As I continue to observe the drama unfolding after "The Decision, Part 2" (even LeBron is smart enough to not actually name the thing this time), I just want to make a statement on the way the NFL is set up.
I'm really, really glad players can't hold teams hostage like this.
Don't get me wrong, I want players to have leverage. I want them to be able to move around and find better situations, and I want a league that promotes competition by giving teams a chance to steal great players. But MAN is it annoying watching players have 100 percent of the leverage. I get why they're doing it, and I'd likely do the same. But as a fan (an NBA fan in general, no particular team for years), it's irritating.
That said, I've gotten some great mailbag questions lately and it's time to unload at least a few of them. I might do another mailbag in a day or two, as I've got a few more than normal.
As usual, feel free to email questions to MNchiefsfan@hotmail.com or tweet them to @RealMNchiefsfan. Let's dive in.
I like the blend of football and non-football. Let's talk about football first ...
You know what, I'm not so sure the Chiefs really made an effort to retain Brandon Flowers. At least not a serious one. If they had, you'd think that Flowers wouldn't show as much angst towards the Chiefs as he's been with his comments. It seems pretty clear that he feels disrespected (much like Javier Arenas did last year, but with better reason), or at least angry as to the timing of when he was cut (though he's gotta understand the business reasons for that timing).
I think (and this is pure speculation) that Chiefs GM John Dorsey and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton were very comfortable with Marcus Cooper and Sean Smith as their starting CBs, with Chris Owens playing slot and Phillip Gaines / Ron Parker providing depth. With that comfort, they had no reason to pay someone they felt was expendable large sums of money, especially when that money is needed elsewhere (sign Justin Houston, Dorsey! Do it! Do it NOW!).
IF I'm right and they were indeed comfortable with where they were at, I don't see them making any real effort to restructure. And really, "restructure" is a fancy word for "kick money down the road." I'm thinking they wanted to maintain flexibility moving forward, and an outright cut was the way to do it.
Do I agree with it? Well, if they're convinced our CBs are fine, then I get it. But I'm not sure I'm quite as confident in the group, so I'm nervous. We'll see.
Regarding kids ... well, my oldest is only eight. That said, I'd say it gets less exhausting but more difficult. Your kids aren't nearly as needy (is there anything on Earth more needy than a baby?), but you've gotta actually, like, parent. As in start teaching them values and watching your own behavior and all that other jazz.
Quick example: my eight year-old got into his first actual fight a couple weeks back. They were at the beach with some other kids and a kid my oldest son's age started shoving around my six year-old. My oldest told him to stop, the kid decided to throw down (apparently it was all quite dramatic. You have to love kids). Fortunately for my boy, he's been in wrestling for years and simply hammered the kid to the ground a couple times. Other kid runs away.
So here's the tricky part ... what do I say to my son? I'm bursting with pride but have to make sure to temper it. I don't want him thinking that the way to solve everything is to fight. I want him to avoid that stuff if he can. But on the flip side ... you can't NOT have your brother's back. It's the tip of the iceberg as kids start resembling actual human beings. You're left with the unreal job of teaching them right from wrong. It's ... harder. But definitely, definitely less exhausting.
Aaron Rodgers. Without even a second of hesitation or a moment of doubt. He's a machine. A freak of nature that has one of the best arms in the NFL, is insanely accurate, reads defenses well, ad-libs well when plays breaks down, moves in the pocket, and can make plays with his legs.
There are a few other QBs who can read defenses better than Rodgers. There are a few other QBs who are more accurate. There are a few with a stronger arm, and a few who are more athletic or can move better in the pocket.
But NO ONE in the league combines those traits like Aaron Rodgers. No one. He's a freaking cyborg back there. There's not a quarterback in the league more capable of elevating his supporting cast the way Rodgers can elevate his. He could join the Jaguars tomorrow and they'd compete for a playoff spot. I'm not kidding. It's Rodgers, and it's not close.
Non-QB, it's J.J. Watt. For obvious reasons.
Free safety with the Chiefs is, in my opinion, going to have a couple different meanings next season. There will be the "starter" in the base 3-4, and then we're going to have a unique situation when the Chiefs shift into a 2-4-5 or 2-3-6 defense for passing downs.
I think the "starter" in the base defense is going to be Husain Abdullah, barring a real push by Sanders Commings (which I still can't QUITE rule out, considering how much the coaching staff seems to love him). I've written at length about Abdullah elsewhere. The Cliff's notes are that he's a very versatile defender who can be left on an island against a receiver, play deep safety, and line up as an inside linebacker ... all in the same game. I believe he holds down that starting spot in the base.
Now, once the Chiefs switch to their dime defenses? That's a whole different story. There, I can see them moving Abdullah closer to the line of scrimmage and take advantage of his versatility to allow Eric Berry to move all over the field. In particular, I think there's a decent shot we see Berry playing single high safety on obvious passing downs next year (unless Commings shines there, which would allow Berry to line up almost anywhere).
Long story short ... I'm not sure. I think it'll be a combination of mostly Abdullah and Berry playing free safety, depending on the down and distance. Commings could be the wild card to mix it up.
I don't think No. 1 cornerback is as difficult. If you mean left cornerback, then it's going to be Marcus Cooper. And I feel pretty good about that. He's been talked about brilliantly in other columns (here and here, both absolute must-reads by our own Matt V), so I won't delve into it. Suffice it to say I think a guy who was in his second year playing cornerback and still managed a solid rookie season is a good long-term investment.
Already up to 1300 words ... let's look at a question from the Enemy, as Chad Jensen of Broncos homerism fame wanted to know about Tyson Jackson ...
That's a tough one. Very few defended TJax as staunchly as I did. I think he's a fantastic run defender who could, on occasion, push the pocket (a rare occasion, to be fair) I don't think you lose a solid starter and feel nothing.
That said, I don't know just how much it's going to hurt the Chiefs. Allen Bailey seemed to come a long ways as a run defender last year, and Vance Walker is a solid veteran. Whoever wins the battle for base defense snaps out of those two SHOULD be good enough to prevent it from becoming a weak spot on the defense. It doesn't hurt that the left defensive end spot is surrounded by Justin Houston at left outside linebacker and Dontari Poe at nose tackle, two of the best run defenders in the league.
I think with Joe Mays being added at strong inside linebacker (an upgrade against the run at the position), the loss of TJax on those early downs isn't going to sting too much. The games that concern me are against the run-oriented NFC West. I think by the end of those games we'll be missing TJax, who has the brute strength to combat the maulers on San Francisco's offensive line or stuff Beast Mode.
One very, very wild card to consider? Mike Catapano. I'm not sure he's in line for base defense snaps (though I think he can challenge to be a rusher on passing downs, as I talked about here), but there have been a few tidbits about him this offseason that are ... well they're at least a little bit interesting.
They are mostly reports that Catapano has gotten significantly bigger since starting off with the Chiefs. And along with those reports, most recently, we have this Instagram video claiming that an absolutely GIGANTIC Catapano is now at 297. The video makes him certainly appear to have still held on to his athleticism as well.
I'd be STUNNED if Catapano was able to snag a position in the base defense. Totally stunned. But if he's actually gotten himself up to 300 pounds there's at least a possibility of it.
Long story short; as much as I liked TJax, I'm not too worried about the defense without him. The development of Bailey as a run defender, the signing of a solid vet in Walker, and the suddenly massive Catapano let me sleep pretty easy at night.
Of course, you should ask me again in about Week 6 and see what I think then. Could be a whole different story.
Hey, you. Send mailbag questions to MNchiefsfan@hotmail.com and tweets to @RealMNchiefsfan. Do it.