Let’s start this story at the true beginning, and that’s six days before the Kansas City Chiefs’ first open training camp practice.
Matt Nagy, offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs: The former Arena League quarterback has trained under Andy Reid for a decade, rising to co-offensive coordinator last year, and now he has the solo job. People who have worked with Nagy, 39, say he has done tremendous work with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes and would have Reid's endorsement. Nagy doesn't call plays, but Doug Pederson didn't do that very much in Kansas City before he landed the Eagles' head coaching job, either (nor did Reid in his pre-Philly days). One person who knows Colts general manager Chris Ballard says Nagy will be high (if not first) on Ballard's list if Indianapolis makes a change. The two worked together in Kansas City.
With an Andy Reid offense, you usually think of the short passing game, some gadget-type plays like shovel passes, bubble screens, and you would be correct. All of those things have been staples this year. But Reid has also incorporated the read-option with Smith, but has various ways to implement it. He’s running straight read-options, run-pass options, he’s even run a read-option into a bubble screen on the outside. Arrowhead Pride has a great breakdown of some of these plays in this article.
So if he can give 15 or 20 high-quality snaps every week, he’ll provide the Chiefs a boost. Given the deteriorating state of his knees, it stands to reason Hali has a better chance of providing those snaps over the next eight games and into the playoffs, being fresh and not having gone through the grind of the first half of the season.
The Chiefs’ offense is rolling. They lead the NFL in yards per play and have only committed three offensive turnovers. Alex Smith has turned into this downfield passing machine and the Chiefs are starting to get their offensive line healthy. Their concerns are once again on defense, where they still can’t stop the run. They are a bend-but-don’t-break defense, which I just don’t trust in the postseason. They also need to solve their Pittsburgh Steelers issue — the Chiefs have lost to them three times since last season — to win the conference.
I’m a little surprised to see just two picks for the Cowboys to beat the Chiefs. Ezekiel Elliott’s status has yet to be determined as of this writing. With or without Elliott, the Chiefs are the better team here, but they’re hardly perfect and they’re playing in Dallas.
It’s possible one of those teams finds its mojo in the second half enough to make some noise and ascend the wild card ladder, but the Chiefs are experienced and savvy enough to know they’ve got the division lead under control.
Here are the five toughest games left for the Kansas City Chiefs, starting at No. 5
During the summer, Nelson appeared primed for a big season. The Chiefs’ third-round draft pick in 2015 -- the same year they picked Peters in the first round -- Nelson established himself as a starter last season. He was one of the stars of offseason practices, but his training camp was disrupted an injury to his core abdominal area (previously called a sports hernia).
Alex is the type of guy that rises to the occasion. Look at some of his playoff performances (not all, I know) and that shows. The pressure was on when the Chiefs selected Mahomes and I predicted before the season that Alex would put up his best season.
"You'd always heard 'Don't take a running back in the first round,'" Reid said. "I'll tell you what: Jerry (Jones) reached out and did this, and it sure has paid off.
"So I mean it probably adds a little different perspective to that position than what was going on there for the last few years."
His first stop? The Kansas City Chiefs. They signed him after the draft, brought him into camp and apparently didn't see enough out of him to keep him on the 53-man roster. They placed him on the practice squad for the first month of the season before the Cowboys saw enough to sign him to their own 53-man roster, where he has been ever since.
Meanwhile, two other key Chiefs –– tight end Demetrius Harris (shoulder) and outside linebacker Justin Houston (knee) –– were limited in practice.
For everyone else, the big name here is Dee Ford. This is definitely concerning that he’s back on this list with a back injury. We will be monitoring this one as the week (and season) goes along.
“It’s just how the chips have fallen so far,” Maclin said Wednesday. “We’ve got a lot of football left, so we’ll see how the second half pans out. As long as we’re winning football games, that’s what it’s all about.”