Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Our AFC West: Roundtable Ruminations

With football season underway, we're left with but few things to do: Watch football, drink beer, and talk about football. It's Wednesday, so there're no games on, and we're out of beer. For now. So yes, that leaves us with one option: talking about football. This is the first installment of what might become a successful feature in the future, but we all have sites to run, lives to live, and beer to drink, so who knows. For now, here's our week one lineup:

In the mix we've got Kyle from BroncoTalk, Adam from Arrowhead Addict, Chris from Arrowhead Pride, and of course, Mr. Hercules Rockefeller from Orange Bucksnorts. We're going to comment on the two AFC West teams that matter most, and when necessary, we'll talk about the Chargers and Raiders, too. Week One was pretty amazing to say the least. The Chiefs didn't lose 42-3 in New England, and of course knocked Tom Brady out for the year. San Diego choked, and the Raiders totally shit the bed on Monday night hosting the Broncos. That's my summary of the games, and that's why I recruit more intelligent people to sum them up better. See what they had to say, after the jump.

Bankmeister: Kyle -- Along with others, I've felt that this could be a huge year for Jay Cutler. Talk about his performance and poise in the first game of '08. Also, the Monday night crew wasted no time talking about the (recent) history of successful Denver ground attacks. Will Selvin Young get the bulk of the carries, or will we see a mix of him, Hall, and Pittman all year?

BroncoTalk: Cutler, to put it simply, was dominant. He did it all. He threw from the pocket. He threw from the bootleg. He dumped it off short. He delivered long bombs with perfect accuracy. He moved the chains with his legs. He even acted as the lead blocker on the first play of the game -- a pitch to rookie Eddie Royal. You really can't say enough good things, and the stats show it -- he earned a passer rating on Monday above 130.

More than anything, Cutler's improvement is a product of an offensive line that is playing light years ahead of last year's unit. All respect to Matt Lepsis, the Broncos former left tackle -- love ya’ for all the years prior -- but he was God awful in 2007. Right tackle Erik Pears was worse. Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris fill those spots now, and even though both basically have zero NFL experience, they're playing surprisingly well. Amazingly well. If the Broncos return to the playoffs this year, the offensive line will be the biggest reason.

The running situation is interesting. Had rookie Ryan Torain stayed healthy, he likely would have been the guy. He's out five-six weeks, so until then, I'm guessing it'll be a pretty even mix of Selvin Young and Andre Hall -- think 2005's Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell. Michael Pittman scored two touchdowns Monday, but I don't expect many repeat performances there. He didn't look that good. Even for Denver standards, this year's running back situation is particularly murky. For the first time ever, I didn't draft a Denver back in any of my fantasy leagues. Even I have no idea what the hell's going on there.

B: Herc -- What the f**k happened to Oakland? I read multiple predictions from so-called experts suggesting that the division would wind up in this order: SD, Oak, Den, KC. Will the Raiders rebound from this embarrassment, or will McFadden's injury and Russell's fat slouchiness doom them to another year of suckdom. Also, how about Eddie Royal? Looks like a stud.

Orange Bucksnorts: The Raiders problem is simple: Al Davis is still alive. He runs that team with an iron fist much the way Shanahan (or Coach Teflon as some internet wags have dubbed him) runs the Broncos. It's Skeletor's way or the highway, just ask every head coach he's hired over the last two decades. A lot of times, that's the way to go. The Donks have had relative success with it, but Al Davis has about 450 years on Shanny; the game has painfully passed him by. You can't sink tons of cash into jet-fast receivers and DBs, and actively seek out other teams’ malcontents thinking they'll win with a chip on their shoulder anymore. Maybe you could in the 70s and early 80s, but last time I checked, it hasn't been the early 80s in 25 years. Did anyone catch ESPN's shots of him last night? I thought it was actually a Madame Tousseau-style wax figure. And what the hell was with towel draped over his lap the whole game? To catch his drool? To hide the fact that he's wearing Depends under that white jumpsuit?

That's historically. As for nowadays, I think they have some of the pieces in place to eventually be fairly decent, if not competitive. Jamarcus Russell, while being a fat fuck, isn't actually that bad. He's got a cannon arm, but he's a little wild and he needs to reign that cannon in a little bit. If he completes that big pass to Curry in the first quarter, I think you're looking at a different game. Fargas and McFadden are both pretty good. That said, with that joke of an O-Line they trot out there, unless they're playing against a soft front (similar to Denver's) they're going to struggle to get yards.

I think the D is better than what they showed last night. Losing Burgess clearly didn't help against the run. Their LBs are solid. Knotty Awesomewah is a top-five corner. Cutler was just nearly perfect last night. Nothing you can do when a guy gets in that kind of zone.

The Raiders have some talent, but when they get down, they get chippy and downright stupid. Back-to-back personal foul penalties, a 15-yard facemask, stupid little scuffles after every play… they've been wildly undisciplined ever since I've been following football, and the kicker is that they seem to be proud of it. Typical Raiders. They won't win more than five games this year and they'll be lucky to get that many.

