Who doesn’t love a good, I told you so?
So allow me to take just a moment to congratulate myself and remind you guys what I told you in 2010 about Kansas City Star sports scribe Sam Mellinger:
"The Star Sports Kings – Jason Whitlock and Joe Posnanski – are dead," I wrote. "Long live new King, Sam Mellinger…Rome wasn’t tacked together overnight and rookie columnists don’t always hit full stride the first few steps out of the blocks. But Sam started out good and is attaining critical mass. He’s been kicking some pretty high quality journalistic butt. And dishing out corporal punishment when called for."
Some readers probably wondered at first how Sam might shake out. Would he be a bombastic Jason-ator? A painfully passionate Posnaski? Something inbetween?
And after more than a decade of W and P, did any other form of sports column writing even exist? Well, Sam has now proven that indeed that is the case. He’s totally his own man and Kansas City is the better for it.
A prime example being today’s column about the sorry state of the Chiefs quarterback situation.
The headline: "Chiefs dream big, except at quarterback."
"The first dichotomy of the Chiefs’ grand-ish experiment is that it depends upon Matt Cassel while the team tries to make sure it doesn’t," Mellinger begins. "The second dichotomy is that they are now very clearly trying to win a Super Bowl without a great quarterback at a time when great quarterbacks have never been more important in the NFL."
The column’s a little long (like Posnanski) and it definitely has some edge (like Whitlock), but what really distinguishes it from both former sports scribes is it’s way too brainy for Whitlock and way too well-reported and succinct for JoePo.
In other words, it’s excellent.
Mellinger’s thesis: "(That) for the most part, we know what their competition will look like, and we know that the Chiefs will try to win games with a very promising roster around an ordinary quarterback as the rest of the league shifts to find star passers."
Mellinger then proceeds to do a top notch job of supporting his contention that the path the Chiefs are now on is a risky and unlikely one.
"Look around the league," he writes. "With the help of a league scout, I came up with no fewer than 26 teams that are either thrilled with the quarterback they have (like the Packers and Patriots) or recently spent big resources on a new quarterback (the Seahawks and Colts, for instance).
"That leaves six teams: the Chiefs, 49ers, Bills, Ravens, Jets and Bears (who, the scout pointed out, could have been in the bigger list after Jay Cutler won seven of 10 starts before a season-ending thumb injury). We talked about the 49ers and Ravens already, and the Jets made two AFC Championship games with Mark Sanchez.
"And so looking at it this way, there is an argument that the Chiefs — with Cassel starting and Brady Quinn backing up — have one of the very least promising quarterback situations in a league largely driven by quarterbacks."
Mellinger backs his contention with a blizzard of interesting facts and stats. When was the last time someone remembers Whitlock pulling off anything like that? Posnanski? Maybe. But by the time you waded through the flowery prose, could anybody remember the supporting stats?
Check out this factoid by Mellinger: "Cassel is now the worst quarterback in the AFC West, meaning the Chiefs need to make up for it across the rest of the roster."
Boldly raising the question of how slim are the Chiefs chances of going anywhere excellent with Cassell at the helm?
Mellinger’s answer: it’s something "no team in the last five years of the quarterback-centric NFL has managed."
There are no more imaginary shoes for Mellinger to fill; it’s down to a simple case of Joe, who? Jason, who?