Mid-Season Player Ratings … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

As Todd Haley said earlier in the week, it’s been a pretty wild first half of the 2011 season for the Chiefs. From the 0-3 ugly start, to the four-game winning streak, to the ugly fourth loss that put them at .500 for the season, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster for this team.

As they get ready to kickoff the second half of the season with Sunday’s game against Denver, it seemed a good time to update our player rankings on the active roster. Obviously, these rankings do not include Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki, who would all rank in the top dozen players if they were not all nursing torn ACLs in their left knees.

Losing those three really put the Chiefs in a bind, and in all three cases they really haven’t been able to break out at those positions. Running back, safety and tight end have been three of the least productive positions on the team through eight games. Players at other positions have stepped up their games, but not enough to overcome that missing big three.

With that in mind, here are the ratings. This is based on what they showed over the first eight games, with about 10 percent of the grade going to what they may bring in the future. Right now we are more impressed by production and what we’ve seen with our own eyes, rather than potential and looking to the future.

1. ILB Derrick Johnson – Until the Miami game, Johnson was sailing along putting up top-grading performances game-after-game. Against the Dolphins, he was not on top of his game, especially in pass coverage when he got picked on that 35-yard TD pass to the Miami TE. But overall, he’s had the best half-season of anybody on the roster.

2. OLB Tamba Hali – Like D.J., all of Hali’s arrows pointed up for seven games, but game No. 8 against Miami was his worst performance in two years. Included in that struggle was an unnecessary personal foul call when he became frustrated with the Dolphins blocking him. Again, Hali has had a good season to date. The Chiefs will need a great second half if they hope to advance.

3. QB Matt Cassel – The season started slowly for the Chiefs starting QB and offensive leader. But since the second half of the game in San Diego, he’s been a plus-player for Haley. Sometimes he’s better than others like against Indianapolis or the Chargers at Arrowhead. Other times he’s not quite up to those standards like the Miami game. But overall he’s pulled positive grades in the last six games.

4. WR Dwayne Bowe – In his contract year, Bowe got off to a slow start in the first two games. Since then, he’s been very consistent in his production on the field. With more possible receivers in the offense now, it takes some of the pressure off Bowe and should allow him to stay a viable target and not get shutout like he did at the end of last season.

5. CB Brandon Flowers – With the exception of the Indianapolis and Miami games, Flowers was likely the best player on the field most of those outings. But his overall play against the Colts and Dolphins was at the other end of the spectrum. That can happen with cornerbacks, where good plays and mistakes are all out in the open for everyone to see. Flowers is the team’s third leading tackler at mid-season, an obvious indication that he’s just not a coverage corner.

6. P Dustin Colquitt – He’s put together five strong games in a row, dating back to the start of the Chiefs win streak against the Vikings. His gross average of 46.7 yards and net average of 41.3 yards are both career highs and better than any previous season. Plus, he gets all that done while kicking in a team concept and not in a manner to simply pump up his stats each punt.

7. WR Steve Breaston – As the season has gone on, Breaston has become more consistent and he’s definitely won the confidence of Cassel, who looks for him in tough situations. Breaston still is not 100 percent physically coming off the knee surgery during the off-season. But he’s become a factor, and if he can continue to produce, it will have a domino effect on the rest of the offense, from Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin, to the run game. Breaston will be a key figure in the second half of the season.

8. C Casey Wiegmann – Somewhere, Wiegmann discovered a fountain of youth for 37-year old NFL centers. With the exception of one game, he’s been the best offensive lineman on the field for the Chiefs. He struggled in San Diego, but came back with a very good performance against the Chargers in Kansas City. For him to play at the level he has for seven of the eight games is truly remarkable.

9. K Ryan Succop – Nobody started the season with worst results than Succop who was in danger of mis-kicking himself right off the roster. But he rebounded against Minnesota going 5 for 5 and since then he hasn’t missed. His kickoffs are for the most part going for touchbacks, as opponents have returned just nine kickoffs this year.

10. RB Jackie Battle – Over the first three games, Battle had 10 offensive plays. He jumped to 18 in the Minnesota game and since then has averaged 35 offensive snaps. He’s become the only reliable running threat in the offense and his ability to produce and stay on the field will be a huge factor in the second half of the season.

11. NT Kelly Gregg – After being a non-factor in the first quarter of the season, Gregg rebounded over the last four weeks to become a major contributor to the Chiefs defense.

12. DE Tyson Jackson – That’s right, No. 12 for the 2009 first-round draft choice. What’s remarkable is how consistent Jackson has been and he plays a little bit better each week. His arrow is pointing.

13. CB Brandon Carr – Against the Raiders, Carr was one of the best players on the field for the Chiefs defense. In the last two weeks, he’s not played nearly as well. Carr needs a return to consistency.

