Well, we've put this off for as long as possible. Free agency and the draft are well behind us. Training camp doesn't start for a few months, give or take a couple of centuries. Real football news, outside of some mini camps and OTA's (or perhaps bad injury news or a player getting into trouble) is going to be sparse. We are in the dead zone of the NFL year.
The good news? That means we're going to start gearing up shorter, more frequent mailbags to pass the time. Yay!
Of course, I'll continue my film review work and do some other stuff, but you and me both know the only way we make it through the offseason every year is by you asking me questions and me pulling answers out of... well, somewhere.
I've already got a nice group of questions to work with, but can always use more. Send them to @RealMNchiefsfan, and remember, questions of all sorts are encouraged (football or otherwise). Mailbag!
I am probably going to change this prediction roughly 3,000 times before the season actually starts, but right now I'm rolling with Chris Conley.
That may come as a surprise to those of you who read my stuff frequently. I don't have a lot of hope in developmental players a lot of the time, particularly at the wide receiver position. I'm not sure if that's because Jon Baldwin killed my optimism in that area, or what. But I'm a guy who likes to play it safe with not bad veterans at wide receiver (hence why I was one of Jason Avant's strongest backers) outside of your go-to guy.
I don't have any tape-based reason to say Conley is likely to take a big step forward. Here's what we know about the guy: he's ridiculously athletic, and he has arms that look like they're roughly 17 feet long. That's about it.
Of course, wide receiver is a position just filthy rich with incredible athletes who never amount to anything more than special teams contributors who catch 20 passes a year. Why should Conley be different?
It's just a feeling I have, really. For starters, he seems like a pretty sharp guy. I've read some of his quotes and bloggy-type stuff, and he's at the very least pretty articulate. That makes me feel better about his potential to pick up on the nuances of the position with regards to reading defenses (a WILDLY underrated trait in the modern WR, who often has to choose between multiple option routes).
But the biggest reason? Well, this is embarrassing, but this article written by some BJ something-or-other really drew me in. It's about Conley spending the majority of the offseason staying with Jeremy Maclin during the week and training with him since the offseason began. Included are quotes like this one.
"It was a really unique time for me to be able to be around somebody to get to know him better—to see how he works and the way that he trains and lives and emulate that. He has really taken the time to work with me on the deficiencies in my game and the strong points in my game because he wants me to take things to the next level."
Look, I very much understand that this is the type of article you'll often see in the offseason. But considering that Maclin is one of the most polished and well-rounded route runners in the entire league, the idea of Conley really working with him day in and day out on his deficiencies (which, IMO, would be route running and getting off the line of scrimmage cleanly) is intriguing.
More and more I hear quotes about how difficult it is for players to really train on the nuances of their position during team activities, as most of that time is spent installing playbooks. That's why it's so tough for unpolished guys to become more refined; there just isn't the practice time anymore. Conley doing something like this, to me, is akin to an offensive linemen going to a clinic during the offseason to refine his footwork.
Is there a guarantee Conley was able to pick up on Maclin's ridiculously smooth route running? Of course not. But if he did, even to a small extent? Watch out.
@RealMNchiefsfan When the kids wake up in the middle of the night. Who gets up with them; you or MrsMNchiefsfan or trade off?— CatsLoveGravy (@3GravyCats) April 9, 2016
When you have five kids it's not quite that simple. At this point, we've got two kids that are guaranteed to get up every night; our almost-three-year-old daughter, Isabelle, and the new baby, Lucas.
Right now, I get up with Isabelle and coax her back to sleep while Mrs. MNchiefsfan deals with the baby. She has, uh, traits that I do not have with regards to taking care of a newborn at night (if you catch my drift. You know, food and stuff).
That said, I've put in plenty of nights with plenty of kids, especially with Mason and Cole (two of our middle kids), who were both bottle fed at an early age. You are NEVER as tired as you are at three in the morning rocking a baby back to sleep. A real pro is able to doze off while holding the baby without dropping it. I don't recommend that move for amateurs, though. Because, you know, dropping the baby is bad.
Real talk; real men help their wives out with the kids at night. Don't care what your day job is. Man up, change that diaper, and rock that kid back to sleep!
@RealMNchiefsfan your starting 5 OL? Or more specifically, starting guards?— JamesP (@JJPJ86) May 5, 2016
LT to RT: Eric Fisher, LDT, Mitch Morse, Jah Reid, Mitchell Schwartz.
That's what I think WILL happen. From everything I've seen over the last year, Reid and company like LDT quite a bit and are going to continue to give him a shot at seizing a position on the line. I'm still in the middle of Zach Fulton's review, but so far I haven't seen anything that tells me he's necessarily a better option than LDT (at least last year when it came to playing guard).
I'm very comfortable with the rest of the line. Fisher did pretty well last year at LT (I think he may have been really bad at RT, but that's another column to be written), Morse is a freaking stud, Jah Reid showed he can hold his own and then some at G in a small sample size last season, and Mitchell Schwartz might be the best RT in the league. No problems across the board for me, with just a small question mark over Reid's head.
That LG spot... though. Again, I think LDT gets the nod. I don't think there was much of a difference, quality-wise, between Fulton and LDT at guard last season. So I roll with the guy who is a better fit for Reid's offense (due to his ability to get into space) and has a higher likelihood of improving. That said, it wouldn't surprise me terribly if Fulton, with his superior technical skills and strength, makes a fight of it.
I really wish the Chiefs had done something aggressive at guard. But as things stand, they COULD have a solid line if things fall into place.
@RealMNchiefsfan Should Chiefs be looking for Colquitt's replacement?— CatsLoveGravy (@3GravyCats) February 18, 2016
Don't take this the wrong way, but you're a bad person and you should feel bad.
I'm kidding of course (I mean, to be fair, you might be a bad person. What do I know? This is the interweb, some people here are bad). But no, I don't see a reason to move on from Colquitt. He's still consistently booming punts and pinning opponents back. He seemed to have a brief stretch of... something last season when he didn't look like himself (I'm guessing a nagging injury). But that said, he does a great job helping with field position. And yes, field position matters in the NFL, especially in close games.
Also, I mean... it's Dustin Colquitt. He's impossible to not love. It'd be like moving on from Yoda or something.
I think that's a good place to end for today. We'll do this again soon, and together we'll survive the offseason.