Tag Archives: Chiefs

Who Will Get Mad in March?

March Madness is usually all about College Basketball.  The Bracket Challenge.  The hype, the dramatics, etc, etc. . .  March is also the time when NFL fan-bases get over-hyped or overly depressed because NFL free agency has begun.

It’s usually fan-bases of bad teams that freak out.  If you’re a fan of the Jets, Bears, Browns, Giants or any other team that has a top-ten draft pick – it’s a nervous time.

But is it, really?

Source: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images North America

Every team enters the off-season with holes.  Whether it be because of lack of talent on the roster or someone is being paid too much.  Regardless of what it may be, free agency – in some people’s eyes – is the “quick-fix” to all their problems.  In truth free agency can be just what a team needs to get over a hump or take them to the promised land – for example, Peyton Manning signing with the Denver Broncos in 2012 (jeez, that was already SIX years ago. . .).  Or even in 2014 when the Patriots signed corner back DOn the other hand, free-agency can be the equivalent of a broken water pipe being fixed with some duct-tape.  For examples of bad free agent signings just look up any of these Redskins signings: Albert Haynesworth in 2009, Adam Archuletta in 2006 or even Jeremiah Trotter in 2004.  .  .Oh those Redskins. . .

This season, there were names that every bad franchise’s fan base wanted them to throw money at.  So far some players have agreed to terms with teams wanting their services.  This includes “house hold names” like Albert Wilson, who has agreed to go to Miami for three-year $24 million dollar contract and Trey Burton who has agreed to a four-year, $32 million dollar contract.  Now, one isn’t saying that these men aren’t “good” and I could care less about the money they’re getting – BUT – fan bases all start to follow these type of guys on twitter and “all of a sudden” become experts on the “hidden talents” that players like these possess.

Source: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Come on, man. . .

Burton was the third best tight end in Philadelphia and Albert Wilson was probably a three or four guy in Kansas City.   If these are the caliber of players that will get fans in a frenzy because they “missed out” on these guys – then maybe, just maybe – you’ve lost it a little.

It’s easy for fans to say, get this guy – spend this money and fill that hole.  But the NFL is all about the right guys who fit in the right systems.  This is why an intelligent player like Richard Sherman, who’s only worked in one defensive system in his career, chose to sign with the 49ers who run a similar defensive scheme.   This is why teams like the Jets and Vikings are looking at Kirk Cousins to be their next quarterback.  Cousins just ran a west-coast style offense in Washington, and the Vikings and Jets (if we are to judge by their offensive coordinator hires) will be doing something of the same ilk.  Meanwhile, former Bears linebacker Christian Jones who played in a 3-4 defensive scheme is now going to play for the Lions who typically run a 4-3 defensive scheme, so if this signing turns out to be a bad one – there’s your first big clue as to why.

Listen, everyone loves free agency.  But when it comes to cursing out a general manager because he didn’t fill “a hole” with some over-priced shiny new object, there is no reason to throw a fit or curse your general manager’s family from now till eternity.  Oh, and it definitely doesn’t call for burning players’ jerseys.  That’s just stupid.  If we’ve learned anything it’s that winning teams are put together by smart people.  The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers pretty much get it.  They never want to over-pay for talent – they’d rather find those who can fit in their systems.

Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America

So if you’re team is sitting on millions upon millions of dollars and not spending it like crazy in free agency, don’t flip out.  There’s a draft and there is also a coaching staff in place that is there to make players better – imagine that. . .

I mean, if you’re a Jets fan though.  Yeah, I’d be mad as all hell, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


Looking Passed Alex Smith

When people hear the name “Alex Smith,” there are usually two reactions: “game manager” and “meh.”   He is not the NFL quarterback who scares fans of opposing teams and when fans rank the top starting quarterbacks in the league, names like Stafford and (Eli) Manning come before his. . . and that’s just ridiculous.

Smith’s journey started at the University of Utah, while being coached by Urban Meyer – he put up impressive numbers after starting just two seasons: 66% completion percentage, 48 TDs, 8 Ints, 1072 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.   Those numbers make it obvious why he was taken first overall in the 2005 draft by the 49ers. . . at least at the time it was obvious.  Who knew that 23 picks later the Green Bay Packers would snatch up Aaron Rodgers?

For the rest of their careers, Smith and Rodgers have been linked and it’s not in the most complimentary of ways.  Football pundits scoff at the Niners – in hindsight – saying that the 49ers passed up on an all-time great and for who?  Alex Smith.

