KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 31: Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after sacking quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers during the game on October 31, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Preseason reaches the halfway point and more question marks arise for the Kansas City Chiefs.
We meet again on another Friday and, my oh my, look what has happened in just one short week. We had a player finally report after holding out, a star player got suspended for a game and bad defense. And that's just the Kansas City Chiefs. And that's where we start this week.
1. Tamba Hawk Down:
It did not take long for Chiefs fans to catch a kick squarely in the groin when news came down Monday morning that Tamba Hali would be suspended for the first game of the season vs. the Atlanta Falcons for violation of the NFL substance abuse policy. There is still no word on what exactly went down with Hali that resulted in the one game suspension. Earlier this week, Mike Florio from Profootballtalk.com seemed to believe Hali's suspension is due to a previously unreported run -n Hali had with the law. Right now all anyone knows is not a whole lot. Over the past few years the Chiefs organization have become experts at keeping legal issues out of the public light. The chances that we find out exactly what happened with Hali to earn his one game suspension are slim to none. And I am thinking slim just left town.
So for those keeping score at home the Chiefs will be without their best pass rusher to start the season, Brandon Flowers has yet to see the field in any of the preseason games, Tyson Jackson is still crappy, and Stanford Routt has a reputation as a pass interference machine. At least the Falcons don't have a really good QB and two insanely talented receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones...oh wait. Add to that the fact the Falcons look to throw the ball even more this season. Things are not looking good for the red and gold as the dirty birds prepare to roll into Arrowhead on September 9th.
Last year the Chiefs season kicked off with a giant crash and burn as the Bills came into Arrowhead and dropped 41 points and the Chiefs were never in the game. That game was the tone setter for the season. This year's game was already a big game for many obvious reasons. Tamba Hali being suspended is another layer to the onion.
2. Bowe Show Gets Standing Ovation:
Dwayne Bowe finally signed his franchise tag contract and is in training camp and all is right with the world. The best part is that it is not going to take long for the Chiefs to get their first look at the 2012 D-Bowe. In fact, by the time this article is live you will only have to wait 10 hours to see the Chiefs star receiver in his new Nike uniform. I like the strategy to get Bowe into the game tonight and to use the preseason games along with training camp practices to get him up to the speed the Chiefs need him to be in order to beat the Falcons in week 1.
What is the first thing you would ask Dwayne Bowe now that he has reported to training camp? For me it is obvious that I'd ask about the holdout. Mainly I'd want to know the reasons why Bowe decided to hold out when clearly there was no financial gain for doing it. So naturally, when the media had their first opportunity to talk to Bowe questions quickly shifted toward the reasons Dwayne Bowe decided to wait as long as he did to report to training camp. And just as quickly, Bowe declared that questions about his hold out "did not contain" to what they were discussing. So...yeah...there is that.
Bowe's poor grammar usage aside, the debate on signing him kicked into high gear this week. This debate really struck my interest as I began to hear more and more people back Team Bowe Show. Their reasons for having no reservations on giving Bowe a whole butt load of money center around both the on-field production and the lack of off the field production. By lack of off the field production I am referring to arrests and/or suspensions from the NFL for misconduct. When you bring up the four game suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse policy for taking a banned diuretic in order to cut weight the blame for that skirts off Bowe's shoulders and fall on former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. People excuse away the dropped passes and comments about "importing" women while playing road games in San Diego and try to simply look at the high level of production he has delivered for the Chiefs.
I take all of that into account when it comes to signing Bowe to a long-term deal and making him a fixture in the Chiefs line up for many years to come. You can't ignore the production Bowe has had in his career for the Chiefs. The Chiefs have had a wide receiver with 80+ three times in their existence. Two of them have been by Dwayne Bowe. Just let that stat sink in for a few seconds. That tells you a lot about how good Bowe has been for the Chiefs. So does missing a 1/4 of the season because you were suspended and dropping an on-side kick that lead to a loss and dropping a potential game winning catch vs. the Patriots.
You can't pick and choose what parts to champion about Bowe. It is about the totality of his entire career in Kansas City. Speaking of Chiefs wide receivers...
3. Jon Bald-Not Winning:
Remember when everyone was writing and talking about the awesomeness that was Jon Baldwin in Chiefs training camp? How quickly things change. After two preseason games Jon Baldwin has one more catch than Dwayne Bowe and myself. On that one preseason catch Jon Baldwin made sure to add insult to injury by fumbling the ball. So much for Baldwin's second season starting off better than his first.
I am not giving up on Baldwin but I am also not going to pencil him in for some Bowe-type production. It is still early and it is still just the preseason. I try to approach with trepidation when I begin to form any opinions on the production I see from those games. NFL players tend to make a giant leap from their rookie season to their sophomore season. I expect that same jump from Baldwin but let's go ahead and pump the brakes on him being ready to be Dwayne Bowe's replacement.
4. The Riddler:
I don't know if this is Luke Hochevar's nickname but damn it should be. I bet his nickname is some baseball clique like Hochy or Hoch. Something way lamer than The Riddler is for Hochevar. First off it has 'The' in front of it of the name. 'The' makes everything better. The Hulk, The Beatles, The Colbert Report.
So Hochevar has that part of the nickname going for him. The biggest reason why this is the best nickname for the Royals pitcher is because I can't think of a Kansas City athlete that has caused this many people to scratch their collective head as Hochevar has. He is truly maddening. Let's look at his most recent start. Hochevar was able to out-duel Tampa Bay Ray's star pitcher and Cy Young candidate David Price. His final stat line went like so: 8 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 10 SO, on 105 pitches. The Rays are the hottest team in the American League and are in of a playoff race. Every game they play is so important. Their games are the antithesis of what the Royals games are right now.
Once again The Riddler goes out in late August and teases Royals fans with great pitching performances. He does this every season. Just when everyone is ready to run him out of town he has pitching performances like this and that small sliver creeps back into your head that maybe his has finally turned the "corner."
Thankfully for me I have that sweet helmet that Magneto rocks to keep Professor X from getting inside his head that prevented any of that getting up in my skull. I have zero time for the days of Luke Hochevar being anything special for the Royals. He has pitched some special games lately but wake me up when he starts pitching like this in April and May.
5. I Believe That We Will Win!
I have written about Sporting KC once before on Five-Orite Friday and to be honest I should write about them more. They are the most successful professional sports franchise in Kansas City and they have earned more words than I have given them. This Sunday the club takes on conference rival New York Red Bulls in Livestrong Sporting Park for first place in the Eastern Conference. Sporting currently has a two point lead over New York and this match is the second big match Sporting has hosted this season. The first was the U.S. Open Cup match vs. Seattle. Here is hoping the club is able to come away with a similar result.
I have said it before and will keep saying it - if you have not been out to see Sporting KC play at Livestrong Sporting Park then you are missing one of the great treasures the city has to offer. Sporting plays a style of soccer that is entertaining and easy to watch. Too many times when I watch bigger national teams play in friendly matches it looks like teams are playing very conservatively. They are almost playing to not lose. Sporting plays an aggressive fast style that is very easy to watch and follow. And their defense is really good. So the club plays aggressively and tries to score a lot and their defense and keeper don't give up many goals. Sounds like a winning formula to me. Even my wife enjoys going out to the park and watching the club play. And that says something because she really doesn't care for sporting events at all.
Follow me on twitter @craig_a_brenner and until next week, peace out.