By Steven St. John
Chiefs Kingdom received some horrendous news on Tuesday morning, as Andy Reid and head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder updated the status of Justin Houston’s injured knee during a conference call with the media.
Here is what Burkholder said about Houston during the conference call:
So Justin, if you remember, hurt his knee in (November) against Buffalo, I think. We went through the playoffs where he was knicked up. He went down and saw Dr. (James) Andrews for the second time in February, had his knee scoped. At that time, in the week of February first, I think it was, he had his knee scoped. When Dr. Andrews took a look inside his knee, he determined that his ACL was intact, it just wasn’t functioning. He didn’t do anything at that moment, brought him out of surgery, we all got on the phone, discussed everything and decided to have his ACL fixed. He had his ACL fixed on the 16th of February. Right now he’s in the middle of the process of doing rehabilitation for an ACL injury that was a little bit tricky, because his ACL wasn’t torn, but it wasn’t functioning the way it should, so Dr. Andrews fixed that. And as you know from past, those are six-to-12 month recoveries, so it’s too early to tell where he’s at right now, but he’s on the road to recovery.
Welp. This really sucks. And, there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered. Did the Chiefs make a mistake by bringing Houston back for the playoffs? Did anyone know that Houston had suffered an ACL injury before February or was it a complete surprise? Would the Chiefs have still brought Tamba Hali back, if Houston hadn’t suffered this ACL injury? Will Houston miss the entire 2016 season?
Regardless of the answers to the first few questions, the last one is all that matters. If Houston misses a portion or all of the 2016 season, it will be a HUGE blow to the Chiefs chances of returning to the playoffs. It’s just awful news to a team that still needs to replace Sean Smith in the secondary and make other necessary upgrades to keep up with the rest of the AFC West.
Again, without Houston, the Chiefs will be left to count heavily on an aging Hali and a still unproven Dee Ford, unless they decide to address the situation early in the upcoming draft. Yes, in the same draft they need to add a cornerback, offensive and defensive line depth and another wide receiver, all without the benefit of a 3rd round pick.
Hopefully, Houston will be back in closer to six months instead of 12. And, if you’re looking for optimism, Reid referenced Houston’s tremendous work ethic and that’s he’s a “fast-healer”. However, the bright side doesn’t look so bright right now. All I can say is the whole situation really sucks.
5 Reasons Why the Chiefs Can Beat the Patriots
By Steven St. John
· The Chiefs defense will present a nightmare match-up for the Patriots offense. Kansas City’s ability to generate a consistent pass rush from their defense line without blitzing will be a huge key. Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard were beasts against the Texans and they will be more than a handful for New England’s porous offensive line. If the d-line can move Brady off his spot and hit him even when they don’t sack him, the rest of the defense will benefit. Also, Bob Sutton will then be free to bring extra pressure with some well-designed and disguised blitz packages at his discretion instead of being forced to generate a pass rush through exotic blitzes.
· Ron Gronkowski will not be 100%. The Pats are getting Julian Edelman back from injury, Edelman will also be less than full strength, but he will still be a problem for KC. However, if Gronk is hobbled, the physical and versatile Chiefs secondary will have an easier time imposing their will on the Patriots smallish receivers. KC’s secondary is deep and talented. Even if Gronk makes a miraculous recovery, this should be an excellent match-up.
· Eric Berry. This team feeds off the energy and determination of their leader, Eric Berry. We all know what he’s been through and we’ve marveled at his return to elite level play. He does plenty to physically help this team, but what we don’t quite understand is how much he means to his teammates emotionally. Berry inspires everyone in a Chiefs uniform. The team has taken on his attitude. They have faced adversity and persevered. This is Eric Berry’s team and they will follow him through anything and everything. These intangibles cannot be ignored.
· Alex Smith won’t make the big mistake. Smith may still be too conservative at times, but he has clearly taken his play to a higher level. He has been terrific running the football and he’s developed a good chemistry with Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce. Even if Maclin doesn’t play, it appears that rookie Chris Conley is ready to make a bigger impact now that he is comfortable in the offense. Smith has found his groove of making plays while not jeopardizing the team with crucial mistakes.
