Football

A Manic Monday

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A Monday afternoon in Kansas City is normally nothing special. People are at work and kids are at school, typically a slow day for Kansas Citians. March 4th was anything but a normal Monday for Kansas City. The Kansas City Chiefs resigned punter Dustin Colquitt and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, and placed the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert.

Colquitt’s five year, $18.75 million deal with $8.9 million guaranteed, has made him the highest-paid punter in the NFL. Throughout his eight year career, Colquitt has punted the ball 657 times with an average of 44.7 yards per punt. 250 of these punts have pinned opponents inside the twenty yard line. He also attended the Pro Bowl last season for the first time in his career.

USA Today
USA Today

Dwayne Bowe will remain in Kansas City after agreeing to a five year deal worth $56 million with $26 million guaranteed. Although his performance last year was sub-par in terms of scoring, catching only three touchdowns, Bowe was still able to reel in 59 passes despite quarterback issues plaguing the Chiefs all season.  The Chiefs must be confident that their incoming quarterback, Alex Smith, will be able to help jumpstart Bowe’s performance from a lackluster last season to a renewed outbreak this year.
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Branden Albert will get a one year, fully guaranteed $9.8 million contract, and has the opportunity to work out a long-term deal with the Chiefs before July 15. In addition to his contract, the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Albert, mere minutes before the assigned deadline.

With the franchise tag being placed on Albert, questions have been raised regarding the Chiefs first-overall pick of the 2013 draft. Left tackle Luke Joekel from Texas A&M seemed the easy pick, but with Albert staying, the Chiefs have new options open to them. They may go ahead and take Joekel, looking to move either him or other players around on the offensive line. Another option is to trade their pick, similar to the St. Louis Rams last year, and look to receive more picks to gain more development-needed players.

Any way you look at it, the Chiefs have made many much-needed changes this season, these contract-renewals being the most recent of their off-season cleaning. Will this new and improved Chiefs team’s gambles on a nearly entirely new system pay off? Only time will tell, as the start of the season is still an agonizing six months away.  The Chiefs’ first game is on September 8.

On a side note, the Chiefs released right tackle Eric Winston this week, who made headlines last season with his rant against Chiefs’ fans. Early since his release, other AFC West teams have shown interest in him, especially the Raiders. He is sure to find a much more mellow and accepting fan base awaiting him.

Michael Mayer

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Chiefs Future

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While I am not an expert on free agency and the draft, I am entitled to my opinion. So here it is. The Kansas City Chiefs could not have picked a better year to get the first pick of the draft. I mean heck, there are tons of elite quarterbacks this year. Just our luck. The only year that would have been better would have been the 2007 draft. Heck we would probably be in the Super Bowl with JaMarcus Russell marching down the field. With all jokes aside Chiefs fans are starting to feel like the Royals. Last year there were organization changers like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III and this year there are… defensive tackles and offensive tackles. Although football is a game won in the trenches, teams must have a quarterback to manage the game.

Picture from Toledoblade.com
Picture from Toledoblade.com

With the recent releases of Kevin Boss and Steve Breaston, the Chiefs will be looking to fill these holes in the draft or free agency. Since the draft is too hard to predict from this far out, I will look at free agents. For starters, the Chiefs need to wrap up Dwayne Bowe or sign a top receiver such as Mike Wallace, Wes Welker, or Danny Amendola. In my opinion, the Chiefs should do everything they can to sign Amendola. After watching him every week since I live in St. Louis now I can say he is more than a game changer. Although Amendola has battled nagging injuries the past season, when healthy Sam Bradford targeted him on which seemed like every passing down. My last thought on the wide receiver position is the Chiefs should look to steal the humble Titus Young. While Young may not be Calvin Johnson, he does have playmaking abilities. If Andy Reid could discipline Young and keep him focused he could be a successful slot receiver to open the field for Bowe on the outside.

Now here is my Madden experience talking. The Chiefs should trade down to around the eighth pick and draft Sharrif Floyd. Mel Kiper and I actually agree that Floyd would be able to be the sheriff on the defensive line that they have been looking for in Dontari Poe and Glenn Dorsey. By trading down the Chiefs would be able to acquire additional picks that could be used to trade for an additional second round pick. With that pick they could take Matt Barkley or Geno Smith if either are available.

