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Dixon’s AP mailbag: pass catchers, playing the Patriots, draft hot takes and war movies

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Let’s see what’s in this week’s mailbag!

Oakland Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Welcome to Dixon’s Arrowhead Pride Mailbag, where I’ll do my best to answer your questions about the Kansas City Chiefs — and anything else that’s on your mind. 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.


Wide receiver and tight end are top-heavy position groups with no injury insurance. Do you see Kansas City solidifying TE2 and WR3 before draft? Is D-Rob ready for expanded role?

— Shawn

With Chris Conley, DeAnthony Thomas and Kelvin Benjamin hitting free agency and Demarcus Robinson after 2019, when (and where... free agency or draft & round) should team explore adding WR?

— Lance

Yeah, what’s our back up plan if Tyreek Hill doesn’t play this year?

— Ryan


If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 25 years... fans are always interested in getting more pass-catchers! Even when the team didn’t have a competent quarterback or an adequate defense, in my experience, fans have always been looking for another go-to wideout.

I don’t say that to make fun of Shawn, Lance or Ryan — in fact, I thank all of you for your questions. I get it: wide receivers are exciting players. We all want to have as many as we can!

And this is all further complicated by the situation with Hill. There is just no way to know what his status will be for the coming season.

So... could Chiefs general manager Brett Veach decide to make a play for a wideout or tight end before the draft? He sure could. Maybe a trade for the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross? Maybe something else.

Could he decide that the moves the Chiefs have made on defense in coaching hires and free agency — and the presumed improvement in the production of players like Anthony Hitchens, Breeland Speaks and Dorian O’Daniel under Steve Spagnuolo — will give him the flexibility to go for a pass-catcher early in the draft? He sure could.

Media members across the league like to call Veach aggressive. As more time has passed, I’m not convinced that this is the right word to describe Veach’s style. Trading first-round picks to move up and grab the quarterback you’ve identified as the guy is aggressive. But dropping the most productive players on a well-below-average defense to create cap space isn’t necessarily aggressive; it strikes me as a more conservative move.

But both of those moves — and getting Tyrann Mathieu by winning a bidding war with the team for which he previously played — are consistent with someone who is supremely self-confident; Veach believes in finding good players by any means necessary.

Many people think that Veach is aggressive and that’s his best trait. But I think his self-confidence makes him something else: unpredictable. And in my mind, that’s even better.

So yes... we could see Veach make a move for an offensive playmaker before the draft, or even early in the draft. But we could also see him continue to focus on defense, and be confident in his ability to find the right training camp castoff(s) to fill the holes in his roster. That is, after all, how the team acquired Charvarius Ward.

As for Robinson... yes, now that Conley isn’t standing in his way, I think he could take a step forward. So could Gehrig Dieter, who has demonstrated chemistry with Patrick Mahomes in preseason games. And there’s still Sammie Coates to consider in the receiver group, too.


Starting the season in New England... what are your thoughts?

— Todd


I’m for it, Todd.

I like the Chiefs’ chances against the New England Patriots in the opening weekend of the season. The Chiefs defense will be untested, but it will also be entirely unpredictable. (Unpredictability is just as valuable to a defense as it is to a GM, amirite?) The offense — even if there are changes at wide receiver — will still have Patrick Mahomes, Damien Williams, Travis Kelce and (probably) Sammy Watkins; Watkins (probably) won’t get enough playing time in preseason to become injured before the opening bell. The offensive line should be good to go. What’s not to like about all of that?

But I’ve noticed a lot of fans think that a game in New England in Week 1 is a foregone conclusion. Precedent says it’s a strong possibility, but it’s not certain by any means; the league could easily decide to hold the Chiefs-Patriots matchup until later in the season.

Thanks for asking.


Are the Chiefs going to keep DeAnthony Thomas this year? He is the X-Factor.

— Gabriel


I’m sorry, Gabriel, but there is only one X-Factor. His name is Dante Hall.

Now that we have that out of the way, I will say that it depends on other things.

