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I wanted to go back and look at two particular Kansas City Chiefs – Spencer Ware and Chris Conley. Two players our computer models and/or our visual scouting are telling us could be stars…superstars. You’ll see my Conley report soon, but first we’re going to focus on Ware.
I have to share my first thought after spending some time watching the Chiefs’ 2015 season through the eyes of Ware and Conley. That thought is: Why am I not believing more in the Kansas City Chiefs as the best team in the NFL?
They won their 2015 opener, and then lost five in a row. If you set aside that pesky five-game losing streak, the Chiefs were 16–1 in all their other games…4-0 preseason (hey, they were undefeated), an opening day win, 10–0 run to end the season, 1–1 in the playoffs…a playoff loss to New England, at New England, playing without Jamaal Charles and a half of Jeremy Maclin (he was hurt)…and Justin Houston was hurt/out early in the game…and Spencer Ware was banged up and barely played. Four of their top players out or hampered…and they lost at New England by a TD.
The Super Bowl ‘champ’ (in any season) is such nonsense, on a certain level. A full-strength Steelers or Chiefs would have taken down the Broncos along the way last season.
The Chiefs have a good-to-great defense. They have a winning, quality QB, and they now have one of the better backup QBs in the NFL – they’ve taken the steps every contending team should take, at QB, in the NFL…which is the opposite of the ridiculous Dallas Cowboys’ backup QB situation.
The Chiefs have weapons, and depth, at RB, WR (better than given credit), and TE (Demetrius Harris is a great #2 TE). They have a home field that’s a true ‘advantage’. If their O-Line holds up/improves, and given that they pushed the NFL around most of last year…at full strength…why not the Chiefs as the best team in the league? Given they now have Nick Foles to take any Alex Smith injury concerns off the table…I’d play them as an ‘over’ on 9.5 win totals for the 2016 season. I know Xavier Cromartie saw this a while ago. Perhaps, I was too hasty dismissing his 15–1 prediction for this season. RC and XC debate the KC Chiefs over-under for 2016
What does all this Chiefs talk have to do with looking back at Spencer Ware’s 2015 season? Not much. Let’s go focus on Ware now.
You want me to predict his 2016? When will he…or will he…take over for Jamaal Charles in the future? Will he split with Charles this year?
Hell if I know.
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I know this – the NFL ‘management of things’ doesn’t like change…especially with offensive players…and especially at QB and RB. Change has to be forced upon them, usually by someone else’s injury. Spencer Ware is still a ghost if Jamaal Charles doesn’t get hurt in 2015. The crime of that reality makes the following statement so chilling: Spencer Ware is one of the 10-15 most talented, all-around, running backs in the NFL…right now (but so is Jamaal Charles).
No team in the NFL has a backfield like the Chiefs…no one. How will they use such advanced weaponry? Probably, the same way they did prior…a lot of Jamaal Charles, and too much Charcandrick West, and not enough Spencer Ware. Perhaps, they’ve seen the light…as they started to see late last year. As badly as they wanted to push ‘their guy’, Charcandrick West…Spencer Ware was undeniably the best RB talent among them. Had Ware not gotten banged up late in the season, he might have led them to the Super Bowl…he’s that game-changing of a running back.
Is Ware too injury-prone (he hasn’t had issues in the past, but missed a little time late last year)? Who knows? He hasn’t had a chance to really work for long periods as the main guy…going back to college. And why was he so ‘nothing’ in college – he got buried sharing time or backing up other LSU running backs who went on to work in the NFL (Ridley, Hill, Blue). The NFL, Seattle specifically, tried to make him/bulk him up to fullback at first. I don’t know if anyone knows what Ware might be capable of if given the chance.
Various theories can be floated about what Ware could do in 2016 and beyond. My focus in going back to watch all Ware’s touches in 2015, was to see if my sense of his greatness/potential was real. The verdict: My senses were right.
I had to laugh, as I started out with his work in the preseason. NO ONE cared about Ware. Not me. Not the announcers. Not the Chiefs, really. Ware was eventually cut by the team and floating free for anyone after the preseason. Eventually, the Chiefs pulled him back to the practice squad, and then were forced to activate him when Charles got hurt. Ware barely got looks in the first two preseason games, and didn’t do much with the opportunity. Then, a flash…his only touch in Week 3 of the preseason – a catch-and-run out of the backfield, flying past defenders and then lowering into, and blowing up, a would-be tackler…nearly completing a 30+ yard play with a TD, but he fell just short. The following week, in the ‘who cares’ fourth game of the preseason…Ware got a lot of touches and was flashing more signs, if anyone was looking. No one was. I wasn’t either. Several moments where you could see the size-speed-agility-hands combo on display…everyone missed it.
That’s really what it comes down to with Ware: size-speed-agility-hands. Rare few have the size and speed of Ware…5′10″/230 with 4.6+ speed and 7.0+ three-cone. Decent measurables, especially for his size, but on tape it’s a whole other level. He looks closer to David Johnson on tape. Solid as a rock, outrunning defenders at 230 pounds, but also able to quick-cut away from defenders and slices into holes with ease. He also has terrific hands – something I never knew until some team finally started throwing him passes. The NFL has ‘big guys’ who have 1–2 of the key tools to succeed in the NFL, and they can make a career off of it. Ware has them all…power, speed, agility, hands. I just watched all his touches from 2015…and I am in as much awe as I was when last season ended. He’s a mega-talent, a mega-talent swirling with question marks…
Can he carry a major workload? He never has, sustainably, in his college or pro career.
Can he find touches with Charles and West in the mix…the guys the team favors?
Would the Chiefs walk away from Charles next season, and save $7M in payroll…or will they just extend Charles into oblivion to spread his money out? Ware signed an extension this year, indenturing him to KC through 2018.
I don’t really know, for sure, the answer to any of those questions. If you stick with assuming NFL teams do the ‘normal’ thing…Ware will be buried the next two years.
I do know this – if Charles gets hurt one more time, a serious injury again…then Ware will be the solution KC turns to over West. If Charles does go down with another major injury…the whole narrative shifts from ‘hope’ to doubt on Charles’s future, and Ware will be given an opportunity to show what he can do while Charles is out.
An investment in Ware is a hedge against Charles…a hope that Ware will get that shot. Ware is a major talent, but you have to know you’re holding a lottery ticket with the odds stacked against you…but it’s more 40/60 against you than 10/90. Where you can on your fantasy roster, you should hold and hope with Ware. It’s all you can do. My main point last year, and after ‘Rewind’ studying his 2015 this year – don’t doubt Ware’s talent. It’s elite. Worth getting excited about. Worth taking a lottery ticket out on.
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