Don't Kill the Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Twitter Tuesday: Talking Chiefs, Pinkel, Yost, Weis, Self and Snyder

10/08/2013 6:00 AM

10/08/2013 10:44 AM

So, to review, the Chiefs have won when - Playing the NFL’s version of FCS competition. - Limiting the league’s 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 it’s not a bad resume so far. This week’s reading recommendation is Tim Keown’s incredible piece about professional sports in Oakland, and the eating recommendation is the guac at Frida’s, my favorite restaurant in south Johnson County, which sort of makes me think of Chuy’s opening on the Plaza which DEFINITELY makes me wonder if I’m the only one who wants Annie’s Santa Fe to come back^. ^ But the REAL Annie’s. Not the Annie’s of the last few years, before it closed, when it got terrible for some reason. As always, thanks for reading and for your help. Why do you think the Chiefs will even have to throw the ball to win the Super Bowl? So pessimistic. I have no idea. None. I tried to Google it, and that didn’t turn up anything that made sense. But then, this is also true: going for a touchdown wasn’t going to give the Titans a chance there, either. So, what the hell. 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 (who’s 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 you’re 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. That’s the worry. Pryor is a terrific athlete, even by NFL standards, and has been — by my expectations, anyway — shockingly good. He’s 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, what’s a truly terrific athlete going to do? There’s a good chance I’m disrespecting the Raiders in that reverse-order-of-difficulty thing, too. They’re 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 haven’t beaten the Raiders at home since 2006 — don’t see the Chiefs losing to a bad team at Arrowhead. I haven’t had a chance to re-watch the Titans game yet, but I’ll 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 — I’m not too concerned about Bowe but I can’t really type this sentence without including the word "yet." Maybe he’s 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 can’t remember a drive the Chiefs have had where you think, "Oooh, Bowe is a problem for the defense here." He’s still a very good player, a terrific downfield blocker, and has so far been a good teammate without getting a star receiver’s 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 let’s stress if — Bowe can’t 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 can’t 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 you’re 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. I’d 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 aren’t undefeated, and aren’t playing the AFC’s best defense if quarterbacks always have a safety blanket available to throw to whoever Jalil Brown isn’t covering. 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, that’s 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 it’s also true that Alex Smith has been average, average and bad the last three games. Overall, he’s basically been Matt Cassel Version 2010, which is an enormous upgrade from what the Chiefs have had the last two years, but isn’t 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 everyone’s 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 we’ve 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 don’t 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 didn’t 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, it’s 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 wouldn’t flex both games against Denver, especially them being only two weeks apart. It’s an interesting call for NBC, because you’d assume there’s a better chance of a closer game at Arrowhead but if both teams are undefeated (or, really, just don’t fall apart before then) it’d 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 we’re only halfway there less than 50-50 I’m not even sure how to judge that anything’s possible, I suppose I’ll 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 and, finish. 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. I’m a total cliché, but it’s 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). It’s probably a little unfair including Albom on here. I’m not even sure if he’s really a national sports writer anyway. He moved on to bigger things, so good for him. Reilly’s the one that makes me sad. His peak was better than, probably, anybody who’s done it since. I mean, just read some of his old stuff. He was incredible. He just got lazy and formulaic. Three things: 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. He’s still looking for his first conference win. He’s 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) This is, basically, so far the season Mizzou fans hoped to have last year. Right? A legitimate shot? Sure. They opened as an 11-point underdog, which has now been bet down to 9 or 9 ½ points. So it’s 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, it’s plausible. Georgia’s very, very good, but they’re not the ’01 Hurricanes. Eh, I’m not sure about that. I didn’t 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. He’s had a lot of success at Mizzou. But he’s not Bear Bryant. I have nothing to add here. Well done. I usually don’t like questions too long for one tweet, but 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 didn’t quite do it by himself. The administration bet money it didn’t have, gave him support they couldn’t yet afford. But I don’t 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 it’ll be great after Self. K-State football stunk before Snyder, and nobody can be sure what it’ll be after Snyder. We’re all friends here, so I feel like I can admit this: I’ve never had Rosedale. /hangs head in shame/ I’ll ignore that skinny Javier Bardem here is making fun of my hair and just come clean. Like I say, we’re all friends here. I want you to know that I’m aware I look ridiculous. But The Smokeshow likes it, somehow, so the hair stays /pauses/ /thinks/ /looks to see if you’re thinking what I’m thinking/ and, yes. Of COURSE I’ve considered the possibility that she’s playing an elaborate joke on me. It’s the kind of parity every league wants, really. It’s also interesting to me that in the rush to talk about the Chiefs and Royals and Mizzou all winning, I don’t hear much about Sporting. Some of you might say that’s MLS’ place in the local sports landscape, but I think there’s also a major element of people now expecting Sporting to be in this position every year. Which is a great thing. No. You guys know where I stand on Ned. I don’t think he’s Casey Stengel, and I don’t think he’s Trey Hillman. He’s a fine manager, with his strengths and his weaknesses, and I’ll keep making this point: virtually EVERY fan base hates their manager. Ned’s 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. It’s 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?!?!?!?! you’re kind of proving the point. The mistakes get remembered, and the successes forgotten. It’s the job Ned signed up for, so it’s 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 Santana’s offers are going to outgrow the Royals’ budget — I’m sure I’ll 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 they’ll 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.


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