· Special teams. Dave Toub is the best Special Teams Coordinator in the NFL. In Kansas City, his teams have delivered multiple returns for TD’s while his coverage units have given up ZERO TD returns since he’s been in KC. Cairo Santos has developed into a dependable kicker with a booming leg on kickoffs and Dustin Colquitt continues to be one of the best punters in the NFL. If this game comes down to special teams, advantage Kansas City.
Chiefs 24 Patriots 20
By Steven St. John
The Royals are two wins away from winning the World Series.
Let me repeat that. THE ROYALS ARE TWO WINS AWAY FROM WINNING THE WORLD SERIES.
Say it loud and say it proud. I’ve been waiting for this to happen again since 1985, when I was a naive 12-year-old that assumed my hometown team would be title contenders every season.
My sons have been waiting for this their entire lives. We’ve made countless trips to Kauffman Stadium over the years and they’ve endured listening to their Dad attempt to convince them why this was the year and why that Royals team was different than the rest.
Finally, it’s all true. And, for the Royals fans that have left this earth, still hoping to watch their team make that climb back to the top of baseball’s championship mountain. Huge fans like my Mama and my Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Richie and Cousin Tony. I was with my Mom at Game 6 of the 1985 World Series and when the Royals won Game 7, I hugged her and my Grandparents and we cried tears of absolute joy. I will never forget that feeling.
And, that’s what I want my sons to experience. I want them to watch their beloved Royals win it all. Then, I want to hug them as we cry those same tears of joy, creating a memory they will hold in their hearts, long after I’m gone. I want them to tell their kids crazy stories about 2015, the same way I tell them stories about 1985. I want my wife and daughters to scream, just like they do every time they see Eric Hosmer’s face.
I want my Dad to tell me how much he loves Salvy because he’s the heart and soul of the team. I want Moose to win it for his Mom, and Chris Young and Edinson Volquez to win it for their Dads.
I want every single Royals fan around the world to celebrate…to laugh…to cry.
I want a parade though the streets of my hometown.
I want the Royals to win…two more games. For me…for my boys…for you…for Kansas City.
I don’t care if it happens in New York, in Kansas City or on the moon.
We’ve waited long enough. It’s time for the Royals to take the crown.
5 Reasons why the Royals will beat the Astros in the ALDS
1) Yordano Ventura is pitching like an ace.
In his last 11 starts, Ventura has been excellent: 7-1, 68 IP, 56 H, 28 BB, 81 K, 2.38 ERA. The addition of Johnny Cueto has helped calm Ventura on and off the field. We are finally watching the same Ventura that helped carry this team to the brink of a championship last year. And, if this series goes 5 games, Ventura will get 2 starts at home. That will be too much for the Astros to overcome.
2) The Royals lineup doesn’t have any holes.
With the additions of Kendrys Morales and Ben Zobrist, this post-season lineup is better than last year’s. Even Alex Rios has warmed up. In his last 31 games, Rios has hit .307/.325/.474. Nothing great, but certainly acceptable from the perceived weakest link in the lineup.
3) The Royals have home-field advantage.
It didn’t matter in the 2014 World Series, but it will matter if the ALDS goes 5 games. The Royals worked hard for their home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and they will make it count.
4) The bullpen is better without Greg Holland.
Nobody is happy about the injury to Greg Holland. We all wish he could pitch in the playoffs. But, the Royals are better off without an injured Holland as their closer. Wade Davis is the best reliever in baseball and he deserves to be the closer. With Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson, Luke Hochevar and new weapon Danny Duffy, the bullpen is deep and has the ability to dominate the swing-happy Astros. The Royals can also turn to Kris Medlen and/or Chris Young, if needed.
5) Unfinished Business.
The Royals have been waiting for this opportunity since the moment Game 7 ended against the Giants. They have been on a mission. Throughout the off-season, spring training and all 162 games of the regular season, the Royals have been laser-focused on the playoffs. They know what it takes to win in October and the road to redemption begins tonight.
