QUESTIONS ASKED AND ANSWERED AFTER CHIEFS FIRST PRESEASON GAME
The Chiefs had few questions coming into their first game of the preseason. Coming out of it, they have even fewer.
The Chiefs may have lost the game, but preseason isn’t about the score, it’s about player evaluation and health. For many of the lesser known players, the preseason is about opportunities for opportunity.
Tyler Bray had a chance to prove he had taken steps toward turning potential into production, but instead reaffirmed he has a long way to go. He also got hurt in the process. Meanwhile, former Ram and Eagle Nick Foles came in and showed that while the throws may not look great in practice, in the heat of a live game he’s cool in the pocket. Aaron Murray showed us his low ceiling may not be that low and Kevin Hogan showed us… well he showed us we can wait until 2018 before he really needs to show us anything we want to see.
Verdict? Alex Smith looked great, Nick Foles is clearly his number two, Tyler Bray is headed to the IR with a cervical spine chip fracture, and Aaron Murray may have some trade value…. Kevin Hogan did a lot of convincing he could easily make it to the practice squad. Maybe, just maybe, the Chiefs can stash two quarterbacks and carry three. Well played Andy, well played.
The offensive line wasn’t much of a question for me. They looked great. Which, in turn made the running backs, wide receivers, quarterback and tight ends all look great. Asked, if it really needed to be, and answered.
Defensively, unfortunately, the Chiefs had more issues. The run defense was suspect, which Derrick Johnson acknowledged. Dee Ford was a mess (more on this in a moment) and there was little if any pass rush to speak of until later in the game when Dadi Nicolas showed some displays of speed and athleticism that are promising. The pass defense was also an issue until Marcus Peters picked off Russell WIlson in the endzone. Peters is excellent, the problem is, he doesn’t have a lockdown corner to compliment and funnel passes to his side like he did a season ago. He instead has a Steven Nelson, who got abused in the game, and Phillip Gaines who gets abused regularly in practice. Gaines may not be quite ready to come back as he and the coaches had hoped. He’s not quite trusting the knee just yet. Nelson is aggressive, just not as talented as Peters, which means he is more easily beaten obviously. This year will be an adventure with the corners. One cannot help but think “what if the Chiefs had franchise-tagged Sean Smith instead of Eric Berry.” (#ShoulaFranchiseTaggedSeanSmith)
Dee Ford. Where to start… He’s been bad in run defense. He gets swallowed up by the right tackle…. Every time. Doesn’t matter who the right tackle is. Even with a little help from Dontari Poe at setting the edge, he’s still struggled. Forget pass coverage. Although there have been moments against the back where he’s had success and he does seem to predict the throw on the line and push the quarterback off his line, but he hasn’t been able to react fast enough to bat the pass down. Now the pass rush… He’s got speed. But speed isn’t enough. He needs two or three more moves. His long arm still needs work, and his spin move is under-utilized. I actually like his spin move. He’s had moments where it’s looked lethal, albeit misplaced. Bottom line, Dee Ford isn’t good enough at the one thing he’s the best at to make up for his deficencies in all other areas as a player. Unless he has an incredible beginning to the season, Dee Ford may have just run out of chances to earn a starting spot for the Chiefs. His best asset as a player currently: He’s all the Chiefs have.
Cairo Santos hit a 58-yard field goal. It may have been the only thing in the game that legitimately “counted” in my mind in the grand scheme of things. Field goals are field goals. Santos showed a lot of people he could be primed for one heck of a year. That range means a lot of those no man’s land punts could be field goal attempts this season. That could at up to 21 points this season that weren’t there a season ago.
Chiefs answered a lot of questions in preseason game number one. They may have raised a few about the secondary and pass rush, but the takeaway from game one are far more positive than negative. We’re one step closer to the beginning of football season.
By TJ Carpenter
We all suck at something. Despite what my mother raised me to believe, that the world was my oyster and I could be great at whatever I wanted, there were just simply some things I wasn’t very good at… (cue angry tweeter, listener, “yeah, RADIO is one of those things!")
