Offseason goals: The timing of the Alex Smith trade to Washington is an indication of how eager the Chiefs were to transition to Patrick Mahomes as their starting quarterback. The Chiefs agreed to the Smith trade before the Super Bowl, or 1½ months before the trading period began. They also wanted to get younger and more physical on defense.
How they fared: Average
Unrelated: I’m completely, unrepentantly here for the Patrick Mahomes hype train.
That iron horse is currently rumbling down the tracks and picking up speed amid reports of no-look throws (hell yes) and the touch of new “flavor” the second-year signal-caller brings to the Chiefs’ already dynamic offense. And yeah, some of the recent excitement centers around reports of what Mahomes has done in limited, unpadded practices. But combine his electric preseason performance from last year, the handful of jaw-dropping throws he made in his encouraging Week 17 start, and the litany of praise he’s received over the past few months from both from players and coaches, and the buzz around the 22-year-old signal-caller feels like more than your garden-variety offseason hyperbole.
Andy Reid, Chiefs – I’m sure Patrick Mahomes is ready. How do get him on and keep him on an upswing?
9. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
2017 pass-blocking efficiency: 80.6
Best individual PBE: Zach Fulton, 98.3
The Chiefs’ offensive line performed well in 2017, especially considering they had to overcome multiple injuries throughout the year. The unit surrendered 155 pressures on 616 passing plays, including just 14 sacks and they averaged 18.1 pass-block snaps per sack or hit allowed, tied for the second-best mark among offensive lines. Mitchell Schwartz continued to play well at right tackle, as his 96.0 PBE ranked 10th among 32 tackles that played at least 500 pass-block snaps in 2017. Schwartz averaged 19.3 pass-block snaps per pressure allowed and 102.7 pass block snaps per sack or hit allowed, ranking ninth and second among his peers, respectively. As it stands, most of the group will remain in place for the 2018 season and if they can stay healthy, a climb up the PBE rankings shouldn’t be out of the question.
Dieter, who hadn’t been home in a while, is becoming quite the role model. When being asked about the event, multiple campers said “it’s fun to get to learn from an NFL player” and one in particular said he wants “to be like Dieter one day.”
USA Today’s Lindsay Jones, who visited Chargers minicamp last week, called Los Angeles a “sexy pick” to win the AFC West in 2018. She pointed to the return of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to Anthony Lynn’s coaching staff as a chief reason -- among others -- why the Chargers could dethrone Kansas City to win the division for the first time since 2009.
8. Kareem Hunt, Chiefs
I'm expecting Hunt to touch the ball early and often with a new starting quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and OC in Eric Bieniemy. Hunt was inconsistent in Year 1, but showed flashes throughout and led the league with 1,327 yards rushing. The question for me is how will Hunt handle running against eight-man boxes?
Alex Smith threw for more than 4,000 yards and finished as a top-five quarterback in 15 games last year. Mahomes inherits all the weapons Smith had plus he gets Sammy Watkins on the other side of the field. There is not a quarterback in the NFL who enters 2018 with a more complete set of weaponry. Mahomes himself has a cannon of an arm with a variety of releases and just enough mobility to avoid pressure. Images of Mahomes scrambling and launching balls 50 yards downfield to a wide open Tyreek Hill should be dancing in your head right now.
I'm all in on Mahomes this year, and I continue to move him up in my rankings. He's in a great situation as Alex Smith's replacement because of coach Andy Reid and a tremendous receiving corps, including Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Kareem Hunt.
The top three tight ends are pretty much set — Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce in some order. For them, seven points isn't what we're after; they should deliver like a top-20 receiver.
And two, Tyler Lockett is one of the best of those classes up to this point. His Pro Bowl nod may have been as a returner, but only three receivers taken since 2015 have made the Pro Bowl as not-a-returner: Tyreek Hill, Amari Cooper, and Michael Thomas. Lockett is not at the level of any of those guys, but few young receivers are.
Move I liked: The Hurns signing allowed the Cowboys to move on from Bryant, and it came at a lot cheaper price than the deal they were willing to fork over to Sammy Watkins, who ended up with the Kansas City Chiefs on a three-year, $48 million deal. The Cowboys have said many mistakes are made in free agency but were willing to overpay to get Watkins. It would have gone against their philosophy.
Around the league
"I have two years on my contract. I'm not going to be one to sit here and worry about my contract," said Roethlisberger. "That's not my job. My job is to play football. I'll let my representation, the Steelers worry about all that stuff. To me, it's all about going out and playing now. I think there are a lot more, maybe a lot more important people who need to get their deals done now. For me to do it two years out, if it doesn't make sense for the team, I'm not going to sit here and worry about it."
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett is aiming for a fully healthy 2018 season after spending much of last season catching up on a 2016 injury.
T.O. and Julio Jones hit the track at UCLA to prove the 44-year-old can still keep up with the best of 'em.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
Why there's optimism: The Chargers won nine of their last 12 games in 2017 and barely missed the playoffs. And with the three other teams in the AFC West dealing with different levels of transition, Los Angeles has the most continuity returning on its roster and the coaching staff. The only starters the Chargers lost in free agency are safety Tre Boston and guard Kenny Wiggins. And they return the top decision-makers on the team's coaching staff, with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley reaching new deals this offseason. In his second season with a franchise quarterback in Philip Rivers, coach Anthony Lynn should compete for a division crown. -- Eric D. Williams
Brady says he believes that empathy in sports and the locker room is important
For example: Moores told the Union-Tribune between 2000 and 2002 that Major League Baseball ought to expand to 32 teams and break itself into eight divisions of four clubs.
“Like the NFL,” he said.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
“Alex is a winner; he’s a great leader,” Wilson said. “He’s doing all the right things, so no doubt, all those things follow success. I feel like he will be successful no matter where he goes, and with a Pat, the kid, he’s super athletic. He can make any throw he wants to make, so with coach (Andy) Reid’s offense and how he has things going, I could see Pat doing good over there also.”
Kent Swanson: “When you wait 30 years to see a first-round quarterback, you’re going to see a mania around it, and I think Chiefs fans in general are in very unfamiliar territory. They don’t understand or know how to handle a first-round quarterback being in their city, so the fans that were trying to justify and look at a Brodie Croyle as the future? Now they’ve got a guy with legitimate talent, who has some rare skill sets and abilities. I understand why there’s a mania, and a guy like Andy Reid is the kind of guy that can get the most out of him. I think there’s optimism based upon the situation he’s been dropped in, which is one of the best for a young quarterback I’ve ever seen.”
Moore cleared waivers and is back on the Chiefs, but he does not count against the 90-man roster. The Chiefs have yet to disclose the details of his injury.