So, to review, the Chiefs have won when
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
- Playing the NFLs version of FCS competition.
- Limiting the leagues second-highest scoring team to 16 points.
- Going on the road, with a short week, holding a dynamic offense to what is still its lowest point total of the season.
- Sparking a blowout win with Dexter McCluster going all Dante Hall with a punt return.
- Winning sloppy on the road against a team that has a good chance at the playoffs.
It is more than fair for folks to want to see more from the counterculture Chiefs, but its not a bad resume so far.
This weeks reading recommendation is Tim Keowns incredible piece about professional sports in Oakland, and the eating recommendation is the guac at Fridas, my favorite restaurant in south Johnson County, which sort of makes me think of Chuys opening on the Plaza which DEFINITELY makes me wonder if Im the only one who wants Annies Santa Fe to come back^.
^ But the REAL Annies. Not the Annies of the last few years, before it closed, when it got terrible for some reason.
As always, thanks for reading and for your help.
@mellinger Alex looked like he had trouble throwing a wet football, is that a problem considering the Super Bowl is played in NY this year?— The Great Bassby (@MeatMaster_Bass) October 7, 2013
Why do you think the Chiefs will even have to throw the ball to win the Super Bowl?
@mellinger Why did Tennessee choose to try a field goal with .02 remaining and down by 9— Don Adams (@DonAdamsSTJO) October 7, 2013
I have no idea. None. I tried to Google it, and that didnt turn up anything that made sense. But then, this is also true: going for a touchdown wasnt going to give the Titans a chance there, either.
So, what the hell.
@mellinger The Chiefs are just about a playoff lock right? 5-0 start with 11 games remaining and they will only have to go 5-6 at worst...— Bill Gurney (@kcgurney) October 7, 2013
Well, you may have heard that 90 percent of teams to start 5-0 over the last 23 years have made the playoffs.
That includes 20 of 23 over the last decade. The exceptions: Josh McDaniels 2009 Broncos, the 2009 Giants (whos defense just fell apart) and the 2003 Vikings.
If just making the playoffs is your line for success, then, yeah, the Chiefs need to find five more wins among the Texans, Browns, Bills, Washington, Colts, and the six division games.
The easiest part of the Chiefs schedule is certainly over, and in reverse order of difficulty, maybe youre looking at: Raiders at home, at Washington, Browns at home, Chargers at home, at Bills, at Raiders, Texans at home, at Chargers, Colts at home, Broncos at home, at Broncos.
The Chiefs really might have the best defense in the AFC, and that should be good enough for at least five more wins hard part of the schedule or not.
Disclaimer: change often happens fast in the NFL.
Thats the worry. Pryor is a terrific athlete, even by NFL standards, and has been by my expectations, anyway shockingly good. Hes completing 68 percent of his passes, and averaging more than six yards per rush. If Ryan Fitzpatrick could hurt the Chiefs by breaking the pocket last weekend, whats a truly terrific athlete going to do?
Theres a good chance Im disrespecting the Raiders in that reverse-order-of-difficulty thing, too. Theyre 2-3, with two of the losses at Indianapolis and at Denver. The other loss, home against Washington, came without Pryor.
I just and I say this knowing the amazing fact that the Chiefs havent beaten the Raiders at home since 2006 dont see the Chiefs losing to a bad team at Arrowhead.
I havent had a chance to re-watch the Titans game yet, but Ill say this: there are times it looks like Bowe is running routes with less than a rigorous effort.
For a lot of reasons including that the Chiefs are 5-0 Im not too concerned about Bowe but I cant really type this sentence without including the word "yet." Maybe hes content to have his money, but I also think he wants to get the ball, to be a guy the Chiefs are winning because of, not just with. His 17 catches are the most among the Chiefs wide receivers (Jamaal Charles has 28 catches for 250 yards), but Donnie Avery has been the best player at the position.
The quick-slant interception against the Giants was at least partially on Bowe, and I cant remember a drive the Chiefs have had where you think, "Oooh, Bowe is a problem for the defense here." Hes still a very good player, a terrific downfield blocker, and has so far been a good teammate without getting a star receivers workload.
But he also has 17 catches for 183 yards, while Sean McGrath has 15 catches for 180 yards.
Even if he wanted to and lets stress if Bowe cant complain with the team undefeated.
But if you want to make the case that the Chiefs are two or three losses from Bowe becoming a problem, I cant argue.
It really has been remarkable. The most important personnel move Dorsey and Reid made was the trade for Alex Smith, of course, but that made SO much sense for both sides that if youre particularly curmudgeonly you might not give them credit.