Never does anyone say “What if Aaron Rodgers got drafted by the 49ers?  Would he still be the Aaron Rodgers we all know now?”  The answer is: “Probably not.”  You see, Alex Smith was thrown into the fire – literally.  He was expected to pull off miracles with a below average roster, a clueless front office and had to deal with this stellar list of head coaches: Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary and Jim Tomisula.   Aaron Rodgers?  He got to sit behind a hall of fame quarterback for three years and when his time came to start, he was the face of a franchise that is one of the best run in the league, with a mastermind of an offensive head coach in Mike McCarthy.

Fate was made so that Alex Smith would have to struggle.

As we all know, it wasn’t until Jim Harbaugh became the head coach of the 49ers that we finally saw  a coach build an offense around Smith’s strengths and we finally got to see what he could do. Nobody is saying that it was the most ridiculous season a quarterback could have, but what it did was give Smith back his confidence.  Smith led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and became the NFL textbook definition of what a “game-manager” is.  Then something weird happened.  The phrase “game-manager” had been around for  awhile, but now that it was tied in with Alex Smith – it now gained a negative aura about it.   Being a quarterback who moved the chains and didn’t turn the ball over became seen as “meh.”

Fast forward and we come to Alex Smith getting injured and losing his starting job to the young quarterback with promise Colin Kaepernick.  After nine games, Smith threw for 13 touchdowns with 5 interceptions at 70% completion rate – but after seeing  how electric of a player Kaepernick was at the time – there was no going back.

Smith now found himself in Kansas City with Andy Reid.  For five years in Kansas City, Smith showed the best version of himself.  Smith threw for 102 touchdowns, 34 interceptions and posted an average of about 3400 yards a year.  Reid was not only able to use Smith’s accuracy (finished the five years with a completion percentage of 65%) he also made good use of his legs which opened up the Kansas City offense.  With Kansas City, Smith became a three time pro-bowler and had the highest passer rating in 2017 with a digit of 104.7.  What did all of that get him?  Traded at the end of 2017, to once again – make way for another young quarterback.

Fate now finds Alex Smith, who is now 33 years of age and will be 34 by the season opener, with a pretty good offensive coach in Jay Gruden, but with a team in the Redskins who are very. . . “meh.”  Washington is where Alex Smith’s career may very well end and although this franchise has historically been one to make questionable decisions on both sides of the roster and has an owner who sometimes gives the impression that he lives in another world – SOMEHOW – it will fall on what Alex Smith “failed to do.”  At this point, Alex Smith has heard it all – “draft bust” – “game manager” and now “passed his prime.”  A good chunk of Smith’s career hurt him and it’s due to nothing else but bad luck and situations that he could not control.

Would he be an all-time great if he had a better situation?  Nobody is saying that.  Smith definitely has his limitations. He just deserved better is all.

Beating Vegas: Beginning of the End

It’s that time of the year where the college football season ends and the NFL season is coming close to it’s own end.  For some who’s teams had a horrible season, or for those who chose to ignore the advice from “Beating Vegas” you’re glad the season has come to and end.  For those on the other side of the spectrum though . . .

Buffalo Bills +9 at Jacksonville Jaguars; Points Total: 39

I found myself cheering for the Buffalo Bills to get into the playoffs last weekend.  I remember when I was a kid, how amazing those teams were with Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Jim Kelly – albeit they never won a Super Bowl together. . .and the last time the Bill were in the playoffs – Doug Flutie was their starting quarterback (easy to see why they came up empty with a Super Bowl championship in that effort).   Now the Bills, after a quarterback controversy and fans of the NFL not knowing what to quite make of them – are in the NFL playoffs.  They find themselves up against a team that is foreign to the playoffs as well – the Jacksonville Jaguars.  It’s been a 10 year drought for the Jaguars and this year they have the NFL’s number one ranked defense.  If it’s true that defense wins championships, the Jaguars should have it made – but we all know it’s never that easy.  The Jaguars have been steadily forcing a rushing attack on offense, led by rookie running back  Leonard Fournette.  Fournette has seen most defenses stack the box against him this year, so his rushing average of 3.9 yards a carry and his total rushing yards of 1040 may not blow people away, but if he’s anything – he’s reliable.  The pressure is all on Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.  His 21 touchdown passes are easily forgotten by the fact he’s had 13 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles on the year.  Bortles just never has amounted to the hype he had when he came out of college in 2014.  He should have some decent looks when going against a secondary that has allowed quarterbacks to complete 65% of their passes.  Buffalo as an offense though only has more total yardage than three other teams in the league (Bears, Colts and Bengals).  This is another team who’s offensive focus is the run, and their leading rusher LeSean McCoy averages just at 4 yards a carry – and is a game time decision as of now (January 2nd).  The Bills do not have the receiving talent to challenge the best secondary in the league, so this one should be a tough go for Tyrod Taylor and the Bills.  Expect the Jags to win this game, but don’t expect a lot of fireworks.

