This first installment of The Star’s Chiefs-based Twitter Q&A covers a wide swath of topics, ranging from the ceiling of quarterback Alex Smith to receiver Dwayne Bowe's somewhat diminished role in the offense in Sunday's 28-2 win.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Be sure to check The Star’s Red Zone blog for this feature every Wednesday from here on out. I’ll be soliciting questions on Twitter every Tuesday, so why don’t you be a pal and follow me at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.
(Waiting for you to follow me on Twitter … still waiting … you done that yet? Yes. Good. As Dr. Ray Stantz would say, “Now that wasn’t such a chore, now was it?”)
Now, onto the mailbag.
Hey Thirsty, you wouldn’t happen to be a fan of this video, would you? It slays me every time I hear Bolton sing the line “jester of tortuga.”
But anyway, when you say right guard Geoff Schwartz played well, you would be right. According to Pro Football Focus ― a terrific site that actually grades every player on every play of every game ― Schwartz graded out as a positive performer on the day, along with fellow linemen Branden Albert, Rodney Hudson and Jeff Allen. That, not to mention the fact Schwartz graded out as a positive performer last year, as well, is a pretty good sign going forward.
That said, Jacksonville is pretty terrible and Asamoah is the starter for a reason so I highly doubt he loses his job anytime soon. However, it’s nice to know Schwartz can step in and play well if Asamoah’s calf problem lingers.
I believe the rule changes in today’s NFL have allowed a lot of quarterbacks that wouldn’t have thrived in the old days to do just that. With the rules in place, a competent guy can absolute get you to the playoffs with some luck (see: Cassel, Matt), and an above-average quarterback who gets hot can absolutely win you a Super Bowl, particularly if you have a strong defense and weapons around him (see: Flacco, Joe and Manning, Eli).
The only problem with the latter scenario is that it might force you to pay him a vast sum of money when, if you’re being honest with yourself, there’s AT LEAST three quarterbacks you’d rather have on your side if your life depended on it. With the teams being completely equal, and the quarterbacks being the only differing variable, you’re telling me you wouldn’t feel more comfortable with Rodgers, Brady or Peyton Manning at the helm? You could also make a really good argument for Brees and a pretty good argument for Eli Manning, with the latter centered around the fact you just know the enormous lucky horseshoe permanently lodged up Manning’s rear would come in handy in our fictitious, winner-take-all game. (You’re darn right I just hijacked a joke and a premise from Bill Simmons! What is he gonna do, sue me?).
So, I guess what I was saying (before I got derailed) is that I absolutely think Smith is a good enough quarterback to lead you deep into the playoffs. Smith is just 29, and he’s got a capable play-caller who knows how to use him in Andy Reid, so unless he gets “Theismanned” by DeMarcus Ware or something, I’m sure the Chiefs will focus their draft efforts on another position, at least in the first round.
(On the other hand, considering Kansas City’s rotten sports luck, the possibility of Ware singlehandedly murdering the Andy Reid era on Sunday suddenly seems strangely possible. Let's just move on.)
Cue angry comments from Kansas fans in 3, 2, 1...
Not in the least bit. They basically shut it down after the break, largely because they were facing a team that lacks talent at practically every position and is, in my opinion, sitting in the pole position in The Jadeveon Clowney Sweepstakes. Due to the Jaguars’ ineptitude ― and I almost hope new coach Gus Bradley turns it around, because they guy is a fantastic quote ― the Chiefs got to hold back a large majority of their offense. Which actually leads me to the next two questions, which are related...
Here’s the thing: I seriously doubt Chiefs coach Andy Reid is terribly concerned with getting Dwayne Bowe his touches. Reid has a reputation for being a pass-happy coach, sure, but if you look at his offenses during his 14-year stint in Philadelphia, he never once had a receiver catch more than 77 passes. Since 2005, Reid had a tight end or running back lead his team in catches a staggering five times, and during the same time frame, his top wide receiver has caught an average of almost 63 passes a season. I did the math and everything. So I actually expect Bowe to finish with around 65-70 catches with six or seven touchdowns. Which actually segways into the next question...
Hey man, I just got the job and I admit I don’t know Dwayne very well. But he looked pretty happy in the locker room after the game. He was laughing and joking in generally in a very good mood, and when I asked him about Jamaal Charles’ day as a receiver, he seemed to be genuinely happy for his teammate. So with that in mind ― not to mention the fact he got paid this offseason like the guy in this video ― I’d tend to say Bowe will be fine as long as the Chiefs are winning, and he gets his fair share of targets. Despite his four catch, 30-yard day against the Jaguars on Sunday, he was still targeted six times, which put him in a tie for the team lead with Charles.
Easy, my friend. Every defense has weak links ― Jacksonville was just completely incapable of exploiting them on Sunday. For instance, the pass rush is still a question in my mind, despite a dominating performance Sunday in which the unit racked up six sacks. Keep in mind, Jacksonville was terrible at protecting the quarterback in 2012, and for the Chiefs, this is largely the same group that struggled to generate a pass rush in 2012, particularly when teams contained outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.