But, yeah. Dorsey, especially, spent most of training camp churning the bottom of the roster and it looks like they found some gems. Id also point out that the improvement to the secondary particularly in the style of player they targeted with Sean Smith has allowed the defense to take on a different type of attitude and a very different type of result.
The Chiefs arent undefeated, and arent playing the AFCs best defense if quarterbacks always have a safety blanket available to throw to whoever Jalil Brown isnt covering.
@mellinger our offense still scares me. I'm I looking for Trent Green when we have Steve Deberg? Marty is hiding in the background.— Donald Young (@dyoungjr81) October 7, 2013
You can look at this two very different ways. The Chiefs are averaging 25.6 points per game, which is 11th in the league. A lot of that is defense and special teams, but so what, thats part of the game and the object is to score points and the Chiefs are more than good enough defensively to turn 25.6 points per game into a lot of wins.
But its also true that Alex Smith has been average, average and bad the last three games. Overall, hes basically been Matt Cassel Version 2010, which is an enormous upgrade from what the Chiefs have had the last two years, but isnt what the Chiefs hoped they were getting.
This all depends on what you want out of the Chiefs this year, and fair or not, the 5-0 start is changing everyones expectations. The schedule is about to toughen, and the Chiefs will need their quarterback to be better against better teams to keep winning.
I actually think weve talked about it the last two questions. Dwayne Bowe needs to be a problem, and Alex Smith needs to be better than the last few weeks.
The Chiefs dont need a ton from their offense, but they do need it to be average on bad days and good on good days.
Yeah, that one backfired on me.
In my defense, I didnt expect Derrick Johnson to leave Chris Johnson, allowing the Titans back to score a touchdown on a play where he was planning on just blocking.
But, well, its also true that it was a dumb thing to say regardless.
Week 11, which is when the Chiefs play in Denver. I assume that NBC wouldnt flex both games against Denver, especially them being only two weeks apart. Its an interesting call for NBC, because youd assume theres a better chance of a closer game at Arrowhead but if both teams are undefeated (or, really, just dont fall apart before then) itd be hard not to take this game.
The other interesting games, at least right now, look to be 49ers at Saints and Ravens at Bears.
I also need to say this: you guys are WAY more interested in a game six weeks in the future than you need to be. Your team is undefeated. Enjoy it. The Broncos games will come.
I mean, just watch
well, yeah, of course the season looks different now, but were only halfway there
@mellinger What are the chances that the Broncos and Chiefs are both undefeated when they meet in week 11?— Jeff Sheets (@js82) October 7, 2013
less than 50-50
Im not even sure how to judge that
@mellinger If the Chiefs keep winning and playing well. Do they have a remote chance of taking the division from Denver?— David Lawrence (@Fritolayman) October 7, 2013
anythings possible, I suppose
Ill say it again: a civic inferiority complex means people in Kansas City spend WAY too much time worrying about what people think of them nationally
@mellinger Missed Den-Dal game. Was getting my Royals parade float out of storage, refitting it for a Chiefs parade. How'd Peyton do? Oh.— Kevin (@KevinJW1) October 7, 2013
I left out a bunch of other Broncos tweets. Guys, settle down. Your team is undefeated. Enjoy it. Worry about the Broncos when it happens.
Im a total cliché, but its Rick Reilly, Mike Lupica and Mitch Albom. Three supremely smart people and incredibly gifted writers who went lazy (Reilly), lazy and blowhard (Lupica) or corporate (Albom).
Its probably a little unfair including Albom on here. Im not even sure if hes really a national sports writer anyway. He moved on to bigger things, so good for him.
1. Sheahon has a lot of strengths.
2. The most important thing an AD does is hire a football coach.
3. Sheahon hired what looks like an expensive and enormous disappointment.
Just to review, Charlie Weis first hand-picked quarterback completed 47.7 percent of his passes. His second hand-picked quarterback has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. Hes still looking for his first conference win.
Hes making $2.5 million per season.
A passionate and vigorous nay.
Actually, I want to respond to this question like the wise Lawrence here (language NSFW)
@mellinger how excited should I be about the Tigers? I had previously thought 8 wins max. Should I be dreaming higher now?— Bill Simms (@Simmsbillj) October 7, 2013
This is, basically, so far the season Mizzou fans hoped to have last year.
A legitimate shot? Sure.
They opened as an 11-point underdog, which has now been bet down to 9 or 9 ½ points. So its a longshot, to be sure. But they have a chance. Crazier things have happened. Georgia has some injuries, struggled to win at Tennessee last week sure, its plausible.
