With the return of the dreaded offseason, it's time to dust off a tradition we lost sometime during all the footballing. That's right, the mailbag is making a glorious comeback from the depths (besides the glorious part, at least).
We'll start doing these a whole lot more now that the actual football talk is slowing down. Of course, I'll also continue to do film reviews for 2015. Those will be our meals. Think of the mailbag as the snacks you use to sustain yourself between the all-too-infrequent feasts of film review and real news. Like any starving man, you must savor and treasure these pizza roll-esque mailbags, in anticipation for the feast of Z-men and pizza of film review. Somewhere along the way this analogy fell apart. I think when we got to pizza rolls.
Anyway, mailbag we shall. Send questions to @RealMNchiefsfan or the communists win.
@RealMNchiefsfan is it too soon to declare Dee Ford a bust, and should we feel comfortable with him as a starter should Tamba not return?— Alex Misses Baseball (@AC_Alex) February 18, 2016
Full disclosure; I have not reviewed Dee Ford's snaps in detail as of yet, so everything I know about him comes from general impressions during my initial viewings and re-watching of the games, as well as looking at his stats. I'm not a guy who can get a good idea on one player while focusing on another, so this is all subject to change.
This is always a loaded question because someone's definition of "bust" is always going to be different. Since Ford was a first round pick, most people are going to view him as a bust if he isn't a star. I guess I understand how people get to that reasoning, but I've never agreed with it. Especially when it comes to late round picks.
That said, it's beyond debate that Ford was not even close to ready his rookie year. He famously misread a run play to the point that he ran away from the ball, which is a decent snapshot of the issues he had against the run (not that he always ran the other way, mind you. He just struggled). Additionally, Ford didn't really move the needle as a pass rusher, his forte. So, yeah, I can understand why people were concerned.
2015 was a little different.
Now, before you skip to the comments to tell me I'm crazy to say Ford was good in 2015, that's not what I'm saying (who am I kidding, I lost those people awhile ago). I'm saying Ford was BETTER. He wasn't the same liability against the run, and he flashed some pass rush skills more often. He wasn't a star or even close, but he was significantly better.
Dee Ford's spin is insanely fast. Should be working on this constantly. Forced a trip that didn't get called. pic.twitter.com/0rx9J6nMKr— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) January 5, 2016
That's enough to make me stick to "wait and see" mode with Ford. Any time a player makes a significant jump from year 1 to year 2, it's enough to make me wait another year. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not. But I'm willing to wait.
@RealMNchiefsfan who's the chiefs most underrated pending free agent? (Jeff Allen, Hussain Abdullah, ect.)— spaceman (@corriveau_john) February 19, 2016
In my eyes, it's definitely a toss up between those two players.
People have really become accustomed to Abdullah's quietly solid play. He's a safety who isn't fantastic at any one thing, but he's competent at everything. That's rare in the NFL. You generally have safeties who can play the run but can't cover, or who do well in zone but get exposed on man coverage. With Abdullah, you've got a guy you can line up anywhere on the field and he'll acquit himself well. I think he's going to be more in demand than Chiefs fans think. He's essentially Eric Berry Lite.
And Jeff Allen has been underrated for years. Chiefs fans consistently underestimate his performance as well as his value. It's no coincidence that the offensive line finally not being offensive (that joke has now been used 1 trillion times. I'm glad we could share this moment together) coincided with Allen returning. Whether he played guard or tackle, he provided brute strength as well as the ability to move in space on the line. He also brings an attitude, which can almost never be underestimated along the line.
Abdullah is probably the better player, but with regards to value for the Chiefs I think Allen is more important. As I've talked about before, the Chiefs need to avoid taking a step backward along the offensive line in 2016.
@RealMNchiefsfan How'd you get good describing things when you write your articles on plays? I'm probably the only one to notice this. lol— Patrick Kelly (@ThePatK) February 18, 2016
I should provide some background here. Patrick is a reader who happens to be blind. He also used this information to make me feel really awkward (dude's got a great sense of humor) on Twitter once in a really hysterical way.
Anyway, I have two rules when it comes to describing plays. The first is to describe it as though the person isn't familiar with football terminology (outside of player positions). In my experience, very little is gained by showing off how many "correct" words you know. Frankly, there are so many different terms for the same thing it tends to get confusing anyway. I call this the Wife Rule; how do I explain this in a way my wife (who, as you all know, isn't exactly a diehard fan) would understand?
The other rule I have hearkens back to my humble beginnings here at Arrowhead Pride (my current times are just as humble, but I digress). Once upon a time, many moons ago, I would break down film without using any gifs whatsoever. I didn't even use screen shots!
I'll give you a moment to recover from your shock.
Anyway, for a long time both of those very simple processes were outside my technological capabilities. And so if I wanted to describe what I saw on the field, I had to DESCRIBE it. By doing so, I found people seemed to enjoy hearing about things in more detail than "lookit the moving picture, guys." So my rule is to use the picture / gif to fill in the words, not the other way around.
I have people ask me how I became a Chiefs fan pretty frequently. I've written about it here before, but the short version is that I lived in the Kansas City area during the Joe Montana era. My dad is a Vikings fan, but in the time before Direct TV he figured watching the Chiefs was better than no football at all. He really liked the hard-nosed defense the Chiefs boasted back then, so it fit naturally. I became forever hooked the moment Montana hit Willie Davis on the right side of the end zone on Monday Night Football to once and for all settle the "Elway vs. Montana" debate. I think a lot of people my age have a similar story.
Now, as far as Justin March goes (I have no idea if that's his actual Twitter account, for what it's worth), count me in with the group that became intrigued with him last preseason. The unfortunate thing is we saw so little of him, that it's impossible to know what he might bring to the table.
All I know with March is that he really stood out when on the field. He flashed speed to the ball and looked very decisive in his decisions. Again, we're talking about a really small sample size. But it's not like preseason was the only time March impressed people. He was the buzz of camp for much of the summer, with both coaches and visiting fans raving about his ability to make plays.
March is definitely a player I'm excited to see this year. It's unfortunate that an injury derailed his rookie season, but at least he's had a year now to study up and be around the game. Hopefully he hits the ground running as fast as he did last year. It wouldn't surprise me if he spent training camp turning heads all over again.
@RealMNchiefsfan Why does Sutton never sneak in some zone? Every time we face a top tier qb they pick us apart with man beaters. Adjust!— Hayes Miller (@PurpleHayes_22) February 18, 2016
I hate to be that guy, but I'm going to be.
If there's one thing I learned watching every coverage snap of Sean Smith's season, it's that the idea that Sutton's defense "never" plays zone is absolutely untrue. Anywhere from a half dozen to 20 or so snaps a game, I'd see zone coverage sprinkled in.
For whatever reason, Sutton has become a whipping boy whenever the Chiefs lose games, with fans using the same talking points of "no adjustments" and "no zone" over and over. The fact is, Sutton has adjusted quite a bit to a TON of varying personnel due to injuries over the last couple of years.
I'm not Sutton's biggest fan, but the idea that he never makes adjustments and never plays zone is absolutely, completely untrue.
All right, this looks like as good a stopping point as any. After all, we've got a lot of offseason to go. I'm guessing before long we'll be back to a daily(ish) mailbag. For those of you who are film review junkies, the plan is to review Mitch Morse next. In the meantime, remember to send my some mailbag questions and together, we shall defeat the offseason!