In addition to having the most important exam of my life in less than a week, I've had the pleasure of getting sick lately (my first migraines. Yay law!). For that reason, this mailbag will be the last column I'll be writing before going on radio silence for a little over a week. I'll be present a little in the comments, but those of you who read AP to get your fix of parenthetical asides are going to have to look elsewhere.
Seriously, migraines? Really? Ugh. Anyway, some good questions, let's get to it.
— Matt Verderame (@MattVerderame) July 8, 2014
@RealMNchiefsfan who has a better year, junior Hemingway or knile Davis?
Hmmm ... well, my mind tells me Knile Davis. After all, the Chiefs have said they're going to try and get Knile Davis more involved, and he's shown just a little more than Hemingway has at this point. Davis has potential, and is really explosive when he finds an open lane. And I can't help but hope that a year in will have him feeling more comfortable with ball security and running a little more naturally. And again, the head coach has openly said they want to use him more.
All that aside ... I can't QUITE shake off this feeling that we're underestimating Junior Hemingway. I haven't gone back and watched his tape (as I've stated, time is not on my side) so I'm entirely reliant on the brief observations I've made when observing other players. But he seems to catch with his hands, run decent routes, and fight for the ball. He also (depending on what stats site you believe) had either one drop or zero drops last season (I don't recall one, for what that's worth). I dunno. A guy who can run decent routes and catch anything thrown his way could do pretty well as a slot WR, no? Especially a guy with a thick body who can shrug off contact from smaller slot CBs.
The one knock I see people return to over and over with Hemingway is his "lack of speed." When I here him described I feel like we're talking about Jon Baldwin 2.0 or something. The thing is, the numbers don't back that up. People point to Hemingway's 4.52 40yard dash time (with a 4.42 low) and say, "Yep, dude's too slow." Except 4.52 isn't even close to "too slow" range. DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Crabtree, and Dez Bryant are three of many players that ran a 4.52 or slower.
And, of course, the 40 time doesn't help us figure out a guy who will be playing slot WR. How many fly routes have you seen slot receivers run recently? You know what's way more important to a slot guy? Quickness. And that's where things get interesting. If you were to pick one event that would tell you about a WRs quickness in and out of cuts, what would it be? I'd be willing to bet a dollar that you said "3-cone drill." And Hemingway shined in that workout. His time (6.59 seconds) would have placed him second among receivers coming out in this year's class. Better than Beckham, better than Cooks, better than Janis. That's impressive.
So I'm not quite sure I buy into this idea that Hemingway is some kind of subpar athlete out there. Of course, that doesn't mean he'll translate into some kind of phenom at slot WR. But for whatever reason, my guy is telling me we're going to be pleased with Hemingway this season. So I'll give him the nod (and thus ensure Davis rushing for 2,500 yards and Hemingway getting injured in Week 2).
Late note: I went back and re-watched the second Chargers game on All-22, focusing on Hemingway, here are a few observations, with the usual warnings that you ought to take a look yourself and this is a small sample size.
- So Hemingway actually took plenty of snaps from the slot WR position LAST year, if this game is any indicator.
- On one play both Hemingway and AJJ are running fly routes, and Hemingway is stride for stride with Jenkins. Just saying, I haven't heard anyone claim AJJ is slow (and he DID stay on his feet, I swear).
- Watching Hemingway run a few crossing routes, one involving a stop and go to shake the defender (where he does shake the defender and hauls in the catch), I'm not seeing a guy who lacks quickness. He doesn't have Donnie Avery speed, but he's got speed.
- One really impressive catch was made on a third down conversion where Hemingway was jammed off the line, fought his way through it for the full 5 yards and then some, shoved the CB off him, and came back to make the catch. He doesn't seem bothered by physical play.
- Hemingway did have a drop, though, where the ball hit him in the hands and he let it skate by over his head. Not a good throw, but catchable.
- After watching this game I'm even more curious to see how Hemingway does for the Chiefs this year. The myth that he can't gain separation doesn't hold up on tape. We'll see how it translates when he's asked to do more.
What Chiefs game this year will be a "must see?"
OK, there's bias here ... my wife emailed me that. Which either says a lot about her as a wife (that she's awesome to try and participate with my Chiefs obsession) or a lot about me as a husband (that I'm so absent DUE to that obsession that she has to resort to emailing me to get my attention). Maybe both. I'm going to try not to think about that.