Your own haterade aside, the point remains, we all suck at something, even the people we idolize and put on a pedestal in sports. Michael Jordan sucks at gambling, Barry Bonds sucks at being a teammate and yes, even Tom Brady sucks at covering up his balls… (I’ll pause to let you giggle.)
Andy Reid sucks. He’s great at preparing a game plan, coaching quarterbacks, creating unit cohesion in the locker room, winning regular season games, (eating cheeseburgers…) but he sucks at clock management. He sucks at clock management and he sucks at the two-minute offense. And don’t blame this on the west coast offense. Joe Montana and Bill Walsh wrote the chapter on The Comeback in the history book of the National Football League. The west coast offense is not to blame.
Andy Reid in particular has a problem here. Rea Hughes from WIP in Philadelphia the day after the Chiefs loss to the Patriots told us on 810 airwaves she’d seen this particular story many times before. It’s like watching a rerun of that one episode of Seinfeld you hate. You’ve seen it before, it comes on TBS way too often, for some reason Kramer isn’t in it. The only difference is that this doesn’t happen just once in the life of Andy Reid. He’s perpetually terrible and also perpetually in denial of this one problem.
It’s June and when I asked Reid about the two-minute drill (something they’ve been working on and failing at quite a bit in OTAs) he said, “yeah we feel good about where we’re at.”
You do? Because I watched you give the offense one timeout and 1:40 on the clock to score a TD and halfway through the drill add two more timeouts to give the offense a couple more chances. The offense didn’t repay that with a touchdown.
You read that right, Andy Reid changed the rules of his own two-minute scenario after the offense failed the scenario. And even with two more timeouts, still failed to score. (Buy hey! The defense looked GREAT!)
This week Reid also said in responding to questions about co-offensive coordinator Matt Nagy relaying the plays to Alex Smith in the huddle, sometimes he’ll do it, sometimes Childress will call them in from the scripted plays we have and I’ll do it if we’re in the two-minute drill, just so he can get used to that.”
Yes, Andy Reid, with two offensive coordinators, will call plays in the two-minute, relay those plays in the two-minute and also manage the clock in the two-minute. (I’ll pause to let you facepalm.) Reid is doing everything in the two-minute offense. The time when many people believe he should be doing the least.
In a Twitter poll I conducted (sorry, I didn’t have time to call Reuters) I asked, “Do you want Andy Reid in control of the clock, play calling and relaying plays in under 2 minutes?”
84% of responders said “No.”
This is a blindspot for Reid. He’s terrible at clock management and scoring late. The man has orchestrated 30 wins, two playoff appearances and a playoff win in three seasons, and yet he has yet to score a single touchdown on a drive started with under two minutes to go at the end of a half or game since becoming the Chiefs head coach.
You can win in the regular season without a great two-minute offense. You cannot do the same in the playoffs. You WILL be in a close game, you WILL have to score a touchdown, and you WILL NOT have a lot of time or timeouts to accomplish that feat.
His coordinators know it too. Matt Nagy said, “It’s a clear point of emphasis for us this offseason and something we are focusing on.”
Brad Childress said, “We need to be better in the two minute offense,” when asked his takeaway from the Patriots loss. “The two minute offense will be a primary focus of everything we do out here in the offseason.”
Well, I appreciate that… that’s reassuring. I don’t know how good Alex Smith, Nagy and Childress can be with the reigns in the two minute offense, I just know I’d rather take my chances and find out than trying to come up with convoluted solutions to make sure Andy Reid knows how much time is left on the clock and that he’s acting with proper urgency as he calls plays, relays plays, and clashes cymbals between his knees and plays the harmonica. (that’s a one man band, people.) Otherwise the best we could brainstorm is a plate of ribs with a clock on it… a man to hold up a see through clock board (like the one they use for soccer substitutions) that you can just hold up in front of his face so he can still see the play, but also has to constantly look at the clock first… shock collar. That’s all I got.
Can we all just simply acknowledge, we like Andy Reid. Andy Reid is great. He’s a lovable mustachioed jolly football coach. He also SUCKS! We don’t need a city-wide intervention… just some self-acknowledgement that he sucks at clock management. Maybe then, we can stop championing regular season success, and start counting postseason championships.