One of them is that Thomas is a free agent, and could end up on another team. I rate that possibility as fairly low. Thomas’ arrest for marijuana possession in January will tend to hold it down.

Another is the availability of Tyreek Hill. As the probability of Hill being on the team falls, the probability of Thomas being re-signed rises. At the moment, Hill’s probability is unknown.

Finally, it will depend on what Veach does about wide receiver depth. If Veach does nothing further about acquiring a wide receiver before training camp, I could see the Chiefs bringing Thomas back on with a cheap deal. But if the Chiefs do bring on another pass-catcher or two before then, I suspect Thomas may be done in Kansas City.

Thanks for your question, Gabriel.


Predict a #chiefs hot take following the draft.

— B.R.


I can only think of one:

#SuperBowl

But then again... consider the source. #EternalChiefsOptimist

Thanks for your question, B.R.


Rank the best war movies ever made.

— George


I could, George, but lists are boring and subjective. I know, because after receiving your question, I looked through a bunch of them on the Interwebs to help me remember all the great war movies I’ve seen. It’s amazing how much variance there is in those lists!

So instead, I’ve decided to think about (some of) the best ones I’ve seen and put them in groups.

Anti-war war films

Lewis Milestone’s 1930 classic is the granddaddy of all anti-war films. The production values of the era make it hard to watch, but for its time, it’s an incredible movie. Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 World War I story of French soldiers accused of cowardice after refusing to face certain death is still riveting today.

Let’s get out of here!

Both of these are set in Nazi prison camps and tell stories of prisoners working together to escape, using humor blended with taut drama to spin very entertaining tales.

Let’s stay!

Two more prisoner-of-war movies that are opposite sides of the same coin. David Lean’s beautifully-filmed 1957 masterpiece is the story of a British officer who puts the welfare of his men first, but ends up helping the Japanese war effort. Hart’s War is the other way around: to fight the war from inside the prison camp, an American colonel fails to look out for his men.

Hollywood All-Star treatment

The Allied invasion of France in 1944 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 are documented from both sides and with all the Hollywood bells and whistles: big stars, big budgets and multiple directors. Great entertainment about two of World War II’s most significant moments.

Quiet heroes

These two tell the stories of pacifists whose patriotism forces them to enter the great wars of the 20th century. One becomes the most decorated American hero of World War I, while the other maintains his principles and becomes a different kind of hero.

Citizen soldiers

Steven Spielberg’s 1998 masterpiece became famous for its gripping, realistic portrayal of the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach. Samuel Fuller’s 1980 film also includes Omaha Beach, but at their core, both of these films are about patriotic everyday Americans who want to do their jobs for their country and get back home.

In the air

Both of these tell the stories of B-17 aircrews in the bombing campaign against Nazi Germany. Gregory Peck’s 1949 performance as a tough general who must shape up a downtrodden bomber group is among the best of his career, and the 1990 story of the first crew to complete their 25 missions and return home is another stirring tribute to American citizen soldiers.

Underwater

You can’t talk about war movies without including some submarine movies. Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster are terrific in 1957’s story of an obsessed submarine captain and his executive officer, and the following year’s film about a single battle between and American destroyer and a German U-boat is among the best of the... uh... sub-genre.

Off the beaten path

I could give you a long list of less well-known war films, but I’ll settle for two.

The Train is a thoughtful, somewhat-true story about war-weary French resistance fighters who execute a daring (and brilliant) plan to prevent the Nazis from taking most of France’s greatest artworks to Germany before the Allies get to Paris. Many of those who have seen it — including me — think it’s one of the greatest war movies ever made. It’s one of my favorite films in any genre.

I had read Ken Follett’s Eye Of The Needle before the film was made, and for once, the movie lived up to the book: a chillingly ruthless Nazi spy (a great performance from Donald Sutherland) uncovers the actual plans of the Allied D-Day invasion, and is stranded on a remote British island while trying to escape to Germany with the information. There, he and a crippled sheepherder’s wife fall into a relationship, and she must prevent him from leaving the island when she discovers his true identity.