This week’s installment of The Star’s Chiefs mailbag covers a wide swath of topics, ranging from the state of the pass rush to the greatest ’80s villain of all-time. But we’ll start with some leftover questions from my live chat on Tuesday, so if you missed that, be sure to read the transcript here.
• Craig: Is Mike DeVito out for the year?
I doubt it. He’s out for Sunday's game but he went through warmups on Thursday and Friday, even though he’s had a bit of a limp. DeVito is a tough guy … I’d be shocked if he misses more than a couple games.
• Dave: I’m encouraged by the game vs Denver. We didn’t play well (drops, fumble, penalty) still lost by just 10. What’s the mood in the locker room like?
I think they’re over it. They were speaking in typical jock cliches by Wednesday. As Sam Mellinger wrote, one loss does not have to define a season.
• SteveMiller31: Sanders Commings over Dunta Robinson. You good with that?
Yes. The coaching staff should at least see what Commings, a fifth-round pick, can do when the lights are on. I do like the fact they felt comfortable enough with him to put him at cornerback against the Broncos. The guy is listed at 223 pounds, for goodness sake. If he struggles, they can always go back to Robinson, a veteran who has struggled at times but will certainly be no worse off with less wear-and-tear this season.
• SteveMiller31: Haven’t heard anything about Nico Johnson in weeks. Is he cleared to play and progressing?
Oh yeah, he’s been cleared to play. He’s even gotten a little special teams work here and there. However, he simply can’t crack the lineup. Barring an injury to Derrick Johnson or Akeem Jordan, I doubt he makes a serious impact until next season.
• SteveMiller31: I LOVED Flowers’ physical play on Welker. He was fired up. Did you see when Welker got the concussion?
I did. Flowers is a competitor who did OK against Welker. In general, I’ll be interested to see how the Broncos fare in Arrowhead, where it might be a little harder for Peyton Manning to make those calls at the line.
• George: Generally agree with your takes Terez, but take issue with your defense of Bowe’s play and demeanor. The guy can’t get open and is clearly anything but a leader. You must agree that upgrading WR next year is the essential off season key. Yes?
Yes. No doubt. I’d be surprised if they didn’t bring another receiver in here in the offseason. In a perfect world, I think Bowe is a really good No. 2 receiver. That means when you don't force-feed him the ball (and he’s your top receiving option and defenses know it), he’s only gonna do so much. I also think he’s been a tick slower than he’s been in the past, which is a potential problem when he was never a speed guy to begin with.
As far as his personality goes … no, I don't think he’s a leader. But I also don't think he’s necessarily the cancer some want to make him out to be. Just my opinion.
• Joe: Andy Reid has fallen under criticism by some who say he is a bad play caller and he’ll cost the team in big games like Sunday’s loss to Denver. Your thoughts?
I tend to give proven coaches the benefit of the doubt. The guy has won a lot in this league, so he knows what he’s doing. In general, I don’t think people have an appreciation for how much time and effort goes into installing a gameplan each week. It takes like, hours and hours of breaking down tape. You don’t have to like a guy’s playcalls, but you have to understand that the coach is making them for a reason — many of which we’ll never be privy to.
• is Tyler Bray coming along?
Great physical talent, still learning the playbook, how to be a pro, etc. Looking forward to seeing what he looks like next year, provided he’s still around. Remember, he was an undrafted free agent, so it’s not like they’re married to the guy.
• Nick: Chargers fans are talking smack that Phyllis Rivers will roll into town and go unsacked and lay a 40 burger on the Chiefs this weekend.
“Phyllis” is having a good year and his line is holding up pretty well. I’m picking the Chiefs to win but I admit I don't feel great about it … the Chargers have a capable offense and I can’t help but wonder if there will be a letdown after the Denver game.
@TerezPaylor Were the Chiefs not able to get to P Manning (no sacks, few hits) or was he just too quick releasing the ball on Sunday night?— Newton Brown (@RNewtonBrown) November 20, 2013
@TerezPaylor Have offenses found a way to completely neutralize the pass rush? Is it the rushers or the secondary affecting it more?— bossmanham (@bossmanham) November 20, 2013
@TerezPaylor With opponents getting their Time in Pocket to less than 3 seconds, have we seen the best of our pass rush efforts?— Neta Davis (@ND622) November 21, 2013
No, but the quick passes have been a problem. Randy Covitz kind of covered this, so I'll keep it short. First off, I think it’s probably a good idea to ignore the Denver game for the purposes of this question. Peyton Manning is a total cyborg and it probably doesn't make much sense to send extra guys at him, considering he treats blitzes like Vern Schillinger treated Tobias Beecher his first day in the Oswald Correctional Facility.
