Image edited by Brett Gering
The Kansas City Chiefs are 6-0 for the first time since 2003, and every week, the usual names are credited with sizable chunks of the success. Deservedly so.
Alex Smith has protected the ball like doctors just disconnected the umbilical cord. Whether by ground or air, Jamaal Charles has grilled more victims than Arrowhead's tailgaters. The defense has collectively jelled like Voltron and demoralized attackers on a weekly basis.
Every Sunday, Andy Reid takes the cards he's dealt and plays them to perfection.
The man harvesting jewels from the free-agent pool and waiver wire, John Dorsey, is climbing the ranks of general managers at an alarming rate.
However, any GM can sign a few marquee free agents and come out looking like a bona fide genius. What separates the great GMs from their average colleagues is an eagle-eye ability for plucking handfuls of needles in an endless haystack: the NFL free-agent market.
Six under-the-radar signings have sent Dorsey's credibility skyrocketing.
Statistics and player rankings provided by Pro Football Focus (PFF, subscription required).
Initially, I was tempted to begin this slide with, "If there's one criticism I have of Bob Sutton..." Then, I remembered that the Chiefs touted the No. 1 defense in the league and had a premonition of jurors casting stones at my credibility in the court of public opinion.
If there's one type of sports enthusiast that annoys me, it's "that guy" who, in retrospect, condemns coaches and pontificates about their decisions (usually in large blocks of texts with smatterings of all-caps buzz words and gangs of exclamation marks).
That being said, allow me to slip a recommendation into the suggestion box: feed Husain Abdullah more playing time.
For whatever reason, Abdullah has only logged 88 snaps throughout the regular season.
He's normally a textbook tackler, and his ability to change direction is more reminiscent of a cornerback than safety. No. 39 has also become a revered run supporter throughout his five seasons.
Hopefully, last week's decibel-doubling pick-six will lobby for more minutes.
4: The number of times Abdullah has beelined toward opposing passers and recorded a quarterback hurry.
50: Percentage of passes caught in Abdullah's vicinity, which ranks him 11th among safeties who have played a minimum of 50 snaps.
4.8: Average yards per reception when Abdullah is the primary defender.
By the end of the 2012 season, Quintin Demps looked like some kind of rebellious mummy who just Shawshank-ed his way out a Giza pyramid.
That, or the world's oldest, and laziest, trick-or-treater (a title previously owned by Jim Halpert).
He explained to The Kansas City Star, "I was running around with two casts. I didn’t finish the season well because of that."
During that span, Demps was a member of the Houston Texans, whom he'll be lining up across from this Sunday. Since then, Eric Berry's reliever has had time to remedy his wounds and rejuvenate his career.
Demps, who was originally drafted by Andy Reid, has not only served as a turnover magnet, but he has gradually evolved into the one of the league's most threatening kick returners.
His release by the Texans has proven to be a blessing in disguise. As he stated in the aforementioned interview, "Adversity burdens you, but it can make you (better) sometimes."
35.2: Average amount of yardage that Demps gains per kick return, trailing only Denver's Trindon Holliday (37.7).
3: Passes that Demps has intercepted, which is tied for the most among safeties.
Every time I see Sean McGrath, I get an unexplainable urge to hunt wild boars. That's probably a "me" problem, but Kansas City's tight end looks like he could—and would—maul the guy from Valhalla Rising and use his blood for eye black (red?) on Sunday.
If Maximus rhetorically shouted "Are you not entertained?" at him, there's no doubt in my mind that McGrath would instinctively square up with balled fists facing inward, then proceed to bludgeon him while belting obscenities in the voice of an Irish potato farmer.
He's also a pretty good football player.
Opening the season, the Chiefs roster featured a talented trio of tight ends. As of now, the triad has spent more minutes off the field than on it.
In walked McGrath and his woolly meme—problem solved.
0: Penalties McGrath has been flagged for in 306 snaps.
75: Percentage of passes caught when McGrath is thrown to.
Juliet once asked, "What's in a name?" before disparaging surnames and their relevance.
Juliet never watched film of Anthony Sherman.
Like his last name suggests, the man is a walking tank. The fullback made PFF's "Team of the Month" after the first quarter of the 2013 season. Why?
To put it simply, he's a 242-pound reminder of why chin straps were invented. He fearlessly hunts linebackers and forges new found daylight for Jamaal Charles.
He also debunks the stereotype of fullbacks having five-fingered stones for hands. Unlike most players of his ilk, Kansas City's fullback is a reputable receiving option who has netted eight receptions for 73 yards this season.
1: Sherman's overall position ranking.
0: Defensive snaps played by Javier Arenas, whom the Chiefs traded away for Sherman.
6.5 million: Arizona's estimated population, or the number of people fuming that Sherman was swapped out for Arenas.
Akeem Jordan is the third wheel (or in this case, fourth) of Kansas City's celebrated linebacking corps. A black sheep in a herd of decorated Pro Bowlers.
Tito Jackson in the United States of James Carter (NSFW).
The awkward guy at the bar who mouths Ke$ha choruses and seeks confirming fist bumps—they're not cool anymore, stop—after every drunken, Dwight Schrute-like observation.
The last analogy took it too far, but you get the point.
Entering the 2013 season, Jordan was a defensive pariah nobody talked about. After six games, he's also the exception to the rule.
Last year (and seasons prior), Kansas City's thumper was an outside linebacker in a 4-3. This season, he's an inside linebacker in a 3-4.
Jordan was bound to fall victim to a dip in performance, which is why several people, including myself, prognosticated that Nico Johnson could debut as the starting strong-side linebacker in 2013.
However, after watching No. 55 throughout the past handful of weeks, there's no question why he's the definitive starter. Jordan showcases solid fundamentals, an insatiable thirst for contact and enough speed and athleticism to effectively defend targets in coverage.
3: Jordan's ranking among inside linebackers in tackling efficiency (total number of attempted tackles made per each missed tackle).
4: Jordan's overall position ranking (one slot behind Derrick Johnson).
Marcus Cooper is a Stage Five Clinger.
He sticks to receivers like the cobweb that you unexpectedly nosedive into before frenetically yelping out, "Is it on my back? Is it on my back(!)?"
The seventh-round rookie was plucked from the waiver wire just before the regular season premiered. By Week 4, he had soared up the depth chart and supplanted Dunta Robinson as the third cornerback.
Cooper didn't make an appearance in Kansas City's secondary until three Sundays ago. In the trio of games since, the budding rookie has deflected five passes and grabbed two interceptions, while allowing single-digit receptions despite being targeted 24 times.
Like any first-year prospect, Cooper isn't without his flaws. His spindly frame would benefit from some extra time in the weight room, and he doesn't always commit to his initial jam in bump-and-run (which allowed Denarius Moore to slip inside his coverage—a cardinal sin in Cover 1—for a touchdown last week).
But over the course of six weeks, No. 31 has graduated from a practice-squad candidate to a distinguished No. 2 cornerback (if need be).
One team's trash is another team's treasure and, from the looks of it, John Dorsey unearthed another gem to add to his 53-piece collection.
Thank you, San Francisco. You shouldn't have. (You really, really shouldn't have.) But after three years of Steve Bono, a quarterback as accurate as a pool hall restroom pregnancy test in rural Utah, Kansas Citians will consider Cooper's release as restitution.
17.5: On average, the amount of snaps Cooper participates in before his receiver snags a reception.
33.3: Percentage of completions per attempt when Cooper is targeted, which currently ties him for first (Dee Milliner) among NFL cornerbacks.
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