What the Chiefs actually do in the draft all depends on if the Chiefs use their franchise tag on Brandon Albert. If they do they will most likely lose Dwayne Bowe to free agency that would kill the already lackluster passing game. If the Chiefs decide to put the tag on Bowe they will lose Brandon Albert. I think the Chiefs can’t afford to lose Bowe because they will not be able to sign an elite receiver to replace him. The Chiefs would be able to then draft offensive tackle Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M. Lastly, the reason I have yet to address the need at the quarterback position is because I don’t see major changes. I would not be surprised to see Cassel taking snaps under center next year. The other option that looks to be coming to front of conversation is signing trading for Nick Foles who Reid picked last year with the Eagles. Reid clearly raves about this kid because of his size and potential. The Eagles have made it known that it will take a big package trade to pry him away. This is why I think the Chiefs need to do there homework and attempt to find a Tom Brady or at least a poor mans Tom Brady late in the draft and let him learn by seeing all the mistakes Matt Cassel will make next year. Last option for the Chiefs at quarterback will not happen but I would like to see the Chiefs take a look at Ryan Mallett who is backing up Tom Brady.

Spencer Montgomery

National Signing Day

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The most stressful day in recruiting is clearly National Signing Day. Decisions made by 18 year old “men” can determine a program’s future. There can only be one team that is happy with a decision. That means three or four schools have their heart ripped out and thrown away. National Signing Day is a war. Coaches have been on the recruiting trail for years building relationships with these recruits and their families. This year is filled on the defensive side of the ball with players like Robert Nkemdiche, Vernon Hargreaves, Chris Jones, and Jaylon Smith. This year is exceptionally filled with NFL caliber cornerbacks. This select group is led by Florida commit Vernon Hargreaves and Tre’Davious White. According to Rivals.com this class features four 5-star corners.

There are always winners and losers from NSD and it is clear that the biggest winner is Ole Miss. While the commitment from Nkemdiche was expected, closing and executing was crucial for    Hugh Freeze and the rest of his staff. Along with getting Nkemdiche to sign his name on the dotted line, they were able to sign three more 5-star recruits according to 247sports.com. The most important player besides the 6’4” 285 beast on DE was signing a playmaker with the athleticism as Laquon Treadwell. The Ole Miss offense will rely on Treadwell immediately for explosiveness just as Clemson did with Sammy Watkins his freshman year. Also on the offensive side of the ball is OT Laremy Tunsil.

The ultimate recruiter. Picture from Washington Post
The ultimate recruiter. Picture from Washington Post

The best overall class is hands down Alabama. No surprise here. Nick Saban and his staff were able to continue the momentum from the beating the laid upon Notre Dame. Bama was able to build upon another great defense with 5-star defensive end Jonathan Allen and linebacker Reuben Foster. Foster will follow in the footsteps that have been laid forth by Dont’a Hightower and C.J. Mosley. The one thing these three linebackers all have in common is the ability to follow the ball and attack at the point of contact. Foster recorded 80 tackles and 6 sacks in his senior year. The 6’2” 242 linebacker looks to be in the rotation for the 2013 season.

The team that underperformer for the 2013 class would be Stanford. While they were limited in their number of scholarships, I still expected a team that has had so much success in recent years to build a better class. The bright spot of their 2013 class is the quarterback out of Virginia Ryan Burns. Burns stands in at 6’5”218 pounds so size is a major plus when analysts have graded him. 247sports.com graded Burns all the way to a 92/100. The major let down for Stanford and David Shaw is only signing two players in the trench for offense. Center Thomas Oser and OT Tyler Bright both earned three stars. Shaw has instilled bullying the Pac 10 as a trademark.It will be hard in the future to dominate the line of scrimmage with only 2 lineman signed. This was a major whole in the class that brought their rankings into the 60’s.