However, I’d be more concerned about the lack of a pass rush against the Bills, who were starting a rookie quarterback that everyone expected to start making the Joey Harrington Face by halftime. But the league is all about adjustments; I'm sure the Chiefs will make a few and start racking up sacks again. It’s a cycle.
@TerezPaylor why is Love a better fit than Toribio?— Nathan Pedrow (@npedrow) November 19, 2013
Pretty simple: I think the organization thinks Kyle Love has more upside. Anthony Toribio did a nice enough job in their goal-line stuff but Love has experience as a starter in this league and is probably considered to be more of an every-down guy.
@TerezPaylor who's the first?— Anthony Toribio (@Ribzz93) November 22, 2013
Speak of the devil! It's Anthony Toribio not only coming through with the strong, strong picture of the immortal Chong Li from “Bloodsport,” but also setting up a perfect mailbag question.
Well Anthony, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve given this a ton of thought, and here’s my personal top five, along with a legacy-defining quote from each I pulled off the top of my head.^
^If I couldn't think of one for a certain villain, they couldn't make my list. How can you be a classic villain without a memorable quote? I also urge you to remember that this is my own personal list, so while I love ya Biff Tannen, Johnny Lawrence, Tong Po and Clarence Boddicker, well, I don’t revere the films you starred in quite enough to put you on this list. Sorry.
• 5. Gozer the Gozerian: “Ghostbusters”
Gozer: “Are you a God?”
Dr. Ray Stantz: “Um, no…”
There’s nothing better than a red-eyed woman (with a bad haircut) covered in bubbles emerging as a villain in a kids movie. Highest of high comedy. You know what’s funnier than that? This movie settling this troublesome plot point by having Egon say Gozer “can be whatever it wants to be.” Oh, OK.
• 4. Master Shredder: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”
Shredder: “Ah, the rat. So it has a name. Or...it HAD a name.”
Leonardo: “YOU LIE!!!”
Shredder: “Do I?”
Bravo gentlemen, bravo. An incredible piece of cinema.
• 3. Ivan Drago: “Rocky IV”
Drago: “IF HE DIES, HE DIES.”
The Sports Guy has already covered the merits of the legendary Drago from “Rocky IV.” If you've read this far, I doubt I have to sell his merits to you at this spot.
• 2. Chong Li: “Bloodsport”
Li: "YOU'RE NEXT"
Ah, the man who inspired this entire section of the mailbag. Chong Li brought everything you could ever want from a martial arts villain. This dude was bad news, but he was also menacing and really, really good at what he did. It’s a complete crock that Frank Dux somehow lost his vision, went zen and beat this guy. I will never forget him.
• 1. Clubber Lang: “Rocky III”
Clubber: “Hey Balboa! You ready for another beating? You shoulda NEVA came back!”
Not only was Clubber menacing, he was also hilarious. From his “Hey woman” speech to Adrian, to his “No, I don't hate Balboa, but I pity the fool” speech that led the guy who was interviewing him to gleefully utter “Strong words, from a strong man,” no ’80s villain had more memorable quotes than this guy. He’s the pound-for-pound champ in this category, even if he couldn’t beat Balboa in the rematch and probably died a few years later from an overdose or something.
Anyway, it’s time to get back to the mailbag (mercifully).
@TerezPaylor why don't the chiefs replace Allen with Schwartz? Allen is struggling— Trevor Arsenault (@ArsenaultTrevor) November 20, 2013
Well, they’re 9-1 so that’s typically not the kind of move you make unless a guy is totally stinking it up and has no upside. Allen has a grade of negative-14 according to Pro Football Focus, so he hasn’t been great. But he’s the one who sprung Jamaal Charles for a 35-yard gain against Denver, and he’s a former second-round pick who is only in his second year. Presumably, he’ll only get stronger and better, but he has to play to reach his potential, much like Eric Fisher. I will say that Schwartz (plus-3.9 grade) has been solid, though. Not to go all Andy Reid on you, but he's done a nice job.
@TerezPaylor can you please just change your name to Taylor Perez and quit making everyone feel dyslexic— Kenny Mizner (@kmizner98) November 19, 2013
At this point, whenever people say stuff like “shouldn't your name be Perez Taylor” or “shouldn’t it be Taylor Perez” I pretty much turn into this guy. It's not that hard to comprehend. My name only appears in print and on Twitter multiple times per day.