The Pick: The Under at 39

Tennessee Titans +9 at Kansas City Chiefs; Points Total: 45

It happens every year.  One team does it, every year.  One team slips into the playoffs and nobody has a clue as to “why.”  This year, that team is the Tennessee Titans.  The Kansas City Chiefs on the other hand started the season looking like the best team in football. . .and then they looked like a totally different squad who could miss the playoffs.  As fate would have it though, the Chiefs finished off the season with four wins in a row, and seem to resemble more of what we saw earlier in the season.  Kansas City’s pass defense should have a walk in the park, considering they hold the opposition to a 57% completion percentage (second best in the league) and are going up against Marcus Mariota who is one of the worst road-quarterbacks in the NFL.  Forget about “the road” though, Mariota has been flat out bad for the better part of the 2017 season. The Titans are relying on a rushing attack led by Derrick Henry, and his success will be determined by how much of a threat Mariota is – the problem is – he won’t be.  There is no reason to believe Mariota will revive any of his Oregon Duck majestics to come away with a win here.  The only thing about laying down this many points with the Chiefs is that Andy Reid forgets how to coach once he gets to the playoffs.  Kansas City is 6-2 at home and they are going up against a quarterback who has a rating of 69.1 on the road with five touchdowns and eleven interceptions.

The Pick:  The Under at 45 points and the Chiefs -9

The College Football National Championship:

Alabama Crimson Tide -4 versus Georgia Bulldogs; Points Total: 45

We had another successful year in college football here at Beating Vegas, and this game is being spoken of here, just because it must be.  This is in no way a “lock” but just a “lean” at the moment.  For all the talk of the Big 10 or ACC being the best division in College Football – the SEC seems to stand above all conferences again.   Offensively they both want to run it down the opposition’s throats and defensively, they are just suffocating offenses.  This time around it’s Nick Saban going up against Kirby Smart, a former Saban assistant.  Both know each other well and one can expect this one to be an old school grudge match.  The issue here in this grudge match is that, although both programs perform and are run similarly – Bama is just a little better as a run defense and a little less prone to turning over the ball.  It’s those slight differences that can prove to do Georgia’s undoing.   The world may be in love with Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm but typically the non-mobile quarterbacks with average arm strength don’t fare well against Saban’s defensive schemes.  Expect Saban to stack the box and challenge Fromm, who will have to see his wideouts matched up against some of the toughest secondary players in the nation.  Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts isn’t the most prolific passer in the nation, but he knows all he has to do is NOT turn the ball over as his 15 touchdowns and 1 interception on the season prove.  Hurts is part of a three headed monster that runs the ball, along with running backs Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris.  This Bama defense holds opponents to less than three yards a carry but Georgia’s running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel average 6.2 and 7.2 yards per carry, respectively.  Much like the Jaguars / Bills game we mentioned earlier, expect this one to be a smash mouth low scoring game but in the end, the student does NOT surpass the teacher.

The Pick: Alabama -4

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


Beating Vegas: So What If I’m Petty?

New York Jets +15.5 at New Orleans Saints

Yes, you read it right the Saints are a fifteen point favorite in a professional football game.  This is not a college spread, this is an actual professional match up.  It won’t look like one though, as the Jets are now forced to go with back up quarterback Bryce Petty, in place of the injured Josh McCown.  McCown was having a career year and was the main reason this Jets team has been able to compete week to week when many doubted they could.  What the Jets lose with McCown goes beyond the stat-line though.  He was building a rapport with the wide receiver talent around him (even making Robbie Anderson emerge as a true number one), made up for a lack of a running attack and was the calm, confident leader this team needed.  Bryce Petty’s short career numbers are: three touchdowns, seven interceptions and a completion percentage of 54%.  The Saints pass defense is mediocre, allowing 60% completion percentage but can get to the quarterback (34 sacks) and against this offensive line, they’ll be bringing the heat.  The last time we saw the Saints, they lost in embarrassing fashion to the Falcons on National Television, now they get a mentally defeated Jets team without their leader and on their home turf.  Considering the Jets defense put absolutely zero pressure on the frantic and easily frazzled Trevor Siemian last week, I’m sure the veteran Drew Brees will be someone’s MVP in fantasy football this weekend.

