-You’ve heard the haters, the nay-Sayers, the non-believers, the pundits all talk about the Chiefs and disparaging the 9-0 start. I’m starting to understand why the national media and others aren’t buying in on this Chiefs’ fast start and its simple in my mind; the Chiefs are winning in unconventional fashion. They can’t make a quarterback into a media darling, they don’t have the loudmouth receiver, and they don’t have the manufactured storyline of strife in a city. No, the Chiefs have them confused and perplexed. “How could they possibly keep winning?”, they say. The Chiefs have not been pretty, especially on the offensive side of the ball, getting outgained two times by their Bills counterpart. Yes, Tamba Hali has as many touchdowns as Dwayne Bowe… yes the defense and special teams have seven touchdowns to the offense’s sixteen. But it’s the defense that continues to step up when needed allowing just eleven touchdowns and keeping opponents with fewer than seventeen points every game this year. I don’t care how they do it, how pretty it looks and how boring it may be to outsiders, even more boring to me is 2-14 and the losing we have had over the past couple years. Now in my mind I’m rooting for 10-0, 11-0 ..etc… but even more I’m rooting for the Chiefs to make these reporters work a little harder and confuse them even more.
-After the promise of transfers and improvement of another year under Charlie Weis I’m absolutely disgusted in the year Kansas is having in 2013. I’m not seeing much improvement and am concerned that this program is stuck in neutral once again. I know I’ll get my emails telling me that they’ll never be good again and that I’m stating the obvious but I expected more. I wonder if Weis’ makes it at Kansas for even his third year. A man that is used to winning can’t like this and cant like the failures they have had this year. Getting your brains beat in isn’t fun and can smudge a reputation as an offensive mind . Does Weis want his rep to get damaged and does he know see that he can’t help this situation, I don’t know. I do know that if there was a year to make same hay in the Big 12, this is the year, yet Kansas has been making nothing but a fan base of non-believers.
-Hats off to the Mizzou Tigers! After a crushing loss they did what any good team does and that was bounce back better and bigger than ever. Yes, the one loss stings for the Tigers but I believe that if they take care of their business and get that win over A&M in the last game of the year there will be a lot of Tigers fans finding out how tough going in and out of Atlanta can be, which isn’t a bad problem to have.
-K-State has corrected their problems a little too late I think but in doing so will still push and will make a bowl game. I will be interested to see what Bill Snyder does with this team next year. I do believe that Sams gives you a better chance to win a game even after the success Waters has had as of late. Talking with K-State fans many were wondering if Snyder should have retired after the successful season last year, I say never count Snyder out and will have gotten this team to a Bowl Game in what looked like the most unlikely of scenarios.
Football season is up and rolling. A couple thoughts as we climb into October.
-When looking at the schedule before the season started I saw a way the Chiefs could start 4-0 but it was in a way that is different from as given them success thus far. I sheepishly admit that I’m waiting for the game where one part of the team doesn’t pick up the deficiencies that have been plaguing the other. Its amazing to see how every game so far defense special teams or offense helped the other in some way, by making some big play. I spoke with many players after the game last Sunday and there was no celebration after going to 4-0, instead there was a calm and a sense of “That’s what’s supposed to happen” feel to the locker room. Which to me was shocking because of the lack of success many have had on this team in recent years. There is no doubt that these players love Andy Reid and his calm demeanor has played a huge part in this win streak. I know that many fans are wanting Alex Smith to go down field more, open up the passing game and hit big plays. My comeback always is winning is the best deodorant. No matter how bad the game looks they don’t put an asterisk with an explanation of how they won next to it, instead it just goes down as a W. This could be a special year, no doubt. But whatever happens the groundwork as been laid and the success is being built. We are ushering a fun time here in KC for many years to come. Something that this fan base city deserve after the past four years.
-College football in this area has definitely been head scratching. I feel like al the fanbases are still unsure of what they have in each team. K-State I think has been the biggest surprise so far in this young season. Listening to some close to the program it seems like there are a couple different thoughts on how some feel this team could be successful this year. Many see Daniel Sams as both the passing and running threat that lead to success last year, other think Jake Waters can be a purely drop-back passer and can lead to wins that way. Either way the two system that they are now isn’t working. Saturday is a big test at Stillwater and if they pull that off a lot of the nervousness from Cat fans wears off.
-Vanderbilt will be a test for Mizzou on Saturday as well. Speaking with Steven he knows how big of a game this is. I trust his knowledge on the Tigers and the temperature of the fan base and he thinks a win would go a long way for Gary Pinkel. The schedule gets tough from here on out for the coming weeks so some momentum could be good in a tough league race where the Tigers are still showing they belong. I think Mizzou wins this game and gets the season going down the tracks the right way.