By TJ Carpenter
Whether through refusal to follow the rules or refusal to play until nothing is left of their knee cartilage or memory, NFL players make a choice on when they no longer want to put football first. Mike DeVito has chosen to prioritize his family and his faith over the Chiefs and football. Hussein Abdullah, who had already left football once for his faith, is leaving again, this time to preserve his mind, citing concussion concerns as the reason for his retirement.
Sometimes it’s a little more frustrating. Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel, a pair of Browns players aren’t going to be playing football because they prioritize pot and partying over football. And before you moralize this by pointing a finger at the NFL’s hypocrisy and perhaps stupidity in upholding a ban on pot that comes with a severe penalty for repeat offenders of the rule, remember this: The rule is the rule, you may not agree with or like the rule, but it's the rule. We can talk about changing it, and it probably should be changed. But as long as you know it can harm and perhaps even end your career, you are making a choice as an athlete to prioritize football or pot.
Rules are often times arbitrary. You may not always like your choices, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to make a choice. Josh Gordon made a choice. He chose pot. Johnny Manziel is making a choice, to party instead of play in the league. And fans are upset with them for these choices, because teams could benefit from their talents.
But fans are on some level upset with Abdullah and DeVito as well, they may respect their priorities and choices more than they respect Manziel’s and Gordon’s, but nevertheless fans know now they have to replace those players with someone else.
The NFL always likes calling the shots, dictating terms. The NFL hated it when Myron Rolle decided to pursue a Rhodes Scholarship instead of getting drafted to be a backup, perhaps starter, in the league. And now some Chiefs fans are frustrated with DeVito and Abdullah for leaving the Chiefs high and dry, compounding some of the problems the franchise is facing, like the loss of a 3rd round draft pick this year.
We are a reflection of our choices, and our choices are a reflection of our priorities. While we may view the opportunity of playing in the NFL as one we’d never pass up, for athletes who are that talented, it just isn’t the same. Much like you, they have families, they have hobbies, they have jobs, they have vices. Not everyone prioritizes those things in the same way. If you’re at the office at one in the morning, you’ll probably get that promotion, but you may also miss out on the fun at the club, or your daughter’s soccer game.
These players are telling us who they are, every day. Some of them are jerks, talented jerks, but jerks none the less. Some of them are family men and women. Some of them are pot heads, or poets, or good ol’ boys. Some of them are pathologically competitive and have a relentless desire to be the best at what they do and be defined by what they do.
All J.J. Watt does is workout and watch film and he stays away from any vice and most recreation in general. It makes sense he’s the best Defensive End in the NFL. It also makes sense Johnny Manziel doesn’t have an NFL team right now. But we shouldn’t be mad at Watt because he seems fake (when has he had time to develop a personality?) and we shouldn’t be mad at Manziel that he’s wasting his chance to play in the NFL (He clearly would rather party and have fun.) because those are the choices they are making.
The NFL has a problem with concussions, it has bad rules on pot, it has harsh jealousy of everything else that isn’t football and shows that double standard often. But, it also offers those that play, glory and fame and fortune. It’s okay when a player decides they’d rather pursue other things. The rules, written and unwritten, exist. While we may not like them - they may be arbitrary - but we have to follow them. We don’t however, have to villainize and moralize every time someone chooses to make a different choice than we would make. Players are telling us who they are. It’s time we start listening.
THE ROYALS MACHINE
“I am not a machine.”
Wade Davis pitched another scoreless inning against the San Francisco Giants In Scottsdale, Arizona, barely breaking a sweat. It was a hot day, so that’s saying something.
Wade Davis doesn’t like being referred to as a machine, even though that only spurs on the jokes on twitter and facebook (that’s exactly what a machine WOULD say; the machine is beginning to feel human emotions; skynet is online). “I don’t like that machine thing at all. I’m just a laid back guy. I have emotions,” Wade Davis said to me.