The Pick: Saints -15.5

Tennessee Titans +2 at San Francisco 49ers

With all things considered, and when all the numbers and analytics are figured out – Marcus Mariota is the 34th best road-quarterback in the NFL.  Remember, there are only 32 teams so that means – well you get it. . . Mariota has 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on the year and although this team is 8-5, word on the street is – they play like they’re 5-8.  This is a team that is in La-La-Land because they are three games over .500 and just don’t want to rock the boat.  Their only source of offense that teams should concern themselves with is running back Derrick Henry who is averaging five yards a carry and has really emerged as the go to guy in the backfield with Demarco Murray. The San Francisco 49ers rush defense is hard to figure out because they’ve allowed over 1500 rushing yards but they have an impressive 3.9 rush on average by the opposition.  Offensively, this offense have been pretty adequate all season long.  They are on a two game winning streak since putting in Jimmy Garoppolo at starting quarterback.  In his two games he’s posted a completion percentage of 67% and is grasping the offense more and more with each snap.  Garoppolo racked up wins against the Bears and the Texans, but the road gets tougher at home this week against the Titans, followed by the Jags and the Rams.  The 49ers fan base and organization as a whole have something to root for in a losing season as they all see the future in Garoppolo.

The Pick: San Fran -2

San Diego Chargers -1 at Kansas City Chiefs

Do people realize that the San Diego Chargers are on a four game winning streak?  Have people realized that if not for some bad kicking in their first two weeks, this is a team that could easily be 9-4 instead of 7-6 ?  The Chargers are right now looking to take control of their destiny as the final three games of their season are against a Kansas City Chiefs team that seems to have lost their identity, a  below average Jets team and a Raiders team that is just lost.   Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is well on his way to a 1000 yard season, and back up running back Austin Ekeler has been adding in a punch late this season with 5.5 yards a carry.  This backfield has helped give balance to this offense which is lead by quarterback Philip Rivers and his 3600 yards passing.  The last time these two teams played the Chiefs won 24-10, but this is back in week three when the Chiefs looked like the best team in the AFC, Alex Smith looked like the MVP and Kareem Hunt looked like the Rookie of the Year.  Times have changed and since they started out 5-0, they have limped since October 15th with two wins and six losses. The Chiefs control their destiny as well in this division, but you have to ride the hot hand in this situation.  Chargers are hitting their stride and the Chiefs are grasping at straws.

The Pick: Chargers -1

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Sorry Chief

Kansas City Chiefs  +3.5 at New York Jets

The Kansas City Chiefs have lost four of their last six games and are currently in the midst of  a three-game losing streak.  This is the same Kansas City Chiefs team that started out the season 5-0 and had people thinking that Alex Smith was a legit contender for the MVP award this season. . . yeah, things have changed -drastically for the Chiefs.   This is an offense that is sputtering – not being able to hit the 20-point-mark in their last four games, and it’s not all on Alex Smith.  Running back Kareem Hunt started out the season looking like he would run away with rookie of the year honors, but in his last six games he has averaged just 3.15 yards a carry and has not topped the 100-yard-rushing mark in a game.  The pass defense, on paper, looks good only letting opponents complete – an NFL best – 55% of their passes – but they’ve been able to bolster that number going against offenses like the Giants, the Bills and the Broncos as of late. . . This week’s opponent, the New York Jets – have exceeded very, very, very low season expectations and the veteran quarterback Josh McCown is leading quite an impressive aerial attack.  Yes, the Jets are 4-7 but McCown is completing 67% of his passes and he has formed a great chemistry with the speedy wide-receiver Robby Anderson, who has scored a touchdown in each of his last five games. Wide-out Jermaine Kearse is on pace to having the best season of his career and is neck and neck with Anderson in receptions.  At this point the Jets just seem like the team that is playing harder and the Chiefs have lost their identity.  Add to the fact that this is the Chiefs second cross country visit to New York in the last three weeks and there are now rumors of Andy Reid having Alex Smith on a short leash, this points all the way to the Jets.  Watch the line even out by kickoff.

The Pick: Jets +3.5

Cleveland Browns +13.5 at San Diego Chargers

Cleveland has been broken down here at Beating Vegas, countless times already this season. . . good run defense / worst offense in the league. That pretty much sums them up. Fans are calling for another new regime, another quarterback to be taken in the first round and they are getting ready for another season to come to a merciful end. Deshone Kizer’s five touchdowns coupled with fourteen interceptions would get him benched in any other town – he has been benched actually – but he always comes back, because – why not? Running back Duke Johnson, was basically the only bright spot of this offense, but it seems Corey Coleman is almost back to his old self after returning to the field two weeks ago.  What people will be looking forward to seeing though is the return of troubled wide-out Josh Gordon.  The last time Gordon played meaningful football was in 2014.  . .  with no disrespect to Deshaun Watson – the Browns are playing a quarterback this week who is the consummate professional at his position – Philip Rivers.   Rivers has the Chargers actually thinking about the AFC West division and a playoff birth (yes, they are 5-6 and that pretty much puts them right in the mix) and with the supporting cast he has at his disposal, this could be one of the more damaging dissections of this Browns secondary that we’ve seen all year.  The Browns are allowing opponents to complete passes at a rate of 67% and as a defense are allowing quarterbacks to generate a 103 rating against them.  Regardless of who’s out there running routes for Cleveland, they still have the worse quarterback in the league under center, and he’ll be under pressure from two of the best pass rushers in the business in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

