It’s Not Unusual

I’m moderately excited about this Thom Jones signing.  By no means does it take the sting out of losing out on Anquan Boldin, but its a start.  Yes, Jones is old and boring.  He’s also coming off a 1,400 yard, 14 touchdown season.  Nothing to sneeze at.  Jones is an ideal candidate to spell Jamaal Charles.  He might not be a legitimate “bigger back”, but that’s practically a positive in my mind*.  I’m not of the opinion that a running back has to be big to pick up short yards.  That seems like leftover old-school detritus from the smashmouth days of yore.  Those days are no longer relevant to today’s NFL (unless you’re Herm Edwards).  Thomas Jones is just what the doctor ordered: a solid runner to pick up yards between the tackles and ease the burden on Jamaal Charles.

*The Mask had a great comment about change-of-pace backs a couple posts ago while discussing Darren Sproles.  His basic point was that a backup doesn’t necessarily have to be a change-of-pace.  Having two runners split carries is ideal, but why do they need to have different styles as long as they’re both effective?

There are some situations that conventional wisdom states require a certain type of runner, but conventional wisdom is often outdated or just plain wrong in sports.  Is a 250-pound running back really better at getting the goal-line touchdown than a 200-pound back?  Maybe.  But in any case I agree that a Sproles/Charles combo would’ve been incredibly effective even if they are the same type of runner.  And the main function of a platoon, to keep the running backs healthy, works no matter what type of runners they are.

Early reports are that the contract is for 2 years and $5 million.  That’s a steal.  I’m surprised Jones couldn’t find a better offer elsewhere, and I’m equally surprised he’s so willing to embrace a backup role.  The guy is coming off a career year, after all.  I guess it just goes to show how little teams value veteran running backs these days.  Jones is only 31, but 30 is the new 50 for NFL running backs.  Luckily we already have an emerging superstar, so TJ’s age doesn’t matter to us.  He’s probably an exception to the rule anyway because of his freakish physique and obsession with health.  The Wall Street Journal certainly seems to think so.

Apparently TJ also comes from a long line of coal miners.  Irrelevant?  Yes.  Interesting?  Kind of.  What I’m more interested in is his apparent proclivity for film study.  Jones has a psychology degree (and is working on his masters), and he likes to study his opponents in great detail because he feels he can eventually figure out how they think.  There might not be anything to this.  In fact, there probably isn’t.  But the fact that Jones is thinking like that speaks well of him.  He’s also known as an excellent pass blocker, which we haven’t had out of the backfield since T-Rich left (more on him later).  The shift from LJ to TJ alone should provide an instant upgrade in pass protection.  Yeah, I like Thomas Jones.

Now lets come back down to reality.  Our team, as of right now, is last year’s team plus Jones.  Our newest addition might be a solid player, but ultimately he’s a backup running back.  Like I said before, that was a legitimate need.  By my count, our 8th most pressing need*.  More still needs to be done.  Much more.  Ryan Lilja is a no-brainer.  He’s good, he’s young, he won’t break the bank, and he’s FROM KANSAS CITY.  There is no reason for us not to sign this guy.  Indianapolis cut him because they want to get bigger on the 0-line.  That strikes me as kind of a stupid goal for a passing team, but who cares?  Their loss can, and should, be our gain.

* 1)NT, 2)center, 3)right guard, 4)safety, 5)inside linebacker, 6)tight end, 7) slot receiver, 8th) change-of-pace running back. Of course those offensive line needs will switch if Albert or Waters shift positions, but the point is we need 2 new linemen. I could also see switching safety with inside linebacker or receiver with tight end.  But, you know, this is all pretty unofficial.

Pioli went on 610 this morning with Nick Wright to re-iterate that there is no limit on how much he can spend.  Nice attempt at damage control, but someone should tell Pioli the jig is up.  Limiting spending is obviously a priority.  Coming on 610 was a desperation PR move by a front office that knows people are pissed off.  Remember all those “we’re not going to overspend” sound bites?  I bet you’re wishing you’d kept all that wisdom in your back pocket, huh Scott?

I think I like Nick Wright.  He actually asked Pioli some pretty pointed questions about the Chiefs’ recent spending habits.  At one point he also tried to get him to identify the team’s most pressing needs on a scale of 1 to 10, but predictably Pioli wouldn’t bite.  Can’t say that I blame him, actually.  No point in tipping our hand before draft day.

