Don't Kill The Mellinger

Twitter Tuesday: Talking Chiefs, Royals, Mizzou, Sporting

Updated: 2013-12-03T19:59:58Z

By SAM MELLINGER

The Kansas City Star

The reaction of Chiefs fans from Sunday’s loss is bizarre. I hope I can say that here. We’re all friends, right?

Anyway, the reaction, best I can tell, falls in four general categories:

- We’re screwed. The season is falling apart.

- We’re fine, because the defense is going to be better and look at the offense doing better.

- Even after three straight losses, we’re light years ahead of last season.

- Peyton Manning just did Peyton Manning things, so no big deal.

Now, the first three reactions … I get it. Generalizing a group as big as Chiefs fans is a dangerous endeavor, and after any loss you’re going to have some people who think the world is ending and some people who think the team will get better from it.

It’s that last reaction I find the most interesting.

Because, c’mon, if you have a team built on defense, that wants to have this claim as the greatest, baddest, nastiest, most dominating defense in the league … you can’t just roll over against a good quarterback. That’s not the way it works.

Unless you’re just more comfortable being in denial.

Because, um, last night the Saints managed 188 yards and seven points at Seattle.

The reading recommendation is Brian Phillips on Marcus Smart, who has been the best player in this young college basketball season. The eating recommendation is the burger at the Intercontinental.

Also, if you’re pressed for time, I do hope you read about the breaking news here with five formers players suing the Chiefs over concussions. There are some far-reaching possibilities with this.

As always, thanks for your help and thanks for reading.

Wait for it …

… and there you go.

Strange place Chiefs fans find themselves in. Three straight losses, all to division opponents, all crushing what used to be the league’s best defense, and two of the games at home. There’s some justified frustration over that.

But think back to a year ago. Think back to before the season. Think back to win "11-5 with a decent chance at winning a playoff game" would’ve been reason for a parade.

The Chiefs have problems. They’ve had much bigger problems.

Right. It’s like a starving man gorges on steak, and then doesn’t hamburger. It’s totally natural, totally conflicting, and a pretty good illustration about where the fan base is right now.

Exactly.

I still don’t think so.

I don’t want to sound like Bill Clinton here, but it depends on your definition of "win."

Can they win a Super Bowl with Alex Smith as the quarterback? Sure. But the margin for error is very small, and the players around him need to make up for the difference between Smith and, say, Peyton Manning.

Right now, with those receivers and offensive line, they’re not particularly close.

It’s a bit of an Ink Blot test, because the following two statements are absolutely true:

- In NFL terms, Alex Smith is better than his receivers.

- In NFL terms, quarterbacks are much more important than receivers.

For instance, Tom Brady is having a better season than Alex Smith with worse receivers because he’s a better quarterback than Smith. Also, Andre Johnson is having a better season with a worse quarterback than any Chiefs receiver because he’s a better receiver than anyone the Chiefs have.

The next question is where the Chiefs should upgrade, and I’d say that receiver is the bigger immediate need and quarterback the more important long-term need.

Not back, Jackson. Not bad at all.

Cooper, if you missed it, was targeted 11 times by Peyton Manning on Sunday. Manning completed seven passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

Brandon Flowers was worse. He was targeted six times for five completions, 120 yards and two touchdowns.

Now would be a good time.

But guys, he was SO good over the first nine games. The trainwreck of the last three weeks is no illusion, but those first nine games still happened, too.

This is still a strong, athletic guy learning the position. This is still a physical, press corner who showed great ball skills and anticipation in making a lot of great plays the first 2 ½ months of the season.

Oof.

You are quite the optimist.

The schedule lightens up now. Washington is a hot mess. The Raiders have lost four of their last five, each of the losses coming against teams the Chiefs beat, two of the losses at home against teams the Chiefs beat on the road. The Colts are leaking oil, and the Chargers are still hard to figure out.

So, sure. It’s possible.

But a team built on defense has now given up 103 points in three games, two of them at home.

Hello sir!

Also, this made me think of this:

At least SOME of it has to do with the weather. That discussion is too nuanced for Twitter Tuesday, but if you want to read more about it, click here, here, here, here, or especially here.

And at least SOME of Manning’s struggles two weekends ago at New England have to do with the way that game played out. The Broncos had a big lead to protect, and it’s at least worth remembering that when they needed a touchdown drive into the wind in the fourth quarter they got one.

I haven’t studied that game, but watching live it seemed like the Patriots essentially flooded the field with defensive backs. The Chiefs had a lot of snaps with five or six defensive backs on the field Sunday as well, but if that press coverage isn’t working the whole thing turns into disaster pretty quickly.

What you’re basically asking is if Ohio State OR Florida State will lose this weekend.

Florida State opened as a 27 ½-point favorite over Duke, so let’s just move on. Ohio State plays Michigan State in the Big 10 championship game in Indianapolis, and I think this is going to be the SEC’s window.

I’m not convinced that Ohio State is all that great. I know it’s a rivalry game, but national championship-type teams shouldn’t be giving up 41 points to Michigan, which lost to Michigan State 29-6. Ohio State’s most impressive win is, what? Winsconsin by a touchdown at home? Northwestern by 10 on the road?

The game will be indoors, which will favor offense, but the Big 10 is traditionally a league won with defense and here are the point totals for Michigan State’s last six opponents: 0, 3, 6, 28 (a 41-28 win at Nebraska), 6 and 3.