Davis and I talked a lot about his past. A one-time failed starter, Davis is now the best relief pitcher in baseball. Davis is coming off the best two-year stretch statistically in baseball history. Literally no one has better numbers in a two-year span than Davis had in 2014 and 2015. But many may not know it because Davis has been the setup man to Greg Holland for most of the last two seasons. Looking back on his time as a starter Davis has a good theory on why things didn’t work out as a starter and why he’s so good now.
“I didn’t work hard enough,” Davis said. “I didn’t have the maturity and consistency at the time to succeed. Now I’m older and more mature. I know what it takes and I know how hard it is.”
Davis’ admission is a common refrain with a lot of players around the Royals clubhouse. New addition to the team, Reymond Fuentes had a cup of coffee in the majors with San Diego where in 36 plate appearances he struck out in half of them. He was 22 at the time. Fuentes is now 25 and is jolting the ball all over the park in Spring Training, which isn’t a new development.
“I wasn’t ready,” Fuentes said. “I learned that there are guys at the major league level who throw their first strike when they want to, not when it happens. I am more mature now, I didn’t know what it took to play and hit at that level. Now I know how to go about my business and put in the work.”
It’s refreshing to hear players openly talk about failure. Baseball is after all a game of failure. If you succeed 30 percent of the time at the plate you’re considered all-star level. Perhaps one of the overlooked things about the organization is the strength the Royals built up clawing their way out of the psychological hole three decades of failure created around them.
As Andy McCullough wrote in 2014, the Royals first run to the World Series was almost derailed by Clash of Clans. Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer had to be set straight by First base coach Rusty Kuntz. When they started to focus more on baseball and less on video games, the season went from another reason for optimism to the best posteason run to the World Series in Major League history.
Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas were supposed to be white knights in shining armor here to save the city and bring it out of squalor. Eventually they did, but not before they had their own struggles. Moustakas was on the verge of being out of the league he was such a bad hitter in 2014. He hit .212 that season, which was actually helped by a surge in production in the second half that helped the Royals make the postseason for the first time since 1985. In 2015 he redefined himself as a hitter, due in large part to an acknowledgement that he had to give up on the long ball and beat the shift. He did it.
Davis is probably the best example of the Royals machine, but every player in one way or another came to terms with failure, their own failure. They came to terms with their own personalities and shortcomings. There is a strong sense of identity in this team because they are comfortable with themselves and what they are. They embrace their roles. Every player is a gear in the engine, a cog in the infernal machine destroying every team in its path.
Wade Davis isn’t a machine. He isn’t perfect. Just like every player in that clubhouse isn’t perfect. But together, the Royals Machine churns on.
Tod Palmer of the Kansas City star retweeted the Missouri Women’s Basketball official account the other night. “Another great crowd of 4,086 tonight at #Mizzou Arena. This is the 4th crowd of 4,000-plus this season! Thank you, #Mizzou fans!” Palmer retweeted it with the following comment: “Only 648 fewer than the men.”
This is the state of Men’s Basketball at Missouri. A sport that is expected to generate revenue for the University is currently getting as low as 4,700 fans. No one is paying attention. It’s a terrible product. It’s completely and utterly void of entertainment value, unless you simply enjoy pain. You are a Mizzou Masochist and Kim Anderson is your whip-wielding, leather-clad dominatrix.
But then the conversation on twitter shifted, because of what Tod and myself more colorfully compared it to: Women’s Basketball. I called the women's game “simply not an entertaining product. People don’t watch it, in person or on television. No on cares about women’s basketball. I’ve got the Ohio State vs Maryland Women’s game on in the studio and no one is in the stands. It’s just not watchable.”
These are of course generalizations. Fairly accurate, but generalizations. SOME people do watch women’s basketball, in person and on television. But that group is not a large one for the most part. The vast majority of women’s basketball programs don’t generate money - as is true with most college sports, independent of the gender of its participants. This isn’t an indictment of the people who produce the product, just the product itself. But Men’s Basketball and Football are different. They do generate revenue. A lot of it. It’s embarrassing when they don’t bring in big revenue at the major conference level.
