A Broncos' reporter, Benjamin Allbright, reported "per more than one source in position to know" that the Donks tried to trade Peyton Manning to Houston earlier this offseason. For real? Maybe-ish. For what? Who knows, probably draft picks if so, but since then the team and other big name reporters have denied the rumor. Houston has not commented.
The fact that so many reporters can't seem to find the same sources as Allbright suggests to me it isn't real or wasn't in any way serious. However, PM and the Broncos restructured his contract which suddenly includes a no-trade clause. That fact alone breaths some life into this story.
There is no more important position in professional team sports than Quarterback in football. You could try to make an argument for goalie in hockey or soccer, but neither of those positions can set the tone of the game or (realistically anyway) score. Starting pitchers in baseball only tote the rock once every 5 games. It'd be like having a new QB every week. Even a point guard's effect as a ball distributor in basketball usually takes a backseat to the leading scorers on the team.
Most of these pieces I've focused as much or more so on the backups. That's because many of the backups are new, the starters are known quantities, or because the depth at those positions are amongst the most important changes for the team. But a team only starts one QB.
Whether Daniel is our best backup or if Murray can be our QBotF is difficult to prove or disprove based on their limited snaps and tertiary to everything and anything about Alex Smith. Like it or not, Smith is the clear cut starter. I'm glad that's true, because despite that many fans wish there was a truly open competition for QB, if you have two quarterbacks it really means you have none.
There is no way to be non-controversial here. Regardless of my opinion or how I support it, someone will determine me to be wrong and possibly mentally invalid altogether. I'm going to try to be fair here, though I have had homerish tendencies in the past. The first thing we need to do is determine our standard for a QB. I think I know the most important standard.
Can Alex Smith get you to a Super Bowl?
The truest test of a QB is whether you think they can get you to a Super Bowl. While I thought Matt Cassel could (and did) on a good year get us to the playoffs, I never felt like he could take us to a Super Bowl. The rest of the team would have to carry him, and as soon as you have to start talking about Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, and Mark Rypien to defend your QB's chances of making it to and winning the SB, you are toast. That's not confidence. That's excusing mediocrity.
So, before we even talk about the regular season, we can look directly at what Alex Smith has done in the playoffs.
First, it's worth noting that in 9 years in the league he's only made the playoffs twice, though you can strike one year due to injury. He also only has a 1-2 record in the playoffs. Now, I think wins are overrated as a stat for QBs since, despite that they are the most important position, there's only so much they can do. Sometimes good enough isn't good enough to actually win, especially when you're on some of those bad 49ers teams of the Aughts.
So how did he actually play in those games?
In the 2011-12 postseason in a win against the Saints, Smith was 24 for 42 (57%), 299 yards passing, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, and a key 28 yard rushing TD to boot. Now, that is a tremendous game. However, not as obvious is Alex did have 2 fumbles on sacks, one recovered by the Saints. Still, 4 TDs to 1 turnover is an excellent stat line and without looking at the tape it's hard to put those fumbles on him and not his line. More importantly, Alex was incredibly clutch in this game, leading not one but two 80+ yard fourth quarter comeback drives in the final 4 minutes, scoring the winning TD with just 9 seconds to go.
The next game was the NFC Championship and an overtime loss against the Giants. Smith was 12 for 26 (46%), 196 yards passing, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, and 42 yards rushing on 6 attempts. The Giants in 2011-2012 were an anomaly. They lucked into the playoffs at 9-7, actually had a -6 point differential during the regular season, and yet destroyed the Falcons (24-2 final score, not a typo) and heavily favored Packers (37-20) on their way to the NFC Championship game. Being held to 17 points isn't great, but that Giants defense also held the top scoring team (Packers) to 20, the third best scoring team (Patriots) to 17, and the seventh best (Falcons) to a measly safety that postseason. The regular season stats don't tell you just how good that Giants defense was. This was a considerably worse game for Alex, but he still held his own and kept his team in it. Despite leading a game tying FG drive with about 6 minutes to go, he had 3 realistic chances to lead a game winning drive and couldn't make it happen.
