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Chiefs Mailbag: What will the front 7 look like next year?

Answering questions from Chiefs fans in a semi-regular mailbag.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

It's funny the things that will send fans careening over the edge. Chiefs fans were kinda / sorta / maybe holding it together somewhat this week after a horrific loss to the Titans (well, after the first day of "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!" panic died down).

People were starting to talk about Travis Kelce, Eric Berry at single high safety, the return of Dwayne Bowe, and all other sorts of topics. It seemed that, for now, fans had decided not to hit the "nuke" button on the season.

Then Jeff Allen got injured.

I like Jeff Allen more than most. I think he gets a bit of a bum rap around Arrowhead Pride and with Chiefs fans. However, when I discovered he was lost for the year I was mostly, "Man, that stinks. Welp, let's see what happens."

If the comment sections around here are any indication, the reaction of most Chiefs fans was more extreme. As in complete, utter, total, face-melting panic. I saw people half-kiddingly mention calling Brian Waters. I saw people asking about the Chiefs chances of winning even four games. I saw someone mention which quarterback to take next year (!!!!!!!!!!). In short, the place quickly devolved into a level of chaos I haven't seen since Jamaal Charles went down in 2012.

Which is funny to me, since many of those same people were constantly running Jeff Allen into the ground not two weeks ago. Again, it's funny the things that will send fans careening over the edge.

Anyway, it's mailbag time. I don't feel great about the Broncos game, but I'm not ready to wave the white flag just yet. So in the spirit of next man up, let's answer some questions.

(Here's your usual reminder to submit mailbag questions to or tweet them to @RealMNchiefsfan).

I'm going to keep believing that Derrick Johnson will defy the odds and come back totally healthy despite almost everything I've read telling me otherwise. Check that, Mrs. MNchiefsfan tells me I should believe he'll come back "even better." Good people, she is. So that's the assumption; DJ will be back.

Front 3: Vance Walker, Dontari Poe, Jaye Howard

I don't think Walker will give them a choice over the course of the next few weeks. The man can play, and they're going to want to keep him around. Jaye Howard has an explosive first step and has seemingly improved a ton since coming on board last year. I say it continues and he's able to secure a starting spot (as well as significant snaps in pass rushing situations).

I think Allen Bailey and Mike DeVito are gone. Bailey has never shown much, and DeVito will have a long road back from injury (my fictitious universe where people come back from achilles tears doesn't extend to DeVito). I don't think he sticks, despite being a solid player.

Linebackers: Justin Houston, Joe Mays, Derrick Johnson, Dee Ford

I believe Mays will come back strong and provide a nasty punch for the Chiefs run defense (which they are going to DESPERATELY need with DJ out for the year). Houston's deal will get done, if for no other reason than Dorsey's fear of Chiefs fans burning Utica to the ground if the best SOLB in the league walks away in free agency. If all else fails, he'll be franchised. DJ is a no-brainer because miracles.

Dee Ford is the one change. Let me be clear; I love Tamba Hali. I want him to retire a Chief. But he has a $12 million cap hit next season, with a first round pick sitting behind him for a fraction of that price. Hali getting cut would save the Chiefs a whopping $9 million in cap space next season. And he's still good enough that there's no real reason for him to do a restructuring, as he'll get paid in the open market.

I desperately hope I'm wrong and the Chiefs figure it out, but I don't see Tamba here beyond 2014. Too many factors against it.

If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on Anthony Fasano.

Let's be realistic; the writing is on the wall here. I like Fasano, but here are the facts.

1. Anthony Fasano is currently starting at tight end and playing the vast majority of snaps for the Chiefs offense.

2. Anthony Fasano is getting playing time over Travis Kelce, a player whose current ability already surpasses Fasano's and whose ceiling is too high for Fasano to reach with a ladder.

3.: Andy Reid has not ever given us any indication he's going to switch to more double-TE formations any time soon. He should. But he may well not.

4: getting rid of Fasano could save the Chiefs $2 million against the cap in 2015 and nearly $4 million against the cap in 2016.

There's just no way (barring injury, now let me go pay homage to a black cat and eat a few four-leafed clovers) Fasano holds off Kelce for the lion's share of the snaps as this season goes on. And he's getting paid way too much to be a 20-snap-per-game guy. I think he's gone next season. Also, keep an eye on Dwayne Bowe.

You know what? I'm not ready to give the Broncos game away yet. I mean, sure, I predicted the Chiefs would lose by almost 30 points, but I've now had time to rethink things (that's another way of saying "talk myself into something stupid." You know, like when you "rethink things" and get back together with the chick who keyed your car and burned your clothes).

Sure, the Chiefs might get killed. But hey, they might win. You never know. Anything can happen. You gotta fight to the finish. Winners never quit. Any given Sunday. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. It's a game of inches. It don't matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Just throw, Billy. Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. THIS IS SPARTA!!!!!!!

(I think I covered the gamut of inspiring quotes. You're welcome, Chiefs players)

Also, I don't drink, because when I used to drink I DRANK. So instead, I eat my feelings (which is statistically a lot more likely to kill me, but at least it's slower). And I'm thinking I'll probably drown myself in a large pizza if disappointment and a bowl of really sad chocolate marshmallow ice cream.

Yep, these are coming back soon. I couldn't be more stoked for the amazing return of this amazing show. And for those who don't like zombie questions.. I'd like to pretend I care. But I really don't. I'm sorry that I'm not sorry. Just stay calm and skip those sections.

