Curious Moves by Andy Reid in Kansas City

So if you know me, you know that I’m an Eagles fan, but I don’t feel the need right now to cover them too much as I don’t think anyone can do a better job than Mr. Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com and now Eaglesblog.net among other places.  Of course I will weigh in and I intend to get into draft stuff shortly but I had a different topic to talk about today.

I have no ill-will towards Andy Reid, I feel that he and the Eagles were simply no longer the right fit for each other.  I want to cheer for him in Kansas City.  Despite the fact that he never won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia, he did help build the team into a consistent winner and has the same task down in KC now.  He inherits a bad team that has a few good pieces to build around.  In no particular order the top guys on the roster are:

Branden Albert:  a top left tackle in the league who is going to be playing on the franchise tag this season.  A long term deal for Albert needs to be a top priority.

Jon Asamoah:  an up and coming offensive guard who will be in the Pro-Bowl in the near future.

Jamaal Charles:  a running back fit perfectly in the mold of Andy Reid backs; a fast homerun hitter who can catch passes out of the backfield (40, 45 and 35 catch seasons in his last 3 healthy seasons).

Tony Moeaki:  a TE who showed a lot of promise as a rookie before missing his entire second year with a knee injury and getting stuck in a terrible passing attack last year.  He missed time again last season with a head injury but when healthy he can be a solid starting TE.

Eric Berry:  a top flight safety.

Brandon Flowers:  an above average to good starting cornerback who is good enough they let Brandon Carr walk last year.

Javier Arenas:  the teams punt returner and cornerback who started effectively last year but is probably better suited to play in the slot.

OLBS/DES Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are two disruptive pass rushers a defense can build around.

Derrick Johnson:  still a solid starting linebacker at this point in his career.

Dontari Poe:  a freak athlete at nose tackle who Andy should love.

So with this base you would think a strong offseason plan for free agency and the draft could bring in some quality players that would help build around this core and give Andy the kind of guys he needs to start winning games.  Instead I am left with more questions than answers…

The Chiefs headed into the offseason with the top overall draft pick, 7 draft picks total, one at the top of each round, and they have since been awarded a 3rd and a 6th round compensatory pick.  With all this ammunition they should have been poised to really add some quality pieces to this roster.  Instead, the first move they made was to trade their 2nd round pick, the 34th overall pick of the draft, as well as a conditional mid round pick in next year’s draft for Alex Smith.  Alex Smith played very well the last two years in a Jim Harbaugh, conservative, run first offense.  Andy Reid on the other hand has historically been a coach who passes first and second and then passes some more.  If Andy has intentions to plan around Alex’s strengths, then this move makes sense but I really doubt that is the case, Andy never changed his philosophy while in Philadelphia.  More than likely Alex is simply a short term stop-gap until Andy can find his quarterback of the future, and if that is case, the 34th overall pick is rather expensive for a band aide at the position and just feels like a desperate move with no quarterbacks like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III at the top of this year’s draft.

Next KC looks in house to resign some of their own Free Agents.  Branden Albert receives the franchise tag while they resign their punter, Dustin Colquitt, to a 5 year $18.75 million deal with nearly $9 million of it guaranteed, making him the highest paid punter in the league.  Then they resign Dwayne Bowe to a 5 year, $56 million deal with $24 million guaranteed.  The only thing Dwayne Bowe has done consistently in the NFL is to frustrate coaches, drop and tip passes to defenders and fumble the ball away.  Bowe has a ton of talent and makes some amazing plays as well, and in a weak free agent class for wide receivers and with no other in house options (Under achiever Jon Baldwin and utility player Dexter McCluser are the only other receivers on the roster with 20 or more catches from last season), perhaps they felt this was necessary, so if I were I fan I could live with it.  Maybe he will thrive in a Andy Reid pass first offense that Alex Smith is a terrible fit for.

Next up the Chiefs give a declining player on the wrong side of 30 a 3 year, $13.8 million contract with nearly $4 million guaranteed.  Other than the fact that I don’t like Dunta Robinson, I will get back to this in just a minute.

In the middle of everything the Chiefs did make 2 good signings that weren’t flashy.  Mike DeVito and Anthony Fasano.  DeVito is a solid player along the defensive line and Fasano is a top run blocking tight end who can compliment Moeaki and fill in for him if he gets injured.  They each got a little over $4 million guaranteed, perhaps a bit too much that could have been going towards resigning Albert, but still they make sense.

Back to the confusing, the Chiefs kept at it by signing Chase Daniel to a 3 year $10 million contract with $4.8 million of it guaranteed.  Chase Daniel is a 26 year old backup quarterback with only 9 career pass attempts in the regular season because he has been sitting behind a guy named Drew Brees.  If Chase was brought here to be the backup to Alex Smith, why guarantee him almost $5 million dollars when you will almost certainly be drafting a quarterback you want to groom for the future either this year or next.  Why not just let that player serve as the backup quarterback?  If Chase is there to compete with Smith for the starting job (and I could see him winning it as he seems like a better fit for an Andy Reid offense) then things get even worse for the Chiefs.  If Chase becomes the starter you threw away a top draft pick this year and one next year for a backup quarterback who will be pissed to have been benched again.  Plus, get this, if Chase throws for more than 2000 yards and 12 touchdowns in any season of his deal, it automatically voids!  REALLY Chiefs?

Finally, if that wasn’t confusing enough, the Chiefs finished up (for now) by signing Sean Smith.  Smith is a big cornerback with a lot of potential if used properly, but 3 years, $18 million, $11 million of which is guaranteed is a bit much.  Now I get back to Dunta Robinson who also just signed for another $13 million, $4 of which was guaranteed.  Neither of these cornerbacks can play in the slot and last season the team (granted different management) felt Brandon Flowers was good enough that they could let Brandon Carr walk.  Flowers signed a 5 year deal back in 2011 worth around $50 million with around $22 of it guaranteed so he will be starting.  With $11 million guaranteed Sean Smith almost has to start opposite of Flowers but that leaves 30 year old Dunta without a spot.  He isn’t effective in the slot and the team has Javier Arenas in that position anyway.  If he is the team’s 4th cornerback you would expect he would play on special teams but he can’t do that either.  He was a top 10 draft pick and has been a highly paid starter all along.  Plus the Chiefs have a young 3rd year player in Jalil Brown who started a couple games last season who fits as the backup outside cornerback and he can play special teams, in fact he finished second on the team in special teams tackles his rookie year.  That leaves Dunta competing to be the Free Safety beside Eric Berry.  I understand Denver’s passing game is daunting with the addition of Wes Welker but I don’t really see how this helps…

So when it is all said and done the Chiefs signed 2 starting cornerbacks that can’t play inside or on special teams, locked up an inconsistent wide receiver to a long term deal, overpaid their punter, traded the 34th overall pick of this year’s draft for a limited quarterback and then signed an unproven backup quarterback who can void his contract if he plays well.  All while failing to work out a long term deal with arguably their best player and starting left tackle.  Sorry Andy but good luck, you will need it.

NFL Week 2 Predictions – How did I do?

Sorry I’ve been AWOL, I just got a new laptop that should make the process of researching and writing posts much easier as it won’t take 35 min to start my computer and load 3 webpages.

Anyway back in September I broke down some observations and notes from each of the week 2 games and gave my input and predictions.  I wanted to go back and see how I did.  In no particular order I said:

Statement:  The Bears are for real IF the offensive line can keep Jay Cutler upright and healthy.

Result:  Going into week 10 the Bears were 7-1 and looking like a Super Bowl contender.  Then Jay Cutler gets hurt and surprise, the lose 5 of their next 6 games with and without him and just miss out on a playoff spot thanks to a week 14 loss to division rival Minnesota when Jason Campbell again had to finish the game for Jay Cutler.  I’m going to count this as a good call by me.  WIN

Statement:  Andrew Luck has a good rapport with Reggie Wayne and the team will grow together throughout the season.

Result:  Indy started 2-3 but did in fact grow as a team and finished 11-5 and made the playoffs.  Their only 2 other loses were at New England and at Houston, the number 2 and 3 seeds in the AFC.  Andrew Luck finished with well over 4000 yards and 23 TD passes and Reggie Wayne grabbed 106 passes for 1355 yards and 5 scores.  Not to shabby.  WIN

Statement:  The Falcons will score a bunch of points but their lack of run game and suspect defense will cost them.

Result:  The Falcons looked great all season, going 13-3 and locking up the top spot in the NFC.  The actually had a run game against the Seahawks in their first playoff game, but allowed 21 points in the 4th quarter and got lucky to come away with a win.  Then they were unable to run against the Niners in the NFC championship game and lost 28-24 despite Matt Ryan throwing for nearly 400 yards.  While the Falcons run game and defense were a bit up and down, they did still find ways to win and made it further than I expected with a close game in the NFC championship.  I won’t claim total defeat here and I’m going to call it a PUSH.

Some of the things I got wrong:  I said that Dexter McCluster would be a big part of the Chiefs offense.  In my defense, no one was a part of that offense, it was non-existent.  I also claimed Michael Vick would be a Buffalo Bills by this time next year.  Technically that could still happen…  I said that Louis Murphy and Brandon LaFell would be able to draw attention from Steve Smith this year and that the Panthers could contend for a playoff spot, as could the Bucs.  I also said that despite Adrian Peterson, the Vikings needed help and would end up with a top 10 draft pick again, they got 10 wins instead.

Result:  Oops.  That’s about 5 LOSSES.

Now on a bunch of things I nailed:

Randall Cobb is a legit talent.  Yes he is, Cobb led the Packers in receptions, receiving yards and finished second in touchdowns while serving as an explosive return man too.

Von Miller is scary good.  That might be an understatement, 18.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles.  Wesley Woodyard keeps getting better, 117 tackles to lead the team and added 5.5 sacks.  Peyton Manning is back and the Broncos will be better than last year.  Over 4600 yards and 37 touchdowns, the team made the Divisional round and lost but was the #1 seed in the AFC.

The Chargers and Raiders will be irrelevant and Ryan Mathews won’t take the next step as he gets hurt and fumbles too often.  The Raiders managed only 4 wins, the Chargers had 7, but 4 of them came against the Raiders and Chiefs in the division.  Mathews finished with only 700 yards and 1 touchdown.

The Bengals will get a wild card spot but take a back seat to Baltimore in the division.  Happened exactly that way.

Jonathan Dwyer will be the best running back for Pittsburgh when the season is all said and done.  Dwyer lead the team in rushing yards by a lot and also led in yards per carry and tied for the lead in touchdowns.

The Browns looked lost and will have a top 10 draft pick again.  5 wins and picking 6th.

The Cards, despite a strong start, won’t finish in the top 20 teams in the NFL for the season although Andre Roberts will finally emerge across from Larry Fitzgerald.  The Cards followed their 4-0 start with an insane 9 game losing streak and only won 1 more game and will be drafting 7th.  Despite terrible quarterback play, Roberts had over 700 yards and had 5 of the teams 11 receiving touchdowns.

The Texans are a lock for the playoffs.  Yes they were.

I won’t tally the wins but I am pretty proud of myself at this point.

Two more things I said that I really liked when I look back:

Statement:  The 49ers were no fluke last year and have an effective ground game, a deeper set of receiving options, strong defense and the best set of linebackers in the game.

Result:  The Niners finished 4th in rushing yards and 3rd in total defense and went to the Super Bowl.

Statement:  The Ravens are angry, Joe Flacco is out to prove himself, the team has very few weaknesses and the only thing that will prevent a long playoff run will be consistency in play calling.

Result:  Consistency in the play calling did hurt the Ravens but they fired their offensive coordinator while backing into the playoffs and they took flight.  They won the Super Bowl and Joe Flacco earned a mega-payday.

Overall I did an outstanding job in my predictions.  While I got a few things wrong, that is to be expected and I also had in there that the Lions wouldn’t contend and that the Redskins and Seahawks would surprise some people and have winning records.  I was much more right than wrong and had some really good insights that I enjoyed re-reading after the season, I hope you do too.