Well, the Justin Houston saga has ended with a long term contract.
That's good news. Really, really good news. Any time you can lock down an absolutely elite pass rusher and keep him on your team long term, you do it. When he happens to be a fantastic overall person as well ... that's just gravy.
Now that that's over and done with, we've still got a few weeks of offseason to muddle through. So let's mailbag.
@RealMNchiefsfan does marcus cooper have a chance at a comeback this year? seem like he was on his way to being cut at the end of last year— Jacob F (@jfisher7) June 18, 2015
Man, Cooper has a really tough road ahead of him. After seemingly coming out of NOWHERE to play very solid football early in 2013, Cooper faded down the stretch (and against the brutal QB group of Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Andrew Luck) and went from "guy who can play" to "guy we hope can contribute" going into 2014.
We all know how that story ended. The coaching staff trusted Ron Parker over Cooper repeatedly at CB (despite Parker's struggles there), and Cooper never really consistently got on the field in 2014. He played a bit here and there as injuries stacked up, but didn't appear to have progressed after a really promising rookie season. He seemed to struggle with zone concepts most glaringly, but overall just wasn't what we'd hoped.
In the meantime, rookie Philip Gaines made rapid progress and shined when healthy, demonstrating a knack for the position (as well as superior physical tools) that Cooper lacked even at his best. Additionally, Jamell Fleming was able to get onto the field as a highly physical press corner despite not having Cooper's speed. Cooper seemed like he was in a tenuous position as maybe the fourth CB on the roster.
Now, one can never count on rookies to be good players right out of the gate, particularly at corner. But Peters, at the very least, has film that makes me believe he's going to able to leapfrog Cooper on the depth chart. And Nelson is more likely than Cooper to get a shot to compete (and stay away from the chopping block) at this point.
Which means Cooper is now quite possibly sixth on the depth chart at corner. That's a very, very precarious position to be in.
I root for Cooper. He's a great story, a guy who played wide receiver most of his life but converted to corner at the last second. Came in out of nowhere and played pretty well until his flaws got exposed. The ideal end of the story is he overcomes those flaws to become a solid contributor. Additionally, I think he has something to offer on special teams.
But as far as an outright comeback ... well, he's going to have a lot of competition if he wants to even get on the field with the defense. I just don't see it.
@RealMNchiefsfan Mailbag: Name the television character that you would most want to be friends with.— Matt Loper (@MattJLoper) June 16, 2015
There are so, so, so many people. There's no way I can just name one. So we're going to create multiple categories here...
TV character I'd most like to hang out with for a couple days but then call it good
Chandler, Friends. The guy is hysterical, but crap would his particular brand of humor get on my last nerve after a couple of days. Plus, if I stuck around too long I'd have to talk to him about the fact that his wife is, in fact, the worst.
TV character I would want in my life on a daily basis
Dr. Cox, Scrubs. I won't even argue with you about this. Cox is one of the greatest television characters ever created. He is the pinnacle of what it means to be an absolute, dominating alpha male in a world full of pansies like J.D. who are in need of mentoring. He also would say everything I wanted to say to everyone, which would really help out my stress levels.
If you disagree, you're, well ... you're wrong.
TV character I'd want having my back if things went to crap
Daryl, The Walking Dead. I really doubt there's going to be much controversy with this choice. Daryl is always ready to roll. He doesn't ask too many questions, he just takes care of whatever business is at hand. I mean, generally that business is some form of killing a walker, but I bet he'd be OK with handling other business as well.
I'd maybe talk to him about personal hygiene depending on just how bad things are going. But other than that, he's absolutely who I'm picking first if I'm captain of an apocalyptic survival team.
Honorable mention here goes to Sayid from Lost. That guy can kill anything. The problem with him is he's not nearly as loyal as Daryl. I can't risk him staging a coup and taking control from me, as there's absolutely nothing I could do about it if he decided to do so. He killed a guy with his legs while on the ground and cuffed, people.
TV character I'd like most to have as a mentor
I could go a lot of directions here. But for my generation, the ultimate mentor is (and will always be) George Feeny, Boy Meets World. Well, Mr. Feeny. Because I'm not calling Mr. Feeny "George," for crying out loud.
