It’s nearly impossible to draw conclusions or identify trends from one game. With two games in the books, we can start to see who this Kansas City Chiefs team is going to be. They are at their best when the offense can creatively blend the run with the pass, and hit on a couple of big plays. Then the defense can pin their ears back and attack. They may start slow each week, and hold something back on offense and defense until the second half, but they can absolutely bury teams in the fourth quarter. The offense centers around three key playmakers and a QB that can get the job done. The defense is fueled by the inside and outside pass rushers and one shut down corner.
Here are a few trending players in each direction:
WR Chris Conley: He won’t get the headlines this season, but he’s contributing. I noticed Conley’s blocking on multiple occasions in the last two weeks, and in each game he’s been able to come up with big catches down the field when called upon. Four catches, 55 yards; this is what a No. 2 WR looks like in this offense.
LB Justin Houston: Another dominant all-around performance for Justin Houston. He was a monster in the run game and got to the QB. He’s on pace for the type of All-Pro season that will have people wondering why they ever doubted him. The best part is that he isn’t satisfied, and believes they can be a lot better as a group. With No. 50 leading the way, I wouldn’t bet against this defense.
RB Kareem Hunt: After an incredible Week 1 performance, people might expect a return to Earth for a rookie RB. But, Hunt has one quality to his game that translates to consistent success: the ability to break tackles. This skill helps avoid negative plays, and shows up as he refuses to get brought down short of the first down or goal line. Hunt is looking like a bona fide NFL star at RB, and one of the three key playmakers for this Chiefs offense to build around.
RB Akeem Hunt: Welcome to Kansas City to the other, other Mr. Hunt. The young RB stepped in on special teams and looked like he belonged. I noticed that he was the first man downfield on kick coverage. His one kick return went for 40 yards. His sub 4.4 speed certainly shows up on the field. Akeem should continue to contribute on Dave Toub’s teams going forward, justifying the Chiefs faith shown in him.
S Eric Murray: His hustling tackle on that fluke deep pass to Eagles TE Zach Ertz saved a touchdown right before halftime. This was a critical momentum shifting play, as the Chiefs held them to a field goal attempt, that was missed on the second try. Going into halftime with a 6-3 lead instead of trailing 10-6 was huge, and it was Murray that made it possible. He led the team with six tackles, and had at least one big pass defended. So far, so good for the guys filling in for Eric Berry.
Chris Jones: Jones was quiet against New England. Too quiet. However, Nothing about his performance versus the Eagles was quiet. Three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in 32 snaps ... that’s absurd. He gave us a scare with what looked like a head / neck injury, but was right back in the game bringing energy to the defense and the Arrowhead crowd. Our own MNChiefsfan noticed that his performance versus the run now matches his pass rushing ability, which is great news for the Chiefs front seven.
G LDT: His contract extension is looking better every week. When was the last time you noticed Tardif getting beat? If you can’t recall, there’s a good reason for that.
Also per @PFF, @LaurentDTardif has gone 73 pass block snaps w/o yielding a pressure...one of 7 OGs to not allow one through 2 weeks. pic.twitter.com/UNvYWqUNoV— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) September 18, 2017
Others on the rise this week: Travis Kelce, Daniel Sorensen, Allen Bailey, Bennie Logan
G Bryan Witzmann: It wasn’t only Witzmann that struggled this week, but he did stand out. For an offensive lineman, that’s not a good thing. The Chiefs struggled in pass protection (with the exception of LDT) against a very good Eagles defensive line. At first glance, it would appear that Witzmann is the weakest link and the only one at risk of losing his starting job. Parker Ehinger seems to be getting closer to returning (he practiced in limited fashion last week), so Witzmann could have some serious competition for that left guard spot.
The Chiefs CBs: This was a tough week for the Chiefs cornerbacks overall. Terrance Mitchell had a pass deflected that turned into a big play for Philly. Marcus Peters was giving up huge cushions to the Eagles receivers, resulting in some easy catches, and Phillip Gaines continued to be one of those guys that’s around the ball but rarely contests the catch. The Chiefs didn’t seem to have a great answer for Alshon Jeffery or Zach Ertz. When the opposing QB throws for 333 yards and two TDs, you can usually look at the secondary and say they need to be better.
WR De’Anthony Thomas: He had a very good preseason, including a long kick return for a touchdown. But, he’s struggled on returns thus far in the regular season, and is starting to lose reps to Akeem Hunt. DAT only got 4 snaps on offense and didn’t record a catch or carry. Thomas has a role on this team, but it may be getting smaller.
appear to be struggling have yet to find their role: Tanoh Kpassagnon, Jehu Chesson, Jarvis Jenkins
QB Alex Smith: His third down run changed the momentum for the offense. His deep pass to Conley helped close out the game. In between, he was pretty much what we’ve come to expect. Smith took too many sacks this week, and looked less comfortable and aggressive as compared to last week. THIS is the version of Smith that I’d expect to see for most of the season. Sometimes frustrating, but generally efficient and occasionally great.
Albert Wilson: Three touches for 26 yards this week, Wilson helped move the chains at times. He could also be seen blocking downfield on the Reid’s favorite screen and shovel passes. He’s clearly the No. 3 WR at this point, until Demarcus Robinsion steps up into a bigger role.
WR Tyreek Hill: His historic streak was broken this week, and he was limited to 49 total yards, but Hill was still a factor for the Chiefs offense. The one deep shot appeared to be a miscommunication between him and Smith, as the ball was thrown to a different spot than he ended up. We can’t expect 60-yard touchdowns EVERY week, but Hill is still every bit of the explosive, valuable weapon the Chiefs hoped he’d be.
TE Travis Kelce: Everyone seems to want to debate Kelce because he keeps making dumb penalties. (In our best Andy Reid voice) “Listen, we’ll deal with that thing, OK?” Look at what Kelce did on the field, he was pretty dominant with eight catches for 103 yards and a spectacular, flying touchdown. The fact is he’s the best all around tight end in the game, and a huge energy giver to this offense. You take the bad with the good when it comes to a guy like Kelce. “Time’s yours.”
Others who are who we thought they were: Dee Ford, Ron Parker, Ramik Wilson