It's almost time for Chiefs football. In two days, there will be Chiefs football. Football begins in two days.
I can tell I have a problem because I'm irrationally excited to observe backup defensive linemen and wide receivers who are likely on the fringe of the roster. They say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. However, I've been admitting I have a Chiefs football problem for years with no noticeable change.
Also, did you hear that the first preseason game is Thursday? And that each Chiefs quarterback is going to get a full quarter of play to work with? Gotta love this time of year, where we're excited to watch Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray throw footballs to guys we will never hear of again after training camp ends.
As we count the hours, I've got a few mailbag questions to unload. Warning: one question includes Alex Smith. I don't view this as breaking my vow to not write a column on Alex Smith until Week 6 because, you know, mailbag. Mailbag doesn't count. If it did, I wouldn't be allowed to give parenting advice or discuss Star Wars (yes, both are happening today). Let's do this.
Also, if I don't get to your question today, don't worry. There's always next time. I've noticed that every mailbag seems to be dominated in the comments by one or two questions. I blame this short attention span on gangster rap music. And because of this (as well as my unmatched ability to write 700 words about anything), I try to limit to 3-4 questions a mailbag. So please, don't send me mean emails or tweets. Unless you really want to. Then have at it.
As always, send emails to MNchiefsfan@hotmail.com or tweet them to @RealMNchiefsfan. Anything and everything is fair game..
@RealMNchiefsfan I'll be over for the season opener. I have an 11-21 record at games. Do I spend the game in the parking lot or the stadium?— Neil Blair (@ndblair) August 2, 2014
Look, I don't want to be the guy to tell you NOT to go to a Chiefs game ... but yikes. Here's the essential question ... how long a period is that 11-21 record spread over? Because if it's over the course of the last half dozen years or so, you can't blame yourself for that. The Chiefs have fielded some truly horrific teams in that time span.
If it's been over a period where the teams were bad anyway, go in. But maybe wear some kind of lucky charm. Like a voodoo doll of Peyton Manning. Just to be safe.
@RealMNchiefsfan @ArrowheadPride We're expecting a baby girl any minute(literally)... Any Chiefs-related name suggestions?— Matt Stagner (@stagdsp) August 4, 2014
First of all, that's awesome. Welcome to the good life! Second of all, Twitter provided some great suggestions. My personal favorite was Dontaria. All kinds of awesome.
I think it's time for me to admit something, though. Kids' names are a bit of a blind spot for me. If it weren't for my wife, I'm pretty sure my kids' names would all be "Jim" or something similar. I just draw a complete blank when handed that kind of power. Hopefully the readers / commenters can help. I like Dontaria though. OR Justine. Or (perhaps the best suggestion by AP user Scott Mahurin) Kelce. Kelce!
@RealMNchiefsfan @ArrowheadPride As concussions are all the rage in pop culture, will you, as a parent, let your child play football?— Chris Hale (@Pickle_29) August 4, 2014
I absolutely allow my kid to play football. Look, football is dangerous to an extent. So is basketball, hockey, and wrestling, and freaking tag. I have a buddy whose kid busted his arm playing a game he made up which was basically "let's see how far I can jump off the couch." Being a kid is dangerous, and it's remarkable young men in particular ever survive to adulthood.
One of the tough things as a parent is trying to balance out protecting your kid with allowing them to experience stuff. And when it comes to serious danger one needs to take a long, hard look at things.
That said, the "OMG football is so super dangerous for everyone ever" hyperbole stinks of a "cause" to me. People are ticked (and rightfully so) that the NFL wasn't forthcoming with ALL the information they had on concussions. And so they're going off the deep end in insisting that football is somehow inherently more dangerous than ... basically everything, ever. We live in 2014, an age where when something achieves "cause" status everyone loses their collective minds.
Football involves people running around at high speeds and hitting each other. It's not safe. Of course, statistically it's significantly safer than driving a car (apples and oranges alert!), but I'm gonna let my kids get their licenses. If my kids want to play football, I'll take every step I can to ensure they're safe doing it. I'm not going to pretend it's inherently worse than hockey or wrestling or basic roughhousing (how many times has your kid bonked his or her head? Admit it, it's more than you like to tell people).
Is Alex Smith the future of this franchise (say more than 3 years) or do you think he'll be replaced by someone on the roster or a pickup soon to come?