@TerezPaylor When it comes right down to it is Alex Smith just going to be outclassed against Peyton Manning or Tom Brady in the playoffs?— Outsiders SportsShow (@OutsidersSports) November 20, 2013
Barring a Romo-esque meltdown from one of those two (not happening), probably. But if the Chiefs can somehow win home-field advantage and start making enough plays to stretch the field a little more, all bets are off.
Kudos, Cody. Rich Homie Quan and the Michigan State Spartans would be proud.
In all seriousness, I doubt it. A lot of people who doubted how good the Chiefs really are got to see them lose on Sunday, which is what they suspected would happen.
For Jamaal, it’s not necessarily about rushes, it’s about touches. As much as they put on that guy, they can’t go giving him a Larry Johnson-esque workload in Week 11, no matter who they play. If the Chiefs are going to do anything in the playoffs, they need him to be healthy.
That said, he still had 16 rushes and two catches while being targeted eight times in the passing game. He could have handled a few more touches, but considering how much they’ve leaned on him through their first nine games, I’m good with how much they used him Sunday.
@TerezPaylor Why do we insist on taking the ball first and not deferring? Put the D out first, get 1st possession of 2nd half.— Joel Plantinga (@jdplantinga) November 20, 2013
That’s what I would do. Coaches typically say they prefer to set the tone early ― it’s about starting the game with an aggressive mindset. I assume that’s why Reid does it. But I don’t expect him to offer up an explanation any time soon, either.
@TerezPaylor Is the biggest problem with our down field passing game our receiver corps and Smith/Reid's lack of trust in them?— Andrew Kreher (@AndrewKreher) November 20, 2013
It’s a combination of a lot of factors. Sometimes guys aren’t open. Sometimes they are and Smith checks down when there’s the slightest hint of an interception. I’m not sure Reid has a lack of faith in the receivers; I think it’s up to Smith to deliver the ball downfield when he can.
@TerezPaylor Getting the ball down the field on Sunday was great to see; how about utilizing the crossing patterns that Denver showcased?— Newton Brown (@RNewtonBrown) November 20, 2013
The Chiefs actually do use a lot of crossing patterns; it’s the West Coast way, sort to speak. The difference is the quarterback. Guys, Peyton Manning sees every flaw in a defense. Players and coaches couldn’t speak more highly of his talent. You know how NFL Films likes to profile guys from the 60s and 70s, and the other players from that era talk about them like 80s kids talk about Tecmo Bo? Well, that’s how Chiefs players and coaches talk about Manning. The reason Denver’s offense looks so much better is because Manning sees things Smith probably doesn’t. Well, that and Denver’s receivers are way more explosive, as a whole.
@TerezPaylor instead of personal and talent what about missed opportunities? Charles, Bowe drops, Averys drop and block in the back penalty— Lopez (@Diggstown48) November 20, 2013
@TerezPaylor I think we are what we are on offense but we have to make plays and be smart, Averys penalty on Charles 1st down run was brutal— Lopez (@Diggstown48) November 20, 2013
There’s some of this, too. Agreed.
@TerezPaylor any concern jamaal's vision seems off? Every week I see still shots of gaping holes that he's missing. New offense struggles?— Jeff Fawver (@Jtfawver) November 20, 2013
I don’t think his vision is necessarily off, and I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a concern. But yeah, there have been times he’s missed some cutback lanes, and it’s caught me by surprise.
@TerezPaylor Why did Jamaal have better rushing numbers with bad coaches than he has with Andy Reid?— CadMen (@CadChief) November 21, 2013
You have a point. He’s on pace to rush for 1,285 yards this year, roughly 200 less than 2012 and 2010. At this pace, Charles will finish with 298 carries (13 more than last year) so you can’t point to usage. I’ll say this, though; there are some that feel Jamaal broke off some of those longer runs last year when the Chiefs were already down by a pretty good amount. I also think the nagging injuries he’s dealt with and two new starters on the offensive line this year has something to do with it.
@TerezPaylor - I grew up seeing guys like Fred B. at Oakland. I don't see receivers making sharp cuts like they used to. Am I wrong?— Paul VanArsdale (@outpattern) November 22, 2013
Probably. Biletnikoff was the man, but you can’t convince me guys from 40 years ago made sharper cuts than the guys who play the game now. The game has advanced in every possible way.
It’s crazy that a 32-year old guy who had 74 catches for 911 yards and four touchdowns last season doesn’t have a job. But it sounds like he doesn’t want to play.