Don't Kill The Mellinger

Twitter Tuesday: Chiefs freakouts and straw man arguments, Scott Pioli, Tamba Hali and more

Updated: 2013-11-19T22:49:01Z

By SAM MELLINGER

The Kansas City Star

So, it turns out the Chiefs aren’t going 19-0. Who knew?

We talked about this in the column, and we’ll get more into it here below, but there really isn’t anything that level heads thought of the Chiefs last week that they shouldn’t think of the Chiefs this week.

Losing to the Broncos in Denver is the NFL equivalent of losing a few hundred dollars at a Vegas poker table your first time playing, and if the Chiefs can hold serve in 12 days at Arrowhead they’re back in control of the division — and the first-round bye and homefield advantage that will almost certainly come with it.

The game amounts to a lost opportunity with house money, really. The Chiefs will drop in those silly power rankings everyone feels obligated to do, and if you have to assign a consequence to Sunday’s game it’s that the biggest audience that will see the Chiefs all year can pretty much go all Denny Green with their analysis.

The Chiefs had a chance to turn this season from exciting to enthralling, from promising to bonkers. They lost because they couldn’t get to Peyton Manning, fumbled in the red zone, Alex Smith’s accuracy dipped, and the defense came up snake-eyes in big plays.

And if they take advantage of a second chance next week, none of this will matter.

This week’s reading recommendation is Thomas Rios on the pointlessness of "The Next LeBron," and the eating recommendation is the relleno at Chuy’s. I don’t often link chains here, but I sent a tweet jones-ing for the glory days of Annie’s Santa Fe a while back that a lot of you took as a slam on Chuy’s. I have no beef with Chuy’s. Went there the other night with the Smokeshow. Love the Chuy’s.

But I still want Annie’s back.

Anyway, as always, thanks for your help and for reading.

And it begins!

Depends who you ask, looks like.

Well, I’m not sure who’s blaming the loss on Smith. The biggest thing is the pass rush^. But, yeah, Smith needs to be better. He made some plays with his legs — for people who don’t watch the Chiefs every week, this is still an underrated part of his game — and took care of the ball. But he also completed just 21 of 45 passes, and some of this was going downfield more, but some of it was a need to be more accurate, too.

^ Shoutout to my man for the postgame handshake line .

It’s absolutely true that his receivers aren’t getting much separation. But Smith is the quarterback, and a lot of this is on him, too.

Oh boy.

Mark Kiszla became a hot topic around Kansas City…

…and I’ll only include a few of the questions I got about it here…

…so for this column and Friday’s prequel, I give the esteemed gentleman from Denver a 9.1 for execution, and a 0.6 on degree of difficulty.

Here’s the deal: it was a pretty blatant click-grab^, which Chiefs fans validated quickly and overwhelmingly.

^ To be fair: The Star fell for it, too .

But if we’re going to discuss the columns seriously and rationally, my problem is it’s a straw man argument. The Chiefs are not a fraud, partly because, well, who are these people saying they’re the new Super Bowl favorite? Haven’t we spent the last few weeks hearing how they were the worst 9-0 team in the history of upright man?

Far as I could tell, most people seemed to think the Chiefs were a good team with a great defense dragging along an underwhelming offense. None of that is different now.

I understand the temptation to turn into the worst stereotype of talk radio in print, and Kiszla generated a bunch of traffic, so good for him. But there are some mental and logical gymnastics you have to perform to build up the mythical narrative that the Chiefs are the Super Bowl favorites needed to knock it down and have a column.

I think I wrote this in a chat or a blog post a week or two back, but the Chiefs look an awful lot like a team that can go 13-3 or so and win a playoff game (particularly if it’s at home) before the offensive shortcomings prove too much.

I didn’t see anything Sunday night to take me off that. I saw two teams even enough to expect each to win at home.

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong in 12 days.

Well, as far as inappropriate search history goes, I’m not sure "How do I ask a girl out" can be topped. I’m not a father yet, so who knows, but from where I’m sitting I’d much rather my son search for porn than ask Google how to pick up chicks.

But you asked about DJ, and, yeah. There’s no getting around that. He was tackled, basically, by a paraplegic. There are no excuses for this, especially for a Pro Bowl linebacker at the height of his powers, and I expect he’ll be appropriately ridiculed for it in video sessions this week.

One note: there are those who will tell you DJ would’ve scored if he could’ve found his way around the tackling dummy that was Peyton Manning, but I’m not sure that’s right. If you watch the replay, Demaryius Thomas is a half-step behind DJ’s right side, and Montee Ball has an angle on DJ’s left. From what I could tell, those two sort of funneled DJ into Manning, if anything, but he wasn’t going to score a touchdown.

Won’t stop his teammates from ribbing him, though.

OK, that’s not bad.

Absolutely. And it totally cost the Chiefs the game. We should’ve taken it one game at a time, and helped keep the guys on task. Excellent observation.

Randy wrote about this today, but the last two games, especially, teams have clearly game-planned for the Chiefs pass rush. The fact that those game plans have been carried out by the league’s best quarterback and one of its worst is a flashing neon sign that the Chiefs will have to deal with this the rest of the season, or until they figure it out.

The oversimplification is that Manning got the ball out incredibly fast, often knowing exactly what he was going to do with the ball with pre-snap reads. People who know much more than I about such things say Manning is one of the best in NFL history at pre-snap reads, and a guy like that with receivers like this … well, you’re not going to shut them down.

