Who’s ready for more overreactions?
Today, we’re continuing our series of posts involving the Arrowhead Pride Nerd Squad (Kent Swanson, Matt Lane, and Craig Stout) discussing three things about camp thus far that have jumped out at us. After our last off-day post, we reconvened for today’s off day to jump to more conclusions and stir up some more discussion in the community. So without further ado, let’s get after it!
Reggie Ragland’s Injury
OVERREACTION (Matt): I think it’s about time we all acknowledge that whirling feeling in our gut and come and openly talk about Reggie Ragland or the lack thereof. We’ve now gone a full week at camp without seeing Ragland take the field within any real capacity due to “swelling in his knee after a couple flights.” Just at the start of this, random swelling severe enough to sideline a player is bad, but as you dig in, it only gets worse. He’s a young player in his second year with the team trying to establish a leadership role and has incredibly high character. It adds up to a situation that would likely result in him seeing the practice field if he could. Then, the final straw that broke the camel’s back happened, the Chiefs signed a free-agent inside linebacker. Simultaneously, Ukeme Eligwe returned from a minor foot injury, which likely means the new linebacker, Otha Peters, was signed to take camp reps in a prolonged Ragland absence.
COUNTERPOINT (Kent): I echo the jitters. The stars seemed to be aligning for Ragland heading into camp. He discussed how he re-worked his body, he was developing a, dare I say, bash brother relationship with fellow linebacker Anthony Hitchens, and was profiled by the very talented and handsome BJ Kissel. Remember the mystery surrounding Justin Houston and his availability and health a few years ago? This is what that feels like. No news feels like bad news.
COUNTER-COUNTERPOINT (Craig): I love Reggie Ragland like a son, so this has been hard to watch, but it’s time for legitimate worry. Reggie had fully embraced his role as a leader and the glue for that side of the ball this offseason. The coaching staff, players and front office raved about his first full offseason as a pro, and we’ve already cut that offseason a bit short. The longer we don’t see him on the field, the more the likelihood of him missing serious time in 2018 grows. None of us want that out of a guy with such a bright future in front of him.
FINAL WORD (Matt): I’ve been open about loving Ragland’s game and how I thought he was going I have a huge year and emerge as a cornerstone of the defense. I certainly have to have a little less confidence that he’ll be able to consistently be 100 percent every week and at this point, that sounds like the best case to hope for. The good news is that the Chiefs also went out and brought in Anthony Hitchens, nicknamed “the Hit Man” by Justin Houston (should be The HITchman, IMO), who by all accounts has been everything we hoped and more. We may not have the full, healthy Bash Brothers at ILB this year, but there should still be a massive improvement.
Patrick Mahomes’ Interceptions
OVERREACTION (Kent): This isn’t really my overreaction, but it’s an overreaction worth discussing. There is a ton of talk about the volume of Patrick Mahomes’ turnovers so far in camp. It seems like there are reports of several of them and all types: tipped, into double coverage, in the red zone, Tanoh. Is it time to get worried about Mahomes’ ability to protect the football? Are we going to see more interceptions than we think?
COUNTERPOINT (Craig): I’m not worried in the least bit. It’s practice. Players attempt throws they wouldn’t normally try in a game. Coaches want to see certain routes against specific defenses, limiting audibles that the quarterback would be able to call. While we all want a perfect quarterback that throws for 500 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions every practice, game and career, that’s not a feasible ask. Andy Reid doesn’t have an issue with it, so neither should we.
COUNTER-COUNTERPOINT (Matt): It’s called “Confirmation Bias Season” for a reason. If you questioned his ability to protect the ball before camp started, this only bolsters the worry and that’s a lot of what I think is happening right now. That said, I do think camp has shown a potential weakness of Mahomes that was evident before practice got underway; he has a tendency to miss underneath defenders near the middle of the field. Whether it be a slight vision mishap or him trying to hurry through progressions, that seems to be a “theme” with most of the INTs. Not something to fret over and something I’m sure Reid is making sure Sutton uses (dropping backside defenders into hook/curl zones) but something to monitor for growth.
FINAL WORD (Kent): This is the downside of Mahomes Mania. Everything is magnified and the good and bad is going to be overblown. The only thing I would be worried about is if he hears it too much. Does he let it affect him? He’s not getting a rest either way from his performance. The city is hanging on every tweet from practice. They want to know how the kid is doing.
I don’t believe Mahomes is the kind of player that lets the outside noise affect his play I think he’s got a good head on his shoulders and has handled the process correctly. If there wasn’t any access to practice to this point, would anyone have any change of opinion on him? No.
Context matters with all of these plays. They are working on things right now to see what does and doesn’t make it onto the call sheet week on against the Chargers. It’s entirely possible that some of the interceptions stem from things that get thrown out. We are experiencing an important part of the process that can be ugly at times, especially for a young quarterback. The optics are bad, but I’m not stressed. This is all critical to what they’re trying to accomplish. As long as the mistakes aren’t repetitive and he learns from them, be glad they happened in camp.
Chiefs Rookie Cornerbacks
OVERREACTION (Craig): The Chiefs lack of cornerback depth is not only overblown, it’s been solved by three rookies. Sixth-round pick Tremon Smith and undrafted free agents D’montre Wade and Arrion Springs all have shown flashes in training camp thus far. Dave Toub has praised Smith as a returner, and he’s showcased his speed in both coverage and on punt returns. Springs has flashed in coverage and it seems like not a day goes by without a Wade pass breakup. With Kendall Fuller, David Amerson, and Steven Nelson likely occupying the starting roles, don’t be surprised to see the three rookies rounds out the cornerback group in 2018.
COUNTERPOINT (Matt): My concern rolling with what we have is that would we then not be teetering on insanity? Following the same path as before but expecting different results with this crop of young, less coveted CBs that showed some promise under Sutton only to end up with egg on their face when forced to run with the big dogs? We all still have Cooper, Mitchell, Gaines, and Acker nightmares, could this just be history repeating itself? I love the upside and what we’ve seen from the three of them but would be a little worried having a CB room rounded out with three late round/UDFAs.
COUNTER-COUNTERPOINT (Kent): I am tantalized by the chance for three cost-controlled cornerbacks making the roster. That would be such a huge help moving forward with looming contract decisions at cornerback and with the roster. Being able to alleviate some stress they’ll soon experience with young players they can count on would be a big success.
I’m a fan of Smith, Springs and Wade and came away impressed with what I saw from all of them last weekend. I don’t think it’s crazy to think that they’re the answers to our questions for depth. I think you can do a lot worse than them as your fourth, fifth and sixth corners. Throw in the fact that they’ll be under contract for at or near league minimum, and they have a built-in advantage.
FINAL WORD (Craig): Bashaud Breeland (probably) ain’t walking through that door. While the Chiefs could try to add other CBs at the cutdown date, having three cheap options to develop behind three young veteran corners is pretty much the ideal scenario if you’re Brett Veach and the Chiefs front office. Sure, the perceived lack of talent is a little terrifying, considering the Chiefs recent history at that position, but the Chiefs aren’t likely asking much from their fifth and sixth corners this season unless there’s a catastrophe. Let the three rookies duke it out for the fourth spot and hope one of them can stick as a solid contributor in 2019 and onward.
What are your biggest reactions from this week of training camp?