The highlight of the interview was when Pioli tried to act like there weren’t good players available in free agency last year and Wright quickly name-checked Jason Brown, the 26-year-old stud center who signed with the Rams simply because they offered him the most money.  It was well-done.  Pioli immediately changed the subject.  Download the podcast here if you’re interested.  Pioli comes on at the 15 minute mark.

a few other notes:

  • Denver signed Jamal Williams.  Nuts.  We need a nose badly and I’ve always loved Williams.  I get the feeling Pioli wants to draft his NT, but Williams would’ve been a great stop-gap.  It’s gonna suck seeing him play in Denver, if he plays.  He’s 34 and has injury questions, so its possible he’s cooked.  I certainly hope so.
  • I did some digging on NewGuy81s character concerns on Thom Jones.  The results of a google image search are less than encouraging, but I found no hard evidence about off-the-field problems.  The guy obviously has a pretty good work ethic (see body, ridiculous), so I’m not too worried about it.
  • Walterfootball, my favorite mock-draft site, just updated their mock.  They have us picking Baluga fifth, and their logic essentially mirrors my own.  Granted mock drafts in March are largely irrelevant, but picking Baluga fifth would be soooo Scott Pioli.  If that pick happens I’m gonna call every one of you and leave a message doing my Scotty impression from Star Trek IV.  “Captain, thar be whales here!”
  • The more I think about it, the more signing T-Rich seems like a great move for the Chiefs.  Pioli and Haley are always talking about character and work ethic, and when it comes to those things Richardson is the cream of the crop.  And god knows this team could use some good PR right now.  The fans, even bitter assholes like me, would go nuts if we brought back T-Rich.  We wouldn’t even have to play him much (although its not like we have a better fullback).  Where is the downside?
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22 Comments

  1. i don’t know who Baluga is, and i’m terrified he’s not an O-lineman, but boy, i’ll trade just about anything for one of those Scotty impression calls on draft day

  2. can BMCC send Mort a bouquet of dead flowers in a small coffin with a note that says something like “you shut the F up about the KC Chiefs or you’ll find out who the real Sleeper is.” maybe make some terrible crack about “rigorMORTus”, or whatever that word is that describes the natural hardening of the corpse.

  3. There is a guy on ESPN radio that played football at BYU and played against Thomas Jones in college. He talked about how he was the best running back he faced in college and then went on to talk about his one year transformation from college to NFL. Basically if you get a picture of him in college vs. his rookie year at I think Tampa, it is pretty obvious the guy was juicing. Fine with me! The NFL drug policy basically begs players to be juicing. Also I saw on the Red Zone blog on the Star that we are close to signing a NT that served a four-game suspension for steroids. I don’t know much about that guy but the direction Pioli and Co are going with these offseason signings have peeked my interest.

    Who is more likely to have used steroids: a) Berry b) Okung c) The Whale ???
    Whatever your answer is would be my guess at our #5 pick. I got to say that I LOVE this strategy.

  4. hat trick!

    bringing T-Rich home: it’d be nice to see the Chiefs front office actually accept the gift-wrapped Right Thing To Do for once instead of outright disrespecting it as they’ve so preferred recently.

    i think the most important thing, the most important overall determinate of winning, especially winning championships is, in fact, Team, teamwork, togetherness, co-dependence & cooperation.

    it’s the reason i think the offensive line is the most important part of the team. they are a microcosm of the larger team. how well they are working together as one unit is likely mirrored in the team at large. they operate as the heart of the offense, all of their effort applied for the glory of others or the team.

    oh, but then you think of the Cowboys and that Oline they have and how all their runningbacks seem to pick up 10 yards per till the coaches start getting involved and then suddenly Romo’s getting sacked and throwing picks all over the place. herm…i mean, hrmm…

  5. So we brought in Urban from AZ. I always liked that dude. Looks like we have our token white posession receiver. The good thing is that it gets rid of Lance Long – I hated that guy.

    Also saw Washington signed Sean Ryan, uhh thanks Skins – maybe the only player I hated more than Long was Ryan. Very excited to be rid of them.

    Shaun Smith – Worth a damn? I’ll take any competition at NT.

    Newest mocks by McShay and Kiper have Berry falling to us thanks to Rams taking Bradford. McShay has Okung going 4th thanks to his great combine. I want Okung, but Berry would be the best runner-up prize I’ve ever seen.

  6. re: Shaun Smith- This is a classic Pioli-Chiefs sign: a mediocre player who used to play for one of the men in charge (in this case Romeo Crennel). I guess it can’t hurt to have another nose in the mix, but if Smith is starting we’re probably in trouble.