His most recent playoff game most of us only wish we could forget, the 2013-14 wild card matchup against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Remember when I said sometimes good enough isn't good enough? This game was a shining example of that. Alex threw 30 for 46 (65%), 378 passing yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, and ran for another 57 yards on 8 attempts. He played out of his mind! He led the Chiefs to a 31-10 halftime lead before scoring another 7 on the opening drive of the 3rd quarter. Pro Football Reference put the Colts' winning percent chances as low as 0.10% early in the 3rd quarter, literally 1 in 1,000. Then, the defense imploded. IIRC, both Justin Houston and Tamba Hali left this game with injuries. In 53 dropbacks, Andrew Luck was only sacked once by Justin Houston in the first half. This loss rested squarely on the defense. 44 points should be enough to win and it still boggles my mind that people were upset we picked Dee Ford in the draft after we saw what happens when Houston and Hali were out.
You add up those stats and Smith is 66 for 114 (58%), 873 passing yards, 9 passing TDs, 0 INTs, 127 rushing yards, and a rushing TD. That's a QB rating of 108.6 stapled onto an effective mobile QB. It's a small sample, but I think the results are conclusive. Based on his playoff performances, Alex Smith can get you to the Super Bowl.
Can Alex Smith throw the deep ball?
The addition of Jeremy Maclin has helped reignite a long ongoing debate the predates Smith ever arriving in KC. Is he good enough at throwing the deep ball? Alex is not some noodle armed QB faking his way in the NFL. He was the first overall pick for a reason. Well, several reasons. Arm strength, accuracy, mobility, intelligence... Alex has the tools to be a Pro Bowl caliber QB.
The better questions would be how effective is Smith as a deep passer and if can improve his aggressiveness.
Despite being labeled as a risk averse game manager, throughout his career Smith has been an above average passer when he passes deep. According to Pro Football Focus, via this 2013 article, Alex attempted the second smallest percentage deep passes (20+ yards) in the league between 2008-2013. Yet, he had the 13th best yards per attempt and 9th best accuracy. When he actually cut loose, he was an above average deep thrower.
So, could we possibly expect Smith to change after all of these years? Actually, yes.
This isn't like suddenly expecting a running back to become fast or even for a QB to learn proper mechanics. This is an adjustment to what's already in place. Alex averages about 2 deep passes per game. The most aggressive QBs still average less than 4, usually on more passing attempts too. In other words, one more deep pass attempt per game, and suddenly Smith is no longer timid. Two more and he's a gunslinger.
I know this reeks of being an excuse, but I really don't think Alex had the personnel to throw deep last year. The wideouts and offensive line were both amongst the worst units in the league. You could see him get a little more aggressive late in the year as Albert Wilson began to emerge. A full season of Maclin, Wilson, and Conley as potential deep threats and I could see an extra deep pass being warranted.
Can Alex Smith help me win my Fantasy League?
Ugh... just shut up!
In all seriousness, in terms of production Smith is still an average QB, but he's a far better value than guys like Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson. You can pick him up in the mid to late rounds as a 2nd QB, yet still expect similar results to those guys.
I tried to be fair, but I still feel like I was a little rosy. However, I do believe in Smith as a QB. I think he can and even should win us a playoff game here in Kansas City. I know this sounds contradictory, but I don't think I could ignore that feeling and call myself objective. Smith is just oozing with great qualities, even if he isn't the flashiest QB you'll ever see.
Again, I hate that I had to ignore the backups in this article, but what is there to talk about? They'll be discussed during the preseason when there's something worth discussing.
Following Deflategate / Ballghazi, someone decided to make a website called Your Team Cheats dedicated to showing how much each individual team has cheated using the NFL's "more probable than not" doctrine to determine "factuality".
