Kansas City lost wide receiver Tyreek Hill early on against the Jaguars last week, but that did little to slow down the Chiefs. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes picked up right where he left off after an MVP season, throwing for 378 yards and three touchdowns while leading to the Chiefs to a 40-26 win on the road.
Sammy Watkins stepped into a starring role with Hill out and provided nine catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns. After Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton beat Oakland’s secondary to the tune of seven catches for 120 yards in Week 1, Watkins could be a matchup nightmare for the Raiders. His ability to create mismatches across the field is why the SportsLine Projection Model says Kansas City covers in well over 50 percent of simulations. You can also confidently back the over (53), which hits nearly 70 percent of the time.
1 Patrick Mahomes
Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 1 | Blair: 1 | Filice: 1 | Parr: 1
2019 stats: 1 game | 75.8 pct | 378 pass yds | 11.5 ypa | 3 pass TD | 0 INT
Parr: The reigning MVP didn’t even need two healthy ankles to slice and dice what many think is potentially an elite defense in Week 1. Sure, losing Tyreek Hill for at least the next month is going to be a new test, but this superhuman pigskin distributor (and Sammy Watkins) did just fine without him against the Jaguars (18 of 25 for 216 yards and 2 TDs after Hill left the game). We’re full speed ahead on Mahomes at No. 1.
He was more effective rushing the ball against the Jaguars than Williams, gaining 81 yards on 10 carries compared to 26 on 13 for Williams. The Chiefs were also better when passing while McCoy was in the game. They averaged 15.9 yards per pass attempt when McCoy was in the lineup and 10.1 yards when Williams played. Williams did have six catches for 39 yards compared to one catch for 12 yards for McCoy.
Add it all up and it feels like a bigger role for McCoy is on the horizon this Sunday when the Chiefs travel to play the Oakland Raiders. But Reid said the Chiefs hadn’t figured out how much they would use their backs, including rookie Darwin Thompson.
”I can’t tell you one way or another,” Reid said. “But I would tell you we’re comfortable with both guys. Thompson, the same thing. He can get in there and do this thing, too. We’re going to roll all three of those guys.”
“There are things we can do better all the way around in all three phases of our games,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I sure liked the effort. The more those guys play together and with the system, I just think the sky is the limit.”
It wasn’t a complete debacle. The Chiefs did roll to a 40-26 win on the road. And they did make a few plays on defense, forcing a couple of turnovers and keeping running back Leonard Fournette in check.
They also looked as if they knew what they were doing most of the time, which is no small thing when a team is converting to a 4-3 system from its old 3-4 base. There was minimal confusion, and that allowed the Chiefs to play reasonably fast on defense.
“I want to say there was 58 snaps, we got everyone lined up on every one,” said Anthony Hitchens, whose job at middle linebacker includes making sure everyone knows where they are supposed to be.
1. Toub explained how the game plan on special teams will be affected with wide receiver Tyreek Hill unavailable this week due to injury.
”It changes a little bit, obviously, because everybody moves up,” Toub said. “On offense, [wide receiver Mecole] Hardman is going to get a lot more. D-Rob [wide receiver Demarcus Robinson] is going to get a lot more offense. It puts pressure on other guys to step up. The good thing is, we get [wide receiver] De’Anthony [Thomas] back. He’ll come in and he’ll be a guy for me. He’ll end up playing a bunch in the return game, as well as coverage.”
Thomas - who was suspended for the season-opener - is a swiss army knife of sorts for Toub as a guy who can return kicks and play the gunner role in punt coverage.
“I’m always myself. I don’t try to clone anybody,” Hardman said. “I just want to play my game and do what I’m capable of doing and not try to imitate anybody else. He’s a great player. Not too many people, if anybody, can do what he does on the field. I just want to be myself and do what I do.”
On paper, it would seem to be a natural transition to turn to Hardman or De’Anthony Thomas in Hill’s absence. Thomas is returning from a one-game suspension this week. After all, their most noticeable attribute is their speed, and who is faster than Tyreek Hill?
3. Chiefs at Raiders Over 53
The Chiefs’ offense still being out of this world and the Chiefs’ defense still being terrible do not exactly qualify as breaking news. Against a good Jaguars defense, the Chiefs’ offense dropped 40 points with Patrick Mahomes throwing for 378 yards and Sammy Watkins breaking out for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Against Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew for most of the game, the Chiefs’ remodeled defense allowed 26 points. In relief of an injured Foles, Minshew went 22 of 25 for 275 yards and two touchdowns. So yeah, the Chiefs defense is still not fixed even after changing defensive coordinators and swapping out Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Eric Berry for Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu.
Fans were understandably excited when the Kansas City Chiefs signed tailback LeSean McCoy earlier this month, and for good reason, as the 10-year veteran has been one of the league’s most productive players during his time in the NFL.
But every time McCoy trots into the end zone or tallies triple-digit rushing yards this season, it’ll mean a lot more than just another impressive performance on the field.
