Archive for August, 2009

Chiefs Acquire Offensive Linemen

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Word on the radio is that the Chiefs have acquired two offensive linemen from the Miami Dolphins. Nothing yet on the Kansas City Star’s website, but according to ESPN.com:

“The Chiefs acquired guard/tackle Ike Ndukwe and guard/center Andy Alleman. Ndukwe is expected to push for a starting spot at guard or tackle.”

Read the ESPN story here.

Ndukwe will likely get a look at right tackle where the Chiefs have really struggled. And Alleman will bring competition to the interior of the line. Good news for Chiefs fans. Am glad Pioli isn’t just sitting around!

Kent Babb Analyzes Chiefs Camp

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Kent Babb, reporter for the Kansas City Star, has done a great job of breaking down the Chiefs camp thus far. Read more.

PolitiFact and Preventative Medicine

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

I’ve been a political junkie for years. I enjoy reading about politics, and trying to understand why things happen the way they do. I’m a registered independent with no love for either party, so watching the Republicans and Democrats go at it for me is almost as much fun as a good football game between two teams that aren’t my hometown team. I’m not talking about issues here. Just the posturing of the two parties, and how each chooses to push their agendas.

Two quick things to cover in this post.

One, I enjoy reading the site PolitiFact. They take comments made by politicians, media and activists, and break them down with their Truth-o-Meter. They are fairly unbiased, and put good thought and research into their comments. I don’t always agree with their conclusions, but I’ve gotten to the point that I trust their intent.

And secondly, while I don’t intend to jump into the middle of the great healthcare debate right now, there is a PolitiFact post that is relevant and meaningful to claims made by the administration. One ongoing discussion I’ve had with people for years is preventative medicine. Many have made the case that if our insurance companies encouraged preventative medicine, that it would drive down costs, and lead to better healthcare for the insured. My primary disagreement with this assertion has always been, do you not think that the insurance companies have already studied this? Insurance companies are in business to make money. If they thought that pushing preventative medicine would reduce their costs, they’d do it. PolitiFact, citing studies from the Congressional Budget Office,  American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, agrees that preventative medicine would not necessarily reduce costs. Read more here.

Napa Police Reopen Investigation

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Tom CableIt appears this story isn’t over yet. The Raiders are the gift that just keeps on giving. The Napa police department on Friday reopened its investigation into an attack that left Oakland Raiders assistant coach Randy Hanson with a broken bone in his face.

Here’s a part of the AP story:

The police said earlier this week that the case was closed because the victim was unwilling to cooperate. On Friday, the department announced that it had been reopened, apparently after Hanson agreed to cooperate with authorities.

The NFL is already looking into the case to determine if Cable violated the league’s personal conduct policy. According to the policy, a coach or player can be disciplined for “violent or threatening behavior among employees, whether in or outside the workplace.”

According to the Internet site the National Football Post, the attack happened after Cable told Hanson he was being relegated from an on-field coach with defensive backs to breaking down film.

The report said Cable attacked Hanson after the assistant verbally contested something defensive coordinator John Marshall had said.

After being told by owner Al Davis that he could not get his old job back, Hanson reportedly decided to cooperate with police in the investigation.

Read the whole story here in the Lawrence Journal-World.

Ashley Lelie Compared to Eddie Kennison

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Ashley LelieMy first thought when I heard that the Chiefs had signed Ashley Lelie was not overly positive. After a good start to his career, Lelie really fell off the map. I remember wanting him to be drafted by the Chiefs out of college, and was disappointed when Denver got him. But his numbers the last few years have been poor. Then again, he was playing for the Raiders last year.

And then I started thinking about Eddie Kennison. Eddie played in the league for five-and-a-half years before making his way to Kansas City. He was drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Rams in 1996, the 18th overall pick. Eddie was 6-1, 201 pounds and a speedster. He played in St. Louis for three years before getting traded to the Saints for a year. Then after a coaching change he was traded to the Bears, where he lasted for another year. The Broncos signed him in 2001, but cut him halfway through the season after Eddie confessed to coach Shanahan that his heart was no longer in the game. If I remember correctly, his wife had a very difficult delivery of their daughter, and both were in the hospital at the time. The Chiefs signed him mid-season as Trent Green and Dick Vermeil were both struggling their first year in Kansas City.