I'm going to give a really, really boring answer to a question that is bound to set off at least one 100-comment rage debate between AP members: I don't know.
My stance on Smith remains where it's been for months, we need to wait and see. I've rattled off a zillion stats talking about what a different QB Alex Smith was after the bye week (almost doubling his attempts of 20-plus yards, etc.). But that's only half a season, and we've got a whole first half of the season where Smith was good in spots but largely a simple game manager.
It all comes down to this season for me. If Alex Smith plays like he did to close out last year, he's our guy and should be signed long term. If he plays the same as he did during the first half of last year, he's not and we should let him walk in free agency. It's that easy for me.
The quarterback market is insane. Average-to-decent QBs are getting paid massive amounts of money (though the guaranteed amount varies wildly depending on how good a guy is). While Smith, if he has a great season, will cost more in guaranteed money, he's not going to get much more expensive. So let's all just wait and see.
I think finding an answer to this question will help us decide what kind of team we are and where our strengths really are.
Ok, it's January 4th, 2015. Chief's just sneaked into the post season earning a Wild Card spot in this year's playoffs. We're offered a chance at redemption on a cold day in Indianapolis. It's the game we've all been waiting for since last year's playoff loss. Fourth quarter. The clock is stopped with one second left. Ball on the 5-yard line. Team in the lead is up by four points.
Would you rather be up by four points and relying on the D to stop Andrew Luck one last time to secure our first playoff win in over 20 years or would you rather be down by four points with only 5 yards to go putting the ball (and the fate of our season) in the hands of Alex Smith / Charles / Bowe? And how does your position change if we are playing in KC, or playing a different opponent? Oh, and what if the ball is on the 2-yard line?
Thanks, MN. I don't comment often at AP but I read it every day. And I can't wait for your next Mailbag (even if you don't use this question) because it is probably my favorite thing to read at AP.
Jared aka blacksheep57
Two things right off the bat. First, even long questions are acceptable to the mailbag if they're interesting enough. Second, flattery will get you everywhere.
The thing that makes this question interesting is that it forces you to REALLY decide what aspect of this team you trust the most. It's easy to say things like, "I like our defense better than our offense" in a vacuum. But the choices offered here REALLY made me think. And think. And then think some more.
Here's the deal ... I think the Chiefs defense is better than the offense. I don't think it's all that close. I think they've got more talent by a WIDE margin on that side of the ball, especially with the rumors that the defensive line is showing up strong at training camp. Plus, the pass rush should be pretty scary in a do-or-die situation like this one. Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford (who made a LIVING in clutch situations in college), and Dontari Poe made this decision seem easy at first.
BUT ... not matter how hard I tried to want the defense on the field (with the "on the 5" scenario), I couldn't do it. Maybe I've been hurt too many times by the defense collapsing down the stretch. Maybe I just see the words "Luck" and "defense" in the same sentence and automatically feel fear. I don't know what it is. But I'm distinctly not comfortable with that scenario.
I think one thing that colors this hypothetical is that an offense has likely driven down the field to put themselves in a position to score as time runs out. This means in either scenario the defense has been put on its heels. I know momentum is largely a figment of our imagination in the aggregate, but in individual situations I firmly believe it matters.
Also, I learned something about myself thinking about this scenario: I really do trust Andy Reid, Alex Smith, and Jamaal Charles in a clutch spot. I trust Reid to make a solid play call, Charles to be Charles, and Smith to do enough to give the Chiefs a solid shot at scoring (while not killing them with a stupid mistake). Maybe I need to re-visit the whole "Is Alex Smith the future" question with this newfound realization (that I trust Smith in the clutch) in mind...
That said, with the ball at the 2-yard line I want the offense on the field, no question. Charles isn't getting denied in that scenario. On the 5-yard line it's more difficult, but I'd rather see the game in the hands of Reid / Smith than Sutton / defense. Truly, it's weird the things you figure out when you're forced to consider hypothetical situations.
@RealMNchiefsfan @ArrowheadPride How about best Star Wars films, in order?— Matt Loper (@MattJLoper) August 4, 2014
I feel so inadequate to perform this type of ranking. That said, I think I can do this. We'll go in descending order, from worst to greatest.