By Steven St. John
1) The Chiefs have whittled their active roster down to 53 players and there were only a few surprises as they made their final decisions. I mentioned last week that Zach Fulton had played well at center against the Rams and it might have cost Eric Kush his roster spot. And, that’s exactly what happened. Still, it was kinda crazy to see the guy that started training camp on top of the depth chart, end up not even making the team. However, the biggest shock was the release of defensive lineman Mike Catapano. After the cuts were made, Andy Reid mentioned to the media that Catapano would be a better fit in a 4-3 defense. That may be true, but it was still a surprise to see Catapano cut since he had such a good camp. It’s clear that some other teams thought highly of the two former Chiefs as Kush was immediately claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay and Catapano signed with the New York Jets.
2) If the Chiefs get an early lead against the Texans on Sunday, it will be very hard for Kansas City to lose the game. The Texans are built to run the ball and play defense. With Brian Hoyer at QB and a WR group learning to live without Andre Johnson, the Texans will have a tough time playing catch-up against anyone, much less a team like the Chiefs that can put tremendous pressure on the QB in obvious passing situations. Add in the fact that Arian Foster is hurt and you’ve got a recipe for an offensive disaster for the Texans. Get an early lead, feed Jamaal Charles, get some chunks of yardage with Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce, DO NOT turn the ball over, contain J.J. Watt (LOL!) and let the defense take you home. Chiefs win, 24-14.
3) The Drew Lock hype-train gained more steam with the freshman’s debut performance for Mizzou against SEMO last Saturday. Lock went 6/10 for 138 yards and a touchdown pass while Maty Mauk went 12/22 for 181 yards, 2 TD’s and 1 interception. This is still Mauk’s team, but Lock looked good. REALLY good. It’s a nice problem to have, but if this trend continues, Gary Pinkel finally just might have a real QB controversy on his hands. Mizzou plays at Arkansas St. this Saturday night.
1) During the broadcast of the final Chiefs preseason game, GM John Dorsey said that 4 or 5 spots are still up for grabs on the 53 man roster. It will be interesting to see how that plays out as the final decisions are made. Did Zach Fulton show enough while playing center to make Eric Kush’s roster spot vulnerable? If the Chiefs only keep 6 WR’s, who gets the final spot…the dependable Frankie Hammond or preseason star Fred Williams? Is Demetrius Harris healthy enough to be counted upon as the third tight end to start the season? Obviously, the health of Jeff Allen, Eric Fisher and Dontari Poe will have an impact on these decisions and how the Chiefs move forward in constructing the roster. And, remember, there is always a chance the Chiefs could make waiver claims based on cuts from around the league, so the final 53 may not be final for long. Dorsey has had success on the waiver wire before and he won’t hesitate to claim a player he believes can provide an upgrade to the roster.
2) Despite Mizzou’s lackluster opposition (SEMO) in the season opener, there will still be some intriguing things to watch during the first game of the season. The Tigers need to indentify playmakers in the passing game for Maty Mauk to trust and the list of WR candidates is long, but inexperienced. Nate Brown, J’Mon Moore, Keyon Dilosa, DeSean Blair, Emanuel Hall, Thomas Richard, Wesley Leftwich(injured). Lots of talent, but almost zero experience. The tight ends should be more of a factor this season, but Mizzou will need a few of these WR’s to blossom quickly or Mauk could struggle.
3) Another important thing to watch for during Mizzou’s first game of 2015 will be the debut of highly-touted freshman QB Drew Lock. Following in the footsteps of Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert, James Franklin and Mauk, Lock will serve as a back-up during his true freshman year as opposed to redshirting. There will only be so much fans can take away from the limited snaps Lock is expected to take, but the decision to burn his redshirt and elevate him above two older, talented QB’s (Eddie Printz and Marvin Zanders) on the depth chart suggests Gary Pinkel believes Lock could be something special. Now, it’s up to Lock to live up to all the hype.