1. All hail Patrick Mahomes!
During Hawaiian Shirt Day at Kansas City Chiefs training camp, I remarked to a few people sitting near me that I thought Chiefs fans were going to be pretty frustrated this season, as the Chiefs do their best to change Mahomes from a gunslinger to a pocket passer — in other words, to turn him into a real pro quarterback, instead of just a guy with guts and freakish arm strength.
After watching the Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, I hereby withdraw this opinion.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the Chiefs are doing that exact thing right now — and they are succeeding. I just don’t think anybody is going to notice — or even care. There are still a lot of tests ahead for this young man, and it’s likely he’s not going to pass all of them — at least not right away.
But he seems to be able to learn how to be smart on the field, while retaining all of the adventurism that made him such an exciting quarterback at Texas Tech. Enjoy this, folks... because it’s just not something you’re going to see very often in the NFL.
2. All hail Tyreek Hill!
Seriously... is there anything this guy can’t do? Until I realized that Hill’s third touchdown of Sunday’s game had gone in the books as a pass reception instead of a handoff — a judgement with which I take exception — I actually wondered if Hill was going to throw a halfback pass for a touchdown on the next drive.
Any non-Chiefs fans reading these words, please take notice: Tyreek Hill isn’t a gadget player, or a Tavon Austin clone. Just stop with that stuff, OK? Tyreek Hill is a legitimate NFL wide receiver. If he wasn’t, he couldn’t do this:
It's the Tyreek Hill show in LA. pic.twitter.com/tSSCsAQF3T— Dion Caputi (@nfldraftupdate) September 9, 2018
3. All hail Anthony Sherman!
On Sunday, The Sausage hauled in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes. It was the longest pass reception of his long NFL career — and his fourth touchdown. Sherman now has three receiving touchdowns on his career, and one rushing touchdown.
I don’t mention this because I expect Sherman to suddenly become an offensive threat — although with the Chiefs offense this year, who knows? — but because every offseason, people suggest the Chiefs cut Sherman to make salary cap room.
Look... this is pretty simple. The Chiefs keep Sherman around because he is a terrific special teams player — something the team values greatly — but also because he’s reliable. They don’t give him a lot of chances to make plays, but when they do, he makes them. You can’t really put a price on that. He’s not far from retirement, but he’s going to retire a Chief.
4. All hail Ron Parker!
Yes... I know Ron Parker isn’t as fast as he used to be. And I’m pretty sure he won’t reach his current full potential with the Chiefs unless (or until) Eric Berry is back on the field. But it’s hard to complain much about his performance against the Chargers. I’d like to publicly thank the Atlanta Falcons for releasing Parker, opening the way for the Chiefs to bring him back on board. I shudder to think what the pass defense might have looked like if Parker hadn’t been on the field against the Chargers.
5. All boo the Chiefs defense!
People said Philip Rivers would pass for 500 yards against the Chiefs defense. He didn’t quite reach that mark, and I acknowledge it’s hard to feel good about a defense that gave up 547 total yards — not to mention 28 points — in the opening game of the season.
There’s just no way around it. It was ugly.
We could say, “Well, the Chiefs are just going to have to score more points, and now they can do it.” But we’ve seen this movie before — back in 2003, when the Chiefs could score at will, and also couldn’t stop other teams from scoring at will.
We knew the Chargers — with Philip Rivers, who may act like a baby when things don’t go his way, but is still a damn fine NFL quarterback — had the weapons to move the ball and score points. And he did. Not all teams are going to be able to do that — even against the Chiefs defense.
Despite the obvious problems on defense during Sunday’s game, I saw nothing that leads me to change my mind about how this season will play out: at first, the defense will play badly, as all the new players — and there are a lot of them — get used to working together. It might take a few weeks — or even half the season — but they’ll figure it out. In the meantime, the offense will keep the Chiefs in their games, and maybe even win about half of them.
But when the defense gets it figured out — in the second half of the season, when it matters most — the Chiefs will be a hard team to beat.