Dang, now I'm sad again. Really, it's way, way, WAY too soon to judge this year's draft. That's just how it is. And face it, this draft was never going to be the type with instant impact. The only player who was likely to make said impact (De'Anthony Thomas) is injured. I'll tell you more about this draft about midseason next year.

As far as last year's draft, I dunno. Eric Fisher looks better, and you can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel with him now (if you squint a little bit). Travis Kelce is going to be (and maybe already is) an animal. Knile Davis, well, yeah, opinions vary on that one.

I'm of the opinion that if you can get three solid players out of a draft, you've done well. If you can get one stud out of those three players, you've had a killer draft. And Dorsey MAY have done that. We'll see how this year plays out.

That said, the 2013 draft class has been hammered by things that Dorsey couldn't control. Sanders Commings played four traight healthy years at Georgia then turned into Glass Man upon entering the NFL and showing promise to coaches. Mike Catapano is ... well, at this point I just hope he makes it. Like, through life. Because whatever illness he has, it's an awful one. Both of those guys are players who (I think) would have us crowing about what a great draft we had depth-wise.

But these things happen. I wouldn't lose faith in Dorsey just yet regarding drafting. Although the whole "Fisher over Star / Sheldon" thing is still tough to swallow.

Like I said above, we'll see. There are a few things that could, theoretically, go right for the Chiefs without defying all reason and allow for a win.

1) Jamaal Charles having a "I can't believe people are overlooking how great I am after one week" game.

2) 2014 Alex Smith defeating 2006 Alex Smith (who took his place and put 2014 Smith in the Phantom Zone) in honorable combat and reclaiming his place on the Chiefs after decapitating 2006 Alex Smith.

3) Andy Reid saying, "Hey, I have three legitimate playmakers on offense in JC, Bowe, and Kelce. Maybe I should base what I do around them."

4) The front seven putting enough pressure on Fivehead Manning to bother him.

Those things happen and the Chiefs win.

Also, Ray Rice ... yikes. Before anyone asks, yes, I absolutely would have kept the charges in place on him and made him plea to SOMETHING at the very least, regardless of what his now-wife wanted. I have victims begging me to drop charges against their husbands / boyfriends every single day, and it never stops being depressing. But I would never let a guy off without even a guilty plea in a situation like that one.

I'm stunned that people are more enraged about the NFL's action than they are about the government's action. Seems to me like punishing domestic violence is a lot more under the purview of the State than it is an employer. But maybe that's just me. This is what happens when an employer tries to dictate actions outside of work. I feel like there's a column there somewhere (Late note; especially with the Adrian Peterson stuff coming out)

I don't see why not. Dude's a schmuck, but he's going to be an ANGEL for whatever team gives him a one year "prove it" deal. He's not going to do a thing to mess it up.

And no, this isn't a "I'll do anything to win" opinion. It's a "I'm willing to give someone a shot provided they're repentant enough for past mistakes" opinion. Kick the tires and see what his attitude is like. If he feels like he didn't do anything wrong in Miami, move on. If he's ready to grow the crap up and not act like a sixteen-year-old, even better.

Stop it. You stop it right now

I'll end with this one, because I get asked this a lot. I imagine it's because she's, you know, really attractive. And I'm kind of, you know, not.

I met her on a blind date. A blind double date. Where the other couple (and the people introducing us) were my parents. Beat that story, I dare you. You can't.

So here's what happened. I'd spent the ages of 16-21 dating a series of increasingly unstable women, the last several of whom may very well have killed me and eaten me had I stayed with them. I was finally emerging from a haze of alchohol-induced stupid decisions and had gotten my life on track working out in the oil patch (my theory is that all young men should have to work a job where their coworkers will beat the crap out of them if they don't pull their weight). I'd moved back to MN and had the following conversation with my dad...

"Hey, son, there's this really great girl at our church. You should meet her."

"Um ... sure Dad. What's her number, I'll give her a call."

"Nope. You can go on a date with her, but Marla and I will go with. That's the deal."

"Uh ... Dad, I'm not 16. I've been handling my dating for awhile now."

"Yeah? And how's that working out for you?"


"Fair enough."

Now, before you think I'm totally nuts for agreeing, let me preface this with the fact that my mom had mentioned this girl to me about six months earlier, basically talking for about five straight minutes on how gorgeous this Jas girl was. Throw that together with the shattered remains of my previous dozen or so relationships and I was willing to listen.

When she (the girl soon to be Mrs. MNchiefsfan) walked out the door a smoking hot 10, I thought to myself that I'd met another crazy one or had absolutely no chance, with zero alternative possibilities. Turned out she was super chill, smart, and blah blah blah romantic crap you don't want to hear.

I slapped a ring on her the second I had a chance and haven't looked back. Four kids in and life is good.

Here's a couple of blurbs from Mrs. MNchiefsfan about that first date:

  • "You were really nicely dressed."
  • "It was weird, because we were with your parents, and your dad was my pastor. So it was really tough figuring out how to be flirty in that situation. I changed my mind on clothes about 15 times trying to find the right mix, and ended up in basically business attire."
  • "You were easy to talk to. Of course, I found out later that that was 'your thing' with girls." (I'm very much worried about the direction these blurbs are going)
  • "You were really funny. And nice."

There's a lesson here that I'll close the mailbag with; you can be a totally average looking guy and still score a slamming hot wife if you can make her laugh and aren't a jackass. Write that down, and here's hoping for a win this weekend!

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