The heartbreak was real in Kansas City on Sunday, and really, I cant say blame Chiefs fans one bit.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Had I not grown up in Detroit, where the Lions have spent the last 50 years treating their fans like Schillinger treated Beecher his first week in Oz, Id say it was the most brutal sports-related thing Id ever seen. It certainly was the most brutal gut-punch game Ive ever seen in person.
So when I decided to do an impromptu Chiefs Q&A late Sunday, I wasnt sure what kind of response Id get. Or honestly, if Id even get one. I know that the best thing to do after losses like that is to put them behind you as soon as possible, though thats easier said than done.
But really, I should have known better. This town loves its Chiefs (even though they dont always love back), and I had plenty of good questions, which you can read below. It should probably come as no surprise that after a game in which the secondary was shredded yet again, the very first question I got was about the defensive backs who will return in 2014.
I answered this and more, including stuff on free agency and the draft, and (as always) tried to give you honest answers no B.S. here. Anyway, hope you enjoy. I was only going to answer the five best questions, but ended up answering them all because I got so many good ones.
@TerezPaylor what's the secondary going to look like going forward?— Connor Oberkrom (@coberkro) January 6, 2014
@TerezPaylor what's going to happen in the secondary— VDB (@brummelLS) January 6, 2014
First, the safeties. Eric Berry did some nice things this season and hes only 24. I expect him to get better. He spent most of the year in front seven, playing the run, covering the tight end and blitzing, but the staff seemed to use him more in coverage late in the season. I need to check the tape to see how he did as a cover guy.
Kendrick Lewis is a free agent, and while he was the best they had back at playing the deep part of the field I suspect thats the reason he was never replaced he struggled toward the end of the year. I could see the Chiefs trying to upgrade there.
Quintin Demps is also a free agent. He led the team in interceptions with four and was a solid kick returner, but he also made some mental mistakes that hurt his team late in the year. Maybe they try to upgrade here, too, but I do think there's a reasonable chance he comes back.
Husain Abdullah was a special-teams standout who played a ton on defense against the Colts on Saturday and actually played pretty decent. He was also voted a captain by his teammates at the end of the year, which tells me he has some solid intangibles. Hes a free agent but Id think theyd want him back if they can get him at a reasonable number.
At corner, I think Sean Smith, Brandon Flowers and Marcus Cooper will be back. Maybe Ron Parker has earned a second look, too. Dunta Robinson is a veteran who sat most of the season, though he returned to the field toward the end. Nevertheless, being benched is an indication of how the staff feels about him. I dont think hell be back.
Its hard to evaluate fifth-round rookie Sanders Commings because he was hurt most of the year. Hes a draft pick so he probably has a little longer rope than most but I wouldnt be surprised what happens to him, either way.
Regardless, I expect Chiefs general manager John Dorsey to use some resources to upgrade the secondary, one way or another.
@TerezPaylor why did this happen— Brian (@BrianMcGannon) January 6, 2014
Too soon for a Q&A for some, I see.
@TerezPaylor out of all of the injuries from the game, which player had the worst one/would have been unable to play next week if we won?— Shon Daniels (@smallville730) January 6, 2014
@TerezPaylor Of the players who were hurt, who wouldn't have been available had we won?— El Guapo (@BarryMcCockinr) January 6, 2014
@TerezPaylor How many of the injured chiefs would have been available next weekend?— Bryan Holmgren (@btholmgren) January 6, 2014
Hard to say, fellas. The Chiefs are more forthcoming that other teams about injuries but Andy Reid didnt provide any updates today. Ill say this; its never a good sign when guys get diagnosed with concussions these days ... they typically sit out a week, just as a precaution. Jamaal Charles, Donnie Avery and Brandon Flowers all had concussions Saturday. I saw Knile Davis (knee) moving around okay in the locker room afterward. I guess Id say any of the concussions and the Justin Houston left knee injury would have concerned me the most.
@TerezPaylor who's hurt long term?— Elliott Ludy (@Elliott_Ludy) January 6, 2014
Im not sure any of the guys who were injured Saturday will be terribly effected long-term, though Halis knee problems you know, with the swelling and all certainly doesnt sound very good for a 30-year-old pass rusher. Ill be interested to see how third-round rookie tight end Travis Kelce (remember him?) bounces back from his knee injury. Hes a big, athletic guy who fits the offense well. Hes more explosive than Sean McGrath and Anthony Fasano, too.
@TerezPaylor Is there any realistic chance the Chiefs take a QB in the draft this spring?— Jonathan C. McGuff (@crimeDAWGjohnny) January 6, 2014
Yes. If Dorsey and Andy Reid see a developmental-type quarterback they like, they would take him. But Id be shocked if they took one early, especially since theyll be without a second-round pick. This team has a championship window guys like Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson arent getting any younger and they need a lot of help in a lot of places.
@TerezPaylor I know Reid said no changes, do you think coaching changes are needed or just player adjustments— Paul DeSantis (@pdesantis25) January 6, 2014
I wouldnt touch the offense. I think theyre building some good things there. In general, I was really impressed by Reids play calling. I think he and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson had a nice year and did a lot with what they had.
Defensively meh. Im still unsure whether their issues were more scheme or talent related. They were certainly a combination of both, but the blame lies more in one area than the other. If Reid isnt going to make any changes on the staff, though, that teams me he thinks the scheme is probably solid its the players that have to get better. I look forward to talking to people around the league and diving into a pile of film this offseason to try to give you guys a more informed opinion.