14. DE Glenn Dorsey – Through eight games, Dorsey has been wildly inconsistent. He played well against Indianapolis and San Diego twice. Against Miami, he was a non-factor and played poorly.

15. LT Branden Albert – Much like Dorsey, the left tackle has been very up and down. He played poorly against San Diego on Monday night, but came back for a better game against Miami. Far too inconsistent.

16. CB Javier Arenas – The nickel back, returner and sometimes offensive weapon has contributed in so many areas and has played well in four of the last six games.

17. RB Dexter McCluster – The diminutive offensive weapon started the season pretty strongly, but over the last four games he’s been a marginal contributor.

18. ILB Jovan Belcher – He had played a strong and consistent season until the Miami game. That afternoon saw Belcher play his worst game of the year. He must turn the arrow around.

19. FB Le’Ron McClain – Has McClain been inconsistent all season. A good game here and bad game there, a mediocre game following all that up. He must be more reliable in production.

20. LG Ryan Lilja – Quite possibly Lilja has been the offense’s most inconsistent performer. A good start has led to up and down play.

21. SS Jon McGraw – Major contributor against Indy and Oakland; poor play vs. Chargers. He’s still the best safety available right now.

22. ILB Cory Greenwood – He’s risen on his special teams work, where he’s the team’s leading tackler by a large amount with 10.

23. DE Wallace Gilberry – One of the disappointments of the season, with just one sack. He’s not played well in over a month.

24. DL Amon Gordon – With limited playing time alternating at nose tackle and defensive end, Gordon has made contributions.

25. RG Jon Asamoah – His first season as a starter was going along well until the Miami game when he graded out poorly.

26. RB Thomas Jones – Obviously Jones is done as a productive NFL running back. There are still contributions he can make.

27. FS Kendrick Lewis – Despite his three interceptions, Lewis has struggled in coverage and he’s been too inconsistent.

28. OLB Justin Houston – Third-round draft choice has 24 tackles, 2 QB pressures, but no sacks and he struggles badly in pass coverage.

29. WR Keary Colbert – His nine catches for 89 yards is not an impressive start to the season.

30. OLB Andy Studebaker – He has not graded well since he got back into the starting lineup. Miami crushed him in the run game.

31. ILB Demorrio Williams – Most of his snaps have come in the kicking game. Only 50 defensive plays for 12 tackles.

32. LS Thomas Gafford – Solid on his snaps for punts, FGs and PATs up to this point.

33. CB Jalil Brown – The rookie has seen only nine or 10 plays on defense, and has two tackles in the kicking game.

34. TE Jake O’Connell – He does not produce much on special teams, has four catches and he’s struggling as a blocker right now.

35. CB Travis Daniels – In limited playing time he has an interception and nine tackles.

36. WR Jonathan Baldwin – He’s getting about 30 snaps a game, with seven catches and a TD. His arrow is pointing up.

37. OLB Cameron Sheffield – After losing his starting job, he’s pretty much disappeared.

38. RT Barry Richardson – His arrow is pointing down and he’s not played well in over a month. It may be time for a change at RT.

39. WR Terrance Copper – One catch for nine yards, only three special teams tackles.

40. OT Jared Gaither – He’s seen the field for just 19 snaps on offense, and didn’t show much of anything.

41. S Reshard Langford – Almost no time on defense, with less than 20 snaps so far.

42. TE Leonard Pope – On the field for 60 to 70 percent of the offensive snaps, he has 13 catches, while his blocking lags.

43. DE Allen Bailey – The rookie has more snaps than any rookie and produced nothing – 3 tackles, 2 QB pressures.

44. TE Anthony Becht – It’s not obvious in any fashion what Becht provides the team.

45. S Donald Washington – Every game he starts turns into a bad performance; especially poor against Miami.

46. WR Jerheme Urban – Active for two games, inactive for six; he’s still here because he’s a Haley favorite.

47. S Sabby Piscitelli – In limited time he does have 23 tackles, but he’s a liability in pass coverage.

48-53. – G Rodney Hudson, QB Tyler Palko, OT Steve Maneri, QB Ricky Stanzi, DT Jerrell Powe, DE Brandon Bair – There’s just not enough evidence to provide any type of meaningful grade.

11 Responses to “Mid-Season Player Ratings … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 12, 2011  - Michael says:

    So Matt Cassel is ranked #3, higher than Bowe, Flowers, Breaston, etc…

    Come on Bob, don’t keep the good stuff all to yourself…Pass it over here.

  • November 12, 2011  - Josh says:

    Fully agree with Michael. Cassel is in the top twenty on three of the last eight games, in the bottom 10 for the other 5. San Diego was a gimme (both times). The entire chart would be (and should be) different if we had a top-tier QB.

