Analyzing Danny Parkins' "Five Chiefs We Can Least Afford to Lose"
This morning on 610 AM, our friend Danny Parkins did a very interesting and thought provoking segment on the five Chiefs that he felt we could not afford to lose to injury or any other circumstance this season. After the jump, let's examine his selections and see if he was accurate or if his selections need a little adjustment.
As we head into the preseason tonight, which can be both productive and destructive, Danny Parkins decided to look into the latter and examine who we can least afford to lose in this preseason and beyond. Let's take a look and offer some analysis:
1. Matt Cassel (QB): Is Cassel the best player on the team? No. But his value to this club cannot be understated and Parkins is spot on with this one. The Chiefs do not possess a backup at this time who could be put in a pressure situation with confidence off the bench. Will Stanzi be that guy down the road? Most likely. But right now we are looking at Tyler Palko as our backup and quite frankly while he knows the system very well, he exudes no confidence out on the practice field or in game situations. Without Cassel in the lineup, it would be almost impossible for the Chiefs to win a game over the course of four quarters. Palko panics, throws some ill-advised floaters and to be honest wasn't even a "great" QB during his time in college at Pitt. It's very difficult to envision a more valuable player to the Chiefs than our QB Matt Cassel.
2. Tamba Hali (OLB): Seems like an obvious pick, but part of me was surprised that he got Danny's number two ranking. After looking at it further, I think he belongs in this spot. If Tamba is out of the lineup, opposing coordinators theoretically have nobody individually to game plan for, making our defense arguably sitting ducks out there. Yes Gilberry has given us good QB pressure off of the line, but the Chargers aren't going to be sitting around the table game planning for good old Wallace. Hali is a game changer on defense and his last two seasons have given him (a) A long term deal and the possibility to become an all-time Chief great, and (b) the ability to have opposing teams concerned about his every move on the field. Guys like Studebaker and Justin Houston would be serviceable replacements, but nowhere near what Hali brings to the defense.
3. Eric Berry (S): This one could be debated in my opinion. Yes, Berry is the unequivocal leader in the secondary. Yes, Berry had a tremendous rookie season. Yes, he is very valuable at stopping the run. But, while he is clearly the part of the short and long-term success of our team, I just don't know if he is as valuable as our next guy. Without question, Berry is in the top five and may be the best safety in the game right now, but I lean towards our next guy as having equal or greater value.
4. Jamaal Charles (RB): Yes, we have Thomas Jones and Le'Ron McClain. And while McClain has youth and power on his side and can be a number one back, Thomas Jones' best days are way behind him as we saw in the latter portion of 2010. Charles is currently an ELITE back in ELITE shape. He has not suffered the wear and tear that many backs do thanks to his light carry load each season. Charles is a split second away from breaking off a long run on every single carry. Take him out of the equation and we need to rely on Matt Cassel to do a lot more than he is accustomed and perhaps able to. Against some of the teams we will be facing (SD x2, NE, GB, Pitt, NYJ), no Charles would mean no offense. He alone gives us the ability to have what many are calling one of the most lethal offenses (rushing and passing) in the AFC. I think we sometimes take him for granted because of his supreme ability and production, but without him, we would be lost. I am aware that defense wins championships, but I wouldn't balk at anyone who puts him as high as number two.
5. Kelly Gregg (NT): I love this pick. Love it. He is definitely worthy of this label. He is an elder statesman on the team at a position that we ABSOLUTELY needed an upgrade. Gregg is a proven presence on the line that will hopefully provide the stopgap that Ron Edwards couldn't muster consistently for us at the nose. It's not just for his tenacity and his proven body of work that he lands here, it's (like Cassel) that his backups are simply not ready to provide what we need right now. Will Powe/Toribio be that guy down the road? I truly believe so. But right now? No way. We need Kelly Gregg to stay healthy and disrupt heavily at the line in order for our defense to begin to rise to the next level. So yes, these five are very solid picks by Danny (whom I do not always agree with) even if the order could be swapped a little.
In my own estimation, some honorable mention could go to the following guys:
Le'Ron McClain: I am in the school of thought that JC/TJ will slowly become JC/LM. In the meantime though, this is a HUGE upgrade from Mike Cox. While Shane Bannon gets NFL ready, McClain gives us an element we haven't had since Tony Richardson (who was beloved but perhaps never fully appreciated).
Dwayne Bowe: Many would put him in this category as he is definitely an elite wide receiver at this juncture. But for once, the WR position can actually be considered a strength given the quality of depth. Sure, nobody has Bowe's talent but theoretically we could survive without him, thus keeping Bowe off the list.
Dustin Colquitt: This may land me on the outs with some people, but one of the mainstays in both our good and bad times has been Colquitt. Nobody will ever say the punter is the most important player but a big reason our punt coverage has been good to very good is Trusty Dusty. If he were to be hurt mid-game or for an extended time, our special teams (obviously specifically the punt game) would take a huge hit. Trust me, it's not as crazy as it sounds.
Well there you have it: an in-depth look at the Parkins picks and a little bit of analysis from me. Let's hope tonight's game versus Tampa Bay and the other 19 following it will never cause us to have to revisit this subject.
Steve in Rhode Island