On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs went on the road and knocked off the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-26 to open the 2019 season. Here are five things we learned during the game:
Andrew Wylie is the Chiefs’ starting left guard
Back in mid-May, we saw the 2018 Mack Lee Hill award winner line up at left guard with the rest of the first-team offense when Dwayne Bowe took his ceremonial final catch before retiring as a member of the Chiefs. Since then, we’ve figured that the job was Wylie’s to lose. But in the last couple of weeks, there were hints that the Chiefs might be considering making Cam Erving — who held down the job for most of last season before being injured — might end up being the starter for the season.
On Tuesday, the first unofficial depth chart listed Wylie as the starter — but we’ve learned over the years not to place too much faith in that document. Nonetheless, it was Wylie — not Erving — who started at left guard on Sunday.
For now, Wylie is the Chiefs’ starting left guard.
Other teams don’t like it when the Chiefs score at will
It took just 96 seconds for Patrick Mahomes to notch his first touchdown pass of the season — and get the taste of last season’s game against the Jaguars out of his mouth. On the fourth play of the game, Mahomes found Sammy Watkins open on a crossing route. Watkins broke a tackle and ran unhindered for a 68-yard score.
On the next drive, Mahomes hit Kelce for a 42-yard gain that set up a Harrison Butker field goal, which made the score 10-0 with just six minutes gone in the game. On their next drive, Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles hit D.J. Chark with a 35-yard touchdown pass to make the score 10-7. But it then it took the Chiefs just six plays and 2:47 to put another touchdown on the board — this one a 49-yard pass to Watkins.
Maybe it was because the Chiefs were scoring so effortlessly. Maybe it was because Foles had been knocked out of the game on his touchdown pass to Chark. Or maybe it was because it was so blazingly hot; it was above 100 degrees at turf level in Jacksonville’s TIAA Field.
Whatever the cause, by the end of the first quarter, the Jaguars were clearly ticked off. From late in the first quarter on, there was plenty of extracurricular hitting — most of it coming from the Jaguars. Linebacker Myles Jack was ejected after an incident that started with lots of pushing and shoving in the end zone but ended with Jack taking a swing at Demarcus Robinson.
In the NFL, health is a fleeting thing
On that same play — in which he was sacked as the pocket collapsed around him — Mahomes had to be helped from the field. Chiefs fans held their breath as Mahomes limped to the sideline — and newly-signed backup Matt Moore prepared to enter the game.
In the end, it took so long for the officials to figure out who deserved to be penalized during the end zone cage match that Mahomes didn’t miss a play; he was back on the field before the next snap. He continued to play, but it was clear that Mahomes wasn’t at his best. After the game, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Mahomes had suffered a sprained ankle.
Still, it’s a reminder that the Chiefs’ hopes remain dependent on the health of their star players — particularly Mahomes. Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill — who signed a three-year, $54 million deal just in the last week — left the game with a shoulder injury in the first quarter. The full impact of Hill’s injury is yet unknown. He was taken to a Jacksonville hospital because trainers recognized there was the potential of a severe injury. At this writing, Hill is reported not to be in immediate danger — but he could be out for a number of weeks.
Foles — who signed a four-year, $88 million dollar contract during the offseason to become Jacksonville’s starter — was on the sideline with his arm in a sling after what was reported to be a broken collarbone that he suffered in the Jaguars’ second drive.
This is precisely why depth is one of the most important factors in building a championship football team.
In television, health is also a fleeting thing
After the Jaguars’ Gardner Minshew hit Dede Westbrook with a touchdown pass to make the score 37-19 with 7:27 left in the fourth quarter, the CBS production truck in Jacksonville was hit with what was described as a “power surge” that took it offline. The feed was never restored before the end of the game, so Chiefs fans who were watching the CBS broadcast were switched to the Titans-Browns game.
This is precisely why depth is one of the most important factors in building a television production truck.
Chiefs fans travel well
After the end of the first half, TIAA Bank Field was about half-empty. The injury to Foles — and the 23-13 halftime score — apparently led many Jaguars fans to seek air conditioning elsewhere. Most of those who remained were wearing red jerseys — an excellent showing by Chiefs fans from the southeastern United States.
But Jaguars fans should have stayed.
Their team lost the game, but their fans missed an excellent NFL debut from Minshew. The former Washington State quarterback acquitted himself well, completing 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the loss — a passer rating of 122.5! If Foles does indeed have a broken collarbone — which would cause him to miss many weeks of the season — Jaguars fans could still have hope for the year to come.
With any luck, the Chiefs will be able to say the same thing about Hill’s injury.