Answer Bob #2 – January 6

More questions from you and more answers to you; here’s a second edition of questions and answers. Enjoy!

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Art Monk (L) and Eddie Kennison (R), both #18 draft picks

ChuckXX says – Bob, first of all a big thank you for all that you do for us guys. I want an “Odell Beckham Jr.” type of WR so bad I can taste it. What are the chances of us at #18 taking a WR in the first round? Thank You.

Bob says – Chuck, thanks for your kind words. I’ve not been able to research the wide receivers coming into this year’s NFL Draft but with today’s college game there always figures to be four to six potential first-round wide receivers. There have been four wide receivers selected at No. 18 since the AFL-NFL combined draft began in 1967: Art Monk (1980), Willie Gault (1983), Mike Sherrard (1986) and Eddie Kennison (1996). All four had long NFL careers, topped by Monk who over 16 seasons caught 940 passes for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdown catches. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

I think the Chiefs will find a wide receiver available at No. 18 that fits what they need. They should find a few more in subsequent rounds as well; the more the merrier at the position for the roster.

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Tenand6 says – GREAT year of reporting and analysis regarding the Chiefs, Mr. Gretz! Venture a guess on how many words were used to convey all that insight? Really amazing how much information is conveyed here; game days are off the charts. I’m guessing you’re working pretty cheap per word! Fantastic value for Chiefs fans.

How about a strengths/weaknesses analysis of the organization? Two or three strengths/weaknesses of Clark Hunt, Mark Donovan, John Dorsey, Andy Reid, Alex Smith, the offense, defense and special teams. Is this organization, as currently comprised, a Super Bowl contender in the next several years? Happy New Year. Thanks for a spectacular 2014.

Bob says – Thanks Rich for the kind words. I’d hate to figure out what I’m paying myself per word on this site. But, if this site was about getting rich, I would have closed down after one year. It’s paid off in so many other ways however, that I don’t regret a moment of the last seven years.

My view on the strengths of the Chiefs organization – In no certain order (1.) Andy Reid as head coach, (2.) the pro personnel department and (3.) Dave Toub and the special teams. Reid is not perfect in his decisions on game day, but few head coaches are. When there is a mistake, it really stands out because of how it compares to most of his handling of the team. He’s one of the best I’ve seen of connecting with the players and getting his message across. The pro part of John Dorsey’s personnel operation has been able to find and bring in players that have helped the team win games. Just this year, the addition of safety Kurt Coleman and linebacker Josh Mauga really helped plug holes in the defensive roster. Neither guy will be a long-term fix, but they produced on a very good defense by leading the team in tackles (Mauga) and interceptions (Coleman). Toub is brilliant as the special teams coordinator, the best I’ve seen with the Chiefs since the late Frank Gansz in two different stints with the team. He puts together good plans, has an eye for talent and the players buy in completely because he produces.

My view on the weaknesses of the Chiefs organization – Again, in no certain order (1.) the wide receiver position, (2.) performance in the second half of the last two seasons and (3.) lack of takeaways. The Chiefs do not currently have even an average group of receivers under contract. They are vastly overpaying Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery based on what they produced in receiving over the last two seasons. The remaining pass catchers are pedestrian at best. I’d keep Albert Wilson and get rid of the rest of them and start over. There needs to be some serious examination of what has been the ailment that sabotaged the Chiefs in the second half of 2013 and 2014. With all the staff members that Dorsey and Reid have in the building, they need (and probably already have) put a full-court press on finding reasons for such a disparity in results. Marty Schottenheimer always had a saying that it didn’t matter how you started; it mattered how you finished. For a team in today’s NFL, the start better be a good one, but it needs to be eclipsed by the finish. The Chiefs have been excellent in September/October going 12-3. They are not going to be a real contender until they do something better than 8-9 in November/December. It’s hard to argue with most of what the defense was able to get done in the 2014 season – they may have bent at times, but they didn’t break. But, they also did not take away the football from opponents, picking up 14 turnovers in 16 games. That was skewed a bit when they got three in the season finale against San Diego. Takeaways are vital to any team that wants to be a contender. Possession is hugely important, and a defense that takes the ball away gives its offense more opportunities. Only the New York Jets with 13 had fewer takeaways than the Chiefs. They did a good job of protecting the ball, finishing tied for fourth for the fewest giveaways with 17. Only one team made the playoffs with a negative turnover ratio – Indianapolis at minus-5.

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DanO says – Bob, how does Denver seem to be able to sign all these big-name free agents and still have cap space? Are they mortgaging their future, and when will they be in salary cap hell at some point?

Bob says – DanO, explaining the ins and outs of the salary cap and understanding them is damn near impossible for anyone that does not live with the cap on a daily basis. But understand that if the Chiefs had $10 million available under the salary cap last year or this coming season, it would be unlikely they would spend that money on bringing in the likes of Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward. That’s not the philosophy of this owner, the organization and the personnel department. They might go after one of those types of free agents, like they did with Sanders. But this team will use its resources and money on keeping their own unrestricted free agents, like a Justin Houston and Rodney Hudson. Of course, the Broncos mortgaged some of their salary cap future on loading up and trying to ride Peyton Manning to another appearance in the Super Bowl and they hope this time a victory.

