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Dixon’s AP mailbag: Alex coming back, Damien’s production, Spags and jiu-jitsu

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Our weekly look at what our readers want to know

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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:

Considering the Washington Redskins picked Dwayne Haskins in the draft, do you think Alex Smith will ever play again?

— Donavin

That’s a good question, Donavin. Thanks for asking.

The Redskins are in a bad place right now. Multiple reports have said that Smith is not likely to play this year as he recovers from the catastrophic injury he suffered back in Week 11 against the Houston Texans. Smith’s backup, Colt McCoy, broke his leg just three weeks later. The Redskins — with Josh Johnson under center — finished 7-9 after starting the season 6-3 with Smith.

The contract extension Smith signed with the Redskins before last season was actually structured pretty intelligently; all of Smith’s guaranteed money was in the first three years of the deal, and Smith could have been cut in 2021. Given that Smith had (somewhat unexpectedly) remained reasonably healthy over his five seasons in Kansas City — and had played so well in 2017 — it was a good deal for the Redskins.

But it just didn’t work out that way.

Because of the way Smith’s contract was structured, I would guess that the Redskins were planning to roll with him through 2020 and put his replacement on the field in 2021 or 2022 — with Smith backing him up. If that theory is correct, they probably wouldn’t have wanted to draft a franchise quarterback for at least another year. But since Smith’s status for 2019 (and beyond) is now in question, they pulled the trigger on Haskins, who came out of Ohio State after only his sophomore season — and is just 22.

It’s hard for me to imagine that Smith doesn’t want to come back and play. We can argue about his playing ability, but his competitiveness has never been in doubt. If there’s a way he can come back, I believe he will. But after such a devastating injury — and the accelerated schedule forced on the Redskins when he sustained it — it might not be up to him.

What do you honestly predict Damien Williams’ production is going to be this season?

-- Zach

Thanks for your question, Zach.

We tend to forget that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid always tends to get production out of his running backs, so it might be a mistake to underestimate Williams. I pointed out a good example of this when I wrote about Williams back in April.

You may recall that in 2015 — when Jamaal Charles was lost for the season in Week 5 — fans and analysts were ready to write off the season. The Chiefs had started the season 1-4 with Charles as their primary offensive weapon, but with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware shouldering the load the rest of the way, the Chiefs finished the season 10-1, made the playoffs and won their first playoff game since 1993.

In that same article, I projected statistics from Williams’ five games as a starter (including the postseason) over 16 games and did the same with Kareem Hunt’s 11 games in 2018. Hunt was better in some areas. But Williams was better in others.

Do I expect Williams to lead the league in rushing? No. Do I expect him to lead running backs in receiving yards? No. But I expect him to be good at both of those things and be among the top 10 players in yards from scrimmage — somewhere around 1750 yards — with 10-15 touchdowns.

In Andy Reid’s offense, that will be enough.

Spags? Honest opinion?

— Salty

That’s a salty question if I ever heard one. So thanks!

Steve Spagnuolo has been out of the league for a year. Some view this as a negative, but I don’t. In my lifetime, I’ve done the same thing: stepped away from a profession for a little while and later came back to it. I found that it gave a fresh perspective; I was better at my job when I returned. In my opinion, there’s every reason to think his year away will have the same effect on Spagnuolo.

I have appreciated Spagnuolo’s approach with the media. I like his aggressiveness. I love his coaching hires. I like his defensive approach. He’s not afraid to throw away the book when the situation calls for it, but generally speaking, he works from a solid plan.

We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. We haven’t seen the defense play a single down, and in the final analysis, the only thing we’re really going to care about is whether Spagnuolo can field an effective defense.

But at this point... what’s not to like?

How ridiculous would this offense be if Gehrig Dieter averaged 25 yards a catch for an entire season — and had 850 yards and eight touchdowns.

— Donnie

Thanks Donnie. But before we get to your question, may I have please some of whatever it is you’re having?

Your question presumes at least 34 receptions. In nearly a century of NFL history, only four players have had at least 34 receptions for 850 or more yards, scored at least eight touchdowns and averaged at least 25 yards a catch.

Stellar Receiving Seasons

Player Age Yr Tm Rec Yds Y/R TD
Elbert Dubenion 31 1964 Bills 42 1139 27.12 10
Warren Wells 27 1969 Raiders 47 1260 26.81 14
Bob Hayes 28 1970 Cowboys 34 889 26.15 10
Roger Carr 24 1976 Colts 43 1112 25.86 11

So that would be a very high bar for any receiver to reach. But with Patrick Mahomes slinging the pigskin, who are we to say that such a thing isn’t possible for Gehrig Dieter?

By the way... aside from those who averaged that much over a handful of catches, just one Chiefs player has ever averaged at least 25 yards a catch in a season. Gloster Richardson averaged 26 yards per reception on 12 catches in 1967. He also had two touchdown catches that year.

I like the way you think, Donnie.

And yes... if that happened, the Chiefs offense would be ridiculous.

What are your thoughts on children’s jiu-jitsu?

— Cory

Thanks for your question, Cory.

Full disclosure: Cory is my son-in-law. He’s asking this question because Terri and I went to see our grandson Jack participate in his first jiu-jitsu tournament on Saturday.

I’m actually glad he asked. It was fascinating.

Jack, of course, was fantastic. He didn’t win every match, but he fought hard and never gave up. That’s all we can ever ask of athletes: to leave it all on the field — or in this case, the mat. Jack is off to a great start.

In some ways, watching this competition — which I understood to be Brazilian jiu-jitsu — was mystifying.

I imagine I felt like a European does when watching American football. I didn’t understand the rules or the scoring, but I was very impressed with how hard the kids fought. I say “kids” because the event was entirely co-ed; both boys and girls participated and often had bouts against each other.

The coaches were all great. I saw the youngsters getting lots of personal attention, and didn’t see a single coach exhibit the kind of awful behavior you sometimes see at kids’ sporting events. Each one was clearly focused on teaching the kids something worthwhile — not only about the sport, but about life.

The same was probably not true of me. I’m pretty sure Terri and I got a little carried away cheering for Jack — and my daughter was fit to be tied when Jack went down hard at the beginning of one of his matches. But everybody understands Grandma and Grandpa — not to mention Mom — should be entitled to a little leeway.

Anyway... I hope so.