    Interesting comparison between us and Denver. We both needed nose tackles. They brought in Jamal Williams, who cost a little more and could have injury issues but is a much better player with a much higher ceiling, and we brought in Shaun Smith, a backup who one of our coaches knows. I’ll be watching to see who works out better. Providing playing time is equal or similar (which it very well may not be if either of us draft a NT), this would seem to be a pretty good trial of the Chiefs “right 53 over best 53″ approach.

    Re: Urban- If it gets rid of Lance Long, fine. But isn’t this just basically another Lance Long? Maybe a rich man’s Lance Long? I read about Urban that “he’s one of those players coaches fall in love with.” I don’t know, I’m not so into those guys.

  7. “Don’t sleep on the Chiefs’ signing of Arizona receiver Jerheme Urban. This is an under-the-radar player who always seems to make coaches fall in love with him.” Bill Williamson

    borrrrrrrring.

    Hatt just nailed it on the head. Both of these guys fit the system at a low price tag. c’mon man.

    I really like the thom jone signing. The non-Lilja news is really starting to hurt my head.

  8. http://www.arrowheadpride.com/2010/3/11/1368712/former-broncos-lb-andra-davis#storyjump

    We may rag on the homer commenters, but this is why that site is amazing. The Broncos cut Andra Davis and 10 minutes later they’ve got a post up about Davis and why he could end up as a Chief. As a resource for Chiefs knowledge and news, you just can’t top that. I’ve said this before, but I don’t know how those guys can do this and still live their lives. They must have very little free time. Blogging that much is quite a sacrifice, so criticizing the site is sort of like criticizing a charity for not giving money to the homeless people you want them to.

    Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. What’s frustrating is that Arrowheadpride has an opportunity to mobilize the fanbase and help enact some positive change in the way the Chiefs do business, and they don’t seem to be interested in doing that. Their coverage, which is incredible, mostly turns a blind eye to what is really wrong with this franchise. In other words, they don’t rock the boat.

    Various people have suggested various reasons for this to me, but my take is that the Brothers Thorman are just nice, friendly guys who really, really love the Chiefs. They don’t seem to have let these past few years get to them. I admire that in a way, but its definitely not where I’m at.

  9. Well I like Urban because I rode Warner to a nice Fantasy Football championship in my office two years ago and Urban was surprisingly effective. In 2008 he was 34-448-4, which isn’t awful for a #3 WR. Last year Breaston started playing more, so his numbers dipped. He is 6-3 207, so he is much more physical than Long. I liked him before the gay quotes came out, so I’m going to stick to my guns. Unfortunately, people will think of him as a Lance Long type because of these quotes. Oh well, we’ll see if he preforms. I’m gonna go on the record now that he will be a pleasant surprise.

  10. That size is one pretty huge difference between Urban and Long. Could Urban be….the new Marc Boerigter? God I loved Boerigter. What the hell happpened with him? One year he caught 8 touchdowns (on only 20 total catches if memory serves), the next year 5 yard dumps are bouncing off his arms.

  11. Wow, I’m kind of surprised to see the Urban hate around here. The Rams play the Cardinals twice a year, and I have been kind of impressed by him over the past few seasons. Granted, these are games against the Rams, but it seemed like Urban was always making plays when the defense had locked up on other receivers. The type of 3rd and long receptions that keep a drive going and just kill your defense. Keep in mind who he’s been behind on the depth chart. I would argue that Breaston could have been a legit #2 wideout last year, and he’ll certainly get the chance to prove it this year.

    Anyway, just Beans’ 2 cents. I think Urban will be a vast improvement at the #3 wide receiver position.

  12. I think you hit the nail on the head with Urban. He will be a vast improvement at the #3, but we should be improving our #1. I like Bowe, but he is not a #1 receiver on most other teams. We don’t have Larry and Anquon to open up Urban like the Cardinals did. To me, any addition the Chiefs add is a good thing. At least they are making moves, right? I was waiting for Pioli and Haley to say this year that all it takes is the “right 50 guys” to cut back on payroll.

  13. Yeah, but you can’t knock Urban for not being a #1. Now, if the Chiefs come out and claim that Urban will be our #1 and fix our offense, then by all means blast away. But they didn’t, they just said he is a nice piece. Everyone realizes that this team can’t be fixed by a top DT and a top WR correct? Sure, I’d like both of those, but they don’t grow on trees. We have at least 8-10 positions that need to be fixed. You want to give up our 5th pick for Brandon Marshall? No thanks. You want to give $25M to Nate Burleson (yes that happened)? No thanks. You bring in an Urban, you draft a Tate/Gilyard and you work on Bowe to grow the eff up. Mix in Chambers as your #2 and you have some weapons there. I would be excited to go into next year with those 4 guys along with Charles and Jones.

