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Chiefs mailbag: What can De'Anthony Thomas do for you?

MNChiefsfan answers Chiefs fans question in his semi-regular mailbag.

Jamie Squire

Any time the Chiefs play on Monday Night Football, I'm a little ambivalent. On one hand, I think it's fantastic the Chiefs are getting a chance to play in front of a national audience. Also, it seems like the crowd at Arrowhead draws power from the night. That home opener in 2010 was just insane.

On the other hand, Monday Night Football games are highly inconvenient for me. Since I don't have television (yes, I know, I'm a dinosaur), I generally watch the Chiefs on NFL Rewind Sunday evening. Unfortunately, MNF games aren't shown on Rewind until 24 hours after they end. There's just no way I'll be able to avoid the score of the game for that long. Which means I need to find a place to watch the game. Which sounds suspiciously like work.

All that aside, Monday night should be exciting. The Chiefs may have soundly beaten the Dolphins (well, sound-ISH), but that win isn't going to convince the masses that the Chiefs are back. A win on MNF against the Patriots? Suddenly the Chiefs are sitting at .500, a record many of us would have taken had we been asked during preseason.

On the flip side, if the Chiefs lose ... well, that's bad. 1-3 is a tough hole to climb out of. I'm not going to be bothered to check the actual statistics, but I'm guessing something like 94.5743 percent of teams that start 1-3 don't make the playoffs. Give or take. Throw that with going to San Francisco to play the 49ers on the road (maybe not as tough as last year, but still a good team) and the Chiefs are looking for trouble.

So ... yeah. Lots riding on Monday night. I need a distraction. Fortunately ... mailbag!

No, he's not. Tom Brady is a very, very good quarterback. He belongs in the discussion as one of the best quarterbacks of all time. But he does not belong in the discussion of "is he the best ever?" Those are two different questions, mind you.

In other words, while Brady belongs in the room with the top 15 guys ever, I don't even consider him when I'm thinking about THE best ever. The main reason for that is I think he's replaceable.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you could replace him with any ol' quarterback and be fine. I'm talking about the "Would you make that trade" question. If you had Player X and someone offered Player Y, would you do it? Of course, it's more complicated when talking about an entire career, but we can manage.

The question I ask myself is this: if you put any other QB on the Patriots over the last 15 years (can you believe it's almost been that long since he took over? Time stops for no man), do the Pats have the same level of success? Conversely, if you swap out ol' Tom Terrific to another team, do they have MORE success or LESS success?

I know Peyton Manning isn't popular around here, and I understand why. The man bothers me too. But no one will ever convince me Manning doesn't have at least as much success on an incredibly well-coached Patriots team year in and year out. Maybe they don't win quite as many Super Bowls in those first half dozen years, but I'd bet you anything they wouldn't be sitting on a decade-long drought, either.

The reverse applies with Brady and the Colts teams Manning led. There's just no way Brady carries those teams the way Manning did. Same way he never carries a team the way Dan Marino did for a decade. Or even the way Aaron Rodgers has carried (until this year apparently) highly flawed Packers teams.

I just can't picture Brady having the same success outside of the safe confines of New England. He's replaceable. I think Manning, Marino, Montana, Elway, Rodgers, Young, Favre, Brees, and any number of other players could replace Brady on that team without them skipping a beat and with just as many Super Bowl trophies.

And I don't want to hear about what a "winner" Brady is and blah, blah, blah. Those kind of Bayless-isms don't mean much to me. Brady, quite simply isn't as good a quarterback as a half dozen or so other guys in history. He's just been in a better situation. So no, no GOAT for Brady.

Well, that depends, doesn't it? Are we talking on a biscuit? Chips? Mashed potatoes? Meat loaf? A hot dog? A pretzel? A homeless guy?

My point is, context matters. A lot. But in a vacuum it's pretty simple. Nacho cheese has the higher floor as a food prospect. No matter where it comes from, you know what you're getting. It's going to be hot, delicious, and ... well, you know, cheesy. You're guaranteed something tasty when you combine nacho cheese with most foods.

Gravy, on the other hand, is more of a wild card. It's hard to believe, but I've seen people mess up gravy and have it taste like water with a little meat in it. On the flip side of that, I've tasted gravy so good I'd pour it in a bowl and treat it like soup if given the opportunity. Very few things in this world are as good as REALLY good gravy.

It's a toss-up. And we can't have a toss-up on a question from The Blogfather himself. Which means it's time to call in the big guns. Mrs. MNchiefsfan, nacho cheese or gravy?

Mrs. MNchiefsfan- You have to think about it this way; you CAN'T have a pretzel without cheese. Well, you can, but it's not any good and you're not going to buy it. Gravy doesn't do that for any food. You think to yourself, "these mashed potatoes would be GREAT with gravy," but you eat them anyway. A pretzel without cheese? No way. I've gone without a pretzel because there was no cheese. I've never not eaten food because it didn't have gravy. Nacho cheese wins.