I got some heat from Brenda VanLengen who is a color commentator and former women’s basketball player, “After your comments tonight @TJCarpenterWHB about the OSU/Md WBB not being a "good product," my hope is someday you have athletic daughters.”
I said I’d love that and be at every game they played in. I just wouldn’t expect anyone else to. So started a back and forth between us. You may be asking yourself right now, isn’t all this sexist? Am I sexist? No. Let’s take a look at the reasons why the vast majority of people, including me, and likely you, don’t watch women’s basketball.
(Coincidentally, something that IS sexist is the significant wage gap between pro men and pro women basketball players. In 2014 the nba had about 14.7 billion in total revenue. NBA players get about half of all revenue. WNBA league revenue is at least $35 million. WNBA players get roughly 33% of the league’s total revenue.)
Let’s make something abundantly clear, women’s sports can be appealing to a wide audience in the the United States; the US Women’s National Soccer team is evidence of that. If we take gender out of it, Women’s basketball as a sport is more popular the men’s wrestling and a myriad of other sports that no one cares about and simply put aren’t good enough products to attain broad appeal. But, we must view these things each individually. Because clearly there is more at play than simply gender. A person’s gender does not and should not hold someone back.
Here are the numbers on Women’s Basketball at the college level at the top 25 programs. Average revenue: $1,475,197. Average expenses: $3,280,275. Average net revenue: -$2,329,623. According to Kristi Dosh, in the SEC in 2013: For every $1 donated to women's basketball, $6.02 was donated to men's basketball. For every $1 donated to women's basketball, $67.03 was donated to football. According to Forbes, only four women’s teams reported revenue over $4 million to the department of education last year, and none had a profit over $500,000. In fact, just 43 of the 341 division I women’s basketball programs managed to finish in the black. For context, consider that 86 men’s teams generated at least $4 million in revenue, and 75 of them were above $500,000 in operating income.
At the college level boosters don’t donate to women’s basketball. In fact a lot of schools don’t have women’s basketball specific fundraising efforts. The interesting thing about comparing Missouri’s attendance numbers for men and women is that a ticket to the men’s game costs 30 dollars for upper level seats and 50 or more the better they get. Women’s tickets are five dollars for adults three for children. Often times admittance is simply free. At KU, a ticket in section H for the men’s game vs Kentucky was 130 dollars at face value and going for upwards of 800 dollars on StubHub. KU women’s tickets sell for 12 dollars to sit in the same section, but often times admittance is five dollars or according to a source close to the program, “they’re so desperate for fans, they’ll let people in for free.”
The phrase “entertainment product” can be highly subjective, but this is how we can measure it in some way, how many people watch, how high a demand is there to watch, how much revenue is generated by something, is it popular? Women’s basketball at the college level simply doesn’t have a product people want. A statement borne out by the data.
What’s the issue? Why isn’t it entertaining to most people? As we stated earlier, it has to be more complicated than gender bias. It is. Participation rates for girls in high school are up, but still dwarfed by the participation rates of boys. A lot of that is cultural. But as the women’s game evolves the caliber of athletes and training will as well. Women’s college basketball needs 30 teams as good as the current UConn Women’s team and 10 that are significantly better. The caliber of athlete needs improve and the level of competition needs to improve. Brittney Griner needs to be the average player in the WNBA, not a physical outlier.
When it comes to growing the sport at the college and pro level, women are at an enormous disadvantage. They were really late to the party, for a lot of complicated reasons, but much like MLS and other sports, the must continue to fight the fight and grow their sports, because the women who play these sports 40 years from now will be the beneficiaries of these pursuits and these struggles now. One star won’t explode the sport as we learned from Cheryl Miller.
These are noble pursuits, just not profitable or entertaining ones, but certainly educational.