    Beans was spot on with Urban. He is that guy that on 3rd and 13 catches a quick slant and gets hit 11 yards down field and somehow squirms his way for a 14 yard gain. He is backbreaker. I would hate him as an opponent. I watched a ton of Warner’s games that year and I always loved Urban because he kept drives going and my fantasy QB on the field. He will not be a savior but he will be an improvement.

    We’ve addressed RB2 and WR3/4. It’s not glamorous buy you have to do it. However, I completely agree that it is time to address the bigger pieces: 2 starting OL (Lilja, Okung?), DT (probably not going to happen this year – unless you want to throw Warren a bone for cheap), a S (Berry if no Okung? 2nd round pick?), a LB (Spikes?).

  14. They might not grow on trees, but the one guy you failed to mention when talking about Burleson and Marshall was the guy we had the best shot at getting…Boldin. The more needs the Chiefs fill in free agency, the less we need to worry about draft picks coming in and contributing right away. If we got Boldin then we could have saved a draft pick until 4th or 5th round to take a Danario Alexander or another such late rounder talent. That would have opened up a 2nd rounder for another need. We only have 2 second round picks. How do you expect them to get Spikes, Tate/Gilyard, or a S or OL (depending on what we draft with our first round pick).

    I like Urban and am happy he is a Chief, but when you are coming off the worst 3 years span in the history of the franchise (I don’t know if that is true, but it sounded good) then you need to make BIG moves. Boldin would have been a big move. This is just blah.

  15. The Boldin “non-sign” is still baffling for sure. I want to say that this is just another facet of “the Patriot Way” as in, “we’re not into paying high money for guys over 30″ but didn’t they break the bank for Moss and A. Thomas 3 years ago?

    However, if Bowe steps up and actually performs the way I think he can then DP’s right and we can target some other key guys (what a terrible phrase…target key guys). It does feel cheap to me right now but, to play the devil’s advocate, it could be the right move long term in that we’re not giving up draft picks for guys over 30.

    Anyone have a take on Mawae. I say “Mawae not?”

  16. I agree with you that we do need some BIG moves, but my point is don’t write off the small moves one week into the offseason because you haven’t gotten a big move yet.

    I loved when the Royals traded for Callaspo a couple years ago – it wasn’t a big move (Jose Guillen was a big move by definiton). It was a building block that hopefully could be a nice piece to the puzzle. Now he is one of our best hitters (yes, that is the problem in itself).

    I certainly don’t think you can fill every void from the draft alone – I was throwing out possible draft fixes. I wouldn’t mind this to address 4 holes:

    1 – Russell Okung, OT OSU
    2a – Golden Tate, WR ND
    2b – Brandon Spikes, LB UF
    3 – Chad Jones, S LSU

    I’m a diehard Mizzou fan, but Danario is not our answer to help this team this year (which knocks out opening up that other 2nd round pick you mentioned). As much as I’ll be rooting for him, I think he is a project if you can stash him, but not a sure thing.

  17. Great Callaspo comp. That’s what we’re looking for with guys like these. In that regard, bringing in any fresh blood is a good thing. I think we all agree that we’re fine with the Chiefs bringing in Urban and Smith. Apparently the Broncos wanted Urban, but we beat them out (presumably because of the Haley connection). That’s good to hear. As was Beans’ and DP’s testimony. I was only vaguely familiar with Urban and the initial Bill Williamson quote scared me, but this is starting to sound like a decent find.

    However, when you say something like “a top WR and DT won’t fix this team” you’re getting intoo some pretty muddy waters. Because what that sounds like is, “The Chiefs won’t be good this year, so why try to get the best players?” I think you should always go for the best players regardless of your situation. If the Chiefs had signed Jason Brown last year, we still wouldn’t have made the playoffs or even come close. But we’d be sitting here right now with one less need, one step closer to contention. You just can’t pass that up, even if you’re rebuidling. ESPECIALLY if you’re rebuilding.

    Boldin is another example. A top 10 receiver being available for a third round pick is pretty much the same as growing on a tree. I like our receiving corps, but if we’d traded for Boldin we’d be free to use those second round picks on other needs. As it stands, we’ll probably use one on a reciever, and he probably won’t be nearly as good as Boldin.

    Brown, Boldin, Karlos Dansby, Jamal Williams. All these guys would’ve cost was some of Clark Hunt’s money (+a third rounder for Boldin). Yes, we’re far away. But bringing in guys like these is how you get closer.

