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Are the Chiefs a better team without Dexter McCluster?

Each week as I watch the Kansas City Chiefs play, one thing comes to mind, time and time again… The Chiefs might be a better team without Dexter McCluster on the roster.

I understand this will not be a popular topic, but I simply cannot find the value Dexter McCluster brings to the Chiefs on the field in a week by week basis.

McCluster: The Beginning

Dexter was drafted #4 in the 2nd round (#36 overall) of the 2010 NFL draft. At the time, I remember thinking the Chiefs would draft QB Jimmy Clausen from Notre Dame. Clausen was not a pick I was hoping for, but I thought, then offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis would convince Chiefs Brass they needed a QB and that Clausen was the way to go. Instead, the Chiefs drafted McCluster, a five foot nine inch, 172 lb. running back from Mississippi. “Great,” I thought, “we just drafted a kick returner with our 2nd pick in the draft…” and that was exactly the case.

Dexter McCluster’s Stats

The Chiefs converted McCluster to wide receiver, and used him primarily as a kick returner with a few punt returns  in 2010.  McCluster never impressed as a kick returner, with a long return of 36 yards. McCluster did, however, have a solid 15.5 return yard average on punts.

Punt Returns Kick Returns
Year G GS Ret Yds TD Lng Y/R Rt Yds TD Lng Y/Rt
2010 11 7 13 202 1 94 15.5 26 527 0 36 20.3
Career 17 7 13 202 1 94 15.5 34 717 0 36 21.1

 

As an offensive player, McCluster’s performance was unnoteworthy, to say the least. 21 receptions for 209 yards with a long reception of 31 yards and one touchdown, with 18 rushes for 71 yards. Nothing to inspire excitement.

Rushing Receiving
Year G GS Att Yds TD Lng Y/A Y/G A/G Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G YScm RRTD Fmb
2010 11 7 18 71 0 20 3.9 6.5 1.6 21 209 10.0 1 31 1.9 19.0 280 1 2
Career 17 7 60 281 0 24 4.7 16.5 3.5 40 268 6.7 1 31 2.4 15.8 549 1 4

 

Entering 2011, the Chiefs promised to use Dexter McCluster even more in the offense, and in many more situations for this “dynamic” player.

The problem, with the NFL now moving kickoffs up 5 yards, the kick returner in the NFL has become less of an important position, and Dexter McCluster simply is not suited to play running back or wide receiver in the NFL. In 2011, Dexter has not returned a single punt, his strength in 2010, and is on pace to return only 21 kickoffs, 5 less than in 2010, when McCluster missed five games to injury.

Punt Returns Kick Returns
Year G GS Ret Yds TD Lng Y/R Rt Yds TD Lng Y/Rt APYd
2011 6 0 8 190 0 35 23.8 459
Career 17 7 13 202 1 94 15.5 34 717 0 36 21.1 1468

 

As an offensive player in 2011, McCluster has improved his yards per carry average to 5.0, becoming more of a NFL running back.  The problem – Dexter absolutely cannot run the ball between the tackles – the majority of his yards have come on tosses and sweeps to the corners. In the receiving game, McCluster simply does NOT make plays. With 19 receptions for 59 yard, Dexter is averaging 3.11 yards per reception. Funny thing here: Dexter McCluster’s yards after catch (YAC) is 3.16 yards (60 total yards).

Rushing Receiving
Year G GS Att Yds TD Lng Y/A Y/G A/G Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G YScm RRTD Fmb
2011 6 0 42 210 0 24 5.0 35.0 7.0 19 59 3.1 0 10 3.2 9.8 269 0 2
Career 17 7 60 281 0 24 4.7 16.5 3.5 40 268 6.7 1 31 2.4 15.8 549 1 4
Tables provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com

 

These numbers don’t sound like the “dynamic” player I had in mind when the Chiefs promised to use McCluster more in 2011.

Player Comparisons

In comparison, here are some of the NFL players who are smaller and used in a similar manner, or have been compared to the way the Chiefs are trying to use McCluster:

  • Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints – 39 carries, 289 rush yards, 45 receptions, 329 yards, 5 total touchdowns (1 punt return)
  • Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins – 60, 232, 17, 97, 1
  • Davone Bess, WR, Miami Dolphins – 0, 0, 24, 280, 0
  • Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots – 1, 19, 51, 785, 6

I’m positive there are more, but these are the four who always seem to be lumped together as the small and “dynamic” short pass catchers, whether out of the backfield or slot receiver position.

Dexter McCluster’s (lack of) Impact on the Game

Now that we have looked at the statistical output of McCluster and comparisons to other “similar” players, it is important to mention that, at 175 lbs., McCluster simply cannot block anyone on any offensive play. I will not go too in-depth… Just watch any play where McCluster does not get the ball.