The Pick: Chargers -13.5

Pittsburgh Steelers -5 at Cincinnati Bengals

In the last ten meetings of this AFC North rivalry, the Cincinnati Bengals have only come away with two victories.  The Steelers pretty much own the Bengals and that’s not ground-breaking news to anyone even half-way-familiar with the Bengals.  The Bengals are pretty much one of the more underwhelming franchises of all time.  Even if they make the playoffs, you know they’re getting the boot in the first round. . . but.  . . there is something about a home underdog on Monday Night Football.   No, I’m not one of those superstitious-line-watchers who believe it’s a “lock” to take the home under dog on Monday Night Football, but this time around, it’s something to consider.  The Pittsburgh Steelers are probably the “phoniest” 9-2 team you’ll ever see.  They play down to the level of their competition as if it’s their job.  This is proven by their three-point victories over the Aaron Rodger-less Packers, the Cleveland Browns (look above to see how awful they are) and the Colts.  Let us not forget that this Steelers team actually LOST to the lowly Chicago Bears as well.  This game will be determined by how early and hard the Bengals hit the Steelers.  Five points is a lot, and it seems like a line that is put there because of the “public” – more than football reasons.

The Pick: Bengals +5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

2016 AFC West Preview

  1. Kansas City Chiefs  – Yeah, something doesn’t look right in a division when a team led by Alex Smith at quarterback and the Kool-Aid-Man as head coach are the favorites to win it.  But the Kool-Aid-Man a.k.a Andy Reid has been a model of consistency in his coaching career and has made quarterbacks play above their potential.  Alex Smith is in a comfortable spot with the Chiefs and he’s a decent enough “dual-threat” quarterback that he keeps defenses honest – although they know the deep ball is a rare occurrence.  Outside of Jeremy Maclin, the only real receiving threat is tight end Travis Kelce, but the Chiefs’ offense will circle around their backfield depth.  When star running-back Jamaal Charles went down last year the Chiefs saw what they had in Charcadrick West and Spencer Ware.  Expect Andy Reid to find ways to get all of three of these backs involved in the offense often.  In the draft, the Chiefs didn’t really do much, but look out for their fourth round pick Eric Murray out of Minnesota to add some punch to a defense that allowed less than 18 points a game last season.  Chiefs have a middle of the road schedule in terms of difficulty, but this is a team that has most of the same pieces that reeled off an 11 game win streak last year and a division that is win-able with eight or nine wins this year.


Prediction: 10-6

2. Oakland Raiders – Yeah, that’s right.  Eight or nine wins will win this division and Oakland won’t get the division crown.  Do the math.  Folks are high on the Raiders this year.  Maybe because of the young talent; or maybe because folks are tired of this once proud franchise being a laughing stock. Last season they showed promise and showed they have the centerpieces for their offense and defense: Derek Carr and Khalil Mack, respectively.   Mack will have free agent signees Bruce Irvin and (in November) Aldon Smith to help not just with the edge rush but also help to form a very athletic trio up front.  Rookie Karl Joseph has all the tools to be a starter for this franchise for the next ten years.  Joseph will be playing alongside safety Reggie Nelson who had an NFL leading eight interceptions last year.  Amari Cooper is the real deal at wide receiver; and Michael Crabtree looked the best he’s looked in years, but it may be reaching to think he’ll duplicate last year’s performance.  The pieces are there for this team to  make the next step, but because EVERYONE is saying that, it definitely won’t happen.  This is a team that looks better on paper then they will on the field.  They are still one year away, and if they can put it together, this division can be theirs for the next three to four years – easily.


Prediction: 9-7

3. Denver Broncos – What did we expect?  A team wins a Super Bowl, and all the players who were up for new contracts – left for ridiculous pay days.  That’s the business of the sport.  The Broncos biggest attraction, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, was set to sit out for the season if he and Broncos didn’t agree on terms – but cooler heads prevailed.  Miller will be set to lead a defense that is still formidable even after the losses of Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson.  The defense will have to be key because that’s how they won games last year.  The Broncos re-instilled the notion that “defenses win championships” because in this “quarterback league” they basically played without one for most of last year.  Although Peyton Manning was trashy last year, his poise and leadership kept this offense motivated and focused all season long – even when times were tough.  Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are top notch receivers but expect their numbers to plummet this season.  The Broncos signed Mark Sanchez who once upon a time was the savior to the New York Jets.  Now he’s a journey man, who’s forever haunted by the epic “butt-fumble.” The Broncos also went and drafted Paxton Lynch who has a creepy mustache and a stupid hair cut.  Also the general manager John Elway is pretty smug.  Nobody with teeth like that should be that smug.