But it does stand to reason that the way to counter this is to disguise and/or mix coverages. The press coverage by Marcus Cooper, especially, turned into a disaster so defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has a critical judgment to make about whether Cooper can hold up any better in two weeks, Sean Smith should take the primary coverage of Demaryius Thomas, or the Chiefs need to come up with something entirely new.

The point is this: you’re not going to sack a quarterback who gets rid of the ball in two seconds, so you need to do things to make sure he can’t get rid of the ball in two seconds.

So …

… I don’t think you want to blitz. Peyton Manning normally treats blitzes with amusement, like one of those stupid cat videos on YouTube. If you blitz a guy who’s getting the ball out too quickly for a sack, you’re taking away linebackers and defensive backs you’ll need to defend the pass.

I clearly don’t know what I’m doing, but I think the key is to make sure he can’t get the ball out that quickly, which means doing things differently in coverage much more than pass rush.

Didn’t we know that before the last two games?

Alex Smith needs to be better than he was against the Broncos — that was part of the column off the game — but his receivers need to help him out a bit, too. Dwayne Bowe is either slow, or a bad fit for what Smith likes to do, or both. Donnie Avery has legitimate speed, but if Smith can’t/won’t throw the ball deep — again, maybe that’s changing — it doesn’t matter as much.

Holy overreaction. We’re talking about a backup catcher here. I don’t know much about Pena other than his underwhelming offensive numbers in the minor leagues, but if he’s as good as they say defensively, hey, he’s only 24 years old. Room to grow.

I’d rather have Kottaras, and I guess we’ll see what happens with him this offseason, but unless you’ve seen all these guys a bunch I’m not sure how you can say he’s the fifth best catcher. Pena comes to the Royals, basically, as organizational catching depth. Nothing wrong with that.

I just don’t have enough rage in me to get worked up about a backup catcher. It’s a curse.

I am a forever sucker for self-deprecating humor, so that was my favorite sign of the college football weekend. The world would be a much better place if more of us could laugh at ourselves.

I know I’m in the minority, but I’m glad they’re doing it. The short-term effect is that the game is choppier, with too many fouls and free throws. But the long-term effect will be good.

College basketball needed a change. If you watched the games last year, you know this. Strength became more important than skill and athleticism. I believe the refs are making a bit of a statement right now, like the parent who tries to correct a bratty kid’s behavior by going extremely strict. Over time, you stop grounding the kid every time he steals an extra cookie so long as he stops cursing at the dinner table.

I think that’s what’s going to happen this year in college basketball. The players will adjust, and the result — let’s see what it looks like in February — will be a better game to watch.

I still want this rule to be adopted, though: no matter how set the defender is, if the offensive player dunks, it can never be called a charge. Ever.

If we want to oversimplify — and a few thousand words into this thing, let’s oversimplify — the Wildcats need to stop the run. Oklahoma’s a hard team to figure. Very inconsistent. Only beat West Virginia by nine at home, and TCU by three. Blown out by Texas, and outclassed by Baylor. But also won by two touchdowns at Notre Dame, and looked a bit more like Oklahoma last week against Iowa State.

But this is a game K-State can win, probably even a game it should win. The Wildcats are the league’s hottest team. I’ll say 59 percent.

I was as critical of Pioli as anyone, but I do think that if you’re a Chiefs fan who thinks of Pioli in the same way you think of Lin Elliott, then this season is a dream for you.

Think about it: Tyson Jackson and Dontari Poe are blossoming after he’s gone. Justin Houston is taking the next step. Eric Berry is having the best year of his career. And, pretty much, the same group that went 2-14 last year is now 9-1 with guys in the locker room talking about the different environment being the biggest reason.

The link is dead, but remember what Tamba Hali told me for a column last month:

"The difference from before, we had micromanaging. Now, it’s not about micromanaging. It’s about finding a way for everybody to have success, from the head coach, the GM, we’re all working together. We’re not working around (anything) here, tip-toing around, scared of anything."

And:

"There (were) snitches here, people here, trying to see if you’re not doing the right thing. That’s not what’s going on here. You had guys ratting on each other, coaches telling on each other, not agreeing with each other.

"We had coaches who used to fight each other. Younger guys, but on the field, when (media) are not there. It was a lot going on. These guys we have here, they’re older, wiser men who’ve been around for a while and understand how to work together and put their egos aside.

"That’s what we’re about. We’re not here for, ‘Oh, you’re the only one getting the credit.’ These guys don’t care about that. The only credit we want is the ‘W,’ and we all get credit for that."

No, because you don’t get credit for digging out of a hole you were part of digging. I mean, don’t get me wrong. The Wildcats are vastly improved from the beginning of the season, and coaching gets a lot of credit for that. But shouldn’t coaching also take a lot of the blame for losing to North Dakota State?

You guys know where I stand on Bill Snyder. And he very well may end up as the conference coach of the year. But the standards he’s set are high, and if you’re talking about the best coaching he’s done in his comeback tour, I’m taking last year, followed by 2011 (when he won something like four straight as an underdog, and being outgained).

I don’t know, but I bet Jim Harbaugh threw the best tantrums.

Also, Twitter Tuesday is a weird place.

I guess, but brother: you should keep eating barbecue and mac-and-cheese for breakfast. That’s the dream.

Deal Saver Subscribe today!

Comments

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here