There is a bit of other-than-that-Mrs.-Lincoln-how-was-the-play? in what I’m about to type, but there was actually a lot to like about Mizzou from the weekend.
Quarterback Drew Lock had his best game yet — at least, best game against legitimate competition — and Charles Harris made plays again and overall Mizzou was in position to win an upset in what I think everyone agrees is a building year.
Lock still has some rough edges. Georgia switched defenses at halftime, and Lock struggled to adjust. The first interception was a bad decision, the second was a bad throw, and the third was a little of both but more of a terrific play by the defensive back.
If this is his curve — the season opener against West Virginia was his best game against legit competition before Saturday — then this thing is going to pick up speed.
K-State wasn’t pushed much against Florida Atlantic, which is a bad football program, and coach Bill Snyder will spend his time hating all the penalties, but the Cats did some good things, too. Perhaps most notably, they got a big play from running back Dalvin Warmack, the former Blue Springs star, who maximized some good blocking with very good vision, breaking what could’ve been a gain of eight or so into 45.
If there’s more of that coming, and if Jesse Ertz continues to progress, K-State’s defense is good enough to make this another strong season. The Big 12 title race is wide open — that’s code for “weak” — and, who knows, crazier things have happened.
Kansas also played a football game on Saturday. Let’s move on.
This week’s reading recommendation is Brandon Sneed getting Urban Meyer to talk about mental illness, and the eating recommendation is the Italian steak sandwich at the Cigar Box.
Well, we had a good run there for a few years, right? The Royals were in the playoffs, and winning in the playoffs, and nobody can be sure if that was more or less incredible than the Chiefs being in the playoffs, and winning in the playoffs. And Mizzou, before last year, anyway, was finding some footing in the SEC.
I know this is one of the many things that make me a weirdo, and nobody wants to hear this garbage, but I believe it so here goes: we need the bad times to enjoy the good.
I would not appreciate all the times my toddler no longer cries when we drop him off at school if he did not cry in the beginning, and while that’s a terrible analogy, I do believe that the disappointments keep us from getting soft or ungrateful.
Now, I also believe that Corey would not be so sad today if the Mizzou game did not end the way it ended, and there’s no way around it, that was brutal. Just absolutely, purely brutal.
There are a dozen different things that had to go wrong for Mizzou to lose that game, and none of them are the bulk reason for the blame. Drew Lock threw three interceptions, but he was also brilliant for stretches, and his growth is perhaps the biggest reason for optimism around that program. He could’ve thrown it better on that last interception, but Georgia defensive back Quincy Mauger made a remarkable play, the kind that few college DBs can pull off.
Mizzou could’ve handled the clock better at times, and if they just got three points instead of zero out of their six drives before Georgia’s go-ahead touchdown they would’ve been in much better shape at the end.
Mizzou cornerback Aarion Penton took the blame for giving up what turned out to be the winning touchdown, and that’s stand-up of him, but I do not understand leaving him in single-coverage against Isaiah McKenzie on what turned out to be the winning touchdown. That’s a coaching gaffe I think deserves more attention, and we’ve probably stalled long enough before mentioning J’Mon Moore.
I feel awful for him, and also bizarrely proud of him. I feel awful for the obvious reasons, because he fumbled away Mizzou’s last chance, and he’s the one taking a lot of blame. High-profile college athletes are given a lot, and accept that, and the expectations that go with it. But that doesn’t make it any more comfortable when nearly 60,000 people and a national television audience watch their failures in real time.
But I also feel proud of him, because he handled it all like a damn man. He showed up to the postgame news conference, when a lot of guys wouldn’t, and accepted his share of the blame, which a lot of guys couldn’t. I believe in the corny side of sports enough to believe this shows more about the important parts of his character than holding onto the ball would’ve.
I also appreciated coach Barry Odom making it clear — both directly to Moore, and publicly — that Mizzou would not have even had the chance to beat Georgia in those final minutes if Moore had not played so well. He caught eight passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, and that should be part of the takeaway here, too.
I do think some of this is overblown. My guess is that you could search the message boards of a lot of schools and find claims — and evidence — that all the bad things happen to their school.
I know this is going back a ways now, but K-State’s loss to Texas A&M in the 1998 Big 12 championship — the Sirr Parker game — remains one of the roughest losses I can think of for a college football program.
KU fans try to hide it, but many of them are terrified every March, because it sure does seem like their basketball team tightens up in close games and they would love their football team to just be good enough to let them down in a big game someday.
My wife is a Michigan State grad, and she could talk to you about losing big leads, and nothing ever being easy, and don’t get her started on the loss to Middle Tennessee, which has a case for one of the greatest tournament upsets in recent history.
