Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Hill scored twice in the first quarter and again in the fourth. Mahomes threw four touchdowns, and appeared in full command of the game. These two might just be the most dynamic and exciting duo in the NFL... maybe even in NFL history before they’re done. That may sound like hyperbole, but there’s literally no ceiling on what these guys can do. Enjoy it.
Linebacker Dee Ford
A sack and four quarterback hits for No. 55 show that Ford is healthy again. The plays he made in pursuit — both against the run and chasing the the quarterback — remind us of the unique speed he brings to the position. He’s still not stout enough against the run, but he was productive and disruptive against the Chargers. That’s a very good thing for the Chiefs defense.
The Chiefs run defense
It wasn’t a perfect game for the revamped front seven of the Chiefs, but they generally were very solid against the run. In 74 defensive snaps, they held Melvin Gordon to 64 yards rushing. Everyone got into the act, including Ford, Ron Parker, Derrick Nnadi, Chris Jones, Anthony Hitchens and Justin Houston. At least on the ground, the offseason focus on defense seems to be paying off.
Wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas and fullback Anthony Sherman
On a team loaded with playmakers, advantages often come to guys that the opposing defense least expects to see touches. The misdirection on the goal line left DAT waltzing into the end zone, and one of the real highlights of the day was the beautiful pass from Mahomes to Sherman. Mahomes showed great faith in his fullback beating a linebacker down the field — even though Sherman was covered at the time he released it. Great offenses are able to spread the ball around. Role players like DAT and Sherman have to capitalize — and in week one, they did.
Head coach Andy Reid
The head coach’s creativity was on full display. “Playing to the strengths of your players” sounds like a cliche, but it was clear that Reid had a great game plan for the Chargers, and the Bolts had no clue how to stop it. Formations like the play below — and the touchdowns to Thomas and Hill at the goal line — were works of art.
Interesting 40 personnel that shifts to 31 personnel with Spencer Ware as the QB and Mahomes as the wing. pic.twitter.com/ADAIh8DrCI— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 10, 2018
Others trending in the right direction
Steven Nelson, Derrick Nnadi, Dustin Colquitt, Spencer Ware, Ron Parker, Marcus Kemp and Chris Jones
Linebacker Terrance Smith
Many were surprised that he was still on the roster, but he has some obvious value on special teams. However, the fact that he’s in there on defense — and just running into blockers — is frustrating. I hope we see more of Dorian O’Daniel in the very near future when the Chiefs need an inside linebacker not named Ragland or Hitchens on the field.
Oh Terrance Smith, this is gonna be a long year of clips huh? pic.twitter.com/k5LiQsJQ0k— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) September 10, 2018
Running back Pat Mahomes
Yes, you read that right - running back Patrick Mahomes. There’s no question the Chiefs have their game-changing franchise quarterback. At this point, the only thing that could derail his career would be getting hurt. Mahomes took some hits in this game — some of which were unnecessary. We love his aggression and willingness to move the chains. But he’s got to be more careful about sliding, pitching the ball on the option, and getting out of bounds when he should.
The Chiefs versus running backs in the passing game
Chargers running backs accounted for nearly half of Philip Rivers’ passing yards. The Chiefs aggression on defense hurt them on a number of screen passes. Rivers was also able to get the matchups he wanted down the field — like Austin Ekeler against Hitchens.
Anyone trying to cover Keenan Allen
Allen had a big game, catching eught passes on 11 targets for 108 yards and a touchdown. Most often, it was because Orlando Scandrick was either biting on the route for the touchdown, or just getting outplayed; Allen beat Fuller for the catch that set up the Chargers’ final touchdown. I actually think Scandrick (and Kendall Fuller, too) did some good things against the Chargers, but sometimes the guy lined up across from you is just better on that play.
Others trending in the wrong direction
Demarcus Robinson, Alex Ellis and the Chiefs’ tackling.
Linebacker Anthony Hitchens
Hitchens was in on 15 tackles — two for a loss — against the Chargers. I saw a lot of fans on Twitter disparaging his coverage ability after giving up a touchdown to a running back. He also missed a couple tackles, as did the rest of the defense. But its plays like this one that re-affirmed Hitchens is who we thought he was: a real steadying force at the inside linebacker position. He’s got great instincts, can close, and loves to hit people. Anything he can do in coverage is gravy.
Tight end Travis Kelce
I nearly put Kelce on the STOCK UP list, because this week, he showed signs of being a real, complete tight end; his blocking was on full display for many of the big offensive plays. But he only had one catch on six targets, and he was remarkably far short of the consistent production we’ve come to expect. It’s a safe assumption that the Chiefs might only be able to feature one or two of their playmakers each week. Kelce’s day is coming.
Others who are who we thought they were
Kareem Hunt, Sammy Watkins, Justin Houston