Mr. Feeny will teach you about science. He will teach you about history. He will teach you about math. But most of all, Mr. Feeny will teach you to "do good." It just doesn't get much more mentor-y than that guy. Also, it's nice to have a mentor who is so ridiculously overqualified for his initial job (grade school teacher) that he's able to simply follow you throughout your scholastic career (to the point of being a college prof and some kind of associate dean).
TV character I'd like most to have mentoring my kids
Coach Taylor, Friday Night Lights, and I didn't even have to think about it. Coach Taylor is the single greatest coach in the history of the universe, regardless of the sport. Even more, he's the greatest "maker of men" (stealing a line from the legendary Tami Taylor there) that has existed since... well, yeah, the history of the universe.
I'll tell you for the billionth time; if you haven't watched Friday Night Lights, you're a worse person than you could be. I'm not even exaggerating. Coach Taylor forever, yo.
I've left out a thousand categories and people, but we have to move on or I'm going to die of old age writing this one section of one mailbag. Doesn't seem worth the risk.
@RealMNchiefsfan after reading the Charles piece: How would you rank the most important qualities for a QB? Things like IQ/awareness,— Chauncey Depew (@mitchdepew) June 22, 2015
@RealMNchiefsfan accuracy, throwing power, the ability to improvise, etc?— Chauncey Depew (@mitchdepew) June 22, 2015
(Here's that Jamaal Charles piece Chauncey references) The "most important" traits for a quarterback are bound to vary depending on who you talk to and what kind of offense you're asking a guy to run. There are a TON of traits that go into being a good quarterback, and those traits all work together. There's no "one way" to be solid (or passable) at the position. It's the blend of having enough categories "good enough" that makes a quarterback an NFL-level quarterback.
There are a few that I value over the rest, though. But before we start, let's talk about arm strength a little. Arm strength is not something I find incredibly valuable in a quarterback. Arm strength is a barrier. You must have a certain amount of arm strength to play quarterback. If you're past that level, I just don't care that much. After that, it becomes just another QB skill that can make a QB more or less dangerous.
Anyway, the absolutely crucial aspects of being a good quarterback, in my opinion, are as follows.
It doesn't matter if you've got a cannon for an arm. It doesn't matter if you're completely calm in the face of pressure. It doesn't matter if you've got the entire playbook so memorized you could recite it in your sleep. If you can't throw the ball accurately you're not going to be a good quarterback.
The thing about accuracy is that the better it is the less arm strength matters. Remember Chad Pennington? He made a career out of compensating for one of the weakest arms in NFL history by putting the ball in exactly the right place. That's why Peyton Manning won't stop tormenting people even though his arm strength is less than that of most college quarterbacks; ball placement.
And it's not just about throwing the ball to the receiver, either. It's about WHERE you throw it to the receiver. A very accurate throw vs. a kind of accurate throw can be the difference between a 5 yard gain and a 15 yard gain, or a 30 yard gain and a touchdown.
Accuracy is what I value most in a quarterback, followed closely by this next trait.
A Cool Head
Unfortunately, this trait isn't nearly as easy to analyze by numbers as accuracy is. That said, a cool head goes into just about every part of being a quarterback. You need a cool head to stay calm under pressure. You need a cool head to recognize blitzes in a split second before the snap. You need a cool head to lead 10 guys (most of whom are bigger and stronger than you) and convince them to follow you with games on the line.
There's just no way of knowing whether a quarterback has this until you've watched him play. Guys like Big Ben, who calmly saunter around the pocket at it's collapsing around them like they're grocery shopping, are a relatively rare breed. You need someone who doesn't get rattled.
I hate this particular aspect because it's impossible to quantify. But it's incredibly important.
You can't be a good NFL quarterback without understanding the game. And the more understanding you have of the game, the better you are. Being able to read and diagnose defenses quickly (yes, this blends with "cool head" somewhat) is not easy. Nor is it easy to remember the multiple options attached to each formation and situation.
NFL offenses are WILDLY more complicated than most fans understand (including the guy typing these words). The quarterback is the only guy on offense who has to be familiar with not only his job, but everyone's job. It's very, very difficult.
If you give me a guy with a high level of accuracy on his throws, a cool head, and plenty of football intelligence, I'll take him every time.
Always a blast mailbagging with you, we'll do this again soon.