In closing, I mentioned the disadvantage women are at in athletics in terms of funding and interest. Most women programs do not support themselves as is true with most non-football or men’s basketball programs regardless of gender. The problem here is that most programs create wonderful opportunities for its participants to get an education, and they’re actually there for an education. Football and basketball players aren’t. In 2016, Oregon is bringing in nearly 200 million dollars in revenue, mostly through football and major donations for football. And this is why we put so much emphasis on how much Universities earn and who earns it and whether student athletes deserved to be paid. The model for college athletics has changed. It is a business model, not an educational one. It’s a business model that enslaves athletic directors to pursue money and indentures athletes into servitude to create a product people do want. It’s hard to reconcile that with the charity it creates for things like women’s basketball which do have important cultural implications, despite not being that entertaining. But not nearly charitable enough. In 2013 the University of Texas paid 55.2 million dollars to coaches and staff, 25.1 million dollars was spent on facilities and 10 million dollars was spent on scholarships. That is not noble. Coaches and “staff” are not educators. That’s not a disparity in how the money generated by college football and basketball.
If you want to blame someone for holding women back in sports, blame the people who decide where that money goes, because it certainly isn’t going toward education women, it isn’t going toward quality education to the people who need it most. It goes to the people who are viewed as most important. Coincidentally the people who are making that decision picked themselves as the most important part of this revenue generation.
So we’ve created this chain. Women’s Basketball isn’t entertaining, but it’s an important worthwhile endeavor is supported by the football and men’s basketball program whose players generate hundreds of millions of dollars for their university and the university chooses to take the overwhelming majority of that money to pay the massive salaries of the coaches and athletic directors who are all too happy to take the credit for all of this.
The next time you want to do your university some good, don’t donate, instead, urge the head football coach and the athletic director to take a salary of one dollar for the next year and donate the rest to the women’s basketball program. It will go a lot further than the $200 dollar check you were about to write.
By TJ Carpenter
In sports talk radio we are all wrong from time to time. Earlier this season I said Peyton Manning would never play another down of NFL football. He is about to play in the Super Bowl. So… I was wrong on that one.
Earlier this year I made wagers with Kevin Kietzman and one of my producers Charlie Karlen that Kansas wouldn’t win a game in football. They were both so totally wrong for thinking KU football would win a game.
CBS officiating expert Mike Carey is wrong almost every time he speaks on television. It’s actually impressive how consistently wrong he is. It’s becoming a kind of performance art to some extent. He’s Elmer Fudd with a microphone.
I had an epiphany on wrongness. It’s awesome and hilarious and you have to own it.
People will crush you on social media for being wrong. One of my favorite things during CBS broadcasts has become listening to Mike Carey in wonderment as he says the exact opposite and wrong thing as a replay challenge unfolds and ultimately makes the right call and makes Mike Carey look like a doofus. Let’s be clear. I LOVE THIS. It is one of the funniest things in sports on television right now. And yet, people are complaining about Mike Carey. Just people will complain about me when I’m wrong or about any other host on 810 when they’re wrong.
Enjoy it. I do.
No one’s predictions are going to be 100% accurate all the time. We have to embrace that and enjoy the wrongness. Because when it’s big and public and embarrassing, it’s also enormously entertaining.
That’s why we are going to do a “Bracket of Wrongness” on the show. So far, we have the following in no particular order. We need to seed this tournament and need suggestions. So feel free to email me, email@example.com or just send your suggestions to my twitter account @TJCarpenterWHB. It can be anything. Left Shark is on the list. Left Shark didn’t make a prediction, but his failure was epic and amazing… Left Shark was SO wrong! Let’s all enjoy and revel in the failure of one another!
MIKE CAREY EVERYTHING
JIM FULSON CAM NEWTON WILL BE A BUST ARTICLE
TJ CARPENTER PEYTON MANNING IS FINISHED
CHARLIE KARLEN KU WILL WIN A GAME IN 2015
MICK SHAFFER THE DEMISE OF THE SEC
STEVE HARVEY MISS UNIVERSE WINNER
BEARDS MCFLY “IS GREEN BAY A DOME TEAM?”
ANDY REID CLOCK MANAGEMENT AT THE END OF THE PATRIOTS GAME
DAN WOLKEN SAID THE ALABAMA DOMINANCE WAS OVER
DEE FORD RUNNING AWAY FROM FRANK GORE
NATE SILVER SAID DONALD TRUMP WOULDN’T LAST