A few selected excerpts from the Star’s sports section, this week last year:
"(The Chiefs) rushed for 352 yards and wasted every inch in a 20-13 defeat. While it was a novel approach for the 2-13 Chiefs, it’s still time-tested that the worst teams in the NFL find a way to lose games like this."
"‘I shouldn’t have thrown the ball, obviously,’ Quinn said."
"‘How do we do a lot of the things we’ve done this year?’" Eric Winston said.”
"Charles is showing it, too, the shining diamond lodged in a manure pile of a Chiefs season that’s been wildly disappointing, consistently infuriating and heartbreakingly tragic."
"‘I don’t want us to fall apart and just go out there and not give effort, not play hard, those kinds of things,’ Crennel said."
"Chiefs assistant coach Adam Zimmer was cited Sunday night for suspected driving while intoxicated after crashing his vehicle on Ward Parkway."
"‘I think we have talent on this team,’ coach Romeo Crennel said. ‘We haven’t won, but we have talent on this team.’"
It’s been a good year for the Chiefs.
This week’s eating recommendation is the Simmons wings at Johnny’s. The reading recommendation is Patrick Hruby on the NCAA.
As always, thanks for your help and for reading.
I think the 2012 Royals ruined those words.
C’mon, man. Not during the holidays.
It’s interesting that Andy basically apologized for not getting Charles the ball more, particularly in the second half. He did this on Monday, before anybody had a chance to ask him a question.
In the answer, he gave a lot of explanations about why Charles didn’t get the ball more. The Chiefs were way behind, the Colts’ defense dictated other options on a few specific play calls, things like that.
I get all of that. And I understand that the NFL is, basically, chaos. And that things get lost in the noise. And that on the scale of Chiefs coaches talking about not giving Charles the ball enough, Reid’s explanation is light years away from Romeo Crennel saying "I don’t know," or that the other running back took all of Charles’ carries, when the other running back had like four carries.
Anyway, I want to focus on the part about the Chiefs being behind. If there was EVER a football team that shouldn’t let its running back’s touches be affected by the score, it’s these Chiefs. With Alex Smith and a group of ineffective receivers, Charles is the Chiefs’ best option to score whether the ball is at the goal line or the 50. Look at the Oakland game, for instance.
So while I can appreciate a lot of different circumstances that could lead to Charles not touching the ball as much as he should, the score really shouldn’t be one of them.
@mellinger Some say the Chiefs weren't showing their cards. I say they lacked the same intensity as the Colts. What say you?— Todd Beers (@JuanTumany) December 23, 2013
I say some are delusional, or making excuses.
This is a bit like a 12-year-old playing a friend in basketball, and if he gets down 4-0 or something, he just starts taking silly hook shots and wild fadeaways under the, oh-you-were-taking-this-seriously? guise.
I don’t buy it, and afterward, that sure didn’t feel like a locker room where they held anything back.
It felt like a locker room now dealing with the reality that a football world of doubters has all the ammunition they could need.
@mellinger Should the Chiefs use Sunday as a chance to heal up or as a tune up? (they need a lot of tuning)— Corey Anglemyer (@canglem) December 23, 2013
It’s an interesting dilemma, because normally, I’m strongly on Team Rest. Momentum really doesn’t exist in the NFL. This is an inherently dangerous sport, and on a team that puts so much on certain stars, what happens if you go all-out in San Diego and, say, Derrick Johnson or Jamaal Charles get hurt? I’m not convinced that Brandon Flowers is completely healthy, so giving him an extra week before the most important part of the season isn’t a bad idea, either.
What gives me a little pause is that Branden Albert and Justin Houston are, presumably, healthy enough to play this week. I do think there can be value in allowing them to work their way back into game action before the playoffs start. Particularly with Albert, because the offensive line is a cohesive thing.
But if it was up to me, I’d still rest them. Prove it in the playoffs. Nobody cares if you beat the Chargers.
I’m old enough to remember when they were on pace to break the 1984 Bears’ sack record.
If you only count games played against teams that aren’t an imploding mess with a fantastic power struggle between coach, owner, quarterback and quarterback’s father, the Chiefs have a grand total of — wait for it… — three sacks in their last SEVEN games.
That’s some 2012 Chiefs stuff right there.
@mellinger Did we reach 'Monsoon of Suck' level yesterday?— Greg Kendrick (@Gregmire) December 23, 2013
Yes. And the specific moment was Derrick Johnson wrapping up for a tackle, only to be knocked out of the way by teammate Dunta Robinson, who was playing ahead of Marcus Cooper, who’s been pretty awful for almost two full months now.