It's a fairly interesting read. They do their best to be thorough, so you'll read strange tales of cheating, like the Jaguars painting arrows facing the wrong way on the field or Cowboys owner Jerry Jones literally partying with the head of officiating Dean Blandino or the Chargers putting stick'em on a towel brought out to players during time outs. Each accusation has links to the story elsewhere online so you can further verify it and more importantly "toss into the stinking cesspool of ignorance of the typical online comment thread".
But it's especially interesting to Chiefs fans. For one, it showcases something we've long known: the Denver Broncos are, more probable than not, the biggest cheaters in the NFL. Whether it be slathering themselves in Vaseline, cheating the cap, or their rampant use of PEDs, the quality, quantity, and creativity of their cheating is difficult to deny resulting in nearly double the "CheatScore" of the average for the rest of the league. But, also the Chiefs are tied with the Jags for the least amount of probable cheating. Most of the Chiefs cheating falls into the "everybody is doing it" variety, such as a much smaller amount of PED use and other more vague league-wide cheating problems.
Just another weapon to use when discussing the battle between good and evil that is the AFC West.
The Chiefs have long been identified as a run-first team. Some look at that as a shortcoming, because they haven't had consistent success as a passing team. However, for any team with Jamaal Charles it's simply playing to their strength. Four of the last five seasons KC has been in the top 10 league wide for rushing yards, and their running identity really stretches back farther than that.
This is almost like a team locked down in time. While the passing game league wide has evolved, the Chiefs now want to win games virtually the same way they did in the 90s. Defense and running the ball with authority. Even when they had an elite offense in the early 2000s, it's primary feature was Priest Holmes and a world class offensive line. So, let's take a look at how the Chiefs plan to identify themselves now.
Jamaal Charles Chiefs fans have seen some great running backs throughout the years, and perhaps the greatest of them all has been Jamaal Charles. I don’t think I have to go into great detail explaining his strengths as a runner or surprisingly balanced skillset even as a blocker to this crowd. So what is worth discussing about him?
His health. Jamaal said he played much of last year hurt by nagging injuries. If he’s healthy he may be able to produce better numbers than his still solid production last year. Also, though Jamaal is a back that can create something out of nothing, he might benefit from an improved line too, if that’s the case.
He’s just 28, but many running backs start to drop around that age, so the Chiefs should start preparing for life without JC.
Anthony Sherman Sometimes you’ll see fullbacks that are excellent power runners. Those guys are rare. I don’t believe that’s Anthony Sherman, and neither do the Chiefs apparently. He’s only had 4 carries his whole time in KC. No, what the Shermanator does is Shermanate… er, block. Block really well in fact. Charles through most of his career had more success running out of two tight end sets than with a lead fullback, until he had the best shield a knight could ask for.
Sherman may not have made the Pro Bowl, but he has started to garner other attention, including a spot on NFL.com’s All Underrated Team and being ranked as PFF’s top graded fullback. He’s also surprisingly good as a receiver, including this awesome screen play against the Chargers where he showed great vision and just bounced right off of would be tacklers.
Knile Davis Despite that he performed very well for some fantasy teams in spot starts and kept the Chiefs in a couple games when JC was hurt, there are some concerns with Davis. One concern is fumbling. That was a major problem coming out of college and he fumbled 3 or 4 times (different stat sources vary) last year in just 150 touches. So, that problem still looms.
But also Davis didn’t have a good ypc, only 3.5. Did he just have a couple bad games that brought down the average? No, in his 11 games with 10 or less carries only once did he average as much as 4 ypc. One of his better games was against Miami, racking up 132 yards on the ground, but it took him 32 carries to get there. That ends up being just a 4.0 ypc average on the day, which is fine, but not as good as a quick glance at the stat line may indicate. Davis seems like the type of back that needs to wear a defense out in order to get yards.