But, yeah. I cannot, and will not, sit here and try to convince you that Mizzou ranks high in the misery power index. Everybody has losses, but it does seem like Mizzou’s come harder, and more often from around the corner, than most. The North End Zone has been A Thing long enough it can legally drink (and, often, encourages it). Who else has had a football team boycott, and a year so bad the (soft) AD just left for Baylor*?
* Speaking of Baylor, you don’t think THOSE fans feel like all the bad things happen to them? Holy moses.
Mizzou isn’t the only school with a list of disappointments for their fans. But I can’t think of one that’s worse, at least not at the moment, off the top of my head. Maybe there’s a Clemson grad out there who can help here, or Texas? Tennessee?
I don’t think so. Vermes was nearly fired a four or five years ago. This was back when he had the DUI, and the team was behind schedule on a rebranding that ownership felt they had to get right, and there were serious, in-depth conversations about whether Vermes should stay.
They made the right decision, obviously, and by now Vermes has become Sporting in a way that makes it hard to separate the two. The culture is his, the players his, the philosophy his.
Nobody in a job like that should have a lifetime appointment, but I think that when you find a fit like this you need a really good reason to make a change — the person makes an unforgivable mistake, or goes stale, gets lazy, loses touch, something like that.
There is plenty to pick apart from how Vermes has handled this season, but he’s also been dealing with more than most. There are injuries to hide, the bizarre Matt Besler saga, and the other teams play hard, too.
In eight years, and aside from ownership commitment, Vermes has been the single biggest reason that Sporting has won trophies and become one of MLS’ model organizations.
I would need a really good reason to walk away from that. A better reason than missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
We all have a tendency to overreact to the most recent result in the NFL, but I do hope we pump the brakes on this, for a lot of reasons.
The first is that Charles is probably going to play this weekend against the Jets. I have no way of knowing how close to 100 percent he’ll be, but there are indications that this might be the week.
But, more than that, Charles’ absence is not what’s wrong with this offense. It certainly didn’t hold them back last year, and Spencer Ware has proved to be a dynamic weapon. He’s averaging 6.0 yards per carry, and as Blair pointed out, he has the two longest receptions this year.
And nobody wants to see it this way, but I actually think Charles’ return could end up being awkward, at least in the beginning. This is one of those good problems, but Andy Reid needs to figure out how to use his running backs together, and that could take some time.
I’d love to see two of them on the field at the same time — particularly Ware and Charles, because of how diverse each player’s strengths are — but those are plays that need to be practiced and carefully planned.
When the Chiefs’ offense has been bad, the biggest problems, at least by my eye, have been the offensive line and the quarterback. The tackles got whipped on Sunday, and there have been stretches where Alex Smith’s decision-making has slowed, where he’s held onto the ball too long.
A huge part of how the Chiefs found success last year was in Smith knowing exactly when to break the pocket and run, but that’s been non-existent for most of the first two games. If that’s because the Texans had a spy on him, then that should mean the receivers have more space to get open. Either way, this is something that needs to be figured out, and fixed.
Charles is awesome, but his return isn’t going to fix any of that.
You want me to make a joke about your handle here, but I’m not going to do it. I’m just not, you guys.
OK, so at this moment, the Royals are five games back of the second wild-card spot. A 12-0 finish would make them 89-73.
To beat that, Baltimore and Toronto would have to finish 8-4, Detroit 11-2, Houston and Seattle 11-1, and the Yankees 13-0. If you’re a dreamer, the finishing schedules nearly guarantee that it’s impossible for Baltimore and Toronto to finish that strong, so an 11-1 finish or even a 10-2 finish would probably get in.
I can’t keep this up. Let’s move on.
Preach, Cody. Preach.
I don’t know what they’re trying to stop. Actually, that’s not true. I do know. We all know. They’re trying to keep their game clean for sponsors, to keep it from turning into a WWE, And-1 Mixtape bunch of trash-talking and taunting, because the world is crazy and the NFL is a buttoned-up boardroom trying to sell sports entertainment and the focus groups must be telling advertisers they don’t want to see it.
I actually think there’s another element of this, too, that the NFL is motivated to keep personalities out of the game as much as possible because the more interest or love is given to specific players instead of the game in general, the harder it is for the marketing wing to keep up with the high rate of player turnover, the more the game’s brutal realities are made clear, and — this might be the most important part — the more power the union takes in CBA negotiations.
Some of that is a bit conspiratorial, but I believe it all to have at least a little bit of truth.
Because, c’mon, Marcus Peters was not inciting a steel cage match by wagging his finger at Will Fuller after an incompletion, any more than J.J. Watt was threatening the innocence of children when he wagged his finger which, whoops, the NFL actually used in a promotion on Sunday morning.
