course, one game doth not a player make, as many kind souls were nice enough to tell me. And you know what? They were  absolutely right. One game is not even close to enough information to decide a player's potential.

Well, now we've got two games. I'll need to consult a math major, but I'm almost certain that's twice as many games. Is it even remotely enough? No, not really. Did that stop me from once again spending an hour of my time charting routes? Of COURSE not. Is it a near certainty that my wife is going to have me committed if she finds any more pieces of scratch paper with total gibberish like "not schoolyard" and "sprint w/ Knile" written in margins next to a chart that looks like it was drawn by a 5-year-old? Yes, yes it is.

But until she finds a facility with the horses to bring me in (I'm not going easy. I've always wanted to get maced), we're going to continue to try and do everything we can to figure out if Wilson is at least a partial solution to the problems the Chiefs have at wide receiver.

I don't need to go over the issues Kansas City has at wide receiver. The group as a whole has been abysmal all season. It's been ugly. Like, "the broadcast has a cute graphic counting the time since the last regular season touchdown" ugly.

(Long side bar... does it say something about who I am as a person that I'm really annoyed by the fact that NO ONE in the national media is bothering to mention that it hasn't actually been a calendar year since the Chiefs had a receiver score a touchdown? The Chiefs had two receivers score touchdowns in January, for crying out loud! We're not even CLOSE to a full calendar... oh. You know what, nevermind. I answered my own question)

We desperately want Wilson to be more than just a guy. The problem is we've been hurt before. We (and I) kept waiting for Dexter McCluster to take the step from "OK receiver" to "legit weapon." It never happened. We thought Junior Hemingway would take a step forward. He didn't. We thought Chris freaking Chambers would combine with Dwayne Bowe for a brutal one-two punch, for crying out loud. In other words, we have become that desperate single guy who has been burned so many times that any girl who talks to him finds herself doused in holy water (frankly, when I was single I dated a few girls who I'm almost certain would have benefited from that. But I suppose we've veered off track).

In other words, we are scared we will get hurt again. AND we're so desperate for something resembling competency across from Bowe that it is perfectly reasonable to suspect a certain amount of homerism when judging a receiver who seems to possess said confidence.

But doggone it, you can't fall back in love if you don't get back on the horse and take a swing. Or something to that effect. So let's look at Wilson's routes against the Raiders.

I charted 26 routes by Wilson. He was actually on the field for more, but I didn't include plays where he was the "pick" guy on a pick play (yes, we run those too. It's true), nor did I include a receiver screen (those tell us nothing about his ability to get open. Nothing). I also didn't include one play where I have absolutely no idea what route he was running or what he was trying to do. It was like he was running his route, but blocking the corner the whole time. Since I don't know what to with that, I'll ignore it. Which leaves us at 26.

Of those 26 routes, I counted 15 where Wilson achieved separation (or "got open," as the kids would say on their gangster rap compact disks). Remember, when I say a receiver achieved separation, I'm not saying he's five yards away from any defender. That's not how it works in the NFL.

Getting open, for me, means that an "average" throw would get through and (barring a drop) be a completion. Obviously, this is a subjective standard. Some quarterbacks are able to make almost ANY receiver open with rocket arms or pinpoint placement. A receiver who needs that isn't really open, he just benefited from a great throw. So the ultimate question is one of "decent." SHOULD a decent throw result in a completion? If yes, the receiver is open. If no or even "maybe not," he's not.

So back to the number, which was 15. On 15 out of 26 routes, I felt Wilson was open enough to where an average throw would have been a completion.

Wilson demonstrated on several plays (one of which you'll remember) that he does possess the speed to get behind a defense. In fact, on the second route he ran Wilson gained enough separation on a go route to make a corner sweat (though Smith went to Bowe instead).


Now, in a screenshot that doesn't look like all THAT much separation. But watching it in real time at full speed you can easily see how a play like this had the corner praying Smith didn't go deep. Even in the screenshot you can see how any football placed over the shoulder and deep is going to be impossible to pick and likely to be caught (provided it's not underthrown).