McCoy is one of 14 players to join the fight against pediatric cancer this season through the “Still Strong Foundation,” which was created by former NFL linebacker Devon Still when his daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Each week, participating players will dedicate their performances to the cause by encouraging fans to pledge a pre-determined donation based on certain statistical achievements, such as catches or tackles.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins is on his third team through six seasons, and, finally healthy. With All-Pro wideout Tyreek Hill on the shelf, his time may have finally come to break out. In Week 1, with Hill for the large part out of the game, Watkins went bananas for his best game as a pro against a pair of the NFL’s best cornerbacks in Jacksonville. On 11 targets, he grabbed nine of them for 198 yards and three touchdowns. For those of you keeping the score at home, that’s 46 points in PPR formats.
The Chiefs just torched what was supposed to be a top-10 defense on the road without their best receiver for a large part of the game. Watkins didn’t care. Moving forward, Hill is out indefinitely, and Watkins is the clear lead guy on the outside. He’s had the upside of a WR1 for his entire career, but he’s never capitalized on it. Now is his time to do just that.
Watkins could possibly be released at the end of this season in a cost-cutting move, so he’s working to make his statement to the Chiefs to keep him or the rest of the NFL to snatch him up. Maybe it’s time fantasy football owners do the same.
Around the league
“When I left [Texas] A&M [after my freshman] year, nobody thought I could throw,” Murray told reporters following practice on Wednesday. “I’m short and I can’t throw. It’s a bad combination.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Murray said it’s not those who doubt him who also motivate him. It’s just the plain-and-simple desire to be the greatest of all-time.
”What fuels me?” Murray said, repeating a reporter’s question to him. “I would like to be the best to ever play the game.”
A hefty goal, of course, but why not? Murray’s resume already notes a Heisman Trophy and the designation as the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. In his NFL debut against the Lions, he got off to a terrible start, but rebounded to lead the Cardinals to a 27-27 tie despite an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit. Along the way, he had a pair of touchdowns and threw for 308 yards -- becoming the fourth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to eclipse 300 yards in his first start and the first since Andrew Luck in 2012.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold will be sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with mononucleosis, coach Adam Gase announced Thursday. Trevor Siemian will start Monday night against the Cleveland Browns.
The Jets, who lost starting wide receiver Quincy Enunwa to a season-ending neck injury this week, could be without Darnold for multiple weeks.
”Looks like it,” Gase said. “Good thing we’ve got an early bye week.”
The bye week falls in Week 4, following an away game against the New England Patriots. Darnold’s earliest likely return is Week 5 at the Philadelphia Eagles.
This debate has been raging for years now, and in 2019, bloated running back contracts have never been more difficult to justify. But a couple of players are providing glimmers of hope that the most impactful talents at the position are still worth paying for. Last season, Saints do-it-all back Alvin Kamara and Panthers dual-threat Christian McCaffrey were two of the most productive receiving backs in NFL history. They finished second and fifth, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ DYAR—which measures running back value compared to a replacement-level player—and McCaffrey’s 107 receptions broke the record for most by a running back in a single season.
This year, both players picked up right where they left off in Week 1. The pair combined for 17 receptions and 153 yards receiving in their debuts, with Kamara ranking second and McCaffrey ranking third in DYAR. Both backs have elite receiving ability, but they also benefit from coaching staffs and play-callers who create concepts that tap into those skills. And as coaches and front offices around the league search for clues as to how they can extract value from their backs, the ways that the Saints and Panthers use their pass-catching stars could provide a useful blueprint.
QUARTERBACK -- Randall Cunningham, Jake Delhomme, Boomer Esiason, Jeff Garcia, Jeff Hostetler, Dave Krieg, Donovan McNabb
RUNNING BACKS -- Shaun Alexander, Mike Alstott, Tiki Barber, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers, Corey Dillon, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Edgerrin James, Daryl Johnston, Thomas Jones, Maurice Jones-Drew, Eric Metcalf, Lorenzo Neal, Clinton Portis, Fred Taylor, Herschel Walker, Chris Warren, Ricky Watters
WIDE RECEIVERS -- Isaac Bruce, Gary Clark, Donald Driver, Henry Ellard, Torry Holt, Chad Johnson, Derrick Mason, Muhsin Muhammad, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith, Hines Ward, Reggie Wayne
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
The Kansas City Chiefs ran through the Jacksonville Jaguars defense on Sunday, putting up 40 points, which included three touchdowns through the air. All three of those receiving touchdowns were passes from Patrick Mahomes to Sammy Watkins, and that may have been the least impressive part about Watkins’ performance.
Tyreek Hill left the game with a shoulder injury in the first quarter, leaving Watkins as the team’s wide receiver; in fact, he was the only wide receiver to catch more than one pass after Hill’s exit. Despite providing the only true threat at wide receiver, Watkins was able to snag the aforementioned three touchdowns, nine catches and 198 yards against one of the more talented cornerback duos in the NFL.
Whether matched up against Jalen Ramsey, AJ Bouye or working across the middle of the Jaguars’ defense, Watkins was consistently able to create separation and churn out yards after the catch. With the news coming down that Tyreek Hill is going to be out for four to six weeks, the pressure will be on Watkins to stay healthy and continue to produce like a top-flight wide receiver.
On October 5, 1986, multiple on-field brawls in a Chiefs-Raiders game at Arrowhead Stadium resulted in fines for 17 players on both teams. — 10 Raiders and seven Chiefs. Even Chiefs head coach John Mackovic received a fine. Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long got the worst of the fines after he broke Chiefs offensive guard Brad Budde’s nose. Raiders defensive end Greg Townsend was suspended for the following week’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
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