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Dixon’s AP Mailbag: Marty’s legacy, defensive hopes, Tyreek Hill and regression

What’s on the minds of AP readers this week?

Marty Schottenheimer

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.

On to your questions:

If (sorry... when!) Andy Reid wins the Super Bowl with the Chiefs, will he be viewed as greater than Marty Schottenheimer?

— Ethan

Absolutely. At 0.6771, Reid already has a better regular-season win percentage than Schottenheimer (0.6344) or even the great Hank Stram (0.6143). But Schottenheimer’s 0.3000 mark in the playoffs exceeds Reid’s 0.2857 win percentage.

If Reid were to win the Super Bowl in the coming season, his postseason win percentage would be at least 0.5000. Even by getting to the Super Bowl — something Schottenheimer was never able to do — Reid would have a solid argument to be considered the more successful Chiefs coach.

Let’s consider a bleaker scenario. Let’s suppose the Chiefs take a step backward on both sides of the ball in 2019 and finish 8-8. In 2020, they make it to 10-6 and lose in the first round of the playoffs. In 2021, they go 11-5 and win the Super Bowl. Reid’s regular-season win percentage would be 0.6528 — still ahead of Schottenheimer — and his playoff win percentage would be no worse than 0.4545.

In this scenario, Reid would still have work to do to eclipse The Mentor’s playoff win percentage of 0.6250 — thereby laying claim to be the most successful coach in Chiefs history — but he’d unquestionably take Schottenheimer’s place behind Stram.

Thanks for asking, Ethan.

Where do you think we’ll see the biggest improvement on the defense this year?

— Wayne

What position group, if any, is going to hold this team back in 2019?

— Wookie

Wayne and Wookie have basically asked the same question. And I thank you both.

To me, it’s all about the linebackers. No part of the defense was more to blame for the Chiefs’ biggest defensive problems in 2018, and there’s no part of the defense that is a more significant question mark for 2019.

We don’t know if Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 Under scheme will return Anthony Hitchens to effectiveness — or for that matter, even what position he will play in it. We don’t know if the new scheme will give Breeland Speaks a chance to justify the draft investment the Chiefs made in him. We don’t know that Darron Lee will turn from a first-round bust to a brilliant offseason trade.

We think we know, though. All of those things should be true — and if they are, it will likely be a big turnaround. But if they aren’t, the Chiefs could be in real trouble on the defensive side of the ball.

What do you think the odds are that Tyreek Hill plays this year — not what you would do, but what do you think will happen?

— Mark

I think Hill will play for most (if not all) of the season. Pete and I are in agreement about this: with each passing day, the odds that Hill will play for the Chiefs in 2019 increase.

That isn’t to say that on any given day in the next year, the Johnson County District Attorney couldn’t hold another news conference and announce criminal charges have been brought against Hill. If that happens, all bets are off. The NFL will certainly suspend Hill, and the Chiefs could easily do exactly what they did with Kareem Hunt: immediately cut him from the roster.

That might strike you as unfair. At that point, Hill will only have been charged with a crime, rather than convicted of one. As far as the NFL is concerned, that doesn’t matter. The precedent has already been set: charges alone are enough to justify disciplinary action against an NFL player.

But unless that happens, expect Hill to play.

At this point, I wouldn’t even count on an NFL suspension taking place. The hands of both the league and the Chiefs are essentially tied. They can’t very well suspend Hill — and then learn that charges are being filed against someone else. Regardless of how you feel about Hill’s guilt or innocence, you have to acknowledge the District Attorney’s public statement: “We believe that a crime has occurred. However, the evidence, in this case, does not conclusively establish who committed the crime against this child.”

Note the difference: the DA did not say there was insufficient evidence to charge Hill. The DA said there was insufficient evidence to determine who should be charged.

As long as even an alleged culprit remains unknown, I think it’s likely both the league and the Chiefs will hold off from significant disciplinary action against Hill — that is, a suspension that keeps him from the field during regular-season games. The Chiefs and the league have taken a lot of hits about the way they have handled these kinds of situations; suspending a player based on what could turn out to be false allegations is the last thing either organization needs.

Thanks for your question, Mark.

With no charges Hill will play for the Chiefs this year I’m certain, but will he be extended, traded, or let walk next year?

— Donavin

Assuming that no charges are ever brought against Hill and he plays the entire season, the Chiefs will indeed have a tough decision about what to do next.

Few things about Hill’s situation are clear — but there’s one thing that is crystal clear: the Chiefs are not interested in giving Hill a big contract right now.

Since the first police visit to Hill’s home in early March — which we didn’t know about, but the Chiefs might have known about — there hasn’t been a single peep from the franchise suggesting that the contract extension they were considering giving him this offseason was still on the table. I wouldn’t expect that to change after 2019 — even if Hill can has an incredible season on the field despite the cloud over him.

Many fans feel that the Chiefs were penalized for “doing the right thing” with Hunt. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the Chiefs feel the same way. So simply releasing Hill — particularly if he has another big year in 2019 — probably isn’t an appealing option, either.

But that might be just what they have to do. Hill is only under contract through 2019. Unless the Chiefs place the franchise tag on Hill, the Chiefs will not control his rights in the next offseason; without the franchise tag, trading him will not be an option.

It will certainly bother Chiefs fans if Hill becomes a free agent, signs with another team and puts up big numbers. But I don’t see the Chiefs tagging Hill and hoping for a trade. If it doesn’t work out, they’ll end up paying him $18-19 million in 2020 — which I doubt they want to do.

Thanks for asking, Donavin.

It doesn’t matter who is playing receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs as long as Patrick Mahomes is quarterback. Think all the way back to that first start in Denver. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHO IS ON THE FIELD. This kid is just going to make another batch of receivers.

— Glynn

In an e-mail to Pete and me, Glynn was actually proposing a whole article on this subject — essentially saying that with Patrick Mahomes as quarterback, Chiefs fans needn’t worry about to whom he will be slinging the ball.

And you have a good point, Glynn.

For decades, we’ve listened to sportswriters and talking heads discuss how overwhelmingly important it is to have a franchise quarterback. Week after week, we see them predict the outcome of games as if only the opposing quarterbacks will be on the field. Year after year, teams with elite quarterbacks succeed in the postseason.

It’s a lot to take if your team is the one that hasn’t invested in a young quarterback since... well... ever.

And now it appears the rules have changed. The Chiefs have such a quarterback, and after his first season as a starter — which was unlike any first-year quarterback starter in two decades — it seems like the writers and talking heads can’t stop talking about how the Chiefs will regress without players X, Y or Z.

I clearly remember those same folks acting as if having a franchise quarterback solved those kinds of problems; his presence automatically raises the play of everyone around him. The average offensive line becomes good. The good running back or tight end becomes great. The great wide receiver becomes spectacular.

Maybe I misread or misheard. It sure seemed like that’s what they were saying.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what the writers and the talking heads think in April or May. The only thing that matters is what the Chiefs do on the field from September through February.

Jake Taylor put it another way in the film Major League. “Well, then I guess there’s only one thing left to do,” he told his teammates. “Win the whole thing.”

That would work.

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