A couple of teams that also came up short this year according to the rankings would be Oklahoma and Oregon. While Oregon can slightly blame this on Coach Kelly jetting to the NFL so late in the recruiting process, Oklahoma just whiffed on there top recruits. Oklahoma, usually a dominating team on the recruiting pitch was unable to sign a single 5-star according to rivals.com. This is astounding because of the dominance they have had on the Midwest stars. One team that made a huge jump in the rankings is Kansas. Usually it is rival Kansas State that runs the Junior College crew but Coach Weis was able to snag 20 JUCO players DT Marquel Combs. Combs comes in as a 4-star and the highest rated JUCO player for this years class.

Gator Chomp! Picture by Gamedayr.com
Gator Chomp! Picture by Gamedayr.com

Did you really think I would go this far and not tell you about the most important teams recruiting class? That’s right the Gators had one of the best classes because of how they filled their class. Will Muschamp has a liking to sign one quarterback a class and he achieved that with the record setting Max Staver. Hargreaves should lineup as a starter next year at cornerback and early enrollee Kelvin Taylor should split carries with sophomore Matt Jones. The most impressive feature of this dominant class is having signed 12 lineman. Muschamp has been extremely successful with signing highly regarded linemen such as D.J. Humphries from the 2012 class. Also, Florida’s staff was able to sway Alex Anzalone from Notre Dame and get him to early enrollee.
My final thought is that the NCAA needs to move back the National Signing Day around 2 months so coaches have more time to get to evaluate recruits. Also, this should be able to cut so many early commitments. While yes this would cut down on some of the recruitment circuses we have this year. Players will be able to take more visits and evaluate his options with a more informed belief.

Spencer Montgomery

Chiefs New OC

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Andy Reid is taking the Chiefs by storm. The overhaul of personnel being brought in from his previous team, the Philadelphia Eagles, was capped yesterday by Doug Pederson being named as the new offensive coordinator.

Pederson has an impressive track record, playing twelve years in the NFL as a quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, and the Philadelphia Eagles. In Philadelphia he played under none other than Andy Reid, who coached him to his best season, throwing for 1,276 yards and seven touchdowns.

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Picture from – https://www.facebook.com/KansasCityChiefs

After retiring, Pederson spent two seasons as the Eagles’ offensive quality control coach, and was named quarterbacks coach in 2011.

What Chiefs fans should really be excited about though, is the success that has followed Pederson.  As offensive coordinator, Pederson hopes to truly display his offensive abilities in Kansas City.  Over the last two seasons, the Chiefs’ offensive ranking has been 24th and 27th.

In 2010, he played a role in the Eagles’ record-setting year. They scored 439 points, which was third best in the NFL, and gained 6,230 net yards, which was second in the NFL. Both of these were also franchise records. Compared to the Chiefs’ glaring 2-14 record, and league-worst 211 points this season, Pederson seems like the perfect fit to jumpstart the offense.

Chiefs fans may still have cause for doubt, with the quarterback woes that have befallen them since the retiring of Hall of Fame player Len Dawson back in 1975. Since then, only one Chiefs-drafted franchise quarterback, Todd Blackledge, has won a game.  Although the quarterback situation seems non fixable in Kansas City, Pederson has shown that he can come through with a winner.

In 2011, with the questionable return of Michael Vick, Pederson showed that he can turn an uncertain offensive factor into a work of genius. That year, Vick threw for 3,303 yards, ran for over 500, and completed nearly half of his passes.

While the clouds are hanging low over Kansas City and the Chiefs, Pederson brings a ray of hope, one that Chiefs fans are in desperate need of.

Mike Mayer

“Tebow Time” Comes to an End

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“Tebow Time” is officially over in my mind.  I have finally given up on the man I once thought could do anything.  It is as if I was 6 years old and found out Santa Claus was not real.  Rex Ryan  decided Tim Tebow’s fate in the NFL when Ryan decided to start Greg McElroy over Tim Tebow in the final two games.  Even with speculation of Tebow going to the Jaguars next year and competing for a starting job, he will never be a true NFL quarterback.  In Jacksonville, Tebow will be used as a huge promotion.  It will work because Jacksonville is his hometown and those who live there are sure to buy his jersey no matter what.  Heck I will probably buy his jersey.