Here’s a look at Kennison’s numbers before coming to Kansas City:

1996 with the Rams: 54 receptions, 924 yards, 9TDs
1997 with the Rams: 25 receptions, 404 yards, 0 TDs
1998 with the Rams: 17 receptions, 234 yards, 1 TD
1999 with the Saints: 61 receptions, 835 yards, 4 TDs
2000 with the Bears: 55 receptions, 549 yards, 2 TDs
2001 with the Broncos (half season): 15 receptions, 169 yards, 1TD

In comparison, Ashley Lelie was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos in 2002, the 19th overall pick. Ashley is 6-3, 195 pounds and a speedster. He’s played in the league for seven years: four in Denver, then a year each in Atlanta, San Francisco and Oakland. Here are his numbers:

2002 with the Broncos: 35 receptions, 525 yards, 2TDs
2003 with the Broncos: 37 receptions, 628 yards, 2 TDs
2004 with the Broncos: 54 receptions, 1,084 yards, 7 TDs
2005 with the Broncos: 42 receptions, 770 yards, 1 TD
2006 with the Falcons: 28 receptions, 430 yards, 1 TD
2007 with the 49ers: 10 receptions, 115 yards, 0 TDs
2008 with the Raiders: 11 receptions, 197 yards, 2 TDs

When Kennison came to Kansas City, he gave the Chiefs something they hadn’t had in years. A legitimate threat at wide receiver. While not a superstar, Eddie had finally grown up and had become a very dependable and effective receiver for the Chiefs. Here are his numbers in Kansas City:

2001 (5 games): 16 receptions, 322 yards, 0 TDs
2002: 53 receptions, 906 yards, 2 TDs
2003: 56 receptions, 853 yards, 5 TDs
2004: 62 receptions, 1,086 yards, 8 TDs
2005: 68 receptions, 1,102 yards, 5 TDs
2006: 53 receptions, 860 yards, 5 TDs
2007: 13 receptions, 101 yards, 0 TDs

Eddie signed with the Rams for 2008, but had no receptions.

Now I’m not predicting that Lelie will do for the Chiefs what Kennison did for Kansas City. But the similarities are at least intriguing. Here’s hoping that magic can strike twice.

Only the Raiders

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Tom CableThis story is from the Associated Press:

Maybe the Oakland Raiders should save their hitting for the field.

Raiders head coach Tom Cable declined to comment Monday about reports he punched defensive assistant Randy Hanson in the jaw and caused injuries that required treatment at a hospital earlier this month.

According to AOL Fanhouse, Cable hit Hanson on Aug. 5 for unknown reasons. A report filed with the Napa Police Department describes an unidentified 41-year-old assistant coach being treated at the Queen of the Valley Hospital for a jaw injury, which the victim alleges was caused by an unidentified member of the Raiders’ coaching staff.

Cable, who replaced Lane Kiffin as Oakland’s head coach four games into the 2008 season, repeatedly sidestepped questions Monday about the incident and declined to discuss his involvement.

“It’s an internal issue that we are dealing with, and that’s all I’m going to say,” said Cable, who repeated the phrase when questioned whether he was involved.

UPDATE: Now according to ESPN, Cable denies hitting Hanson. The new report says that Hanson hit his face on a cabinet when Cable flipped him out of his chair.

10 Reasons the Chiefs Will Be Better in 2009

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Todd HaleyTonight is the Chiefs’ first exhibition game as we begin the Todd Haley / Scott Pioli era. It’s difficult to take much out of a preseason game that’s meaningful. Play is typically sloppy. There’s no game planning. And half the game is played by people who won’t make the team. Personally, I want to see how the offensive and defensive lines hold up. I’m pretty curious as to how the new 3-4 defense will take shape. And looking forward to seeing our new quarterback.

I expect the Chiefs to be a better team this year. Though it may not lead to many more wins. Pioli is not looking for the quick fix. Don’t expect a Miami Dolphins type turnaround. Pioli and company are building for 2010 and beyond. If the Chiefs win 6 games this year, I think we should be pleased that we’re headed in the right direction.

Here are some reasons I expect the Chiefs to be better in 2009:

Herm Edwards1 – Herm is Gone – I was OK with the hiring of Herm. Didn’t love it. But I was OK with it. Herm’s a good guy. I think he’s a pretty good evaluator of talent. But he’s one of the worst game day coaches I’ve ever watched. His teams were often unprepared to compete for 60 minutes. And his clock management skills were atrocious. I don’t blame him for the shambles that the Chiefs were in last year. I lay the blame for the failure of the team squarely on the shoulders of Carl Peterson. However, I don’t think Herm’s the type of coach who will ever take a team to the Super Bowl. So with Pioli as general manager, Herm had to go.