The difference between teams that are constantly in the top half of the league in victories is how they divvy up the cap dollars. For instance, next season Manning will carry a $21.5 million salary-cap number. Bet on some sort of re-negotiation to try to drive that number down, but it is more than twice Denver second highest number for next season: left tackle Ryan Clady’s $10.6 million line under the cap. Overall, the Broncos currently have 18 players that are down for a cap number in 2015 of more than $1 million. But they have a host of unrestricted free agents going into next season, including key players like wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, tight end Julius Thomas, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and left guard Orlando Franklin. All four of those guys are the types of players that any team wants to keep. They are all starters, major contributors and they are all 28 or younger. In the 2014 season, those four had a combined cap number of less than $10 million.

The Chiefs have 22 players that currently have a salary cap number for 2015 of more than $1 million and three for more than $10 million – quarterback Alex Smith ($15.6 million), wide receiver Dwayne Bowe ($14 million) and outside linebacker Tamba Hali ($11.9 million). The Chiefs have not dropped the kind of cap dollars into the offensive line that the Broncos have – Denver has three blockers that are listed with a cap number greater than $2.4 million. The Chiefs have only one – left tackle Eric Fisher ($6,041,954). The Chiefs put their money into wide receivers instead of blockers, as Bowe and Donnie Avery account for $18 million under the 2015 cap.

DanO, all of this was just a way of showing you that the Broncos will have to juggle to keep the players they want and get under the cap. Unless they dump some of those free agents, they won’t be able to splurge on a bunch of new UFAs this year.

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jimbo says – Hi Bob, Alex Smith is always a hot topic; often debated, much maligned and always questioned in his ability or lack thereof to get us to the big dance. I know football is a team sport yada, yada, yada, but we have all witnessed what a great QB can do for the scoreboard, the fourth quarter and elevating average players into Pro Bowlers. I can concede the fact that Smith is not one of those QBs. That being said plenty of average QB’s have won on the big stage. In your humble opinion please respond to the following: are the Chiefs improving under Dorsey & Reid? Are they the right men for the job? Is Alex Smith destined to be the only other great Chiefs QB not named Len Dawson? If not? Please elaborate on who and how we can get one on our roster (without a crystal ball). Many of us old timers need a light at the end of the tunnel. Do you see any light, anything at all? Go Chiefs.

Bob says – jimbo, good questions all and I will answer as you asked them. (1.) I think the Chiefs are improving under Dorsey & Reid. They are much more consistent than they were under Pioli-Haley-Crennel and that zoo. Generally, they play smarter as well. But don’t ask me to explain that performance in the opener against Tennessee! (2.) I think Reid is the right man; he’s got the track record. Dorsey still needs to prove his standing, but overall I’d say he’s done a decent job. (3.) I think Alex Smith is a good enough quarterback to take this team to the playoffs and win games. He showed what was possible against Indianapolis last year; it was the defense that blew a 28-point lead in 28 minutes. Len had Otis Taylor to throw the ball to; Smith does not have any wide receivers close to that type of skill level.

I think there is light at the end of the tunnel – and it’s not a train coming at Chiefs fans.

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TimR says – Bob, thanks so much for all of the great information and insight you provide all of us. It genuinely does enhance our experience as fans. My question concerns Alex Smith’s arm. It seems like there are more scientific ways to judge the strength these days. For example, this year I occasionally notice commentary that refers to the speed a ball is traveling on various routes in mph. Have there been any such measurements captured on various throws by Smith to compare with other QBs. I fully realize these things are imperfect because of competitive variables within a game but . . .

Randall Webb says – Bob, I know there are a lot of people complaining about Alex Smith and his lack of throwing the ball down the field. Smith is not going anywhere next season so I want to know what should the Chiefs brass do to improve the talent around him? Will there be enough cap dollars available to do it? If you were John Dorsey what would you do to address the poor down field passing game?

Bob says – TimR and Randall, thanks for your questions about Smith. He is the quarterback of this team and that’s not going to change any time soon. Neither is the strength of his arm, which is plenty strong enough to play the position in the NFL. The Chiefs did not throw the ball down the field much in 2014 and the reasons have less to do with Smith and more to do with a lack of quality receivers and a lack of quality blockers. If the Chiefs want to have a downfield throwing game they are going to have to find better offensive linemen and better receivers. Also remember this: the Chiefs under Andy Reid are a west coast offense and that scheme does not hang its hat on throwing downfield. It’s about short to intermediate passes that receivers turn into long plays. Like the Chiefs longest pass play of 2014 – a five-yard pass to running back Knile Davis and a 65-yard run for a touchdown.

If I was Dorsey, I would re-sign Hudson, find another Geoff Schwartz-like guard (someone far better than Mike McGlynn or Jeff Linkenbach) and use my first and third-round choices on wide receivers, along with a veteran receiver as a free agent. They should have the picks and cap space to make this happen.

More to come.

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