As for Eddie Royal: hell of a way to start a career. He runs good routes and has great double moves, but I'm not going to jump off the deep end and call him the next Steve Largent. Chris Walken said it best in “True Romance”: "That's as good as it gets... and it won't ever get that good again."

B: Chris -- The Chiefs D looked pretty tough against the Pats, and I imagine it will be a strength of theirs all year. Once again, however, we're stuck -- at least temporarily -- with your favorite Huard brother at the helm. Your thoughts on the quarterback situation in KC.

Arrowhead Pride: Brodie Croyle's latest shoulder injury has thrown the fan base and the Chiefs coaching staff for a loop as far as the starting quarterback situation goes. Croyle had the support of the coaching staff and many of the fans entering the 2008 season, even after a tumultuous stint as the starting quarterback last year. Brodie supporters and even Herm Edwards himself have publicly acknowledged that, after Week 1 and a separated shoulder, Croyle is likely too fragile to be a full-time starting quarterback in the NFL.

So, that leaves the Chiefs with Damon Huard, Tyler Thigpen and Ingle Martin (Editor's Note: from linked KC Star article: "Martin broke records for passing yards, total yards and passing touchdowns in two seasons at Furman, where he transferred after leaving Florida in 2003. Martin was the Paladins’ quarterback and punter, and his 43.2-yard average per punt in 2005 was the third-best in school history." You know. In case Dustin Colquitt gets hurt.) at quarterback for the time being. None of them appears to be a good prospect to permanently take over the starting gig, with Huard too old for the job and Thigpen not talented enough or ready enough to start in the NFL. Martin is simply a third quarterback until Croyle makes his way back to the starting lineup.

It is my opinion that the starting quarterback for the rest of the 2008 season will be Brodie Croyle when healthy and Damon Huard filling in the gaps. Even if Croyle plays well after his return, his days are likely numbered. After this season, because of Croyle's injury history, I expect the Chiefs to seriously pursue a top quarterback in the 2009 draft or make a trade for a current NFL backup that fits well into their plans.

I believe that the Kansas City Chiefs are convinced that Croyle has the talent to start in the league but their patience with his durability issues has almost run out. It's really a shame because I was behind him pretty much 100% of the time until his third injury in his seventh NFL game.

The injuries don't lie -- the Chiefs need to find a solid starting quarterback.

B: Adam -- I didn't catch the Chargers game, but I understand they waited too long to unleash LT, and, well Shawne Merriman is a moron, Philip Rivers a douche, and the health of Antonio Gates is perhaps still a question mark. Where do these Chargers stand in your eyes? Also, what did you make of the Chiefs offensive game plan? Will we see a mix of Charles, Johnson and Smith all year? How did Chan Gailey's first game as OC compare to what we've seen from Mike Solari the past two years?

Arrowhead Addict: The Chargers aren't as good as previously advertised. They are a 10-win team -- nothing more.

And that is exactly what happened with Little L.T (Sorry. Lawrence Taylor is still the real one.). The same thing happened last year. It's like it takes Norv Turner's dumbass four games to figure out, oh, I have the best running back in the league -- better use that guy! Shawne Merriman is a moron. He might be damaged goods. I played on a knee like that my junior year in high school and put off surgery -- not smart. I seriously doubt that the knee will ever be the same again. Antonio Gates would have been terrible if it wasn't for that late TD. Keep an eye on that toe. As for Philip Rivers, he was OK. I think his numbers were better than he actually played, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Chiefs offensive game plan? Huh...did they have one? I have to blame Herm Edwards. He handcuffs his offensive coordinators who in turn handcuff the quarterbacks. It doesn't help that both Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard don't make progressions and hate getting hit. All things considered, even Karl Rove thinks our offense is conservative. Both the coaching staff and QBs are to blame. Additionally, Chan's job is a tough one: kind of hard to build an offense around a QB who's MIA half the time. I still prefer Chan to Mike Solari, but that's not saying much.

As for the running backs situation, I think we'll see all three. L.J. will be the workhorse, Jamaal Charles the change-of-pace home run hitter and Kolby Smith the Kevin Faulk-like blocking/receiving utility back. Charles and L.J. aren't exactly studs in the blocking department, and Kolby is an excellent pass blocker. I also think you will see more of what I'm calling the Storm Backfield -- L.J.'s thunder and Charles' lightening. Still, It would be nice if you used L.J. in a less conventional fashion every once in a while and caught defenses off guard. Running less predictable plays on less predictable downs really helped Charles last Sunday.

Well said, gentlemen. All of it. We'll check back in with these fine bloggers/fans again later in the season, and in the meantime -- if you haven't already -- be sure to visit their sites: BroncoTalk, Orange Bucksnorts, Arrowhead Addict, Arrowhead Pride.


Anonymous said...

Well, all I have to say is it's kind of overwhelming seeing the donks and the chefs together!

Good work all, loved reading it!

Anonymous said...

Nice discussion guys. Really enjoyed it.

@slushygutter said...

Hold up, is this a group of bloggers or The NFL Gameday crew? Who's Tom Jackson?

Good stuff fellas. Cheers. If the Raiders beat the Donks in G2, I'll rock a white satin sweat suit to work on Monday.