If I were to label one game of almost ANY season that's a "must see," it's almost by default going to be the home opener. The biggest reason for that is a really, really cynical one; I can't shake the fear that we're going to suck any given year, so I want to be at a game early in the season so pessimism and apathy haven't set in yet. Life as a Chiefs fan.
However, taking that one out of the equation and assuming we have a competitive year ... I have to go with the November 30th game against the Broncos. If the Chiefs want the division, that's who they'll have to take it from. If we want to see if the Chiefs have improved from last year (when they couldn't quite muster enough to beat Fivehead and company), that's the week to figure it out. Plus, division game late in the season with (hopefully) playoff implications? Yes, please!
As an alternative, I'd definitely consider the November 16th game against the Seahawks and their Legion of Legalized Pass Interference That No One Else Is Allowed To Get Away With (I admit it's a wordy name, but slightly more accurate than "Boom"). The 'Hawks showed last season that they are, without a doubt, the most complete team in the NFL. How the Chiefs play against them will say a lot about our chances come playoff time. Also, quite frankly, I think the Chiefs are better built to play the Seahawks than the Broncos ever will be. Their offense relies on timing and finesse through the air. The Seahawks were built to destroy that. The offense isn't nearly as good, but it has more options if Option No. 1 isn't working.
On a side note, how BRUTAL is that schedule looking? The Chiefs could be a legitimately better team than last year and go 9-7 or 8-8. I think we'll know by the time the bye week rolls around whether this team can hang with the big boys of the NFL.
@RealMNchiefsfan I never catch you when you ask for questions, so I'm just going to ask. Looking back, should the Chiefs have paid Schwartz?— Jacob Ball (@LouMcGopher) July 13, 2014
That's tough to say right now. On one hand, Geoff Schwartz signed a very reasonable contract with the Giants. $16.8 million over four years with $5.7 million guaranteed isn't too much to pay for a solid starting guard. And until the Chiefs actually, you know, USE the cap space they have (JustinHoustonJustinHoustonJustinHoustonJustinHouston) any cost-cutting move seems pretty pointless.
A lot of it hinges on the young fellas. I'm a fan of Rishaw Johnson, as I've laid out in detail. I think he stepped in very well against the Chargers and showed he's ready to play. Additionally, the more I hear about Zach Fulton the more I like.
I view the offensive line as a whole, not in its disparate parts. I'm not really a guy who believes you need an elite LT, RT, C, or either G. While that can certainly help your team to an extent, the most important aspect of the offensive line is avoiding a weak spot. I firmly believe that an OL that consists of five "average" players will outperform a line with one stud, two very good players, and two weak spots. It's about the whole.
With that in mind, if Rishaw or Fulton (or Linkensaoiuoeifsu) can come in and play at a competent level I don't think we'll really notice the dropoff from a "solid." And I think one of them will. Then again, I'm an optimistic guy.
I don't think there's any question about that, right? I mean, first of all, you've got an absolute obsession with showing that creepy chick grilling "something" about 400 times. That alone is enough to set off "oh man, they're eating babies aren't they?" alarms in my head. Never trust the creepy chick grilling unidentified meat in a post-apocalyptic world. That's just good general life advice.
Secondly, Creepy Bangs Guy who leads the group who just captured Rick and the Gang is ... well, Creepy Bangs Guy. He absolutely looks like the kind of scarily logical person who would calmly explain why cannibalism of some is preferable to death of all as he munched on your arm.
Also, why else do you keep the people you captured alive? This group (the capturing group, we'll call them "The Creepies") have survived a zombie apocalypse for what's been (as best as I can tell) almost two years now. They HAVE to have run into a crap-ton of bad people at this point. There's really no benefit in keeping strangers alive if you've already got a big enough group to fight and procreate. So ... why else do you try and actively lure people in to you? There's really only one answer, and it ends poorly for visitors hoping to not get gnawed on.
All that said, I don't see this ending well for The Creepies. Rick has clearly gone off the deep end and is (at least right now) done agonizing over the morality of his actions. Ripping a guy's throat out with your teeth like your a rabid wolf (or, you know, a zombie) tends to make one step back and look at the big picture. No longer is he going to go with, "Is this the morally right thing to do?" as part of his decision making process. Now it's just a matter of asking, "does this increase or decrease me and my son's chances of survival?" If yes, he's going to do it. At least I hope so, because it's about time he figured that lesson out.
All right, time to get back to the books. I'll see you in the comments, and even though I won't be doing a mailbag for a little while, feel free to drop questions to @RealMNchiefsfan.