I still believe Tebow can be a good quarterback in the NFL, but he will not get a fair shot to prove it.  He will never be a good quarterback in the ways that Tom Brady or even Cam Newton are, but he will be as Joe Flacco is.  Flacco has been criticized for his statistics but still remains a good quarterback because of the wins he has.  Tebow can do the same for a specific team in a specific style.  The Wildcat is not the answer, nor is the typical drop back passing style Tim Tebow is used to.  The style that will fit for Tim is a mix between Denver’s option run type style and at Florida where they trusted Tebow’s decision making more.  The one reason I think the Jets would have been better off playing Tebow over Sanchez is because of Tebow’s decision making.  Tebow would never turn the ball over 25 times in 14 games like Sanchez was able to.
Tebow Time
Call me crazy but I believe that the Kansas City Chiefs would be an ideal fit for Tim Tebow. While this will most likely never happen, I think it could work.  With the Chiefs, he would be able to rely on a strong defense and amazing running game.  The option run with Charles could work even better than it did with Broncos and Willis McGahee.  In short yardage, defenses would have to worry about Peyton Hillis and Tebow.  One thing the Chiefs have that the Broncos and the Jets did not is Dwayne Bowe.  At Florida, Tim had Percy Harvin as his go-to receiver.  When Tebow has a dominant receiver, he has success.  Tebow was never comfortable with the receivers for the Jets or the Broncos for good reasons.  With Bowe on the outside and an athletic Tony Moeaki at tight end, teams would not be able to stack eight or even nine players in the box.  Moeaki would finally be able to use his skill set with Tebow.  The Chiefs would use Moeaki as Aaron Hernandez was used at Florida with the option pass in which Moeaki runs behind the line along with Tebow and Charles to create three options for Tebow. While yes, he can’t throw a spiral to save his life but after watching him since his Freshman year at Florida, he gets the job done. He will complete the passes in crunch time to keep drives going as he proved in the overtime victory against the Steelers in the playoff last year.

The only true chance of Tebow going to the Chiefs is on Madden with me as the controller.  This is still something the Chiefs should at least look at because of how cheap Tebow will be at the end of the season.  All I want for Christmas is Tebow to get a fair shot in the NFL to prove that he can win for some team.  Since there is not an elite quarterback in this years draft, the Chiefs could get Tebow and be the next destination for “Tebow Time”.

Spencer Montgomery

Tradition Has Graduated

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There are many things people love about sports.  The commitment, the competition and the excitement it brings are just a few that come to mind. Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of sports is tradition. Tradition fuels rivalries and provides for some of the greatest matchups in the history of sports.  Yankees-Red Sox, Lakers-Celtics, Packers-Vikings, and North Carolina-Duke are some of the rivalries we have remaining today. Some of the most historic rivalries, though, may never occur again in the modern sports era.

Midwesterners have had to suffer through the recent dismantling of the Big XII as some of the most historic rivalries have died through conference realignment. The departure of Nebraska and Missouri to the Big 10 and SEC, respectively, have ended some of the longest standing rivalries in American sports. Kansas and Nebraska, two of the oldest programs in college football first played in 1892.  It was the longest uninterrupted rivalry in collegiate athletics. They played annually from 1906 to 2010, making it the 2nd most played college football series ever, surpassed only by Wisconsin and Minnesota. Kansas also held the 3rd longest series with bitter rival Missouri, first playing in 1891, and every season since the inaugural Border Showdown. The rivalry held roots dating back to the Civil War when the free state Kansas “Jayhawkers” and pro-slavery “Bushwhackers” from Missouri actually fought during the Civil War. The rivalry carried over to the hardwood, providing one of the most entertaining and bitter rivalries in college basketball.

The East Coast has also been rocked by the recent realignment, with the Big East seeing storied programs Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Rutgers leaving for presumably greener pastures, with UConn and Louisville appearing primed to leave next. This could mark the end of the excitement of Big East basketball, which has been arguably the best conference for basketball over the past decade.   The glory days of the Big East tournament are coming to a close, which is perhaps the saddest part of it all.

