Welcome to the only true official NFL offseason, which is the annual slow period between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp in late July.
Players aren’t the only ones taking a vacation, of course, as beat writers traditionally take the month off to re-energize.
But before hanging a “Gone Fishing” sign, here’s the latest mailbag discussing quarterback Alex Smith, late summer additions and the backup quarterback battle.
— Tyler Ewing (@tewing96) June 25, 2015
Tossing out a couple of stats to show the Chiefs know exactly what they have in a category that matter the most and why any change is far-fetched at the position:
• Smith holds a 38-16-1 record since 2011 to produce a .700 winning percentage (minimum 30 starts), which ranks fifth among a who’s who in NFL quarterbacks. Smith is currently behind Peyton Manning (38-10, .792), Aaron Rodgers (43-13, .768), Tom Brady (49-15, .766) and Russell Wilson (36-12, .750).
• The 31-year-old quarterback has 19 regular-season wins in his first seasons in Kansas City, and passed Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana for most victories by a Chiefs signal caller in an initial two-year span with the club.
The NFL is forever a “what have you done for me lately” business, and the results are in Smith’s favor.
Unfortunately, too many tend to forget what Smith has accomplished in recent years and prefer to remember when Smith and the San Francisco 49ers struggled through a dismal 37-59 record from 2005-10.
But can anyone really fault Smith before the 2011 season?
Continuity escaped Smith in San Francisco, which saw him go through four head coaches and a whopping seven offensive coordinators and six quarterback coaches.
What Smith has entering the 2015 season simply can’t be ignored.
And that surrounds a stable environment with the same head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the first time in three straight years during his 11-year professional career.
Take a look at this piece, “Chiefs head to July with stable coaching staff, quarterback,” which goes more in detail of the above scenario. The article was written while donning a second hat as a Chiefs correspondent for The Associated Press.
Some of the quotes based on interviews with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, left guard Ben Grubbs, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and Smith offer optimism going forward.
Smith has fully absorbed what coach Andy Reid expects in the offense and has the pieces around him to excel.
“I think he is obviously in full command of it,” Reid said on the final day of minicamp of Smith’s comfort in the offense. “He understands it and gets it. He has a lot of trust in the guys around him, which is a good thing.”
The Chiefs – from coaching staff to players – believe in Smith.
— Ben Almquist (@citadelchief) June 25, 2015
The Chiefs have shown an ability to strike gold in the past two years with late additions under general manager John Dorsey.
Dorsey engineered what was called the “Second Dray” on Sept. 1, 2013 after claiming defensive back Ron Parker, cornerback Marcus Cooper, defensive lineman Jaye Howard, linebackers James-Michael Johnson and Dezman Moses, tight end Sean McGrath and wide receiver Chad Hall off waivers from other teams.
Of that group, Parker, Cooper, Howard, Johnson and Moses are still with the team two years later and have made major contributions, especially Parker, who signed a five-year, $30-million contract to return to the Chiefs in March.
The Chiefs’ biggest impact moves in 2014 arguably came from linebacker Josh Mauga, who signed a one-year deal shortly before training camp, and cornerback Jamell Fleming, whom the Chiefs signed off the Baltimore Ravens practice squad.
Mauga went on to the lead the team in tackles, while Fleming supplanted Cooper in Week 7 as a starter and finished the season appearing in seven games with four starts.
Other late summer additions, all of whom contributed, include tackle Ryan Harris, who signed before training camp and started 15 games at right tackle; safety Kurt Coleman, who appeared in 15 games with three starts; safety Kelcie McCray, whom the Chiefs acquired in an Aug. 21 trade in exchange for guard Rishaw Johnson and McCray became a special teams ace; and guard Mike McGlynn, who joined the team the final week of preseason and started 13 games.
And don’t forget wide receiver Jason Avant, who signed a free-agent deal in Week 12.
While Harris, Coleman and McGlynn weren’t brought back, Mauga returned after signing a three-year deal, Avant returned on a one-year deal, McCray has two years left on his contract and Fleming enters the final year of his contract.
Meanwhile, it is more than reasonable to expect Dorsey to keep an eye open leading to the regular season. The general manager has proven he won’t be satisfied with the status quo if opportunities arise to add depth or bolster competition.
As to the question of “who,” the beauty of the late transactions the past two years is nobody truly saw the impact of individual players coming until the action unfolded.
Moreover, it is difficult to identify specific players the team could have an eye on short of possessing an all-knowing crystal ball. Teams still haven’t reported to training camp and there’s a while to go before roster cuts begin.
But one thing if for sure if two years offers a strong hint; bank on the Chiefs doing due diligence between now and the start of the regular season.
— Garrett Allen (@kwikwit13) June 25, 2015
The battle between seventh-year pro Chase Daniel and second-year pro Aaron Murray won’t heat up until training camp.
But Murray has a lot of ground to make up if he hopes to supplant Chase Daniel as Alex Smith’s primary backup based on personal observations during organized team activities and minicamp practices.
When it comes to the quarterback situation, the pecking order is Smith, and then everyone else.
Smith is hands down the top dog of the current trio – Tyler Bray hasn’t practiced as he recovers from January’s ACL surgery – and Daniel looked sharper than Murray during team-related 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
While Murray needs a lights out performance in training camp and preseason action, it’s difficult seeing the Chiefs turn to him over Daniel at this stage.
And finally, there is this tweet from Chiefs center Eric Kush set to the classic tune, “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor.
While not actually a mailbag item, this is worth a share to show what some of the Chiefs offensive linemen, specifically Kush, rookie Mitch Morse, Jeff Allen and Zach Fulton, are up to during the break.
— Eric KC Kush (@EricKush64) June 26, 2015
Kush, Morse, Allen and Fulton, are having fun, of course, but the biggest takeaway?
They are having fun together.
See everybody in St. Joseph, Mo., for training camp.
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