2 – Matt Cassel at QB – After watching Huard, Croyle and Thigpen last year, I was very pleased to see Pioli make his first order of business getting a legitimate starting quarterback. Cassel has the physical and mental tools needed to be successful in this league. If he remains healthy, Matt should be our quarterback for years to come. Getting Thigpen some experience and having him come off the bench is nice. I like for a backup QB to be mobile.

3 – Mike Vrabel at LB – Vrabel will be the quarterback of the defense. Didn’t have one last year with Donnie Edwards out much of the season. Vrabel lead the Pats in sacks twice, and will bring much needed intensity to that side of the ball. I know he’s getting up there in age, but I think the leadership we’ll see from Vrabel, and hopefully Zach Thomas if he’s healthy, will be a big help for this defense.

4 – No More Cover 2 – While it will take some time to transition to the 3-4 defense, I’ll be very happy if I never again see the Chiefs in a Cover 2 as their base defense. Without a threat like Derrick Thomas or Jared Allen rushing from the outside in a 4-3 defense, the move to the 3-4 should allow the Chiefs to create pressure through a variety of packages. It will take a couple years to get the right pieces in place to run the 3-4, so expect some inconsistent play from the defense.

5 – The Offensive Line – While Chiefs fans remain unhappy and skeptical, the offensive line is not that bad. We’ve become a bit spoiled with great line play during the Marty and Vermeil years. The Chiefs upgraded the line with the signing of Mike Goff to play right guard. Brian Waters will still be at left guard. Branden Albert and Rudy Niswanger are now in the second years as starters. Albert should be the anchor of our line for many years to come. Damion McIntosh is the biggest question mark, though I think we’ll see improved play from him. This is his second year at right tackle, and he’ll be playing next to a much better guard with Goff. We’ll be fine up front.

6 – Youth – The Youth Movement is one year older. Whew!

7 – Chan Gailey – Last year Chan completely revamped the offense around Tyler Thigpen halfway through the season. Impressive work. This year he’s got a real QB. With Gailey and Haley brainstorming for the offense, I think we’ve got some hope that they’ll find a way to get production out of these players.

8 – The Secondary – Brandon Carr, Brandon Flowers and Maurice Leggett are coming into their second years. They played well last year as rookies. If the front seven can get some pressure on the quarterback, it will make life a bit easier for our young corners. And I like the addition of Mike Brown at safety to push Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page. We probably have more talent in the secondary than anywhere else on the team.

9 – Carl Peterson – Yep, after about a hundred years at the helm, Carl is gone. Carl did many good things for the Chiefs and for Kansas City. But it was time for a the change. Thank you Clark Hunt.

10 – Herm – And did I mention that Herm is gone?

Sacks from the 3-4 Defense

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Mike VrabelIn 2008, the Chiefs were dead last in the league with 10 sacks, setting an NFL record for fewest sacks ever recorded during a 16-game season. Much was made during the off-season that the Chiefs needed to find a replacement for defensive end Jared Allen, who had been traded to the Vikings prior to the ’08 season.

As the Chiefs are implementing a similar model to what New England has been so successful with, I was curious about the Patriots’ ability to get to the quarterback. These individual stats were pulled from NFL.com. Typically I had to sift through the list of NFL sack leaders before stumbling upon a Patriot.

2008 – Richard Seymour 8 sacks
2007 – Mike Vrabel 12.5 sacks
2006 – Roosevelt Colvin 8.5 sacks
2005 – Roosevelt Colvin 7 sacks
2004 – Willie McGinest 9.5 sacks
2003 – Mike Vrabel 9.5 sacks
2002 – Willie McGinest 5.5 sacks

Notice that Mike Vrabel was the only Patriot to exceed 10 sacks during the last several years in New England. I think we have to change our mindset as Chiefs’ fans. We had Derrick and Neil rushing from the outside in a 4-3 (though there were times they tried to pretend it was a 3-4 with Derrick at LB). Then we had Jared creating sacks from the 4-3.

With the 3-4 in New England, sacks typically don’t come from the three down linemen, though Seymour did lead the team with 8 sacks last year. The Patriots spread their sacks out across a lot of different blitzers. Not just the outside linebackers, but cornerbacks and safeties too.

Clancy Pendergast, the Chiefs’ new defensive coordinator, has the reputation for being aggressive and inventive. The Chiefs switch to the 3-4 will take time. They don’t yet have the best personnel for the system. And there’s the learning curve involved with the implementation of a new defense. But I do expect the Chiefs to do a better job this year at getting after the quarterback.