Davis is not a great blocker, but not a total liability either. Upon further review, he seems like a better receiver than I realized, including once where he had a 70 yard catch and run for a TD against the Raiders. Maybe me complaining about his ypc isn’t the best idea since it’s not like he had a massive amount of carries. For instance, had that 70 yard play been a running play it would have rounded his season ypc up to 4.0. He clearly has the speed for big plays, so maybe they’ll come with more touches. Also, worth considering is if he would considerably improve with a better o-line that gave him an extra step or two clean before being touched by the defense.
Davis is a vital part of the return game. He has outstanding straight line speed for a 230 lb back and is about impossible to arm tackle. As a result, he had an excellent 28.6 yards per return, 3rd best in the league. Even if someone else demonstrated more value than Davis as a backup runningback, he almost certainly would make the team as a special teams player.
Cyrus Gray Gray’s real value has been as a special teams player. He only had 8 touches all year on offense, 31 touches his whole NFL career, so it’d be meaningless and purely projection to try to evaluate his abilities as a back. It may be worth mentioning he’s done alright as a receiver though. He did put up a couple 1,000 yard seasons at Texas A&M and was thought to have a balanced skillset, but this is going to be his 3rd year in the league. The truth is unfortunate, though he’s not the worst 3rd runningback in the world, if he were good he’d find more playing time as a back.
Gray has shown some decent flashes in previous preseasons, but if he makes the team it will continue to be as a special teamer first and foremost.
Charcandrick West West showed some promise last preseason as well, giving the Chiefs a hard choice when it came to which backup RBs to keep. He’s a stocky and athletic back. 5’9”, 205 lbs, 4.36 forty, 10’10” broad jump, 41” vertical, those are decent numbers. He’s definitely not someone to sleep on, though he has his work cut out for him. He was only on the active roster for 6 games, didn’t get a carry, but did get a little playing time on special teams. If he wants to make this roster, he’ll have to show some value there.
Spencer Ware Ware was picked up off of the trash heap, but he’s not entirely without potential. He is limited in terms of speed, but he was a bruising 230 lb runner at LSU, the type of guy that looks for contact. If he was going to find a role on any team it’d be as a short yardage back. He also has good hands. So why was he tossed aside?
He’s made some mistakes. Despite being a late sixth round pick in 2013, Ware was cut from the Seahawks after a DUI and also at least once failed a drug test in college. I think Ware is a longshot to make this roster, but if he puts together a good preseason, who knows, he could make the practice squad.
Musclebus! I honestly want to root for this guy just because of his badass nickname. An undrafted rookie free agent out of Sam Houston State, Hill looks very good on tape (15 minutes of highlights there), but I am worried he won’t look nearly as fast against NFL defenders. He has some excellent workout numbers, including a crazy 30 bench reps at 225, but he has poor timed speed.
I think Hill is most likely a practice squad candidate, but I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he made the special teams unit considering his size and athleticism. I don’t know that he has much experience covering or blocking on kicks, so it’d be a work in progress if he did.
It's clear that the Chiefs have two elite starters in Charles and Sherman, but what comes after that is a series of question marks. The most proven commodity with the best potential is Davis and he hasn't really lived up to the hype. Everyone else combines for 34 career touches.
Davis has an opportunity to prove he deserves to be a feature back if he can improve his ypc and improve his pass blocking. Everyone else just needs to prove they belong on an NFL roster, even if just for special teams. I'm surprised the Chiefs didn't bring back Joe McKnight as a possible role player. McKnight excited fans and flashed his talent in a 6 reception, 67 total yard, 2 TD game last year before unceremoniously receiving a season ending injury. However, this is still a decent group of players vying for the last roster spot and never forget Dorsey's ability to go digging around the waiver wire if they don't like what they've got.
When the first movie came out I was in heaven. Finally I got to see dinosaurs. One in particular was always my favorite. Im gonna give this a few days until I turn this into a spoiler thread. But It was nice to see an old friend kick a little ass today
The Eagles released Evan Mathis. He's 33 years old, but a former All-Pro and a Pro Bowler the last two seasons. I don't think the Chiefs have the cap space without cutting or restructuring someone, but I'd have to think they're interested.