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are some situations that conventional wisdom states require a certain type of runner, but conventional wisdom is often outdated or just plain wrong in sports.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?
- Mort is calling the Chiefs one of his sleeper picks. That can’t be good.