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Dixon’s Arrowhead Pride mailbag: DAT, big leaps, Kareem Hunt and 5,717 minutes

Let’s open up the mailbag and see what our readers want to know

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Welcome to Dixon’s Arrowhead Pride Mailbag, where I’ll attempt to answer your questions about the Kansas City Chiefs and anything else that interests you. If you have a question, you can hit my profile page to e-mail me, or ask me on Twitter.

While you’re at it, please follow me on Twitter, too.

Chiefs got penalized for doing [the] right thing, while [the] Cleveland Browns took a gamble by signing Hunt. While Kareem Hunt may serve a suspension, he will probably [be] available [in the] later part of NFL season. I wonder, would this dis-incentivize NFL teams from doing [the] right thing moving forward?

— Avik

Thanks for bringing this up, Avik. You’re just one of a lot of people I have seen expressing a similar sentiment in the recent days: that somehow the Chiefs got screwed by doing the right thing.

I disagree. Here’s why:

Let’s go back to the statement Clark Hunt made when Kareem Hunt was released:

“Earlier this year, we were made aware of an incident involving running back Kareem Hunt. At that time, the National Football League and law enforcement initiated investigations into the issue. As part of our internal discussions with Kareem, several members of our management team spoke directly to him. Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The video released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately.”

This couldn’t have been more clear. The Chiefs released Hunt not because of what happened in the hallway outside his Cleveland apartment in February, but because he didn’t tell them the truth about it. Whatever Hunt told the Chiefs, the video released by TMZ revealed it to be a lie.

We don’t need to address Hunt’s childhood, his friends, who opened the apartment door, whether he struck first or was justified in striking back — all the issues that Browns fans are now endlessly (and fruitlessly) arguing.

In clear, direct language, Clark Hunt’s statement told us that for the Chiefs, those things were irrelevant.

If and when these kinds of incidents occur, the team must be able to rely on the players involved be truthful about them. Think of it as an attorney-client relationship: if you aren’t truthful with your attorney, they can’t help you find the best way forward.

By releasing Hunt, the Chiefs made a definitive statement: we understand a young man’s character to be defined not by what happens during his worst moments, but what he does about them afterward.

If there’s a better message to send an NFL team — or its fans — I don’t know what it is.

The Chiefs knew that another NFL team would sign Hunt. They had to know. But they believed that it was more important to send that message to their players and fans.

So I disagree that the Chiefs were penalized. They didn’t do the right thing just to get jabbed in the eye by some unexpected result. Their eyes were wide open. They received a direct, tangible benefit from their decision: making it clear that as long as players are truthful with them, the team will stand with them.

Some will see that as an insignificant benefit. They’re entitled to their opinion, but I would disagree. I think you can argue that strictly on the basis of performance, the Chiefs had no business being the number one seed in the AFC or making the AFC Championship; the offense couldn’t have been better, but the defense just wasn’t good enough.

That they made it as far as they did is a testament to the team-building strategy that has been central to Andy Reid’s approach since he arrived in Kansas City.

What happens to DAT?

— Ed

Thanks for an excellent question, Ed. DeAnthony Thomas fractured his leg during a practice in October and spent the remainder of the season on injured reserve.

Looking at his offensive stats, it’s easy to dismiss his contributions. But thanks to his speed and elusiveness, he’s been a good special teams player as both a returner and defender, and he’s also been a solid building block in Andy Reid’s offense. For that, he carried a cap hit of only $552K in 2018.

On the other hand, he was arrested for marijuana possession in Iola, Kansas, in late January, and therefore could be subject to an NFL suspension in the coming season.

Thomas is a free agent. Without the arrest, I’d lean toward the Chiefs continuing to keep him on a cheap deal. With it, I’d guess the Chiefs will move on — not because they have an issue with Thomas’ arrest on its merits, but because there is a good chance he won’t be available for at least a game. It’s bad enough that players have to miss games because they are injured. But when a five-year veteran misses a game because of an avoidable circumstance, that’s another matter.

Which first or second year player do you expect to take the biggest leap next season?

— Will

Thanks for your question, Will. I’ll give you two candidates: Gehrig Dieter and Ben Niemann.

Like I said last week, I’d like to see Dieter get more involved in the offense and see if he can fill the shoes the Chiefs have been trying to get Chis Conley to wear. The chemistry between Dieter and Patrick Mahomes is obvious to everyone, and I think that bodes well for his success.

Niemann is just a complete football player. You always want to root for guys like that to succeed, and they often do. He may get most of his snaps on special teams again in 2019, but I believe Niemann is a guy who has a future with the Chiefs franchise.

While he doesn’t fit the precise parameters of your question, I also think that in 2019, we’ll see the Anthony Hitchens we expected to get. I believe it will be much easier for him to shine in Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense.

How many minutes till kickoff?

— John

I understand how you feel, John, so thanks for asking. The 2019 season can’t get here soon enough!

But to answer your question properly, I would need to know what time it is when you read my answer. Since I can’t know that, let’s settle on this number of minutes: 5,717.

Why 5,717 minutes? That’s three days, 23 hours and 17 minutes. That’s the amount of time between Week 1’s Thursday night game until Week 1’s Sunday night game.

In a FanPost written just before the Super Bowl, AP user Zach Sewell suggested that Chiefs fans should root for the New England Patriots to win the game, because if they did, that made it likely the Patriots would open their 2019 season in a rematch of the 2018 AFC Championship against the Chiefs, and it would be good for the Chiefs to open the NFL season with a statement win against the Patriots in New England.

Personally, I can’t get behind rooting for the Patriots to win any game — unless it’s against an AFC West team — but Zach was making a solid point for a silver lining in a Patriots victory: the Super Bowl winner has played in the opening game of Week 1 — a Thursday night game — in every season since 2004. In most of those games, the champion has faced a playoff team from the previous season — if not one of their own playoff opponents.

But according to an article in the Sports Business Journal published on Monday, the NFL is leaning towards opening the 2019 season with the Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers. John Ourand said that multiple sources told him the NFL wants to break with its recent tradition by showcasing the league’s oldest rivalry to open its 100th season.

Ourand said that instead, the Patriots are most likely to open the season at home the following Sunday against the Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants or Pittsburgh Steelers. Citing TV executives who believe the NFC’s schedule is stronger than the AFC’s in the coming season — how they figure that is beyond me — Ourand said that the league will probably want to save AFC matchups with the Patriots until later in the season.

I disagree. As Zach noted in his FanPost, I think the NFL won’t be able to resist a Chiefs-Patriots matchup to open Sunday Night Football. Like Zach’s post, the SBJ article pointed out NBC will be carrying both the Thursday and Sunday games. That could open the door for NBC to pressure the NFL to give them the Chiefs-Patriots matchup on Sunday night — which will undoubtedly give huge ratings — in exchange for accepting Packers-Bears on Thursday.

And that means we’ll have to wait another 5,717 minutes for the 2019 kickoff. Use them wisely.

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