Prediction: 7-9

4. San Diego Chargers – The Chargers are basically, sorta, kinda. . . irrelevant?  Ugh, you hate to hear the word “irrelevant” associated with a team that has the coolest alternate jersey and a team that is led by Philip Rivers, who has been quiet as kept – this generation’s Dan Marino to some degree.  Does he have the records like Marino and is he as good – no.  BUT, Rivers has put together quite the career and done so with little to no help for the most part.  The organization makes the wrong signings, drafts the wrong people and — oh wait – who’d they draft this year?  Ha. . .  as of now (August 17th, 2016) the Chargers first round pick Joey Bosa is holding out, and it seems that both sides are not budging.  Bosa comes in with a lot of hype, too much hype if you ask me – he’s a piece that would be nice in building a defense, but he is not a piece to build around.   Free agent Travis Benjamin signed on to the Chargers from the Browns and he joins a pretty talented receiving group that include Keenan Allen and tight-end Antonio Gates who is still a top five tight end at thirty-six years of age.  The Chargers lost eight games by seven or less points and just couldn’t close the deal when they needed to.  There is just nothing flashy or exciting about the Chargers anymore.  Sick jerseys though. . .


Prediction: 6-10

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Kansas City Chiefs 2015 Preview

In a league that has made things easier for quarterbacks and wide receivers, it’s hard to believe the Chiefs went through a whole season with not one of their wide receivers catching a touchdown pass.   It seems as if a team couldn’t accomplish that even if they tried.   Especially a team that has an offensive guru like Andy Reid as it’s head coach.

There are a few reasons why the Chiefs were able to accomplish this and surprisingly, none of the reasons have to do with the quarterback.


The Chiefs offensive line was bad last year and they lost their one bright spot, center Rodney Hudson to the rival Raiders this off-season.  This leaves the Chiefs looking at former number one overall selection Eric Fisher like “Dude, really?”  The Chiefs were either thinking too hard or not enough when they took Fisher with the first pick of the 2013 draft.  He interviewed well, passed all the physicals with flying colors – but the big red flag was that he played for Central Michigan.  Not Michigan State and not Michigan.  Central Michigan from out of the MAC Conference.  Fisher is manning left tackle but at least he has a two time pro bowl guard next to him in Ben Grubbs from the Saints.

The wide receiver group last season was flat out awful.  The Chiefs have finally parted ways with the over-paid and under-producing Dwayne Bowe.  They also parted ways with the “now you see me, now you don’t” Donnie Avery.  This made way for Andy Reid to reunite with former Philadelphia Eagle, Jeremy Maclin.  Maclin entering his sixth season, had over 1300 yards in Philly and brings a real threat to opposing secondaries.  Maclin is reunited with former teammate Jason Avant, who might be the number two option right now but the Chiefs are hoping that their third round pick out of Georgia, the big Chris Conley will turn out to be a consistent fixture in their offense.  Da’Ron Brown out of Northern Illinois is an intriguing player to keep an eye on as well.

If things don’t go right with their receivers, they might go big with a two tight end set having 6’5″ Travis Kelce and 6’7″ Demetrius Harris.  Kelce was the team’s leading receiver last year with over 800 yards.


With all that went wrong last year, it’s amazing that Jamaal Charles was able to finish with over one thousand rushing yards when it was all said and done.  That’s more a testament to his talent and will than anything else.  Charles is still the focal point of this offense, but the addition of Maclin should help out Charles in the sense that now defenses have to mind the threat he (Maclin) poses.   De’Anthony Thomas has game breaking speed and abilities – he has to be a part of the every day offensive scheme Reid plans on presenting to offer another dimension to this offense.

For all the negativity Alex Smith gets, he is the prototypical game managing quarterback that head coaches really don’t mind having.  He doesn’t make many mistakes and is a lot more athletic than he gets credit for.

Last year, linebacker Justin Houston was an animal and recorded twenty two sacks for the season.   Houston was in contract disputes with the Chiefs and they agreed on a six-year contract worth $101 million ($52.5 guaranteed).  With Derrick Johnson returning from injury, the pass rush from the linebackers should be viable, which is important because after tackle Dontari Poe and defensive end Allen Bailey – the Chiefs defensive line is packed with middle of the road rotation players.  One shouldn’t buy to high into Bailey’s stock either. . .


