The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-26 on the road to open the 2019 season. Here are five winners and five losers from the game:
- The Chiefs offense started out blazing hot — and wide receiver Sammy Watkins was a huge part of that. On the third play of the game, he took a third-down catch 68 yards to the end zone. Then — after two more nice catches — Patrick Mahomes found him wide open down the sideline for a 49-yard score. Watkins became the first NFL player since 2006 to rack up 150 or more receiving yards in the first quarter of a game. Watkins kept seeing passes and finished the game with a mind-boggling 198 receiving yards (and three touchdowns) on nine catches.
- Quarterback Patrick Mahomes didn’t waste any time starting his campaign for a second- straight MVP award. He hit big play after big play with Watkins and tight end Travis Kelce — who had two receptions over 40 yards in the first half. There was an injury scare when Mahomes’ left ankle was caught under a pile, but he didn’t miss a snap and finished the first half with 313 passing yards — a career-high for the first two quarters. The MVP quarterback was visibly affected by the ankle injury, but it didn’t stop him from producing more in the second half. He finished with 25 completions on 33 pass attempts, 378 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His hard count was in midseason form, too; Mahomes forced multiple offsides penalties on the Jaguars defense.
- Starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland made the most of his opportunities to make plays. He recorded a nice pass breakup early in the game and didn’t give up any other significant plays through the first half — unlike some of his fellow cornerbacks. Then on the first drive of the second half, Chiefs linebacker Damien Wilson forced a fumble that Breeland picked up and took 14 yards the other way.
- Veteran running back LeSean McCoy may have been signed less than a week ago, but his performance wouldn’t have suggested that. McCoy and fellow tailback Damien Williams seemed to share the load pretty evenly throughout the game — but it was McCoy who had the big flashy plays and an efficient stat line. He finished with 81 rushing yards on 10 carries. He also had a 12-yard reception that resulted in a first down.
- It’s a good thing the Chiefs have kicker Harrison Butker. The Chiefs offense was hot, but they stalled in the red zone a few times. Butker converted all four of his field goal attempts — the longest coming from 46 yards out. He also converted all four extra-point attempts.
- Cornerback Kendall Fuller was step-for-step with D.J. Chark on a long throw to the corner of the end zone, but hewasn’t able to locate the ball and force the incompletion. It’s nice to see tight coverage, but a play needs to be made — especially by a player who is supposed to be the leader of that position group. Fuller had multiple instances of tight coverage without a pass breakup. Cornerback Charvarius Ward also gave up a few big plays in Sunday’s contest. Chiefs fans have been worried about the cornerback position all offseason, and Week 1 didn’t do much to relieve those fears.
- New Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark was nearly invisible in the first half; the only time I noticed him was a missed tackle on Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette. After hearing about the injury to Jacksonville’s starting left tackle, many were expecting a big game from Clark. To be fair, it appeared that the Jaguars were sending multiple blockers to stop him, but you’d still expect more from a highly-paid defensive end. He was able, however, to nab an interception towards the end of the game. In general, the pass rush seemed to have good initial penetration, but only produced one sack today: in the third quarter, Emmanuel Ogbah got the first sack of the season.
- The offense was spectacular with big plays but stalled in the red zone too often. First, Mahomes got too fancy with a no-look pass that sailed over Travis Kelce’s head. Then during their fourth drive, the offensive line failed to hold a clean pocket, which kept Mahomes from finding a target in the end zone . Their last drive of the half didn’t reach the red zone, but they were able to charge down the field until they were held up at the Jacksonville 28-yard line. On their first drive of the second half, the offense benefited from a Jacksonville penalty in the red zone, and on the following play, they punched it in on a short run. It’s nitpicky, but the offense needs to finish off the drives that get to the red zone with touchdowns rather than field goals.
- It didn’t perform terribly, but the offensive line allowed too many big shots on Mahomes. We knew the Jacksonville defensive front was going to be very tough to handle, but there should be confidence in the experience of the Chiefs offensive line. The name of the game is keeping the quarterback clean — and they failed to do so on a consistent basis. Ironically, they did not surrender a single (recorded) sack for the whole game; the one time the Jaguars got to Mahomes, the play was nullified by a defensive penalty.
- The Chiefs offense suffered a blow when wide receiver Tyreek Hill left the game with a shoulder injury. If this is a severe injury, this significantly hinders what the offense is able to do. Yes... they still looked great after Hill left for the locker room, but going forward, Hill’s injury will have a negative impact on the team.