I understand that I am very much on the “it’s sports, let them have fun” end of spectrum on this, but that was such a weak call.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who has even less than the typical football coach’s patience for players making dead-ball penalties like that, did everything but directly label it a weak call. Eric Berry went a step further.
“I heard some things being said when the call was made that I didn’t agree with, from another side, another party, so if you’re going to call it both ways, call it both ways,” he said. “I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen worse. Those two were competing, and I don’t feel like it was degrading or anything. It was just, ‘Hey, not here, today.’ ”
Night Train Lane holds the record with 14 interceptions in 1952. In the last 30 years, the record is 10, done most recently by Antonio Cromartie in 2007.
You’d always bet against someone breaking a record like that, but Peters is the kind of cornerback who has a chance. Particularly if the run defense is strong, teams are going to throw a lot against the Chiefs, and Peters gives up just enough plays for teams to try him, and makes enough plays that he could rack up some interceptions.
Teams are so good passing the ball that they’re not going away from it just because there’s a talented cornerback on the other side, and the Chiefs’ schedule is loaded with games against good quarterbacks, good receivers, or both: the Jets, Steelers, Saints, Colts, Jags, Panthers, Bucs, Falcons, and Chargers. And that doesn’t include games against the Raiders and Broncos. So, pretty much everyone except the sorry Titans.
Peters is going to have his chances, is the point.
Yeah, this is a problem, and something we talked about after the game on the chat/podcast.
The Chiefs’ receivers group is weak, by NFL standards, and it’s especially weak if Jeremy Maclin isn’t getting open. Terez pointed this out, I didn’t realize it, but Maclin’s 15 targets on Sunday were the most since he’s been with the Chiefs. They were clearly trying to get him going, and he had just six catches for 68 yards.
He had a bad game, and the roster (and salary cap) are built in a way that if he has a bad game, the Chiefs’ receivers have a bad game. Chris Conley is improving, and can make some plays, but he’s still in a position where his production is going to come largely from scheme.
I don’t understand why Albert Wilson is on the roster instead of Rod Streater. I didn’t understand it when they made the move, and I don’t understand it now, after two games of seeing Wilson not make plays that Streater made consistently in the preseason.
Tyreek Hill hasn’t played much receiver in his life, and Reid’s offense is famously complicated, but I wonder if we’re going to start to see him used a bit more as a specialist. If nothing else, he has unique speed that defenses have to respect, and if he can demand safety help on deep routes it opens more space for Maclin and Kelce to work the middle of the field.
The Chiefs’ offense is built on timing, and on everyone being in synch. When it works, it’s pretty cool to watch. When it doesn’t, you tend to wonder how it ever does.
One point that Terez has been making that I want to co-sign: the Chiefs might be well-served to speed things up on offense. Their best moments this season have come in no-huddle, with quicker tempo, and you would think that in the fourth year of the same system the guys would be comfortable speeding it up. Just something to watch.
Oh, good for you and your friend. I don’t know if you guys remember Luke Blomquist, but he was the 10-year-old boy who caught Danny Duffy’s hat after Duffy’s 16-strikeout game at Tampa Bay, and then lost his mind in the most adorable way possible.
He was there because he and his dad do this thing where they see the Royals play on the road every summer, and I am so excited to do something like that with my kids. Stuff like that is what absolutely makes sports. You and your friend, if you stick with it, you’ll just never forget it and I’m guessing much less than half of your favorite memories will have anything to do with baseball.
Anyway, I haven’t been to them all, but here is how I would divide the ones I have been to:
Do these first:
Wrigley, Fenway, PNC and AT&T. Some of us are old stadium people, some prefer the new*, but these four are the absolute best. All of the cities are pretty fun, too, and I know some people will roll their eyes at Pittsburgh, but trust me: Pittsburgh is great.
* We tend to call them that, but did you realize Camden Yards opened 24 years ago?
Camden Yards, Petco Stadium, and Dodger Stadium. I might be short-changing Camden here a little bit, but I want those first four to stand out. Camden is what every new ballpark tried to be, and didn’t quite reach, except for PNC and AT&T. Dodger Stadium has so much history, a gorgeous setting, and really cool feel. Petco is nice enough, but bonus: it’s in San Diego! Eat so many fish tacos and go to the beach!
Target Field, Coors Field, Busch, Miller Park, Citizens Bank, Chase Field, Minute Maid, Citi Field, Comerica and Yankee Stadium. The first six are each cool, but starting to get into the “generic cool new ballpark” category. Minute Maid is weird, and probably my least favorite of the new stadiums, actually. Citi and Comerica are underrated. Yankee Stadium is overrated, and a disappointing cash grab and B-side version of old Yankee Stadium, but a game there can still be fun.