Georgias very, very good, but theyre not the 01 Hurricanes.
@mellinger is it safe to say that the negative perception change given to Pinkel and Mizzou after one bad year was unfair?— Gavin Alexander (@GJAlexander) October 7, 2013
Eh, Im not sure about that. I didnt hear people saying he should be fired. I heard people saying that if he missed another bowl game this year there would be talk of him being fired, which I think is fair in the big-boy, bottom-line business of college football especially the context of Mizzou moving leagues.
Gary Pinkel is a very good coach. Hes had a lot of success at Mizzou. But hes not Bear Bryant.
I have nothing to add here. Well done.
@mellinger (1/2) K-State football is not where it is used to being. People questioning Snyder, calling for the OC to be fired, etc...— David Embers (@davidembers) October 7, 2013
I usually dont like questions too long for one tweet, but
@mellinger (2/2).. What is the KU basketball equivalent? As in, what would have to happen for fans to want Self gone and a rebuild?— David Embers (@davidembers) October 7, 2013
I just want to say: there is NOBODY on the local sports scene who deserves a longer rope, more benefit of the doubt, than Bill F. Snyder. Come on, people. He didnt quite do it by himself. The administration bet money it didnt have, gave him support they couldnt yet afford. But I dont know of any college coach, in any sport, who means more to his town and university than Bill Snyder.
Not to mention the fact that it looks awfully silly to complain about the man you built a statue for outside the stadium you named after him.
But to answer your question, and this might sound stupid, but I think in general Self has a shorter leash than Snyder. Or, at least, he should have a shorter leash than Snyder. Because before Self, Kansas basketball had Roy Williams. And while Self has eclipsed Williams in most every measurable way, once he leaves retires, goes to the NBA, whatever KU will hire the best available coach and continue to win a lot of basketball games.
KU basketball was great before Self, and itll be great after Self.
K-State football stunk before Snyder, and nobody can be sure what itll be after Snyder.
@mellinger I'd rather have Rosedale's BBQ than OK Joe's. What does that say about me?— KC Loyal (@KCLoyal) October 7, 2013
Were all friends here, so I feel like I can admit this: Ive never had Rosedale.
/hangs head in shame/
@mellinger are you ever going to get a real haircut?— Jayson Jenks (@JaysonJenks) October 7, 2013
Ill ignore that skinny Javier Bardem here is making fun of my hair and just come clean. Like I say, were all friends here.
I want you to know that Im aware I look ridiculous. But The Smokeshow likes it, somehow, so the hair stays
/looks to see if youre thinking what Im thinking/
and, yes. Of COURSE Ive considered the possibility that shes playing an elaborate joke on me.
Its the kind of parity every league wants, really. Its also interesting to me that in the rush to talk about the Chiefs and Royals and Mizzou all winning, I dont hear much about Sporting.
Some of you might say thats MLS place in the local sports landscape, but I think theres also a major element of people now expecting Sporting to be in this position every year.
Which is a great thing.
You guys know where I stand on Ned. I dont think hes Casey Stengel, and I dont think hes Trey Hillman. Hes a fine manager, with his strengths and his weaknesses, and Ill keep making this point: virtually EVERY fan base hates their manager.
Neds fan perception is also hurt by the fact that his strengths (clubhouse atmosphere, guys playing hard for him and respecting him) tend to be overlooked while his weaknesses (like batting Alcides Escobar second 69 times during a historically inept season) are more glaring.
Its also worth remembering that the manager has at least something to do with the Royals having the best bullpen in the American League. I always think the players should get the credit and the blame, but something like that, a part of it is the manager putting the relievers in good situations.
And if you just screamed BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT TIME HE PUT KELVIN HERRERA IN AND HE GAVE UP THE HOMER?!?!?!?! youre kind of proving the point. The mistakes get remembered, and the successes forgotten.
Its the job Ned signed up for, so its not exactly unfair.
But it does mean a lot of the criticism of him is way over the top.
The most important thing is to not let the pitching slip. It sure feels like Ervin Santanas offers are going to outgrow the Royals budget Im sure Ill write more about this soon which means the Royals need to find other solutions.
Some of the solution can come in-house, with Duffy, with Ventura, maybe even with Zimmer. But theyll also need some support, preferably some veteran support, even beyond what James Shields and to a lesser extend Jeremy Guthrie give them.
The only other gotsta-have: a fixed Mike Moustakas.
After that: a good hitter, preferably one who can play the outfield, keep your ears open about second base, and make sure Escobar is more 2012 than 2013.
Yeah, but you can buy a t-shirt.
Welp, pretty much.