The secondary is in flux, to say the least.  Eric Berry returns to the defense after fighting lymphoma and word from Chiefs camp is that he is out there making plays.  That’s a positive sign for the defense and more importantly Berry moving forward.   The Chiefs best option at corner back is their first round pick Marcus Peters out of Washington State.  Peters showed a lot of natural skill at the position and is tough as nails.  The only fault of Peters is that he’s a bit of a hot head.  He might be exactly what this team needs in the secondary to ignite some kind of fire in them; or he might be a distraction to the team as a whole.

Predicted Record: 5-11

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Dontari Poe, Jamaal Charles, Jeremy Maclin

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


Is Wilson Worth the Dough?

The average football fan has been duped.  Duped by social media, commercial America and the NFL itself that the position of quarterback, is the do all and end all of everything important in the game of football.   Is the position important?  Of course it is.  It’s just as important as an left tackle,  defensive end, wide receiver, cornerback etc . . .   It’s been well documented how the NFL has modified it’s rules to help protect the quarterback while elevating the potential of a quarterback’s ability.


The Seahawks drafted quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft and have made a successful starting quarterback out of him.  The Seahawks have constructed a roster the way many NFL teams only wish they could – by landing “gems” in the later rounds of the NFL draft.   The only problem when doing that is, eventually – all those gems that were drafted come to the end of their rookie contracts and look to a big pay day when the time comes.

The quarterback market in the NFL is almost as lucrative as the Gold Rush of 1849.   The narrative of “you need a quarterback to win in this league” is an overstated and overused one, which has some truth to it, but folks have gotten out of control with it.  Look at the quarterbacks who have gotten huge contracts after winning a Super Bowl – Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Tom Brady and Russell Willson. Tom Brady – is on another level and not part of this discussion and Eli, for all the praise he gets, happened to be an average quarterback on a talented roster, so he was fortunate to get back to and win a second Super Bowl. . .

Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have all had their own versions of “success” but they all have not returned to the big game although they are paid as if they get there every year.   It’s common sense but it must be said – if you decide to pay a quarterback $20-$25 million a year – then as a general manager you have to find ways to cut corners with your roster.

This is why the Seahawks and Russell Wilson conundrum is an interesting one.

The Seahawks tote around one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, albeit mostly on the defensive side, but still – finding a hole in this roster is nearly impossible.  Russell Wilson has been a direct beneficiary of this roster.  Being the game manager he is, having a running back like Marshawn Lynch in his back pocket is one of the greatest resources any offense could ask for.  Sure, the receivers on the Seahawks aren’t of Pro Bowl caliber, but what they are are blue-collared wideouts, who run routes well, block for the running game and aren’t afraid to put their bodies on the line for the sake of something like a three yard slant route.  This defense is solid all around and they make up for three and outs, and bad field position like clockwork.


Is Russell Wilson terrible?  No.  He’s average.  His stats go hand in hand with Alex Smith’s but the perception of the two is vastly different.  Alex Smith was able to coax the Chiefs into a four year and nearly $70 million contract.  That’s with minimal success over his career and no commercial appeal what-so-ever.  Russell Wilson is on tv all the time and has been on a winning team since his entry to the league.  At the end of it all, Russell Wilson wants $20 million a year (he enters this season in the final year of his rookie contract, with an expected salary of $1.5 million).  Russell Wilson plays just as well as a guy who many were calling a “bust” a few years ago – and he wants $20 million a year.

Of course if you’re Russell Wilson, you should try to get paid as much as you can, while you can.  Especially considering how mediocrity at the quarterback position is consistently overpaid : Alex Smith, Jay Cutler and now, Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins.  The Tannehill contract showed the lunacy which ensues during quarterback contract talks.  Miami Dolphins fans were actually happy with the fact that they overpaid for a player who’s ceiling of potential won’t get them into the playoffs.


Giving Russell Wilson the contract which is expected, will without a doubt start the decline of the Seattle Seahawks organization.

When will there ever be a general manager and coach combination that stands up for how good they are and tell a quarterback : “You know what, we’re good.   We appreciate your time in this organization, but we know how to put a team together.”

You see, it’s not just Russell Wilson – it’s every quarterback.  There are probably three quarterbacks in the NFL who are maybe worth $20 million a year because they have the ability to make everyone around them better.   Those kind of quarterbacks are rare.  Quarterbacks who throw for 20 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and 3400 yards in a season are quite abundant and need a team around them to have success.

G.W. Gras


Grading Free Agency, Part 1

The NFL free agency period is one of the most hyped moments of the off-season.  Every team uses free agency as a means to better themselves before the draft, making their draft day decisions a little clearer.   We have seen teams in recent history like the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins, make huge splashes with free agent signings, only to fall short come season’s end.