-Kansas on the other hand is still struggling to find their way. Nate Bukaty and I debated on what we thought of this game against Texas Tech. I didn’t see much in the win over Louisiana Tech to believe that the Jayhawks could stop Texas Tech’s offense. La Tech ,by the way, just lost to Army in convincing fashion. Kansas fans still wanting to see the offense come together as was anticipated before the season. I don’t think Jake Waters has looked as strong as I thought but think a lot of that is due to lack of help on the outside by his receivers who have been good at dropping passes. Media and fans alike pointed to KU having a chance to win this game. I don’t think the Hawks can go up and down the field with Tech and probably end up losing the game by 17-20 points.
-One last thing and that is the passing away of Shawnee Mission West player Andre Maloney. I know the football staff at West very well and can’t imagine how hard this had to be. The young man had such a bright future ahead of him. I immediately think about his parents and family around him and hope they find some kind of solace in the fact he had such a positive impact in the loves of so many people. Thoughts and prayers to all who were close to an exceptional player and young man.
Ah yeah….football is here baby! Everyone has a bounce in their step and beers in the fridge. A couple random thoughts on the first week of real football in this edition of Swarts In Your Sports …
-I should probably start with K-State since that was the biggest story of the week locally. I know a lot of K-State fans (my whole family) were bummed on Friday night after the game. I think it takes a loss like that, a stunner, to set things in the right motion. All the warts were exposed, game plan exposed, new defense exposed and new QB exposed. I think what Bill Snyder will do is cater that offense now on throwing the football. Let’s remember just how unbelievably gifted Collin Klein was when he was running the ball. That success from your QB can hide a lot of issues and it did. He needed blocks to get free, sure, but a lot of that he created on his own. You saw what an inexperienced QB in a Bill Snyder system looked like (calling at timeout on the first play on offense). Klein was able to check down, check out or just run when he felt necessary. I think Waters and the K-State offense will eventually get there and we’re laughing in December with the Cats are playing in their bowl game.
-I was interested to see how Mizzou would come out against Murray State. A little shaky at first but settled down to a nice comfortable win. This team doesn’t need Franklin to be some stud, after watching Josey and Hansbrough run all over the place. If Franklin can simple distribute the ball to the receivers and let them make plays, Mizzou might shock some people. Kirk Herbstreit on The Border Patrol last week, that Mizzou will be one of those surprise teams at the end of the year. Something Gary Pinkel needs to keep the fan base happy.
-I don’t what to expect from Kansas on Saturday but I cant wait to watch it. As a KU fan I know it cant get much worse so I’m trying to temper my excitement. How does Jake Heaps look, will the defense actually stop someone, do the JUCO transfers make that big of an impact? All questions I cant wait to see answered. The test comes next week at Rice, who I thought looked pretty good against Texas A&M. The Jayhawks will definitely have their hands full.
-Before touching on the Chiefs something that stood out to me last weekend was the onus on hits by the defense on receivers and quarterbacks and corresponding penalties. I saw three ejections in games and wondering if there could have been more according to the new rules. Football as we know it is changing and that is a good thing for player safety. I think that the ejection aspect of these major penalties will make players think twice before “targeting” or “launching” while hitting players. There will come a time in a very important game where your best D-Back, Linebacker, Safety..etc..will get ejected because of an illegal hit and it will cost a team a game. It will be interesting how it will be talked about then.
-Finally I’m going to be blunt….Chiefs need to win this damn game in Jacksonville! One of the more important games to win in recent Chiefs history. It all has to start out on the right foot with the new regime. Andy Reid needs it, John Dorsey needs it and Alex Smith needs it more than any other player on the roster. Think of the disaster it will be if they lose this game because of lack of offensive output. Everyone will question if Reid still has it, if Smith did it because of all the talent around him, was Dorsey successful because Green Bay was successful. This will be interesting to watch and see if the pre-season was a trial run or if we’ll see Bowe, Kelce, etc .. get vertical. I know how much this fan base needs to see a win right out of the box. If that happens, being at Arrowhead will be the place to be in Week 2 against the Cowboys.
A few observations from my time in St Joe at Chiefs Training Camp 2013
-The practices are being run like an actual NFL Training Camp. Imagine that, such a simple thing but compared to the sh*t show that has taken place over the last four years its refreshing. I know we are talking about practice, but that’s where it starts. Very little standing around and more action and moving. It’s like a breath of fresh air over every aspect of how this camp has been run thus far. From the players interviews, to the drills, to how they handle fans. So far so good in my opinion.
