It’s our Monday
morning afternoon column, The Re-Up. In this column, I’ll write about some deeper thought I had about the last game and finish with some fun stuff to ponder at the article’s end. Check out last week’s column here.
You could be the finest football analyst in the entire world. You could be a statistical nerd, you could be a former player. Hell, you could be a widely-respected name such as Peter King or John Madden.
Regardless of who you are, what you have done or what you do, it is a nearly impossible task to correctly evaluate NFL teams prior to the beginning of the regular season.
Now, I’ve only been doing this for five seasons (so what do I know, really?), but I have found that in a way, figuring out who teams are feels similar to watching a murder-mystery sitcom. Each game is an episode, and each episode provides clues to an eventual answer—Sunday, in my opinion, gave us two.
Going into Sunday (using clues from the season’s first four episodes), I felt sure that if Patrick Mahomes threw more interceptions than touchdowns in any game this season, the Chiefs would lose, their defensive unit just not good enough.
Sunday’s effort—one that included 12 passes defensed, 11 quarterback hits, five sacks, four interceptions and one forced fumble and recovery out of the Chiefs defense—proved me very wrong. And that was the first new clue I took away from Sunday.
In case you
were under a rock Sunday missed the game, it was the Chiefs’ best defensive player of 2018, Dee Ford, who forced Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles to fumble immediately after Mahomes threw his first interception of the season.
“It shows what kind of team we are in every phase of the game,” Mahomes said, when asked what it means for Ford to have been making those types of plays all year long. “We can win games with everyone on this team. It’s not just the offense, it’s not just the defense, it’s not just special teams. We’re a unit and we believe that. I’m excited to just come out with a win like that where the defense just stepped up and made a ton of plays and gave us chance to make plays.”
He used the game as a means to make a statement, both on the field and off.
Orlando Scandrick on the Jaguars: “We’re physical. I think they wanna pretend they’re physical when everything’s going good.” pic.twitter.com/ppcxO0SfHF— Tom Martin (@TomKCTV5) October 8, 2018
“We’re physical,” Scandrick said. “I don’t think they’re physical. I think they want to pretend they’re physical when everything is going good. But I think we’re a really physical team. I think we played a physical style of defense.”
As you can tell, Scandrick didn’t take too kindly to how the Jaguars chose to play the game.
As is obvious by their ejections, neither did Ford nor defensive lineman Chris Jones—two players who are as mellow off the field as you’ll find ejected because of their emotional responses to the Jaguars.
With Jacksonville pushing and talking trash, according to the Chiefs, Ford took two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and Jones was ejected for punching an opposing player’s leg during an extra point.
Running back Kareem Hunt was also flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for bumping helmets with Jacksonville linebacker Telvin Smith, who was no longer smiling on Sunday.
As expected, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid did not approve of the ejections, but as you can infer from his statement after the game, he welcomed the message of it all with open arms.
“When two good football teams play each other, you can’t let the emotions get to you,” Reid explained. “[Jacksonville] is a team that is going to come in and be physical and try to push you around in your own place. You can’t do that either. You have to put your foot down and do it the right way. We have to learn from that. You surely cannot be ejected from the game, that’s not smart football. That’s a lesson you can learn. First of all, no one’s going to push us around, anywhere, but also be smart about it.”
I have become accustomed to the coach-speak in Reid, so I appreciate those moments when he goes off-script.
“No one’s going to push us around, anywhere,” could be as off-script as it gets for Reid, and that was our second clue from Sunday.
This idea that the Chiefs have a we-belong-here mentality about them is new and perhaps one they didn’t have last year, when they struggled after beginning the season 5-0, and later blew an 18-point team to what I feel was a worse team in the playoffs.
So, to review, our two new clues from Sunday as to the Chiefs’ identity are:
1) A defense that has it in it to will the team to victory, even when Mahomes faces adversity.
2) A united front that will show toughness and grit (previously unseen) when necessary.
Both items heighten that feeling that maybe this year could truly be different.
STAT OF THE GAME
This week’s stat comes from The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones:
In 2018, the Chiefs have outscored opponents 59-9 in the first quarter.
That means you should get to the Sunday Night Football watch party early.
GIF OF THE GAME
TWEET(s) OF THE GAME
Kareem Hunt signed a baby and here is proof pic.twitter.com/fsqwZdzNB9— Tom Martin (@TomKCTV5) October 8, 2018
I swear! If I didn’t have a daughter I would PAYYYYYYYYYYY everyone of one of Kareem Hunts fines!— Larry Johnson (@2LarryJohnson7) October 7, 2018
I believe that if you are challenged, told you can’t do it and someone attempts to push you around, that you stand up for yourself. Congrats @Chiefs. Well done men!— Rick Burkholder (@proatc) October 7, 2018
Rams and Chiefs are 5-0.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) October 7, 2018
Bengals are 4-1.
- 1. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes on the two interceptions not really getting to him: “I think it goes back to college and then to Coach (Andy) Reid. You can’t let that stuff bother you. He says that in football you have to have a short memory, especially when you play the quarterback positon. Like he said, the defense got the ball right back to us and we just tried to go down there and put points on the board.”
- 2. Andy Reid on the Jacksonville Jaguars: “This is a good football team that was here today. There’s a chance we will meet them down the road. They’re physical, they are emotional, they are going to come after you and let you know they’re out there, verbally and physically. They’ve been there, they were in the championship game last year. It’s an important win, but we are talking about the fifth game of the season. There’s a lot of season left. We have an opportunity to play a good football team again this week. You have to go back through the process, learn from your mistakes to get yourself better and that’s what we will do. If you just keep the score zero to zero and keep working hard, you will be okay.”
- 3. Wide receiver Chris Conley on what the Chiefs’ defensive effort means for the season: “I think that this team, the sky is the limit for this team as evidenced today. I don’t put more pressure on the defense this week than any previous week. I think they just executed and were able to finish as a team. When you do that, I think this team can be pretty dangerous.”
- 4. Center Mitch Morse on what’s different about this year’s 5-0 as compared to last year’s 5-0 team: “I think we definitely have our head on our shoulders. Not that we didn’t last year, but we definitely know a team has a lot of factors. It’s just being efficient, coming to work with a purpose and fighting for each other.”
- 5. Safety Jordan Lucas on his interception and the game as a whole: “It was just a great feeling. My celebration was for my fiancé and for my son on the way. If you noticed, I was cradling the ball, gave it a kiss and did my little signature drop. The energy was at an all-time high. If we can play like that week-in, week-out and not ride the waves during the game, we’ve got a chance to do something special here.”
THE BIG THOUGHT
“Those (Patriots) turnovers, whether it is an interception, fumbled snap, I think that’s been something that we have to correct,” Brady said. “If you look back at the first five games we’re giving away too many scoring opportunities. That is limiting our points. I thought the other night we should have put 52 [points] out there, at least. Maybe more. When we play a team like Kansas City, we have to take advantage of every scoring opportunity because we know they are.”
I think that maybe, just maybe, we have reached the point at 5-0 that the Chiefs, especially when it comes to the offense, are earning complete (also known as “non-Schrager”) national respect and attention. And if they don’t have it yet, they undoubtedly will with a win on Sunday night.
POLL OF THE WEEK
Who is the one player the Chiefs defense can’t survive without?
This poll is closed
If your answer is “other,” make your case in the comments.