@TerezPaylor Did offenses figure out Chiefs pass rush scheme, was Houston that important, and/or was Hali playing at less than 100% at end?— Shawn Briner (@shawn_briner) January 6, 2014
A combination of all three, my friend. Hali was definitely banged up the last half of the season, and the Chiefs became infinitely easier to block up front without Houston racing around the right tackle every play. I thought the Chiefs did make some strides late in the year at defending the "rub" routes and stack formations and crossing patterns that killed them most of the season, but in the end, they simply werent consistent enough back there. Good quarterbacks ate them alive and thats not a coincidence. The Chiefs need a really speedy free safety that can cover a lot of ground to make their scheme work. I like what Berry brings to the table but hes better as a swiss army knife-type guy back there.
@TerezPaylor who should the Chiefs draft and what positions should they draft for.— Phil Friess (@HomeRunPhil) January 6, 2014
@TerezPaylor What position is the main target in the draft?— Jordan Schock (@JSchock7) January 6, 2014
Just an opinion here, but I expect the Chiefs to target the following areas (in order, just for fun): free safety, receiver, tight end, cornerback. I also expect them to look for depth at offensive tackle, outside linebacker, inside linebacker and defensive end (if they dont re-sign Jackson).
@TerezPaylor what 3 players would you love to see them get in the draft?— Jerry Young (@jerryoung) January 6, 2014
Cant wait to dive into this more. Im a college football fan and theres a lot of guys I like. Film work will begin on them shortly. Just for kicks, heres guys Ive heard good things about and am looking forward to breaking down before the draft: Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, Colorado receiver Paul Richardson, North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron and USC receiver Marqise Lee.
@TerezPaylor What can the Chiefs do next year to avoid what we saw yesterday?— Steven Panepinto (@pushead2) January 6, 2014
@TerezPaylor after the playoff loss what changes make to the roster this off season to make sure this never happens again?— Zippy (@WanderingFool7) January 6, 2014
They need a good offseason period. The defense must be fortified in a big way. A better free safety, someone with more range than Lewis might be a good start. A high-upside cornerback who fits the scheme would also help, and how about a better third passer rusher than Frank Zombo? Guys, the Chiefs arent THAT far from being a really good football team. But Dorsey needs to have a better draft than the one they had last year, and a couple good free agent signings would also go a long way toward solidying the defense.
@TerezPaylor why? Just....why?— Praus Nichols (@PrausNichols) January 6, 2014
Still too soon, I guess.
@TerezPaylor should they increase 53 man roster to deal with this new concussion policy? Could players sign waver to reenter game?— Dave Newkirk (@DaveNewkirk) January 6, 2014
The fact the roster size is stuck at 53 is ridiculous, in my opinion. This country churns out football players at an incredible rate. You mean to tell me there arent more guys who can play in this league? And asking players to sign a waiver to re-enter games is barbaric, in my opinion. Guys are competitive and take pride in sacrificing their bodies for their teammates. The peer pressure to sign the waiver for injured players would be immense, and I imagine teams would use it to protect their own butts down the road. This is a civilized society. We want to be entertained but theres a moral obligation to protect these guys from themselves, man. Theyre warriors, sort to speak, but theyre also sons, fathers and neighbors.
@TerezPaylor after best statistical playoff performance by a QB in team history, do they try to sign Alex to an extension in the offseason?— Lawrence Hillis (@lawrencehillis) January 6, 2014
@TerezPaylor Expect an extension for Alex Smith? Even us skeptical of the trade saw that he can be a Super Bowl QB.— Joel Plantinga (@jdplantinga) January 6, 2014
I think Reid believes in his ability to develop young quarterbacks, but I wouldnt be surprised if they tried to hammer something out this offseason. Alex played his tail off and if youre trying to be a contender, you really dont want to go into next season with this guy on a one-year deal. NFL people hate distractions, and thats exactly what that would be.
@TerezPaylor what the hell did we do to deserve this?— Brian (@BLB_Chiefs) January 6, 2014
@TerezPaylor Where do you go to hurt?— FakeAndyReid (@Chief_Walrus) January 6, 2014
Its been a rough 48 hours in Kansas City, folks.
@TerezPaylor I'm 21 and this is the first time all of my favorite sports teams have been relevant (KCC, KCR, MU). Not really a ? just cool— Andrew Jennings (@ThunderCAT92) January 6, 2014
Heres a little sunshine for ya!
@TerezPaylor Who's the best free agent corner/safety on the market this off season?— teehod1982 (@teehod1982) January 6, 2014
Good question. The best safety on the market figures to be Buffalos Jairus Byrd. Dude can play. He is one of the games best single-high safeties, which would make him a perfect fit in the Chiefs defensive system. Problem is, he will command a high salary somewhere in the range of the five-year, $42 million contract Dashon Goldson signed with Tampa last summer and Im not sure the Chiefs can afford him. And even if they could, doing so might limit how many other upgrades they can make, and as we saw Saturday, theres plenty of work to be done.
As far as cornerbacks go, New Englands Aqib Talib is having a monster year. The former Kansas star is in line for a huge payday, but again, Im not sure the Chiefs would be willing to do what it takes to sign him. They have holes all over and other priorities.
@TerezPaylor too soon— Kevin Stone (@kevinjamesstone) January 6, 2014
Fine guys, I get the point.