  18. The Chiefs just signed Casey Weigmann to a 1-year deal. Matty likey.

    “But what about the power running game?”
    -Rudi Niswanger

  19. Hatt, great points – I’m digging this Chiefs chatter.

    When I said that a top DT or WR won’t fix this team, my point was that we need a shitload of fixes on this team. If we just bought Jamal Williams and Boldin would this team be good all of a sudden? Sure, its better, but what of the other gaping holes? You’ve just spent $13M a year on a 30 and 34 year old with injury history and given up a 3rd round pick. No upside with these players, you simple pray they don’t regress too quickly.

    I think Brown and Boldin are much different. Jason Brown was a 26 year old OL with great character reviews and a young body (only started 2.5 years) and became the highest paid C in NFL history. Boldin is a 30 year old WR who in 5 of his 7 seasons has missed games due to injury. He is tough and played hurt quite a bit, but that also means he was hurt quite a bit. He is not a deep threat. He has publicly demanded a trade and bitched about his contract. He has clashed with coaches on more than one occasion (the main coach being Haley, who is here now and if one makes the argument that he is just a competitor and not a malcontent, then I think Haley would let Pioli know that). He would take a 4/32 deal to keep. To me, he seems like a better/older Dwayne Bowe. Yeah, part of me would take him and be happy, but shouldn’t we want a WR to compliment a Bowe? A DeSean Jackson type? Enter Golden Tate maybe? Honestly, I think I’d rather have Golden Tate for cheap with his upside, then Boldin and his risk/age/contract. I think for the Ravens (whose DEF is getting old and has a solid young QB, OL, & backs) its worth the risk – you can maybe ride a healthy Boldin to an AFC Championship. If he gets hurt, you can make the playoffs w/o him like you did this year. The money might bite you in the ass, but you might have a rebuilding around the corner anyway with your defense. I just don’t think Boldin was a great fit for us (not trying to sound like AP poster). Also, though getting Boldin would save us a 2nd round pick assuming we will take a WR there (though we still lack a deep threat with him), it would cost us a 3rd and 4th (though Donny Washington is hurting my argument there – Jason Brown was a 4th round pick and Jamaal Charles was a recent 3rd round pick).

    Speaking of Jason Brown – would you have signed him last year for all that money (5-37, $20M guaranteed) if you knew Weigmann would be here in a year to plug the gap and buy us time for to find a more affordable replacement? Guess it depends on who that replacement is. But if we bring in Lilja and draft Okung – is our line not VERY GOOD all of a sudden with left to right of Okung, Waters, Weigmann, Lilja, Albert??

    Question: Is Boldin the type of guy who would be the missing piece for this team? Or should we continue to amass as many better players as possible by not allocating $8M/year and two draft picks for an aging WR?

  20. I really am not trying to knock Urban. He has played pretty well for the Cardinals. I do think it will be tougher for him to be as productive with the Chiefs for the simple fact that he doesn’t have the other teams’ secondary focusing on Larry and Anquon. I hope he proves me wrong. More than anything, after the disappointment of the Boldin trade it is just human nature to compare Boldin and Urban. I understand that’s not fair to Urban but I guess I’m just a bitter Chiefs fan….who isn’t?

    I brought up Danario to make that point that we could draft a late round receiver that we wouldn’t need to contribute right away with Boldin added to the team. You seem to agree with me about Danario as a project so I still think that is a valid example of what might have happened had we traded for Bolin. I don’t know other 4th or 5th round WR talent off the top of my so that is why I used him.

    The Callaspo example was a good one, but is also a prime example of the “Royals way” that the Chiefs seem to be following. For every Callaspo signing, there are a ton of examples of those trades for smaller players not being all that great. The Yuniesky Betencourt (sp?) trade is one that sticks out in my mind. They are hoping to hit a home run with a cheap fix instead of doing the more expensive but less risk move. Callaspo seemed to be more of the exception rather than the rule.

    I think Chad Jones in the 3rd round is wishful thinking. I have seen him projected as an early 2nd rounder and most likely the 4th Safety off the board with Eric Berry, Taylor Mays and Earl Thomas all going in possibly the first round. To get him it would probably be with 2a and 3 round taking a receiver like Dezmon Briscoe or Riley Cooper out of Florida.

  21. i think we need to give up on the thought of bowe stepping his game up. i think he’s a good receiver, but he’s never going to stop dropping balls.

    yikes i didn’t realize weigman was 37. it’s wild that he’s back in kc.

    and i hate to keep downing everything, but i don’t think we have a chance with okung, and the only footage i’ve seen of baluga has him straight stinkin’ in the passing game.

  22. [...] blog, Big Matt’s Chiefs Chat.  It was right after we’d signed Jones.  Here’s a link to the article if you don’t believe me.  I don’t hate Jones.  I don’t even [...]


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