Happy New Year. It’s our 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 my last Re-Up column here.
Shortly after the Kansas City Chiefs clinched their third straight division title, the team tweeted out a video of the locker-room celebration, as has become typical after every Chiefs victory.
Linebacker Justin Houston—drafted by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft and now one of the team’s eldest members—stood in the center of the circle.
“All the time you got, dog, please put it in this, dog,” he yelled as his eyes traced the room. “We only got three weeks to give it all we got. That’s all, brother! You got the rest of the offseason to do whatever you want. Three weeks to give it all you got. All your time dedicated to this, man. Let’s go get this thing, dog. Let’s go get it.”
Houston broke down the team huddle with the usual, “Fam(ily) on three,” and the Chiefs parted ways for the last time in a game-related situation until January 12, at 3:35 p.m. Arrowhead Time, when they will face either the Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens.
When it comes to disappointment in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs, you don’t have to look far, and Houston has had his share of it during his tenure—the unspeakable tribulations that made up what was 2012, injury-ridden seasons that ended in back-to-back divisional losses in 2015 and 2016, including one after a bye, and last year’s forward progress debacle.
The Chiefs made an emphasis to get younger as a whole this offseason, waving goodbye to players like Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson and leaving a nucleus of young talent. Seven members of the Chiefs are 30 or older, and only two Chiefs—Frank Zombo and Dustin Colquitt—are above the age of 31.
They don’t know what Chiefs teams in the past have gone through; they don’t fully realize how fleeting a season and a Super Bowl dream can be.
“Justin’s one of the real good leaders we’ve got there,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said on Monday after the game. “Justin stood up and he talked after the game, and so you heard it. You heard what he said and that’s how he feels. He’s been one of the guys that has been around and understands that urgency it takes and so you’ve got a nice mixture—young and old guys. Young guys have to keep that in mind.
“The guys that haven’t been through it, they’ve got to stay focused. You got a lot of things happening between New Year’s and everything going on right now during the holiday season. You’ve got to keep your focus the right way.”
On a day the Chiefs defense, which has struggled mightily this year, held the Raiders to 292 yards, Houston recorded 1.5 sacks, five tackles, two quarterback hits, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Dee Ford, on the other side, had a sack, three tackles, including two for a loss and a forced fumble himself.
Ford, arguably the healthiest he has been for a playoff since he was drafted by the Chiefs back in 2014, explained how Houston’s words resonated with him.
“First of all, understanding that three more weeks, really one that’s guaranteed, so lock in,” Ford said. “This is a month right now of your life that you don’t get back—this opportunity, so you don’t want to waste it. And we’re all really—we’re locking in. Whatever you do, magnify it even more. You’ve got three weeks. You could do anything in three weeks. We want to take advantage but we don’t want to take for granted where we are right now.”
The Chiefs, through decision-making in recent weeks, seem to understand the urgency. The benching of Ron Parker and Orlando Scandrick for Daniel Sorensen and Charvarius Ward—though somewhat untimely—looks like it could pay dividends.
As a team, the Chiefs took four penalties against the Raiders, but none on the defensive side of the football. Ward, who led the team with two pass breakups, feels serviceable and therefore promising.
“I’ll tell you, Ward, I thought he did a nice job [against the Raiders],” Reid said. “Some of the things he talked about—just challenging them, working up through the ball, some of the things that are important as a cornerback, I thought he took a step forward, so that was good to see. He played physical. I thought the other guys did a nice job, too.”
In 2018, we have never questioned the offense. It has always been, “In Mahomes, we trust.”
The question has always been whether the defense could meet it in the middle.
And right now, there is still no certainty of that. But what does exist is hope.
Houston and Ford get it, and are saying all the right things. Though it was against a 4-12 Raiders team, the defense played much better. The Chiefs have a quarterback who is making everybody feel like anything is possible.
12 teams remain and the Chiefs know they will be among the final eight.
Three weeks to give it all they got.
STAT OF THE GAME
2018 Chiefs: first team in NFL history to score at least 26 points in every game of a 16-game season.— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) December 30, 2018
GIF OF THE GAME
TWEET(s) OF THE WEEK
Justin Houston said that tonight was the first time he’s heard an MVP chant in a stadium before, as Arrowhead did for Patrick Mahomes this evening.— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) December 31, 2018
“It probably won’t be the last time with that guy.”
My brothers snap streak is awesome. The one downside is he can’t just enjoy the end of a game from the sidelines. With Mahomes out, he’d get pulled also and could enjoy the game from the sidelines with a hat on.— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) December 30, 2018
MvPat to 50. So dope!— Danny Duffy (@Duffman) December 30, 2018
- 1. Andy Reid on quarterback Patrick Mahomes and what he’s meant to the team: “He’s been the MVP. He’s done good. He is a heck of a player. I was fortunate to be around a three-time MVP and a couple of guys who were right on the edge of being the MVP and this guy is in that category. He is so deserving. In a world of great players, for him to do the things he’s done is phenomenal, and he will continue to do that. He still has room to grow. That’s the exciting part and something for Kansas City to be very excited about. His work ethic and everything else is MVP-caliber level. He comes to work with a purpose, makes everyone feel a part of it, makes everyone around him better and has done that for our organization, for all of us, his fans and coaches and owner too. He’s been very important.”
- 2. Patrick Mahomes on whether he believes he is the NFL’s MVP: “That’s a hard question. There’s a lot of guys that have played this year that I feel like deserve the MVP. It’s not up to me. I just go out there and play my game and try to win football games and let all that stuff handle itself after the season. Hopefully I’m still playing whenever it happens.”
- 3. Chiefs linebacker Reggie Ragland on why he was stopped short of a pick-six: “The reason I got caught was I was slowing down so [Patrick Mahomes] could break the record a little faster. That’s what it was.”
- 4. Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones on the way the defense played against Oakland: “Hell of a game to those guys. I know I’m talking in third person, but hell of a game. Three points? You can’t beat that. Thanks to Bob (Sutton). We had the scheme ready, players ready. We knew we get a bye after this. I think it is more so everybody is ready to get home.”
- 5. Center Mitch Morse on how he plans to spend the Chiefs’ bye week: “Yeah, to take a nap. That’s going to be great.”
THE BIG THOUGHT
Patrick Mahomes, in his second season and first as a starter, etched his name among the greats Sunday when he reached 50 passing touchdowns in a single season, becoming only the third player in NFL history to do.
The other two quarterbacks before him? Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, also two former MVPs. And that is what got me thinking.
Every great quarterback has a partner in crime, doesn’t he? Brady had Randy Moss, and more recently Julian Edelman Rob Gronkowski. Manning had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne and later Demaryius Thomas. You think of Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice and later Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.
When it comes to Mahomes, two names come to mind and deservedly so. Mahomes has Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
Hill finished 2018 with 87 catches for 1,479 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns, and no Chief in history has ever had more yards in a single season.
Kelce finished 2018 with 103 catches for 1,336 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns, and no Chief in history has ever had more receptions in a single season.
When you think back to Mahomes 10 years from now, it probably won’t be about one weapon, one receiver. It will be about this trio that set the league on fire.
Part of the reason for each of their successes depends on the existence of each other on the field, and that’s the beauty of it.
POLL OF THE WEEK
How do you believe the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2018 season ends?
This poll is closed
Divisional round loss
AFC Title game loss
Super Bowl loss
Super Bowl championship
If you can’t see the poll, click here. Discuss in the comments.