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Chiefs mailbag: Why Dontari Poe isn't elite, where is Albert Wilson, Travis Kelce targets and more

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a few weeks and I haven't written a single mailbag. I am ashamed. On the other hand, I've been a little busy watching Marcus Peters (here) and Mitch Morse (here) impress the daylights out of everyone, so hopefully I can be forgiven.

But it's time, and I've got plenty of great questions. So let's mailbag! Send questions to @RealMNchiefsfan. If you're feeling especially frisky or are fond of lots and lots of GIFs / pics / thoughts on the Chiefs, feel free to give me a follow. I promise I won't stop you.

The honest answer is "I'm not sure." Wilson has looked fine with the ball in his hands and continues to be explosive at that point. And it's not like he's NEVER been open. If you take a look at the tape against the Broncos, one of the very first passing plays of the game Wilson was open (against very soft coverage).


Alex Smith through the ball to Jeremy Maclin (as indicated by that arrow) instead of Wilson and ended up being a 12-yard gain and a first down. While the screen shot doesn't demonstrate it well, Chris Harris (the CB between Wilson and Maclin) was drifting toward Wilson's route and was looking to pick off any throw that direction. So Smith made the correct decision by throwing to Maclin.

On a side note, I really like this route combination against that zone. It puts a lot of stress on Harris and essentially forces him to choose between two WR's. Someone is going to be open.

But back to Wilson ... I don't believe there's a talent issue here. There were more times during the Broncos game that Wilson "won" on his route. And no, it wasn't a case of Smith "missing" him or anything like that.

The simple fact of the matter is Reid seemed to call a VERY controlled game against the Broncos. As in, it seemed like the majority of plays were drawn up with very specific primary targets in mind, and Wilson wasn't often one of them. He was more often a decoy route to draw a defender a certain direction, or had the play going away from him immediately.

Andy Reid is a good coach, but he called a relatively poor game against the Broncos. I have no idea if that was due to his fear of their pass rush or what, but it was pretty rough. The Chiefs have played back to back games against teams with fearsome front sevens, and I believe that's affected Reid's game planning a great deal (as have the issues with the right side of the line).

Wilson remains talented, but he needs to get more involved in the offense. Frankly, the same is true of Maclin while we're on the subject. I'm hoping Reid, with the (hopeful) return of Fisher, feels he can be a little more traditional and less controlling with his play calls. That should help Wilson get a few more chances.

See my reply to the Wilson question. Kelce got more targets, but the play calling by Reid was dicey at best - in this blogger's opinion. Basically, between Kelce and Maclin the Chiefs have two players who really should get a combined 16-20 targets a game, and they haven't been.

Now, the Broncos have very good coverage 'backers, so that could have factored into Reid's plan for that game. However, Reid needs to start trusting his playmakers more and his scheme a little less. I very much believe the Broncos game was an example of Reid outsmarting his common sense, one of his biggest flaws as a play caller. "They'll expect us to use Kelce, so we'll use him as a decoy!"

That kind of thinking can only go so far. At the end of the day, guys like Kelce and Maclin need the ball. That falls on Reid and Alex Smith (who was fine vs. Houston but struggled vs. Denver) to make sure they get it.

(Full disclosure; Andy Reid knows much, much, much, much, much more about building a good offensive scheme than you and I do.)

I think that Fisher replacing Jah Reid once he's fully healthy is a sure thing. Regardless of all the noise around the situation (and all the speculation by national media and fans that Fisher is in the doghouse), the mostly likely explanation for the way things have gone for Fisher the last several weeks is that he's still hobbled and not capable of being productive on the field.

The few snaps Fisher took against the Broncos he didn't appear fully ready to go in my opinion. That's the most likely reason he hasn't been starting. Because let me be clear, it's NOT because Jah Reid has been playing well. That's simply not the case from what I'm seeing. Fisher, if he's capable of playing the way he was in the preseason (or even how he played last year), is an upgrade over Reid. I expect him back on the field.

Jeff Allen is a little trickier. For starters, it seems like he's further away from getting back on the field than Fisher. For another, it absolutely seems like Reid likes LDT and wants to keep him in at RG.