That said, I think the ceiling for this group this season is pretty high, particularly if Dontari Poe is as good against the rest of the league as he was against the Jaguars. If he is, then all of a sudden the Chiefs will have three pass rushers that require help to block, and that’s impossible to do without limiting the number of receiving options your quarterback has to throw to on a given play. Add those guys to two in-their-prime studs like linebacker Derrick Johnson and cornerback Brandon Flowers, not to mention the plenty of high-floor guys that surround them, and yes, you have the makings of a top ten defense. But it all rests on No. 92’s broad shoulders, in my opinion.
I know it stunk to be a fan during the Pioli regime, when the organization generally treated its fans like Vern Schillinger treated Tobias Beecher his first day in “Oz,” but I suspect Chiefs fans have bounced back and are excited about this team. They have reason to be, too. I’d say Arrowhead is about 80 percent red. Yep, I’m putting my faith in one of the best fanbases in the National Football League.
At this point, who knows? The Chiefs are going to play it close to the vest all week. When Reid spoke Monday, he said Charles ― who has a contusion on his quadriceps ― has “a range of motion” and added they will continue to monitor his progress. I hope to learn more at practice today.
Bad news, guys. I’m not sure what Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has up his sleeve, I’m not sure how Dallas deploys its cornerbacks and I’m not sure anyone on the Chiefs’ defense can handle Witten 1 on 1. Though he’s getting up there in age, he's still the classic case of a guy who is often too big for defensive backs and too quick for linebackers.
But here’s the good news ― stay tuned to our Red Zone blog later this week, I’m actually going to dive into this with a film study centered around the Cowboys.
Finally, a scheme question I can answer! Well, kinda sorta. I would think it starts with getting after quarterback Tony Romo, who gets a lot of grief for someone who is actually a pretty decent quarterback.
Romo threw for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns last season, despite being sacked a career-high 36 times. He also completed 36 of 49 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while leading the Cowboys to a 36-31 win over the Giants on Sunday, despite playing through bruised ribs he suffered on this brutal hit.
Romo has plenty of weapons, particularly the aforementioned Witten and the dangerous Dez Bryant, who is also dealing with his own injury issues heading into the game. Running back DeMarco Murray can hurt you the 70 percent of the time he’s not being tended to for an injury.
My point is the Cowboys may have struggled to protect Romo last season, but if he gets time, he can dissect the Chiefs. Hell, due to his elusiveness, he might do it, anyway. But when you pressure that guy, you also increase your chances of seeing him make a Scott Mitchell-esque mistake, they kind that makes Cowboy fans turn on him at the drop of the hat. I swear, that has become an annual fall tradition, almost like a bizarro version of the Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving.
But yes, I do believe Hali, Poe and Houston had better come to work Sunday.
Finally, a question I can answer! I definitely think they will. I loved the call at the start of the Jacksonville game, when the Chiefs faked a run and tried to hit tight end Anthony Fasano down the numbers on a long ball. Smith, whose deep ball accuracy leaves a little to be desired, overshot him. But I think it planted the seed of the deep ball in Jacksonville’s ear all game, even if the Chiefs never really tried to do it again.
The point is Dallas has seen the Chiefs’ tape against Jacksonville and will be prepared for the short stuff Reid likes. The Cowboys’ front seven is vastly superior to Jacksonville’s, so I’d be shocked if the Chiefs don’t try to create some space underneath by testing the Cowboys downfield early.
Not really, but that’s mainly because he’s still getting acclimated to the system and home experienced guys ahead of him in Bowe, Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster. I talked to Jackson last week and he seemed pretty confident about the way his knowledge of the playbook was coming round. He also said he’s over the fact San Francisco traded him after one year, which I don’t quite buy. Anyway, he logged six of 62 possible snaps on Sunday vs. Jacksonville so it will be interesting to see how many gets against the Cowboys.
Let’s close with the Herm Edwards Question of the Week, which is dedicated to the question that would cause the best reaction from the animated former Chiefs’ coach, who I would have loved to cover once upon a time.
Well, my good friend Sam Mellinger set the Chiefs’ over-under for wins at 7-1/2, so let’s just be generous and assume they win eight games this season. Most average NFL teams no-show what, at least one game a year? Two. So I suppose I’d set that number at 2-1/2.
Look, if you think the Chiefs aren't a playoff team in a bad year for the AFC, you could make an argument there's a good chance they could get embarrassed/blown out in at least two or three games, particularly when they have to face Peyton Manning twice and the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants ― three-fourths of the freaking NFC East ― on back-to-back-to-back weeks. Houston at home on Oct. 20 will be tough, and a road showdown against Washington ― which is always a tough place to play ― possesses blowout potential, too.
But for the record, count me among the group that thinks this is a playoff team. Reid and Smith are enormous upgrades over what the Chiefs had last season, and given the state of the AFC, a nine- or ten-win season is totally possible.
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.