Recent events in collegiate athletics are beginning to ruin college athletics. It’s naïve to think that money wouldn’t be the driving force in collegiate athletics, but the sad truth is that is.  The lifeblood of collegiate athletics has been these storied rivalries, but the driving force is the strength of the conference’s TV deals and the depths of their pockets. We may never see another 6 overtime thriller between two power-house Big East rivals like we did in the 2009 Big East quarterfinals between UConn and Syracuse. We will likely never see another Border Showdown between Mizzou and Kansas where National Title hopes are on the line, like we did in 2007. And with the future of the ACC uncertain with the departure of Maryland, who knows what will happen to rivalries like UNC-Duke.

It may be difficult for fans in certain parts of the country to understand the plight of fans in the Big XII and Big East alike. Just imagine if Michigan-Ohio State no longer played each other, or if any of the storied SEC rivalries like Auburn-Alabama or  Florida-Georgia were no more. Collegiate athletics has started down a slippery slop and it is beginning to seem like fans should be prepared for anything at this point, as tradition and proximity have been thrown completely out the window. And if you, the reader, still do not have a problem with all of this conference shift shenanigans, just ask yourself this one question: would a sensible person put San Diego State in the Big East?

Tommy Randolph

Edited By: Drew Agnello

Kansas Football Woes Continue

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The clock showed that there were two minutes and twenty-eight seconds left in the game.  That’s how long the Kansas defense needed to withstand the Texas Longhorns to pull off an unexpected upset.  40,000 fans came into the homecoming game expecting a Texas blowout win over the struggling Jayhawks.  However, fans from both sides got their money’s worth, and got to watch a great game as Kansas almost got their first Big 12 win this season.

The Kansas defense was average until the fourth quarter, when they collapsed. The Jayhawks gave up a total of 342 total yards, of which,  211 were rushing yards.  At the same time, Kansas forced two interceptions against a traditionally great passing team.  The Texas quarterbacks could not do anything against KU.  Throwing only 23 passes combined, David Ash and Case McCoy completed only 13 of the thrown passes.  The passing game was not working for the Longhorns, so coach Mack Brown resolved to a multitude of runners.  The running game made up for much of the Texas offense Saturday, but it did not rock Kansas.  This Kansas defense held Texas to 21 points, a team who averages over 44 points per game.  The Jayhawk defense did everything they could to propel Kansas to their first win over a ranked opponent since 2010.  Unfortunately for Kansas, this was not the day to end that streak.

The Kansas offense played decently against Texas.  Tailback James Sims played well with  28 carries for 176 yards.  Along with Sims, running backs Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox ran for a combined 79 yards.  With all of the running by Kansas, the passing game was nowhere to be found.  After quarterback Dayne Crist was benched a few weeks ago,  freshman Michael Cummings has become the new offensive leader.  However, the Jayhawks only threw the football nine times.  Not only did they throw nine times, but Cummings only completed a total of three passes.  As an offense, that is unacceptable.  In order to beat a historically successful Texas football team, the opponent’s offense has to be balanced. With Kansas’ offense putting up very lopsided numbers, it was surprising to see Kansas competing.  Texas’ defense allows over 229 passing yards per game and Kansas Coach Charlie Weis and his offensive staff failed to take advantage. This proved to hurt the Jayhawks’ chance of winning.

It is obvious that KU football has one major problem to fix.  There is a shaky quarterback situation that needs to be resolved.  Dayne Crist is not what fans expected, and it is now up to Michael Cummings to take over.  This is not what Coach Weis and the fans were expecting. Although there was optimism among Kansas fans, their football team is already out of contention for a bowl game through 8 games.

Fortunately, there were some positives taken from the game.  The Jayhawks have a great rushing game with threats from three different running backs.  Their rushing tandem can prove to be lethal next week in Waco, Texas, against the Baylor Bears.  Another positive from Saturday’s loss was how strong the Jayhawks defense was.  The defense is what kept the game alive, until the very end.

There are definitely a few holes to fill for Kansas, but they can do it.  The slogan “We Believe” is used in Lawrence regularly now.  This clearly isn’t a type of bowl season that was shown in 2007, but Kansas can get back to a BCS bowl game someday.  Until then, the Kansas Jayhawks need to come together, put points on the scoreboard, and beat somebody.

Drew Agnello