It is also worth mentioning: The best game of the season for veteran RB Thomas Jones was in week 5 against Indianapolis, when Jackie Battle recieved 19 carries for 119 yards, Jones had 10 carries for 55 yards and McCluster had 4 carries and only 1 reception.

Many fans and local Kansas City media members have said Thomas Jones simply is “done.” It happens to many NFL running backs, one day they’re simply “too old.” I do not believe this to be the case with Jones. In the Chiefs’ case, with McCluster as the #1 RB, Dexter simply is not big, strong and/or powerful enough to wear out a defensive front seven, meaning the defense is stronger and more prepared for a running back who is more likely to run up the gut when Jones comes into the game. Battle is the opposite. Jackie can wear out a defensive front seven.

It has become clear to me that McCluster simply has no value as an NFL player.

The Chiefs spend time game-planning for a player who simply is not productive. To me, this seems counter intuitive. Why spend time planning to use a player who never produces? I don’t have the answer.

If not McCluster, then who?

If the Chiefs are to abandon the Dexter McCluster experiment, who should be on the active roster?

If you’ve been reading my posts since last season, you know I love big-time WRs!

The Chiefs should make an attempt to sign future Hall of Famer, Terrell Owens. The six-time Pro Bowler had 72 receptions for 983 yards and nine touchdowns in 2010 with the Cincinnati Bengals when Carson Palmer was his quarterback. Yes, the same interception machine the Chiefs went up against last Sunday in Oakland.

Terrel Owens underwent surgery for a torn ACL in April and held an open workout Tuesday afternoon. Not a single NFL teams sent a scout to the workout.

“Just because they weren’t there doesn’t mean they weren’t interested,” Owens’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said. “I can guarantee that all 32 teams were interested.”

The Kansas City Chiefs currently lack a WR who will regularly go across the middle of the field. As close as Dwayne Bowe or Steve Breaston get to the middle of the field is on skinny post routes while lining up very wide. The Chiefs are greatly missing TE Tony Moeaki in this aspect of the game; a big receiver who isn’t afraid to catch balls while in traffic with threat of being hit hard by linebackers and safeties. Owens has made a career out of big plays across the middle of the field.

The Chiefs need to abandon the philosphy they currently employ with Dexter McCluster and switch to a big backfield with Jackie Battle and Thomas Jones and employ big and exciting WRs with Dwayne Bowe, Terrell Owens and Jonathan Baldwin with a bit of speed in Steve Breaston.

Currently at 3-3, the Kansas City Chiefs need to make a bold statement if the team is serious about contending in 2011.

Your Thoughts?

What do you think about Dexter McCluster and the suggestion that the Kansas City Chiefs should sign Terrell Owens?

9 Comments Say Something
  • I think Dex could be a great asset if used the right way, but that is just it, he has to be used in the right scheme. He is not a starting tailback in the NFL and I don’t think he ever could be. He plays a role and would probably play it well if put in the right position to be successful.

    As far as the Terrell Owens signing, I don’t see a team like the Chiefs making a move for him. However I do think it could be a good move. Owens is still a big physical receiver who can make plays for your team. The staff has to be prepared to handle someone like him with what he brings to the table though, that is why I don’t think the Chiefs will bother with it. If I was making a choice like that, I would definitely bring in a guy like that. I think it would speak volumes to the other receivers and I believe they would elevate their game because of it.

  • I agree that dmc has been disappointing but I do think he has value. I know it’s a common lament that he’s a man without a position but the people calling the plays need to stop him from running inside. He needs to get in space and he can do so if they flip it to him so that he can run outside of the tackles.

    This is a really good question but I still think he has value. I wouldn’t mind throwing out as a kick or punt retuner once in a while, though I know arenas has been good there. It may be too late this year but he is going to have to learn how to stay on his feet and that might involve some offseason work. You are right, though. No god team spends

  • Let me finish my thought. No good team spends time game planning for him.

  • I’d like to see the Chiefs use Dex on bubble screens at WR, he can make corners miss.

    Hell no on T.O. the last thing Cassel needs to worry about is T.O. vying for the ball.

  • @Michael – I think my point is opposite of what you’re saying… Dexter does NOT make people miss.

    I was going to compile a list of RBs/WRs with a higher yards after catch than McCluster, but the list was WAY too long. All his catches are on screens, and he doesn’t do anything with the catch.

    Watch McCluster play. He never catches the mid-downfield passes… He has one solid play to every ten that are non-productive.

  • I think if he had space he would be better. Would you agree that speed is his biggest strength?

  • I would agree it is possible… Not sure we have ever been able to witness his speed, since he never gets past defenders.

  • Someone over at Arrowhead Pride just told me that the Chiefs should use Dexter McCluster as the featured back.

    Is is just me, or are MOST AP readers blind homers?

    That’s why I started this site… You don’t have to be blindly following homer to be a fan of a team… A little realistic critical thinking can go a long way.

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