If I were a betting man, I'd say that barring more games like the one vs. Denver, LDT stays at RG, with Fisher replacing Reid, and the line moving forward consisting of Stephenson / Grubbs / Morse / LDT / Fisher. I think Allen walks at the end of the year, and the Chiefs are forced to make a pretty tough decision if Stephenson demands a large contract (which could well happen, considering how well he's played so far). LDT gets the keys to the kingdom, and the Chiefs move forward from there.

Of course, considering how early it is in the year, the odds of any predictions being correct now are tiny. Like, small kitten tiny.

I don't care for it, to be honest. The problem with Cobb is that he lines up in the slot very frequently, meaning he'll be tough to press effectively AND whoever is on him can't use the sideline as an aid.

Additionally, Cobb is extremely quick and possesses excellent long speed. That's not an ideal matchup for Fleming. And because of Cobb's tendency to line up all over, you can't reliably just tag a safety along to help double team him.

I'd very much prefer Peters and Gaines to handle Cobb. With Rodgers, you really don't want to cheat too much by doubling with safeties. Rodgers will throw to whoever is open and will take advantage of any gaps the defense provides.

The best way for the Chiefs to win is to simply do what they do on defense; play aggressive man coverage and get after the quarterback. While the Packers have a fantastic quarterback, they don't have a "second" wide receiver who is as talented as Sanders (or Thomas, depending on who you think the best WR in Denver is).

If I were to REALLY pick a strategy I'd want Sutton to have Gaines or Peters shadow Cobb everywhere he goes. Both are talented enough to at least make him work for it. In the meantime, the key to this game is going to be destroying the pocket. The Green Bay OL is vulnerable, and the only time Rodgers ever looks mortal is when he's under intense, consistent pressure. Anything less and he will absolutely pick the defense apart.

I've had more than a few people ask me about this. I suppose it was just a matter of time, as I've dropped a few comments here and there indicating I think...

OK, first, let me please remind you to take it easy and hear me out, OK? Let's all keep a clear head.

I think Dontari Poe is a little overrated by some Chiefs fans.

Put those stones down! Drop that rope! Calm your body, man! Let's go over what I'm NOT saying first.

I'm NOT saying Poe isn't good. He is absolutely good. He's very, very good.

I'm NOT saying Poe isn't unique. There's almost no one else in the league like him. He's definitely unique.

I'm NOT saying Poe isn't highly valuable. He absolutely is.

However, I don't view Poe as an elite defensive player. Generally speaking, this upsets a lot of people and leads to a great many discussions about double teams taken on and me over-valuing stats. Let me be clear; I think box score analysis is incomplete at best and stupid at worst. It's absolutely not all I take into account on a player. So no, it's not because Poe doesn't have 15 sacks a year.

If we were just having a discussion about nose tackles I'd probably say Poe is one of the best two in the league, with Marcell Dareus being the other.

But here's the thing; Poe only plays nose tackle on half his snaps. Actually, it's even less than that. Poe is moved all over the line (in part because he's so unique. Again, I think he's a pretty special player), and is ultimately a "defensive tackle" in my eyes. Which means when I compare Poe to other players in the league I'm comparing him to all defensive tackles.

And Poe, while very good and very unique, simply doesn't impact the game the way the best DT's in the league (Aaron Donald, Gerald McCoy, Suh, and Dareus) do. He has flashes of dominance and long periods of being highly competent. But he's just not consistently a great pass rusher. He's not. He doesn't get to the quarterback consistently enough to be considered "great" at it.

Does he occupy blockers? Yes, he does. Is he good at rushing the quarterback? Yes, he is. Is he also good against the run? Absolutely. Does this make him one of the more well-rounded defensive tackles in the league? You bet.

But he's not PHENOMENAL at any one thing. And when you're not phenomenal at any one thing, and you're not someone I consider top five at your general "position," I can't call you elite. Poe has elite snaps (remember when he just took over the Seahawks game down the stretch last year? Or the multiple times we've seen him bat aside centers and guards like they're high school players?), but those are generally limited to a half dozen or so a game. It's not consistent.

I put Poe in the same category I put Jeremy Maclin. Very, very good player at his position, but not elite.

Now, to make you all forgive me for saying such heresy, let's watch Poe do Poe things against the Broncos. See you next mailbag.

Good Lord, that's pretty.

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