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The Re-Up: Tyreek Hill was excellent Sunday, and we still don’t know his ceiling

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Remember that fun chat we had at the end of June?

Welcome to our new Monday morning column, called The Re-Up. I’ll write about some deeper thought I had about the game and finish with some fun stuff to ponder at the article’s end.


NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Back in late June, Josh Webb — one of our Arrowhead Pride readers — sent in a question that I thought was rather thought-provoking.

“If the New York Giants called and offered Odell Beckham Jr. for Tyreek Hill, straight up, would you take it?”

We talked about it on our Arrowhead Pride summer radio program, and we posted the poll on our site. With nearly 4,000 total votes, 90 percent of you said you would pass on the trade*.

On Sunday after the Chiefs’ 38-28 Week 1 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, you looked awfully right.

Hill had three total touchdowns to go along with 169 receiving yards on, all the while Beckham finished with 111 and none.

Now let me be clear.

I am not saying that after one regular-season game, the debate is final. But after what Hill showcased, I believe it is now safe to say with 100 percent certainty you just couldn’t take that chance.

We all know what Beckham is: one of the best receivers in the National Football League. But Hill — who remains the best punt returner in the NFL, who is definitely faster than anyone else, who is paired with one of the greatest coaching minds in the history of the game — has a ceiling that is still unknown.

“I mean that guy, Tyreek Hill, is unbelievable to watch,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said Sunday. “What a dynamic player. I don’t want to make any too crazy of statements, but he is one of the most dynamic guys. I don’t know if I’ve seen anybody better, the things he can do speed-wise, in all my time playing.”

Over the years, it has become a coaching trend to remove players from special teams as they grow and develop, and become a more important part of the offense.

But the Chiefs value Hill too much in special teams to make such a move. And it paid off on Sunday in the form of points.

“I was getting ready to go out there, got my helmet,” Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt said. “Next thing I know, I see Tyreek catch it and do what he does. Once he hit the outside, I knew it was a touchdown. I was just like, ‘Let me sit back down. Good for him.’”

Good for him — and really, good for the Chiefs. That punt return was worth six on Sunday, but in the grand scheme of things, it could be worth field position for the rest of the year. What special teams coordinator in his right mind will punt directly to Hill after that?

And that will translate to better field position for the offense and Patrick Mahomes, who will use Hill there, too.

“I think everyone on our team is trying to advance their game and trying to get better,” Mahomes said after the game. “Tyreek’s really worked on his route running and everything in order to make himself the best wide receiver in the league. I think today has showed that he has improved in his part and has the speed to bring it any time.”

In January, I posed this question: “Is Tyreek Hill one part of his game away from being the best WR in the NFL?

Hill had finished seventh in the league in receiving yards in 2017 with what he said was still a major part of his game missing: his route running. So he worked on it.

He worked on it all offseason long. Hill understood that if he could improve his route running, it might give him an extra step or two on defensive players, and if he could get an extra step or two on defensive players, well then...

Poof.

That work showed in the form of a slant route Hill took 58 yards to the house Sunday.

“It’s a [run-pass option] play and I had a slant so he [Mahomes] was reading the linebackers,” Hill explained. “I just have to run my route and be there. There’s a certain spot on the field that I have to be and he’s going to throw it there every time. Then after that, it’s history.”

Maybe that touchdown doesn’t happen in 2017. And maybe that’s why — back then — a trade for OBJ might be a no-brainer.

But it’s not that simple anymore, is it?

* (Big Blue View posted the same poll and 81 percent of Giants fans said they wouldn’t make the deal either, for what it’s worth)


STAT OF THE GAME

As first tweeted by Matt McMullen of Chiefs dot com, with Sunday’s win, the Chiefs are now 17-2 over AFC West opponents since 2015.


GIF OF THE GAME

Almost immediately after Hill’s initial punt return, I asked fans if they would send me the GIF of the play so I could post it to the website. I got this:


TWEET OF THE GAME


FIVE QUOTES

  • 1. Andy Reid on Anthony Sherman and his touchdown: “I was telling [Chiefs Radio Network executive producer] Dan [Israel], he’s got crazy hands, man. You think of him as a sausage, so he goes out and he’s a sausage with hands. It’s a good thing.”
  • 2. Hill on his backflip touchdown celebration: “At the beginning of the game, I was watching the screen and one of their players did a backflip so I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to do a backflip.’ I had to show my athletic ability. I shouldn’t have done it though because I started cramping right after. It was a bad idea.”
  • 3. Chargers QB Philip Rivers on Patrick Mahomes: On Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes: “I think he has a chance to be a really, really, really awesome player. He has some arm power. I’d like to borrow his arm every now and then for some of those throws. He can really throw, and he’s really accurate. I hadn’t seen a ton of him, but he was really accurate today on some of those balls that just came out. He seems to have that he can throw it from any arm angle and he was poised. He was poised. He’s got a chance, and I just wanted to tell him after the game, whether he wanted to hear it from me or not, that he’s got a chance to be really awesome. Just be steady and keep going. He’s still a young player. He was solid today.”
  • 4. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn on the Tyreek Hill punt-return touchdown: “We’re going to watch the tape to find out exactly what happened, but we lost containment. We know he’s [Kansas City WR Tyreek Hill] one of the fastest guys in the country and we lost containment. He made us pay. That’s something we’ve emphasized — we’ve worked. We knew Tyreek was going to be back there. He was back there last year. I don’t think he got 10-yards last year back there. We just didn’t execute today.”
  • 5. Lynn on trying to find a way to rattle Mahomes: “There were times we put some pressure on him, but it wasn’t enough. When we did, he moved around and made a play. Anytime we gave him a chance to extend plays, he’s at home. He did that all through his college days. We just didn’t get enough pressure on him.”

THE BIG THOUGHT

Though Sunday’s game was fun, it was by no means a perfectly played game, and I think Chiefs head coach Andy Reid alluded to that in his press conference. The offense seemed more ready than I thought, but as Hill shined, three of the Chiefs other weapons—Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins—probably didn’t have the first games they would have liked. In addition, the Chargers had three wide open drops—two that could have went for touchdowns—in the first half of the game. If the Chargers make those plays that they should have, perhaps Monday isn’t as happy a day as it is for Chiefs fans. There is still much work to be done.


POLL OF THE WEEK

Poll

Is there a bigger regular-season scenario (excluding playoff implications) you could think of for the Chiefs that would be bigger than a win in Pittsburgh?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Yes
    (292 votes)
  • 76%
    No
    (956 votes)
1248 votes total Vote Now

If yes, describe it in the comment section.