@mellinger is Kendrick Lewis the worst starter on this team?— Dave Guinta (@daveguinta) December 23, 2013
No. He’s taking a lot of grief from fans, and that’s fine. He was particularly bad against the Colts, and by the nature of playing free safety, his mistakes turn into touchdowns and even some plays where it’s not his fault he ends up being the one five yards behind the guy with the ball.
I’m not saying he’s been good this year, or that he takes good angles. I’m just saying he’s not as bad as a lot of people think.
Do you count Dunta Robinson as a starter? Because if you do, he’s the worst starter on the team.
If you don’t, Eric Fisher has been the worst starter on the team. I say this without malice, because if you watch closely, you can see a load of talent. I think he’ll be a very good player for the Chiefs, and fairly soon.
@mellinger sorry about that time I made fun of you for being skeptical of the defense before the season. Guess you're smarter than you look— Jessica Zarate (@thejessz) December 23, 2013
I’ll take it!^
^ Also, even though I included a disclaimer in the fourth paragraph, I wish the link for this column would hurry up and expire.
@mellinger - Is this Chiefs team a mirage, sort of like Haley's 2010 squad? Not bad teams, but borderline playoff, lucking into a easy sched— Dustin Boone (@LibraryDust) December 23, 2013
There are some similarities, sure. But this year’s team is better, I think. The quarterback is better^, Jamaal Charles is better (though he was GREAT in 2010), and the defense is better, particularly in the front seven (Dwayne Bowe was much better in 2010).
^ And, yes, I’ll admit to remembering that Matt Cassel made the Pro Bowl that year if you admit that the Pro Bowl is dumb.
Remember that team in 2010 got trucked four times: 49-29 at Denver, 31-0 at San Diego, 31-10 against the Raiders, and 30-7 against the Ravens in the playoffs. That team was smoke and mirrors and maybe a dozen Cassel interceptions being dropped.
This team has a smarter, more athletic, more capable quarterback. It has a better coach. More talent on defense (though they could use Brandon Carr this year, huh?). The offensive line was better in 2010, and Tony Moeaki was better than any tight end the Chiefs have now.
But the 2013 Chiefs would be about a 4 ½ point favorite against the 2010 Chiefs.
Either way, at this point, I’m guessing they’ll end up with the same number of playoff wins.
@mellinger: Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, should Reid win Coach of the Year?— Cody Goodwin (@codygoodwin) December 23, 2013
He has a heck of a case, and one that goes beyond the 7-1 record with replay challenges, or the way he’s unlocked an even greater level for Jamaal Charles, or schemed around the significant strengths and weaknesses of the quarterback he hand-selected.
Reid’s best case is in the locker room, with a group of guys who believe in him and each other, and aren’t looking over their shoulders for snitches.
@mellinger billy butler was at the Chiefs game. which Royals player could make the biggest impact for the Chiefs, and at what position?— micah levi conkling (@conklingmicah) December 23, 2013
Jarrod Dyson, either at corner or wide receiver.
Fun fact about Dyson: he and Jerrell Powe played against each other in high school. They didn’t make the connection until finding themselves in the same weight room^. Dyson remembered running around the edge and getting clobbered by Powe.
^ I believe Dyson was rehabbing in the Chiefs’ facility, but I may have that part of it mixed up.
@mellinger what's the backbreaking L** E*****, Holmes fumbling, Joe Montana concussed thing that happens to the Chiefs this year?— Brian (@BrianMcGannon) December 23, 2013
@mellinger Was Mizzou hoops the worst 10-0 team you've ever seen?— Clinton Thomas (@ClintT13) December 23, 2013
OK, that’s not bad…
@mellinger Seriously though, how troubling is Mizzou's total lack of a post threat?— Clinton Thomas (@ClintT13) December 23, 2013
…I wouldn’t worry about that too much. There aren’t a lot of college basketball teams that play through their bigs. Missouri is talented enough on the perimeter that they don’t need a lot of scoring in the paint.
The more important part of that equation is how well the Tigers can guard bigs.
@mellinger Ever since Houston got injured I've been telling myself, The D will be fine once he gets back. Am I fooling myself at this point?— Nick Klastava (@NKlastava) December 23, 2013
I’m going to have a lot more on this in a column that should post later today, but yeah. You’re fooling yourself.
Houston will make a big difference. He’s the Chiefs’ best pass rusher, and one of the better defensive players in the NFL. Not having him is a major, real, and honest problem.
Houston is a guy offensive coordinators have to scheme around, and a guy that quarterbacks have to account for. He changes the way offenses play against the Chiefs.