Ndamukong Suh – Miami Dolphins: 


The moment the Lions decided they no longer needed Suh, that was the moment the man known as Ndamukong became the prize of this year’s free agency frenzy.  He instantly adds credibility to even the weakest of defensive lines but the Pro Bowl defensive tackle joins a unit that was already good, but with the addition of Suh, they are noticeably elevated.  With (now) former Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick leaving Miami by ways of a 5 hour drive north up to Jacksonville, this left an obvious opening for Suh.  Keeping in my that Suh is a definite upgrade from Odrick,  just how much better will this move make the team as a whole.  The Miami Dolphins have offered Suh a contract worth about $114 million and this might hurt them because the real need for an upgrade was on defense.  With no wide receivers, running backs and questions with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback the Dolphins ignored their real needs.

Grade: C

Byron Maxwell – Philadelphia Eagles

We all knew the Legion of Boom would take on a different look going into next season because Byron Maxwell was going to head  elsewhere to get paid.   Philadelphia, who has been keeping things interesting to say the least in the off-season, decided to give Maxwell the payday he wanted to the tune of 6 years for $63 million.  The Eagles defense is more opportunistic than it is good.  Maxwell no longer  will be able to “hide” behind the team-mates he was playing with in Seattle.  Even then, saying “hide” sounds as if someone is saying he “can’t” play — the truth is, we all really won’t know how good he is as a team’s number one corner until the season goes under way.   Seeing him play against Odell Beckum Jr. twice this season should show if that signing will pay off for the next 6 years.  It’s a lot of money thrown to a position in which a player’s talents are only exhibited in a system that he’s comfortable in.

Grade: B

Rodney Hudson – Oakland Raiders

Offensive linemen are the perennial Rodney Dangerfield’s of the NFL because they “get no respect.”  The Raiders are seemingly parting ways with their center Stefen Wisniewski, who is a free agent this year  and have decided to pay for an upgrade at the position with former Chief Rodney Hudson.  According to Pro Football Focus, Hudson is the third highest rated center in the league.  This is nothing but good news for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who the franchise is banking on to be their guy for the next decade.

Grade: B+

Pernell McPhee – Chicago Bears

Much like (but not as forgotten as) offensive linemen – defensive specialists, are also lost in the shuffle when it comes to free agent buzz.  The Chicago Bears in announcing that they are turning into a 3-4 defensive scheme, have now signed one of the best 3-4 linebackers in Pernell McPhee.  Pro Football Focus ranked him as the second best linebacker in the league amongst that scheme and did so while playing behind the likes of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil on the depth chart.  The Bears need help in pretty much every area of the football field, but lining up McPhee with Willie Young and Lamaar Houston should make for a nice start to what the Bears want to build defensively.

Grade: B


Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts

Yes, the Eagles have been busy.  After trading LeSean McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso, it was obvious that the Eagles were looking to shave money at that position.   It seemed it was all but done, the Eagles and Gore agreed to a three year deal, in which $7.5 was guaranteed over the first two years. Then, the Colts called. Gore is exactly what the Colts offense needed because we all know how they didn’t need to trade a first round pick to the Browns for running back Trent Richardson.  Gore is still a strong back, who can do it all: tough yardage, pass block and catch out the backfield. Quarterback Andrew Luck is without a doubt a stud, but this offense became too predictable without a viable running attack.  Gore’s deal with Indy is reportedly 3 years for $12 million – that’s a bargain in the first two years of this deal, easy.  Colts did not overspend and in the process picked up a great piece that this offense desperately needed

Grade: A

Stephen Paea – Washington Redskins

The Stephen Paea signing is such a Redskins thing to do, that it’s almost hilarious. . . if it wasn’t so tragically Redskins-ish.  Paea was a perennial under-achiever with the Bears and played pretty well in the last season of his contract.  The Redskins jumped on Paea’s contract year performance and offered him a four year deal.  It seems the Redskins organization never questioned why the Bears, who are turning into a 3-4 defense wouldn’t have looked to keep the 6’1″ 300 pounder.  He’ll be released or be a “depth guy” in two years.

Grade: D-


Jeremy Maclin – Kansas City Chiefs

In other Eagles related news, it appears Chip Kelly and his staff in Philadelphia will not lose sleep with the departure of Jeremy Maclin.  Maclin is a good route runner, with nice speed and can upgrade a wide receiver core which didn’t record a touchdown reception all of last season.   He’s paired up once again with his original head coach Andy Reid, who he started his career with.  Last season Maclin took a gamble on himself, coming off of injury and signing a one year deal with Philadelphia resulting in his most productive season racking in 10 touchdowns and over 1300 yards with 85 receptions.  Maclin can be the guy that opens up this Chiefs offense.  Yes, even with Alex Smith at quarterback.

Grade: A

G.W. Gras

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