While a decent throw would need to be made, the separation Wilson has from the defender means it doesn't need to be a GREAT throw to get through.

Of course, this wasn't the only time Wilson got separation deep. Not too far into the game the Raiders came out crowding the line of scrimmage (as well as stuffing eight men in the box) and playing with a single-high safety. Wilson is on the bottom of the screen.


Notice Wilson's defender has crept back, allowing for a 10-yard cushion between himself and Wilson. Perhaps the earlier go route spooked him a little bit.

Of course, it was pretty academic because a few short seconds later...


The separation here isn't "OK" separation that requires me to explain how much more impressive separation looks in real life than a screenshot. Wilson flat-out torched the defensive back on this play.

And it's not as though said torching was done with some kind of trickery, either. Wilson made a slight fake as though he were heading into a corner route, then ran a post. Nothing complicated. He just ran right by the defender (who, remember, was not up at the line but was giving a little cushion).

You can coach a lot of things. But a player either has the speed to do that to an NFL corner, or he doesn't. Wilson falls into the first group.

When I last wrote about Wilson (you know, a whole week ago) I mentioned how Wilson's deep speed helps him get open on shorter routes. That was again the case this week on multiple plays. On multiple plays Wilson's defender would try and give cushion to account for the deep ball, only to find Wilson running a short in /out / curl to take advantage of the cushion provided.




On every one of those plays the defender hung back and respected Wilson's ability to get deep enough to allow for what would have been pretty easy completions.

The last screenshot in particular was a fun play to watch. The corner turned his hips to run with Wilson almost as soon as Wilson started to take off on a go route. Unfortunately for the corner, Wilson broke the route off with a sharp cut to the inside, and the cushion that was supposed to aid the corner became a detriment.

It helps that Wilson does a good job with his cuts on the short routes. Even plays where he wasn't threatening to go deep Wilson was able to get separation from man coverage. He's got good quickness and can accelerate quickly. In fact, two of my favorite routes on the day were very short ones that mirrored one another.

The first was an in/out route (fake inside, go outside) where Wilson created very good separation. Of course the ball went over his head to Dwayne Bowe on a deeper route, but look at that poor defender.


The other, as I said, is a mirror of the route we just saw (well, kinda. Mirrors are confusing). Here, Wilson runs a really nice out/in (fake out, cut back in) and is targeted on a really nice timing play. You'll remember it as a 10-yard catch he had in the 3rd Quarter.

What I really liked about that particular play was how much trust Alex Smith showed in Wilson. Here's a screenshot right as Smith is about to release the ball.


Wilson is not open when the ball is thrown here. Instead, Smith is counting on Wilson to finish the move (he's got the corner's hips turned the wrong direction, which is half the battle) and throws to the spot where Wilson SHOULD be going. Wilson does not disappoint, and the Chiefs get a first down.

Overall, I liked the tape from this game even better than the tape from the Cardinals game. Against the Raiders, Wilson really showed off his deep speed on a few snaps, as well as his ability to get open on short and intermediate routes (especially once he'd established the threat of a go route).

Wilson also again showed aggression as a blocker, too. That running back build comes in handy when you're trying to pancake an opposing secondary player.

I also found (once again) Wilson capable of beating press coverage on multiple occasions. This is probably the biggest issue for any rookie receiver. NFL corners are so fast and so strong that rooks aren't able to deal with the jam. While Wilson could improve in this area, it's not a situation where a good jam stifles him at the line of scrimmage (cough cough, Jon Baldwin, cough cough). Wilson showed on several plays the ability to shrug off contact, as well as the quickness to avoid it entirely.