But he can’t cover receivers.
@mellinger I refuse to develop man crushes on one-and-dones; no attachment when they jump. This said, should I bat my baby blues at Embiid?— TheBourgeoisDazzle (@KrisRatzlaff) December 23, 2013
Well, you know what I think about Embiid. I also think it’s a bit silly — if you’re a college basketball fan — to go robot on guys who’re going to jump to the NBA. As much as you don’t want to admit it, college basketball is, largely, a farm system for the NBA. Look at the way it’s covered, and talked about. Look at the way a lot of coaches operate.
Especially for a guy like Embiid, who didn’t go into college with the idea of staying for just one season.
But regardless, think of it like this: how often do you get to see a guy like him in college?
Those are the one-and-dones I remember, and fondly. Carmelo Anthony carrying Syracuse to a championship. Anthony Davis subverting his own offense and blocking a million shots. Derrick Rose’s jump from struggles early in the season to often unguardable from February on.
Embiid has a chance to be like that, a unique skill set that leaves an impression.
@mellinger K-State hoops had an encouraging win on Saturday. Do they stand a chance against KU yet? Do you think they're a tourney team?— Brennan Mense (@ItsBrennanMense) December 23, 2013
The win against Gonzaga was as important as a mid-December win can be in college basketball. From losing to Northern Colorado in the season opener to now, I’m not sure how many teams have improved as much as K-State.
If we all promise to understand how silly of an exercise this is in December, I think they’re back on the good side of the bubble.
@mellinger who do I blame my current hangover on? O-line? Pass D? D Bowe? The bottle of Fireball that was macho-mugged before the game?— The Great Bassby (@MeatMaster_Bass) December 23, 2013
Macho-mugged? I like the term.
But Fireball? You gotta do better.
You know, with the National Soccer Hall of Fame existing only on the internet, we can totally make this a thing.
@mellinger the chiefs have how many penalties the last two games? At least 30! This is horrible timing to play bad— Quin Thompson (@QuinTonio81660) December 23, 2013
Fifteen. They have 15 penalties their last two games. Too many, but quite less than "at least 30!"
@mellinger more,impressive dunk..LeBron over McLemore or foster over Stockton?— Mike Rouse (@Turnksu) December 23, 2013
Let’s go to the video. First, LeBron:
And now Marcus Foster:
Now, they’re similar dunks. Both had a good angle, and caught the defender trying to draw a charge instead of challenge the ball. Foster gets points for being Marcus Foster instead of LeBron James, and also for the way he seemed to sort of climb up David Stockton on his way to the rim.
But, afterward, LeBron said this about his dunk:
"It sucks that it was him, too, because I like him. I’ve been talking to him since he was in high school. So it sucks."
Kids, as a general rule, if the guy who dunked on you apologizes, it just makes it worse.
So we’re going with LeBron here.
Well, the perfect holiday meal is Thanksgiving, if the turkey’s good. Because you’re just not going to beat stuffing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese if they do it, all that stuff.
But we’re later in the season now, so it’s worth pointing out that the Smokeshow’s parents do something brilliant: crab legs on Christmas Eve.
It’s off the beaten path a bit, but still something that most people are into, plus it won’t leave you a napping blimp like Thanksgiving. Try it.
Are the Royals really rolling with Hoch and Davis in the rotation? If so, are they really a contender? RT@mellinger: Twitter Tuesday lines..— RoyalsRetro (@royalsretro) December 23, 2013
The Royals have three rotation spots locked in: James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas.
Of the other guys who made starts for them last year, Santana (32 starts) is almost certainly gone, Wade Davis (24) remains a key component of last year’s major trade, Luis Mendoza (15) is in Japan, Bruce Chen (15) remains unsigned, and Will Smith (one) is traded to Milwaukee.
Danny Duffy (five starts) and Yordano Ventura (three) should be considered strong favorites for rotation spots. Chris Dwyer and Kyle Zimmer are also among those who will get looks.
Look, the idea that Duffy, especially, needs to do anything other than stay in one piece to beat out Hochevar or Davis for a rotation spot is laughable. Hoch, specifically, was so good in his role last year (and so bad as a starter before that) that I’d be very hesitant to move him back. Davis has a similar track record, but if the pieces fall in such a way that he needs to make eight to 12 starts before the Royals are comfortable putting Ventura or Zimmer in there full-time, I won’t freak out.
I continue to try to get the YouTube video of Chase Daniel eating his boogers on @mellinger's Twitter Tuesday. Christmas Miracle?— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 23, 2013
This is, really, maybe the fourth time Kent has tried this.
Here you go: