Folks, there’s no clever title this time around. No clever introduction either. I’m going straight to analysis.
If I had to sum up the Chiefs’ performance on Friday in a single sentence, that sentence would be this: what happened in the middle of that starting defensive line was a travesty. I could leave it at that and feel satisfied with the quality of my article. After all, it’s not the size of the ship, right? That wouldn’t be fair to Javier Arenas, however, so I’ll write a little more.
On the subject of size, ya know where size matters? Defensive tackle. Ron Edwards, who looks fatter than ever (which doesn’t jive with Haley’s workout philosophy, right?), isn’t big enough to have a Ted Washington-type career in his mid thirties. His already limited athleticism is grinding to a halt too. In order for a 3-4 to work, the nose tackle must draw a double team. Edwards needs only one to be contained. I think at times he needs none.
Many of you will object to the idea of me calling out Edwards, given that I supported him last year. Well… last year he was drawing double teams. I liked Mike Goff for a long time too, but when a guy slips in mobility the way both of those guys have, I feel completely justified in withdrawing my support.
Also on the subject of size, ya know where size matters? Defensive end. Derek Lokey, mercifully, is no longer being auditioned in any meaningful capacity at nose tackle, but even after packing on 15 pounds (again, weren’t the players supposed to do the opposite?) and sliding over a spot, he still looks small. Having said that, I like the guy. He’s scrappy. He reminds me a little of Gary Stills. And he knows how to long snap. I’m very outspoken about my dislike of teams dedicating a gameday roster spot to a dedicated long snapper, unless that guy is Kendall Gammon or that ‘roid head from Houston. Thomas Gafford is neither of those two. Give Lokey Gafford’s job, and let him hit a few guys too while he’s out there. Jay Alford is doing it in New York, and he sacked Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.
On the subject of length, ya know whose arms are long enough to make up for his stature? Glenn Dorsey. Dorsey and Tamba Hali were the only two defenders consistently in the Atlanta backfield. The discussion about whether or not the two of them could play their new positions is officially over. Dorsey may never tally sacks like Warren Sapp, which is what was expected of him coming out of college, but he’s doing a damn fine job of playing his part.
Ya know who isn’t doing such a damn fine job of playing his part? Demorrio Williams. I know we’re thin at the position, but is it really necessary to continue trotting him out there as a starter? The rest of the inside linebackers, Corey Mays included, are outplaying him by a wide margin. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has used Mike Vrabel as an inside ‘backer before. Maybe it’s time for the old man to reprise that role, particularly given the fact that he too is being outplayed by his backup.
Also on the subject of being outplayed by his backup, there’s Rudy Niswanger. In his defense, Rudy actually didn’t play badly. He just got outplayed by the old man from Parkersburg, Iowa. The old man is not as out of form as the average Denver fan would have you think. I’m an offensive line guy, and I liked Casey quite a bit when he was here the first time. It would be natural, based on that, for me to allow subjectivity to take over and shade my perception. If you believe it has, go re-watch the second quarter. Watch Casey beat his man on the line and get to the second level, just like he used to. Is he everything he was in 2002? Of course not, but keep in mind that the only other player from the fabled five (really seven, as both John Welbourn and Marcus Spears deserve respect for their contributions) is still playing: Brian Waters. Both Waters and Wiegmann are only a season removed from earned Pro Bowl appearances (I stress the word earned, because neither of the two is going to win a popularity contest outside the AFC West).
Then again, as long as you’re putting Wiegmann in a line with Ryan O’Callaghan, it’s not gonna do a bit of good for the Pride of Parkersburg to play to his potential. Matt Cassel, who has frequently demonstrated that he’s the type of guy who needs some time to make a decision, had a hard time even getting the time a mere mortal like Tyler Thigpen would require. But… hell… who are you gonna put in to take O’Callaghan’s spot?
That last question was rhetorical. This one is not: who are you gonna put in to take Matt Cassel’s spot? We all know Brodie Croyle to be a superior athlete to Cassel, but he didn’t look like the answer on Friday. He was wildly inconsistent, which is about par for the course for a Brodie Croyle preseason. Behind Brodie is Tyler Palko. I’ve had gas with stronger passing skills than Tyler Palko.
Finally, let’s talk about the two pleasant rookie surprises, Kendrick Lewis and Javier Arenas. Whereas Eric Berry and Dexter McCluster, and perhaps even John Asamoah to a point, were expected to deliver immediately (all three did an acceptable job for their first time out of the gate), nothing was expected of Lewis, and the only thing expected of Arenas was to not be crazy like his bonehead cousin (NBA player/avid gun enthusiast Gilbert Arenas, in case you hadn’t already made the connection). Both were dominant in their respective phases of the game (I don’t believe that Arenas is really expected to contribute much defensively), and, provided they maintain some semblance of this level of play, both will see significant playing time.
To recap, players I like: Charles, Wiegmann, Asamoah, Dorsey, Gilberry, Studebaker, Hali, Flowers, Lewis, Arenas, and the kickers (I won’t hold the two 53-yarders against Succop).
Players I don’t like: Cassel, Palko, Kestahn Moore, O’Callaghan, Edwards, Jackson, Demorrio Williams.
Players who could potentially impress me, but haven’t yet: the entire receiving corps (tight ends included), Thomas Jones, Leggett, Berry, McGraw, Morgan. Yeah, I said it. DaJuan Morgan might yet impress me.
Players who probably won’t impress me this season, but aren’t terrible: Croyle, Waters, Lilja (good player, but not at right guard), Niswanger, Vrabel, Carr, Gafford.
All of this, of course, is based on one game’s worth of observation, so all four lists are subject to change.
Final negative note: That was one of the worst officiated games I have ever witnessed.
Final positive note: No Wade Smith.