I think Michigan State is going to win, which should cause an enormous hissy-fit around college football about which SEC team should play Florida State in the BCS championship.

My vote would be for the winner of Saturday’s game, but I get no vote, and we all know there will be a push for Alabama to sneak in there.

He’s intriguing as hell. I don’t pretend to be a scout, but he has all the talent in the world. Terrific athlete, creative, mobile. Good arm.

The off-field stuff doesn’t bother me. Maybe it should, maybe there are red flags I’m missing, but mostly I see a young, privileged kid having fun. I couldn’t care less about the autographs. That’s a "crime" only in the hypocritical eyes of the NCAA. The Manning camp thing bothers me a little bit, because that’s an instance where partying got in the way of a responsibility, but in the grand scheme, c’mon. He’s young. He can learn from that.

I do think that, particularly if the Chiefs lose Branden Albert this offseason, it’s a good idea to have mobile quarterbacks.

There are some issues here, of course. Alex Smith is the Chiefs’ guy, at least in the short-term. Chase Daniel is on the first year of a three-year contract as the backup. The Chiefs are high on Tyler Bray as a developmental guy.

But if you’re not at least looking to get better at quarterback, you’re doing it wrong in the NFL. I hope the Chiefs look hard at Manziel and everyone else in what is supposedly a loaded group of quarterbacks in the upcoming draft class^.

^ We’re all assuming Manziel enters the draft after this season. Seems like a reasonable assumption.

Whatever he wants.

Certainly enough to make up for the salary freeze Mizzou gave him after the DWI a few years back.

I don’t know if I’d say it’s overrated. When it’s right, Arrowhead is next to Seattle, Denver and New Orleans as the loudest and hardest places for teams to play.

The Colts game could’ve gone either way, and turned on two plays. The Ravens were WAY better than the Chiefs that year, and it’s not the crowd’s fault that the Broncos have more talent than the Chiefs, or that Smith threw that interception in the end zone, or that Flowers and Cooper couldn’t keep up with anybody.

If someone thinks the Chiefs are unbeatable at Arrowhead, sure, yes, absolutely: overrated.

But if someone thinks Arrowhead makes the Chiefs better, and is one of the league’s best homefield advantages when the crowd is into it: accurate.

Eh, sure. He’s an $8 million per year space filler, basically. He’s a league average pitcher, and I say that with respect: in major league baseball, league average starting pitchers are valuable.

But he’s not a difference maker, which is what the Royals really should’ve pursued harder this offseason.

Basically, it puts more pressure and emphasis on someone (or someones) out of Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy and Kyle Zimmer to turn into impact starters in 2014.

The rub, obviously, is that could’ve happened in addition to another strong pitcher to help ease the load.

Well, the craziest part of it is that Washington may very well be proven wrong — but only because the Tigers might win 12 or even 13.

But, honestly, I don’t have a good answer for you here. Earl Woods predicting his son would change the world is one possibility, but that’s a little extreme.

You guys think of any?

I think Mizzou is going to win. I think Auburn is good but has been incredibly lucky, most obviously in the Alabama and Georgia wins, but they were also outplayed by Mississippi State.

I don’t believe in Trap Games, but I do think it’s reasonable to wonder how much Auburn has emotionally a week after winning a game like that, against what was widely considered the best team in the country, which also happens to be an insanely encompassing rivalry.

We should all remember: don’t nobody know nothing for sure about no sports.

It is rather remarkable, when you think about it. He was one more bowl-less season away from some more serious questions about his job and whether he could lead the Tigers in the SEC, and now we’re talking about enormous raises and statues.

Here’s the lede of the fictional game story:

In the bowels of Arrowhead Stadium, the two football locker rooms are separated by a short walk. But on Saturday, they were also separated by a vastly different world view.

Over in Mizzou’s locker room, James Franklin and Michael Sam embraced in a happy but subdued celebration after Mizzou’s 42-6 win over rival Kansas.

"I’m just glad we came in here and took care of business," Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel said. "We could’ve looked ahead to the SEC championship game, but we didn’t."

Over in KU’s locker room, they had other things on their minds.

"When does the basketball team play?" said one staffer, who requested anonymity.

I don’t think so, but, you might want to keep that thought away from some KU fans.

Weis, but only by default.

What exactly is a Christmas cocktail? If it includes eggnog, take that nastiness somewhere else.

Drink a beer. Or whiskey.

Drunken Fish is OK, but they’re a lot of sizzle instead of steak, if you know what I mean. The best sushi in town is at Jun’s, which is in a strip mall at like 78th and State Line, across the parking lot from a Hy-Vee.

But if you jumped on the sushi grenade and you get to pick the next dinner, make up for it with something like Stroud’s. Or the Westport Flea Market.

The dream will be broadcast on national television.

The fact that you’re asking means you don’t feel certain, and don’t have a significantly stronger bond to one team or the other. Because if you like one team signficantly more than the other, the answer is easy.

Now, we can go through the cases of each side here. We can say that Sporting’s argument for your live viewing is that they are playing for the championship of their league, the ultimate achievement possible for them, while Mizzou is just playing for the conference title.

Mizzou’s argument is that this is, potentially, the biggest moment for their program in at least a generation and that, let’s be honest, college football is a much better deal nationally than MLS.

We could go back and forth on this for a few thousand words, or I could just say this: watching Sporting live and then catch up with Mizzou, because Sporting’s game should be over around halftime of the SEC championship.

 

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