After watching Wilson's film and liking a lot of what I saw, I began to worry that I was just seeing what I wanted to see (remember, we are that desperate guy at this point when it comes to receivers). So I called in a little outside help. Some of you may be familiar with SB Nation user BroncosFanForLife. Well, his real name is Lucas Polglaze, and besides the whole "Broncos fan" thing, he's a great guy. He's also an aspiring sportswriter who contributes for several websites.

I figured the best possible place to get a more negative outlook on Wilson would be an enemy fan who is used to seeing exceptional receiver play (as opposed to, you know, what we usually watch). So I asked Luc to take a look at the film from Sunday's game and give me some impressions. He came in blind with no preconceived notions other than "Seth wants to know about Wilson." Here's what he had to say:

First of all, let me express how honored and grateful I am to be allotted this 350-word corner of Seth’s piece. I was told expressly to stick to 1% of the overall total, so let me stop beating around the bush and get to the meat of the issue.

Wilson shows a nice mean streak, particularly run blocking. He delivered an excellent crack block on a Raiders linebacker on the first series. He usually executes his blocking assignment very well.

In terms of receiving, I was very impressed…for a Chiefs receiver. He flashes seemingly effortless and surprising speed deep, and has forced corners to flip their hips several times when they weren’t prepared. His unofficial 4.35 40-yard dash at the combine really translates into pads, and he can make things happen down the field.

He knows his position well, and can use the field to his advantage with the sidelines on routes. He gained space through his skill-set and even used the corner to his advantage.

He sells the short routes well, and had a couple of very Wes Welker-esque (oh come on, I had to make at least one Broncos reference) routes. One was an out/in for a 10-yard gain, and the other an in/out on the deep pass to Dwayne Bowe. He ran one notably very good stutter-go route but was not targeted. However, Alex Smith rarely pushed it deep, and as such, that area of Wilson’s game was somewhat limited. My take is that Wilson can really challenge a defense over the top when unleashed properly.

The cons I noticed: Wilson has a limited route tree and a tendency to stem routes, particularly deeper ones. His footwork at times can be a little shuffle-y, but he uses his feet to his advantage. Inconsistent use of hands against press coverage and low strength mean Wilson occasionally struggles getting off jams. He is good against press coverage but not great. Otherwise, I would say Wilson is a solid #2 wide receiver and a good-looking developmental talent. For him to truly blossom, however, the Chiefs need to work to his strengths and allow him to take the top off a defense.

When I followed up with Luc on the strength issue, he indicated the handwork being sloppy on some plays was the issue he had noticed. One play it'd be great, one play it would be terrible. The catchword was "inconsistent" (which I definitely agree with when it comes to Wilson's hand use).

Now, if you won't believe me when it comes to Wilson (a Chiefs fan whose bar is set extremely low for receiver play), perhaps it's easier for you to believe Lucas (a Broncos fan whose bar is set extremely HIGH for receiver play). Basically, what Lucas has done is watered the seed of hope that has been sown in my soul. I mean, I fully expect for this to end badly for me, but for now I'm going to let that hope grow.

Wilson is already playing like a decent number two receiver, something our offense has been sorely lacking all season. Considering he was an undrafted rookie free-agent and how loathe Andy Reid is to use "new" receivers (unless you're Jason Avant), that's extremely impressive for this point in his career.

Much like Lucas discussed, I'd love to see Wilson used to stretch the field vertically. Yeah, yeah, I know, Alex Smith and yada yada yada. But Smith has already gone to the well deep with Wilson and gotten results. Positive reinforcement theory says he'll do it again (I knew that minor in psychology would be useful for something one day). A suspect Steelers secondary seems as good a place as any to try.

What's the old expression? Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, third time is a pattern? Wilson has played two solid games in a row. Keep your fingers crossed for "pattern."

A million thanks to Lucas for being a view from the enemy. you can follow him on Twitter for some good information on the Broncos.

Remember, if the Chiefs win Sunday they're in a "win and your in" Week 17 at Arrowhead. Does it get better than that? In the meantime, let's see MOAR Albert Wil... just kidding.

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