  • November 12, 2011  - RW says:

    Idea for a future column: Grade out the coaches, GM and owner.

  • November 12, 2011  - James says:

    Most of the ratings are okay. Just don’t see Cassel in the top 10. Would sure like to see Hudson and Powe get some playing time. And why not give Maneri a shot at RT. He can’t be any worse than Richardson.

  • November 12, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    It would be interesting to know if Gaither is 100% healthy. If not, I could see why they wouldn’t want to mess with the O line if he is undependable from a health standpoint. If he is, I agree it is time to give Richardson a rest.

    I will give Cassel a break in that to my eyes, the play calling has been weak. Not having Charles is a gut punch for a team with a “run first” philosophy. But he’s not here and the WR’s are our strength. We also have a few backs who can catch out of the backfield: McCluster, McClain and Jones. Screens, passes to backs, slants…..high percentage passes where Cassel can quickly get rid of the ball and pick up five yards. This guy has been in the league long enough to do these basic things. A little West Coast offense might do this team some good.

    I assume the Chiefs don’t trust Cassel to put the ball in the air 40+ times a game. I get that given that this team can’t afford turnovers. But, there are high percentage ways to utilize the passing game. Given where the Chiefs are in offensive production, that makes sense to me.

    On the defensive side of the ball, we don’t have enough players to get to the QB without blitzing. I put that on Crennel and Hali. Again, we lost a great player in Berry and if opposing QB’s have all day to throw, we will get torched. Young QB’s typically don’t handle disguised blitz packages well. I don’t understand why we didn’t try to overwhelm the Miami QB. Even that guy had time to find the open receiver. Beyond that, pressure adversely affects all QB’s. We may have to scheme our way to improvement here and that’s a function of the defensive coordinator.

    My point here is I think individual player grades might be higher if we made some adjustments in both the offensive and defensive play calling. Now, Haley and Crennel are brilliant in this area, but could someone please enlighten me as to how this team can win more games by not getting the ball to our gifted receivers and not putting more pressure on the QB? Thanks.

  • November 12, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I’m not sure where I would put Cassell. Because he’s the best we have and plays the most important position on the team, I would have him at about ten. He’s been inconsistent, but has had stretches of good play. I would have Asamoah slightly higher and Weigmann down to about fifteen. I agree with most of the other grades.

  • November 12, 2011  - el cid says:

    Afraid most of these posts are tainted by personal favorites or dislikes, even Bob’s, heck even Haley’s if true about Urban.

    This is a team. Love them or hate them it is a group effort or lack of same. Picture the grade if they, as individuals, were on GB or Jets or a better team with better talent.

    A better way to grade the team is to compare what was here before Pioli and Haley and after. Things are looking better, so…..I would grade they as a solid C. A very average team with average management, coaching, and future. Cannot give a better grade in that the rest of the AFC West is in transition. raider seem better, SD may be ready for a rebuild, and broncos may go either way their owner has a fire to win.

  • November 12, 2011  - aPauled says:

    A lot of spot-on analysis about each player in this piece. I would drop Cassel behind Bowe and Flowers…not sure about going much farther as all of the guys below that have also been very inconsistent this year. Factor in expectations and yeah, Cassel would be much further down the list.

    Sunday will be a great opportunity to get many of those arrows turned Up. If the 8 in the box can stop the run…Flowers, Carr and Lewis should have a field day returning picks.

  • November 12, 2011  - Chuck says:

    I fully agree with Michael and Josh from above. Ranking him #3 on this team-NO WAY. His passer rating of a meager 77.8 is just an average NFL QB at best. He has 9 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Again “below average” by NFL standards. He has 1,620 yards which averages out to 202 yards per game-again average “at best”. Like I’ve said before he is not an “elite QB” and will not ever win us a super bowl. He’s too “inconsistent”.

  • November 12, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Our O-line will never get us to a Playoff victory.

    Bob must be watching different games than I do. Weigmann is getting shoved around like a rag doll.
    Hudson looked like a road grader during pre-season, I can’t believe he isn’t playing in this sad group.
    Gaither can’t possibly be worse than Richardson.
    Asamoah shows promise, Lilja is barely serviceable this year. We need a major overhaul at O-line. Move Albert to RG, put Hudson at Center and pick up a Free Agent OT while drafting 2 more.
    We also need a LB to replace Belcher as well as a bookend to Tamba.

    $30 million ought to cover all that…

  • November 12, 2011  - el cid says:

    30 mil and we still have a oft-injured TE as a starter, Cassel at QB, no help on DL at all,no depth at LB, and no depth at LB or safety. Are you sure you thought this thru??

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