Who will lead the Chiefs in sacks? My bet is on Vrabel.

Derrick Thomas HOF

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Derrick ThomasI’m not typically an emotional guy. And I don’t tend to idolize musicians, actors or athletes. But there was Derrick Thomas.

I grew up an NFL fan, but wasn’t much of a Chiefs’ fan until Marty Schottenheimer started coaching the team in the late ’80s. I became a Chiefs’ Junkie. Arrowhead had become the most electrifying place in the country to watch a professional football game. The defense just had this swagger every time they took the field. Great players making great plays. Dale Carter. James Hasty. Neil Smith. Dan Saleaumua. Donnie Edwards. Mark Collins. Bill Maas. But at the center of it all was Derrick Thomas. Bigger than life. Chasing down quarterbacks. Swatting away the football with his tomahawk chop. Creating havoc at every turn. He was Superman in red and gold with an arrowhead on his helmet.

I remember very clearly when I heard about the car accident. It was January 23, 2000. Derrick had rolled his Suburban on the way to the airport. The roads were icy. And he hadn’t been wearing a seat belt. Thomas was driving. And reportedly driving recklessly. Another passenger was without a seat belt, was thrown from the car, and died instantly. The third passenger was wearing his seat belt, and walked away from the scene uninjured.

Superman was alive, but not well. He spent two weeks in a Miami hospital paralyzed from the chest down. I thought he’d pull through. I think everyone, including Derrick, thought he’d pull through. Reports were that he was in good spirits, and already planning his new future.

He died two weeks later from a pulmonary embolism. I cried.

I think I was as surprised at my reaction as I was about his death. Maybe it was because we were roughly the same age. Maybe it was because of that smile. Maybe it was because he genuinely seemed like such a great guy. Or maybe it’s because Superman isn’t supposed to die. Lex Luther may have the Kryptonite and have Superman on the verge of defeat. But somehow, Superman is always supposed to win. On February 8, 2000, Lex Luther and his handful of Kryptonite had finally defeated Superman. But worst of all, it was Superman’s mistake that lead to his undoing.

Much has been made since about Derrick’s personal life. He had seven children from multiple mothers. He certainly hadn’t been the model of responsibility. And many began to doubt whether he’d ever get into the Hall of Fame. I never doubted. All you had to do was watch the film. Derrick was among the best of the best, and I’ll be proud to watch him inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Cash for Clunkers Not Economic Stimulus

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Cash for ClunkersWhile my intent is to typically stay away from politics on this blog, I am a bit of an economics nerd. And there will be times that I’ll feel compelled to share some opinions about the economy or other business-related issues that might overlap into politics. This is one of those times. And to clarify, I’m a registered independent who has no love for either of the political parties.

Many in the media and in Washington have attempted to portray Cash for Clunkers as economic stimulus for our country. It’s not. It’s purely an environmental program. It’s the government telling us what kind of cars we should be driving — those of us who can afford cars. See their quotes about the benefits if you don’t believe me. It’s all about lowering fuel consumption, and improving the environment.

Example: “Cash for clunkers has been a proven success,” Obama said in a written statement issued shortly after the vote to extend the program. “The initial transactions are generating a more than 50 percent increase in fuel economy; they are generating $700 to $1,000 in annual savings for consumers in reduced gas costs alone, and they are getting the oldest, dirtiest and most air polluting trucks and SUVs off the road for good.”

Example: “The so-called cash for clunkers program has actually been far more successful than people expected, both in terms of the number of car sales it’s generated, and, I should say, in terms of the environmental benefit,” said National Economic Council President Larry Summers, appearing on CBS’ “Meet the Press.”

Those of us who cannot afford a new car are now subsidizing those who can. Plus by destroying these “clunkers”, which is required by the law, they are reducing the availability of used vehicles that people like me can afford. In the long run this will only increase the prices of used cars if we remove the availability of these “clunkers”, many of which are likely better than the old truck I currently drive.

Alan Greenspan, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, explained that the success of this program is not because it’s stimulative by nature, but it’s a sign that the economy is getting better:

“It’s an interesting issue. I mean, I have qualms about the concept, but there is no doubt that that very extraordinary response is a very important indicator that the state of confidence in the economy is beginning to pick up. If we had been — the clunker program had been put in place six months ago, it would have probably been a dud,” Greenspan said on ABC’s “This Week.”