6. Episode I: The Phantom Menace
This is not only the worst Star Wars movie made by a WIDE margin, it's also one of my least favorite movies of all time. Not even the presence of Liam Neeson was enough to save this movie, which I'd always assumed was impossible.
Mid-chlorians (or whatever the crap), pod racing, a kid who looks 4 flirting with a chick who looks about 16, a plot that centers around trade regulations... and Jar Jar. Oh, Jar, Jar, how I loathe everything you represent.
It was this movie that made us realize that George Lucas really ISN'T a genius, and that it was the team around him that made the initial Star Wars movies so ridiculously good.
5. Episode II: The Phantom Menace
Not nearly as bad as Episode 1, but still rough. I'm a firm believer that if you cut out basically every "look at these two fall in love" scene with Padme and Anakin you're onto something. Well, if you replace whatshisname (Anakin). Has anyone ever been so badly casted? I mean EVER? You can't find a decent actor to play freaking Darth Vader before he turns????? How is this even possible?
Anyway, the fight scenes are better here and there's less Jar Jar. That alone makes the movie at least palatable. Still a wide gap between this movie and the next, though.
4. Episode VI: Return of The Jedi
I'm going hipster here and ranking one of the originals BEHIND one of the "new" movies. I'm almost certain I'm going to take a beating for this. But I have my reasons, I swear.
First of all, the fact that whatshisname plays Anakin isn't as problematic in this one because he barely acts like a human most of the time. Plus, he's a lot more believable as a really-easily-manipulated pawn than as anything resembling a hero. Finally, you need to remember that the main focus of Return of the Jedi relies a lot on Mark Hamill's skill as an actor. So... yeah.
Anyway, I like Return of the Jedi. It's a solid movie. But two things blow it for me.
First, I don't ever feel like there's even remotely a chance that Luke Skywalker is going to join the dark side. Not even a little. I'll address a way to fix this problem in a bit (yeah, we're going REALLY in depth with the nerdery today), but there's no real suspense there.
Second, ewoks and celebrations. Good Lord. I'm not even going to go beyond that. Drags a very good movie down a notch.
3. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Apparently I'm evil and like it when the bad guys win. In actuality, I just enjoyed this movie a lot more. Pretty dark, and not as kid friendly as all the others by a long shot (the "hey, Anakin is killing a bunch of kids" implications are tough to ignore). But a good movie.
As I mentioned, Anakin's inability to be even kind of likeable works FOR the movie here, rather than against it. He becomes easy to root against as stuff goes down. And Lucas actually manages to hit on the "they're killing all the Jedi!" scenes. It was genuinely all, "holy crap, this is terrible." Overall, it's just a good watch. And there are no ewoks.
2. Episode IV: A New Hope
Fantastic movie, an all-time great. But there's not much to say other than that it doesn't have a prayer against...
1. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The battle for Hoth. The "what's up now" moments by Yoda. The space slug. Mynocks. The carbonite. The duel. The most shocking moment in movie history (well, at least top five, right?). This movie is so great that if you tell it how great it is it quotes itself...
Some advice on Star Wars...
Look, I've already outed myself as an extreme nerd, so there's no sense in not giving you some killer advice on re-watching the Star Wars series (or having your kids watch it for the first time).
So with that in mind, if you're going to re-watch the series and are a hardcore geek, read this piece on what order to watch the movies in.
I'll give you the Cliff's Notes. Watch them in this order: IV, V, II, III, VI.
Yes, Episode I is completely off the list. It's unnecessary, terrible, and you don't miss a single key plot point.
Watching them in this order makes this series one about Luke Skywalker. We watch him in IV and V, and see him have a terrible realization at the end of V. THEN, right after hearing "I am your father," we travel back in time in Episodes II and III to see how that happened. Which is fantastic, because right at that moment is when "HOW IS VADER LUKE'S DAD???????" is foremost on your mind.
Also, remember how I mentioned that there's no tension in Return of the Jedi because we KNOW Luke's not going to the dark side? The tension is absolutely there if you go in this order. We JUST SAW his dad go down that path. The baddies winning out has become the norm. Why should it change now? The reasons are laid out in more detail in the link provided. Warning, that author makes me look succinct.
Anyway, I think I've definitely satisfied my nerd quota for the week. Happy Chiefs football week!