Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Jun 2005

Chiefs sign WR Freddie Mitchell

Congratulations Freddie Mitchell, you're the Chiefs' consolation prize after they couldn't sign Az-Zahir Hakim! Last season FredEx actually had a worse DPAR than Hakim (7.2 to 14.1), and he was well behind Kansas City's wideouts (Kennison - 24.7 and Morton - 19.3). After Vermeil's failed attempt to reform Lawrence Phillips, maybe he didn't want to take a chance on Koren Robinson.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 18 Jun 2005

33 comments, Last at 21 Jun 2005, 1:50pm by Sebastian

Comments

1
by Matt (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 12:15am

Chiefs come to the Linc this year. Brian Dawkins probably already has this article tacked to the bulletin board.

2
by Glenn (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 1:13am

And Freddie sees the Patriots on Nov. 27. Heh heh.

3
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 2:17am

Darnit. I was hoping he would sign with the Redskins, keeping with tradition.

I still wonder, though. Mitchell's been described by Belichick as awful. Other coaches have laughed when press reporters asked if they were interested in Mitchell. It pretty much seems like the consensus of teams in the NFL are telling him that he sucks. It's impressive that he got a job at all.

4
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 2:49am

I thought the consensus knock on Mitchell was, whatever pass-catching skills he may have, he had serious trouble learning an NFL offense. (Well, that and he flapped his mouth enough to piss off D. McNabb.)

Maybe KC's 3rd-4th WR plays aren't that complicated?

5
by Matt (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 3:12am

Warning: in-depth assessment of a mediocre backup receiver to follow...

My read on Freddie during his Philly tenure is that he was an improviser who never developed the discipline required in Reid's complex offense. He would complain about being open, but when he was open (which of course was only about half the time he thought he was open), it would be because he wasn't where he was supposed to be, which doesn't do the quarterback any more good. This is why McNabb rarely threw to to him overall, but seemed to frequently hook up on broken plays or third down - when McNabb was forced to scramble and improvise himself. So you're left with a guy with a knack for big plays - 4th and 26, the eternal scramble-n-heave vs. Dallas on MNF last year - but is ineffective on 90% of your offensive plays. This isn't a such a bad thing to have down the depth chart, but not someone you can entrust with a starting job.

As for his prospects in KC - I predict a career year - 30 catches, 2 tds. His good blocking could be useful in a heavy running team, though.

6
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 4:42am

This isn’t a such a bad thing to have down the depth chart

Well, maybe far, far down the depth chart. Problem is that any 3 or 4 receiver sets are generally going to have routes that are designed to complement each other, so one person running the wrong route can seriously weaken the play.

7
by DNL (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 11:10am

I can't wait to see The People's Champion do the Tomahawk Chop.

8
by Steven Cummings (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 11:49am

Not the news I was hoping for. I hope the career-year prediction is right... but I'd prefer if Samie Parker stepped up instead.

9
by Jersey (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 11:50am

Dawkins won't have this article pinned up. He doesn't need to, Freddie won't make any catches that game anyway.

10
by Balaji (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 4:57pm

Jersey: "Dawkins won’t have this article pinned up. He doesn’t need to, Freddie won’t make any catches that game anyway."

I agree. You all seem to be assuming that Mitchell will have any playing time at all, simply because the Chiefs signed him. I admit I don't follow KC that closely, but don't they already have a pretty good set of receivers? This signing strikes me as more of an insurance move than anything else.

11
by Sebastian (not verified) :: Sun, 06/19/2005 - 9:10pm

"I admit I don’t follow KC that closely, but don’t they already have a pretty good set of receivers?"
Let's assume you're talking WR:
87 Eddie Kennison
82 Dante Hall
81 Chris Horn
18 Samie Parker
17 Richard Smith
Unless Dante Hall learned how to catch a football that's being thrown, not kicked, I think Freddy Mitchell actually improves this unit. How sad a picture is that. Well, nevermind. I'm a Ravens Fan :D

12
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 3:52am

You have to admit, there's a certain symmetry to Mitchell going to Dick Vermiel's team.

13
by Steven Cummings (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 10:55am

Re #11: "I think Freddy Mitchell actually improves this unit."

This would be assuming that none of the younger guys could have a career as good as or better than Mitchell. Otherwise, I think it would be worth it to just focus on improving younger guys like Parker and Smith. From your list, only Kennison and Hall are veterans. So no, I don't think it's a sad picture overall, just that Mitchell was the "veteran reinforcement" that was acquired. As a Chiefs fan I truly hope they don't need to put him on the field at all.

14
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 11:08am

If Freddie has trouble learning an offense and improvises a lot then this can only be bad. I remember Troy Edwards had the same problem at St. Louis as a guy who could not learn the offense and he languished there

15
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 11:09am

If Freddie has trouble learning an offense and improvises a lot then this can only be bad. I remember Troy Edwards had the same problem at St. Louis as a guy who could not learn the offense and he did nothing there.

16
by Ray (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 11:13am

Everyone deserves a second chance. I always kinda felt that Freddie might be able to do better in a different offence. I hope this works out for him.

17
by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 11:15am

Matt, you raise an excellent point regarding receivers who get open because they run the wrong route. I remember a couple of years ago there was a Vikings game on ESPN and Moss was wide open in the end zone, but Culpepper didn't see him. The brilliant ESPN announcers all talked about how terrible it was that Culpepper didn't look for Moss, but they didn't point out that it was completely obvious that Moss ran the wrong route. The play had Culpepper rolling out and no one blocking the backside defensive end, so it was obvious that Culpepper needed to get rid of the ball (or start running) in a hurry. But Moss ran a deep route to Culpepper's blind side. There's just no way that Moss ran the play the way it was designed. It's not always a quarterback's fault if he doesn't throw to a wide open receiver.