There’s other stuff to do, at least:
O.co, Angels Stadium, U.S. Cellular, Tropicana and Rogers Centre. U.S. Cellular gets a bad rap, and should probably be in the category above. It’s much better after the renovation, and is in Chicago. Oakland has the worst stadium in both baseball and football, but good weather! Angels Stadium is a monument to suburban sprawl. I actually like the Trop, and there are places nearby you can stay on the beach. The Rogers Centre is awful, but Toronto is great.
One more year, is my guess.
I thought there was a chance he’d retire after last year, just because he has a lot of other interests, and winning a World Series would be a hell of a way to go out. But I also understand and respect that he has a genuine love for this group, and wants to see this thing through.
But his contract goes through 2018, and he could’ve had it go longer if he wanted. You don’t need one more listing of the guys who are scheduled to be free agents after next season, and even with Perez, Gordon, Ventura and Herrera back — and even with what I expect will be an effort to sign some of the others this offseason, especially Danny Duffy — the 2018 Royals are going to look much different than this year’s version or next.
Yost will be 63 by the end of next year, and that’s certainly not too old to keep managing, but that job is a grind, and he has enough other things to keep him busy. People always talk about his farm, and hunting, but he also has what I understand to be a very nice and busy youth baseball facility that’s important to him.
As for who will replace him, I don’t know, that’s so far off. Jason Kendall is the first name that comes to mind, though I’m not sure he’d want the job. Raul Ibañez will be talked about. If you hear anyone mention Jonny Gomes, you should laugh at them. I wonder about Mike Jirschele or Mike Sweeney (don’t think he’d want it), and I assume there are some people from the Braves organization who might be considered.
But, again. That’s a long way off.
Well, even if Vargas is back, they need more than one starter. Ian Kennedy, Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Vargas make four, but you need more than five starters to get through a season.
The Royals have had seven guys start at least six games this year. Last year, they had eight start at least eight games. Most teams want to have at least that many in the system they’d feel comfortable starting games.
But, either way, I’d expect them to look at all options. Matt Strahm will get a look. Mike Minor will be under contract. Same with Chris Young and, assuming they offer him arbitration, Dillon Gee. There has been some talk of finding out if Joakim Soria can start, but that feels like a long shot.
Last year, the Chiefs scored touchdowns on 57.4 percent of their drives in the red zone, which ranked 12th. In 2014, it was 58.3 percent, ranking ninth. And in 2013, it was 59.7 percent, which ranked fifth.
I assume it is not a coincidence that you are writing these words after a game in which the Chiefs scored zero touchdowns and four field goals. I know it’s frustrating, and I was a little surprised the Chiefs ranked so well here. I would’ve expected them to be in the 12-18 range, not great, but not terrible.
And, really, thinking about it, you can see why the Chiefs would rank well. Downfield passing isn’t a big part of their offense — don’t roll your eyes at me! — so the shrinking of the field in the red zone shouldn’t affect them as much as some other teams. Those blasted tunnel screens and gadget plays are in theory nearly as productive inside the 20 as they are anywhere else on the field.
The Chiefs are also good at package plays, and zone reads, and the most obvious example is the option run that Alex Smith scored the overtime winner against the Chargers.
I have no idea about the first part of your question. I still think Oklahoma has the most talent, and if you argue that OU has already played two teams better than anyone it will face in the Big 12, I won’t dispute the point with much passion.
So maybe the Sooners should still be the favorite.
But Texas did have the win against Notre Dame* and loads of talent. Baylor could always be up for a screw-you run through the league. TCU is always dangerous. I wouldn’t sleep on West Virginia, either, or K-State for that matter and I realize that if I type the words Texas Tech and Oklahoma State here I’ve mentioned everyone but the two schools who really have no shot at all.
* And, yes, I watched Notre Dame’s loss (at home) to Michigan State.
But if I was betting, I still think I’d take OU. There’s a chance coach Bob Stoops loses his team, at some point, but if they stick with it they still have talent and size. After that, at this point, I have a hard time separating OSU, Baylor, TCU, Texas, West Virginia and K-State.
And, c’mon. Yes, of course the playoff hopes are dead. I suppose it would be hard for an undefeated Big 12 team to be denied, but with Baylor and West Virginia the only schools with a chance now, I’m not sure how likely that is. OU’s losses really hurt the rest of the league’s credibility, not to mention Texas giving up fitty to Cal.
Twitter is the place for you, sir!
I’m offended by the audacity of airlines to charge you for their painfully slow wifi, anyone who’s way too excited to exert their authority, and Subway sandwiches. I am quite certain I could come up with more, given time, but that should be a good enough start.
OK, a few more: when podcasts don’t load, the lack of a headphone jack on the new iPhone, exterminators who don’t carry flashlights*, and people who don’t say thank you when you hold the door open for them.
* That one’s from my wife, who just followed around an exterminator with a flashlight in one hand and a baby in the other arm.