(Side note, did anyone else see my wife go full Dan Dierdorf with that second to last sentence? Triple negative???? She'll never not know how the significance of that moment wasn't non-huge)

I'm not sure I see it this year. Dwayne Bowe has had a pair of games to impress me, and hasn't done a whole lot. Donnie Avery is still Donnie Avery. Hemingway is hanging out. Albert Wilson will never play, at least it seems.

The Chiefs offense needs to revolve around our talented tight and and running back groups, with the wide receivers serving as a secondary threat when defenses are gearing towards stopping the "playmakers." I want to believe they can do more, but I haven't seen anything that makes me believe it'll be the case.

We'll see how much De'Anthony Thomas is used as a slot WR, but as of right now I just don't see any of the Chiefs WRs as an actual "threat."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="">@RealMNchiefsfan</a> <a href="">@ArrowheadPride</a> How&#39;s your Achilles?</p>&mdash; Kyle from Wichita (@kyle_gamber) <a href="">September 26, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Feeling very healthy. Of course, I take good care of it by never, ever, ever doing anything hard. That helps.

All that aside, how cursed does this season feel? As soon as something nice happens (the unexpected emergence of Joe McKnight as a legitimate threat for the offense), the other shoe drops. I feel like Alex Smith's arm is going to actually explode on Monday night. Which, of course, will lead to Chase Daniel playing and somehow looking incredible ... until he ruptures both his Achilles tendons  and has to walk off the field on his hands.

All the best, Joe McKnight. You played a heckuva game.

Neither. I used to watch Stewart all the time with my wife, but got sick of him running what amounts to the same joke over and over and over (yes, someone said something stupid and you're staring at the camera. We get it. Classic stuff, Jon).

And I have literally never watched The Colbert Report. I've heard it's hysterical and all that, but I've about had my fill of political-driven comedy. Particularly the whole, "I'm playing a caricature of people who disagree with me to discredit them" schtick. And from what I understand, that's pretty much all his show is. Don't get me wrong, this isn't an expression on his politics. I don't know what they are, and I don't care. That's just not what pushes my funny bone.

You know who I'd take over any of these other talk show clowns? Craig Ferguson. Legitimately funny, doesn't fake it, and had one of the best television programs I've ever seen after his father died. Go watch that on YouTube. It's incredible. Craig all day.

Man, we're already at almost 1,600 words. One more from The Boss, because he's The Boss so he gets two mailbag questions.

What would the Chiefs offense look like with DAT running the routes McKnight did against Miami?

Joel Thorman

*Note: De'Anthony Thomas is questionable for Monday night.

I don't want to make it sound as though losing McKnight doesn't matter at all. It would feel disrespectful to a guy who came through in the clutch when called upon.

That said, watching the film one can see how the same routes that McKnight used with such success could have an even higher potential ceiling with DAT running them. I'll use a 20-plus yard gain by McKnight to illustrate.


There's McKnight circled. He's going to come out of the backfield right around the LT, with Bowe running a route that forces McKnight's defender to take the "long" way around. Those who hate Denver's pick plays, shield your eyes because this is a version of a pick play. Just, you know, without an actual pick (and therefore legal).

Watch the play develop.




As you can see, the non-pick pick works beautifully. While the defender recovers pretty nicely, he's still way out of position and McKnight comes wide open. The throw is on time and placed between two linebackers who are stuck in space trying to cover McKnight with a head of steam. THAT is the key to this route. Make linebackers have to account for a smaller, faster player. Football Mismatches 101.

In the last picture I've circled McKnight in red. This is right as the ball arrives. I've circled all Miami defenders with a prayer of catching and tackling McKnight in blue. As you can see, there are five players circled, but two are crossed out. Is this because I'm having fun learning to use MS Paint? Well, partly, yes. But the other reason is that both players (incidentally, actual corners who could hope to match McKnight speed-wise) have their heads turned. Neither even realizes what's going on behind him, and both are out of the play.

So that leaves three guys. The last picture I show highlights why I believe DAT may bring that something extra on a play like this.


The yellow path is the path McKnight chose to take. As you can see, he's going to outrun the two linebackers (as well he should, McKnight's a fast guy). He's got one guy to beat; the safety. McKnight opts to fake going toward the sideline for a moment, then tries to cut back left around the safety. It's a good idea if you don't think you can outrun the safety to the sideline, and he came kinda / sorta close to pulling it off. But he ends up tackled. Still a really good play (and play design).

Of course, there's that pesky red line. The safety hasn't turned and started running yet, while McKnight is at full sprint at this point. Take McKnight out and put DAT on the field. I don't see DAT taking the yellow line. I see him taking the red line. And based on what I saw from him ever-so-teasingly briefly in preseason, I think he makes it.

Again, this isn't a knock on McKnight. He played an exceptional game. But I happen to belong to the crowd that believes DAT's a guy with special open-field skills. And sometimes going from "good" to "special" in a situation like that is the difference between a 20-yard gain and a 70-yard touchdown.

I really, really hope I'm right, and that I'm proven so on national TV Monday night.

(To be included in a future mailbag, send questions to, or tweet them to @RealMNchiefsfan. Yes, hotmail, you tech snobs. Also, I didn't get to several this week. Don't despair, your time will come)

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