I knew the Dexter McCluster bashing was coming soon for his not so spectacular NFL career for a 2nd round draft pick from Ole Miss. That is why I started tracking down Dex’s information and stats for this piece over the weekend. Unfortunately it was not early enough and the bashing began with Adam Tiecher on the 810 Program show today…
Dexter McCluster has only spent 2 years in the NFL and is only 23 years old, soon to be 24 before the 2012 season. Dexter is still young and has many good years left in his tank if a team finds ways to use him correctly.
People are pissed about Dexter’s first couple years and him not having the production they all hoped he would have had by now. I just want to remind people that Jamaal Charles was a 3rd round pick and the guy didn’t really even see the field his rookie year, then had two awesome seasons (one being an all pro season) and then Charles was injured for his entire fourth season. So Jamaal a 3rd round pick has delivered on 2 awesome seasons with 1 Chiefs playoff season out of his 4. Well I can argue that McCluster delivered a good rookie season and a pretty good sophomore season for how the Chiefs used his skills that year.
Little Mac started the season how everyone had hoped by having the Chiefs longest punt return of all time on the Monday Night season opener against San Diego Chargers. I love when people talk about it and say that anyone could have returned that punt. Then when you get serious and say I could have returned that kick? The rebuttal then goes to anyone that can run a 4.7-40 yard dash could have returned that kick. I still don’t buy it, Dexter gave a 2-3 yard stutter step that he was going up the middle then kicked it outside juking a defender out of his jock and fooling the rest of the Chargers. RUNDMcC then took it the rest of the way. Not every kick returner in the NFL would have returned that. You could say without McCluster’s TD return Chiefs may have not won that game, which helped propel the Chiefs to a winning atmosphere that would win the AFC West.
The next time Dex came through big was 2 games later against the 49ers. Cassel rifled a pass into McCluster along the sideline allowing Dex to run it 20 plus yards with 5 yard leap into the end zone. That set the tone for the day and Chiefs went on to destroy the 49ers.
McCluster then had another big game in week 6 against Jacksonville Jaguars where he put up 70 all purpose yards, but unfortunately was injured during that game.
After that Dex missed 5 weeks of play. He came back for the remaining 5 weeks and the playoff game, but Chiefs had worked him out of their game plans. Maybe Dex was still injured or Chiefs found ways to win without him, but McCluster would only see a couple touches per game for the rest of the season.
Without RUNDMcC I don’t think Chiefs would have got off to the start they did in 2010 making McCluster a valuable key to their success that year.
Despite Chiefs not having the best 2011 season with injuries to key players, front office squabbles, and a losing record of 7-9 McCluster still did his part in helping the team win a few games. Believe it or not, but McCluster had 844 all purpose yards with 4.5 yards per rush attempt and that is with Tyler Palko at QB for a handful of games.
McCluster started off the season horrible by fumbling in the opening kickoff and continued to fumble throughout the first handful of games. Dex did not do anything really the first 6 games other then getting some chunks of yards here and there. I put most of his lack of production in 2011 on Haley and the rest of the coaches hands. They would not found ways to get RUNDMcC the ball in space and did not open up holes for him when they drove his little ass up the middle of the offensive line.
Dex’s first influential plays of the season came against San Diego Chargers on Halloween night when in overtime Haley final got Little Mac the ball in open space. McCluster caught some crucial passes on the sidelines and juked some dudes to move the chains and help win that game win it counted.
McCluster then had another good game against the Donkeys where he had 93 all purpose yards, but his starting QB Matt Cassel went down in that game. McCluster would then go into another production slump without his starting QB.
It wasn’t until the Chicago Bears that McCluster had a good production day including a Hail Mary catch that literally won the game. The Chiefs would then go on to have a horrible game against the Jets that would get Haley fired and Palko benched. After that McCluster’s production rose to a stud level under Romeo Crennel and Kyle Orton. Little Mac helped the team win their last 2 of 3 games and the Chiefs barely missed the playoffs.
I don’t want to hear about McCluster being a bust 2nd round pick this guy has been an integral part in helping the Chiefs win the AFC West division and help the Chiefs make a push for the playoffs when the wheels had fallen of the team. I hope next year Dexter is a utility guy that Chiefs find ways to get him the ball in open space because the guy can make plays. If RUNDMcC doesn’t get the touches due to so many other weapons it will be understandable, but just having McCluster on the field will be a weapon in itself.