-The place you will see the biggest improvement is at quarterback. I know there are a lot of Alex Smith haters out there but compared to the Cassel era that we will miss so much, this is like night and day. I saw my first glimpse of the upgrade in just a mundane passing drill. Cassel, Palko, Stanzi (wow that makes me nauseated just typing that) could never throw the ball with zip. There is no lofting up a 40 yard pass, everything has been crisp and sharp. Smith has an air of confidence about in the way he runs the offense when he is there, talking to us after practice and his interaction with Andy Reid. I’m not saying that this is Aaron Rodgers coming in here to KC to save the day, but rather a QB that wont be the glaring weakness when out on the field.
-I’m a little worried about Eric Fisher. I know it takes time for young, inexperienced O-Lineman to get their feet wet but this guy was sold has the best at his poisiton in this year’s draft. I think that evenutaly he will get but in the mean time, it might be a little dicey in the pre-season offerings.
-It appears this offense wants to put up some points in a big way. I think that have most of the tools to do it. I also think they want to take their time scoring as well. I know you need to stretch the field, and I can see them doing that at times. But there will be a lot of shorter yardage plays that Charles, McCluster, all the tight ends will be involved in. Not saying that is a bad thing but will be a fun one to watch in my opinion. The offense still has to go through Bowe and Charles but it will be nice to have several options.
-The defensive line looked improved over years past. I think this scheme will lend to a bigger impact by the guy up front. A slimmed down and second-year Dontari Poe has been the star of camp. Couple that with an improving Tyson Jackson and newcomer Mike DeVito, the hosses should get pocket pressure freeing up to what has to be one of the top secondaries in the NFL.
-Speaking of Secondary…Sean Smith has been great in my time at camp. A big, press corner who wants to be on an island, he has looked the part for sure. After the revolving door opposite Brandon Flowers last year, it looks like that other side should be locked down now. A cool thing to watch was how Flowers and Smith would change sides depending on the coverage and personnel, something that fans should pay attention to early in the season.
-Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis look like Thunder and lighting. I was surprised at just how good Davis is a runner. He still has issues in the passing game with holding onto the ball however. The difference in both runners can only help in an offense that looks like it wants to keep you off your feet. Knowing Andy Reid and how he uses running backs, Davis needs to sure up his hands to have a significant roll in the pass catching department.
All in all it was a fun week in St Joe. Between the weather and the people its always an enjoyable time. I still don’t know what the future holds with the Chiefs and staying there for their Training Camp, but I know so far, that some have put the thoughts of heading back to KC for good on the back burner.
The Front Five:
Well football season is around the corner and I have been to several OTA practices, watching the Chiefs try to come together for the 2013 season. Some observations on my time out at the Arrowhead Practice Facility.
1. It’s a night and day improvement at the quarterback position. Granted, I know that these guys are in shorts and the defense doesn’t rush or give pressure but Alex Smith looks the part. Smith isn’t known for the strongest arm in the world but compared to Matt Cassel the ball seems to be smoking coming out of his hand. Crisp passes, accuracy would be problem that Cassel would have throughout these types of practices, and Smith doesn’t have that problem. Smith also is so much more mobile and has thrown on the run with accuracy and ease.
2. This should be a fun defense to watch. The secondary gets the most work in 7 on 7 drills and have been all over the place. Intercepted balls, tipped passes and flat-out speed has been their M.O. so far. Sean Smith has upgraded that second CB spot and Husain Abdullah paired with Eric Berry has been fun to watch. No doubt in my mind that Sean Smith and Alex Smith have upgraded those two positions more than any other free agent signings this past year.
3. The end is near for Ricky Stanzi as a Chief. Tyler Bray, in my opinion, has been much better than Stanzi when competing against each other. Training Camp should be very interesting when it comes down to the decision on who makes the third spot at QB. Talking with other reporters at practice it’s across the board agreement on Tyler Bray and how good he looks for a raw talent. Bray, will flourish at some point in his career because of Andy Reid and certainly looks to have the tools to do so.
4.Eric Fisher has looked pretty good but I’m still concerned about his weight. The kid is big, mean and tough but he’s also on the thin side. I will be curious to see what Fisher will weigh when the season starts. In practice he as been with the first team the whole time and is holding his own. There are times he gets beat of the edge but recovers to still protect the QB. I still think there will be a learning curve but as the off-season and pre-season games progress we will see huge improvements once he gets the speed of the game down.
5. Dwayne Bowe and then who else? I’m not going to lie; the receiver spot scares the hell out of me. Bowe is Bowe, but will Baldwin be the guy that he was drafted to be? What does Donnie Avery have left? How will the fullbacks and running backs be utilized in the passing game? All important questions as we move ahead. I think this offense will be fun to watch because there are so many options including a deep tight end spot that has been integral in the OTA’s.
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.