18
by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 11:34am

As a Chiefs fan, I was sorry to see them sign FredEx because he's a hard guy to root for.

As to Ryan and DVOA - no question Morton was better than Mitchell in 2004. But adjusted for 2005 cap dollars, Mitchell at the veteran minimum might be a better deal than Morton at $2M+ and FredEx might improve on his 2004 DVOA. I find it hard to believe that Morton would repeat as the 14th best wr by DVOA - actually, I find it hard to believe he WAS the 14th best wr. And Morton missed the last three games in 2004 but that happens when you're 33.

If Mitchell is actually a good blocker, then that is highly valued in Vermeil's offense and another reason to sign him.

19
by Steven Cummings (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 11:41am

Morton was improved last year by Kennison drawing coverage off of him quite a bit. The 49ers could be disappointed if they truly do pick him up.

20
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 12:52pm

Freddie isn't "awful" Belichek or no Belichek. He's not good, either. He's a tough receiver who HAS made some big catches in his carreer. McNabb never got comfortable with him, for a variety of reasons, and TO was thrown most of the ball in 2004-5. I'm an Eagles fan and I'm not a Freddie apologist, but he's not awful and he's not good. He's not too fast, or too big, but he's tough and he has a knack for making the big catch when he needs to make the big catch.

21
by Burger (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 1:45pm

aside from "4th & 26" can you name another time Mitchell made a big catch ?

22
by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 1:47pm

Quote from the article:

"Andy Reid gave him an outstanding recommendation, so we'll give him a shot," Vermeil said.

Wait, really? I had to read that three times to make sure I saw that correctly. If Reid said it with a straight face, he's either a lunatic or winning an Oscar for his acting performance.

23
by Steven Cummings (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 1:53pm

Vermeil may have overstated the recommendation in building confidence that Mitchell could be a good option (as opposed to the only remaining option for a veteran signing, currently). I think it's just some coach PR-speak by one or both of them.

24
by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 2:00pm

I've never understood why coaches would expect other coaches to give them honest recommendations. Why would you want to help an opposing team appraise a player?

25
by Derek (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 2:22pm

First off, Dawkins won't even notice Freddie returns to the Linc. He'll be too busy covering Gonzo, saying "Tony, you saw what happened to Alge. Don't make me do that to you."

In my opinion, Freddie only stunts the growth of Chris Horn and Sammie Parker. Vermeil needs to develop one if not both of those guys into a starter, and Freddie can only delay that.

26
by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 4:12pm

I’ve never understood why coaches would expect other coaches to give them honest recommendations. Why would you want to help an opposing team appraise a player?

So the "other coach" can get similar info back in the future. Makes more sense if it's from a team in the other conference on a player that the losing team clearly has no interest in retaining.

27
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 6:14pm

re: #21. Over 77% of Freddie's 90 or so career reception have gone for first downs or touch downs.

28
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 7:17pm

Re #21. Yeah, and don't forget Donnie Mac's 13 second scramble then 60 yard bomb on MNF vs the Cowboys. That went to Freddie too. This guy would have two catches a game and they would both be like third and long.

29
by Johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 06/20/2005 - 7:30pm

I don't think this was such a horrible pick up. It's not costing them a lot. It's not like Vermeil has never been able to take a cast off and make him useful. Eddie Kennison wasn't exactly a hot item on the market when Vermeil picked him up.

30
by MarkB (not verified) :: Tue, 06/21/2005 - 12:31am

"Everyone deserves a second chance. I always kinda felt that Freddie might be able to do better in a different offence. I hope this works out for him."

I laugh every time I see this in sports. The typical thug/knucklehead reclaimation line. Isn't that what Herm Edwards said about Quincy? The last thing punks need is excuses.

31
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 06/21/2005 - 3:27am

As people have already said, Freddie's strength is improvisation and his weakness is route-running, which means he's a good fit with McNabb when the latter has to scramble and buy time (like in any third-down situation when nobody's immediately open past the first-down line), but no use at all in routine plays. I'd imagine that he won't have the same high-risk-high-reward breakdown in KC (assuming he plays), for the simple reason that they don't run a west coast offense. Really, is there a worse framework for somebody like Mitchell than a setup that relies first and foremost on quick throws, precise routes and exact timing?

32
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 06/21/2005 - 10:41am

"I laugh every time I see this in sports. The typical thug/knucklehead reclaimation line. Isn’t that what Herm Edwards said about Quincy? The last thing punks need is excuses."

C'mon, he's not a criminal you know. He's just got a big mouth. And anyway I wasn't referring to him as a person, but as a player.

I'm no big supporter of his but I'll stand by what I said. There are plenty of situations where a struggling player leaves for another team and ends up doing well. Why? A variety of reasons to be sure, one of which is the type of offence being played. It can have a huge impact on a player if the scheme he's in doesn't fit his skills and attitude.

Things obviously didn't work out in Philly, and he didn't handle it in a very good way either. Should he be forever crucified for it? Not in my book. I say give him his second chance to succeed, and best of luck to him.

33
by Sebastian (not verified) :: Tue, 06/21/2005 - 1:50pm

"This would be assuming that none of the younger guys could have a career as good as or better than Mitchell. Otherwise, I think it would be worth it to just focus on improving younger guys like Parker and Smith."

That would be the case assuming that the Chiefs will always be the team they could be 2005. If that was the case, young receivers who'll improve year by year would actually be of far superior value than a big mouthed WR who doesn't catch that many balls to begin with. But since cap purgatory is a strong possibility for the Chiefs, the WR is indeed sad because there's a strong chance by the time these WR will produce notably, there's not much of a team left they could improve...