“When you check in, it’s nonstop competition,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce explained. “Guys are always trying to play some type of game or compete in some type of way to get the upper hand on somebody else.”
“There will be a right time sometime in the next 12 to 15 months to extend Patrick, and when I say right time, I mean right time for both the player and the club,’’ Hunt said as the Chiefs prepare for Super Bowl LIV against the San Francisco 49ers.
”I don’t want to say necessarily it has to be this offseason, but I will say that it’s a priority to get him done.
”I hope Patrick is here for his entire career, and that’s going to be our goal.’’
Mahomes got in the ring with a generation-long curse, took a haymaker, and said, Is that the best you got? And in the course of one afternoon, 30 years of bad Chiefs juju was wiped away. It was as if the Chiefs were ganged up on by every playoff ghost they had ever encountered, and Mahomes simply vaporized them with an astonishing aerial display. The Chiefs scored a touchdown on seven consecutive drives. They won by 20 points.
For as long as it existed, the Air Raid was defined as much by the people behind it as the offense’s fundamental principles. Those people, like newly-minted Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, were prickly and extreme, so it wasn’t difficult to doubt their methods. They were often viewed as kooky anarchists who had simply found a way to succeed with limited resources.
Then the Air Raid thrived with football’s most unlimited resource, Mahomes, and in the span of months the decades-long narrative flipped.
Of course, even if the 49ers can move the ball on offense, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to win. If this game turns into a shootout, there’s no team in the NFL better equipped to win in a shootout than the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only are the Chiefs averaging 43 POINTS PER GAME in the playoffs, but Patrick Mahomes is on pace to have possibly the best postseason of any quarterback in NFL history, and ironically enough, that honor currently belongs to a 49ers quarterback. Back in 1989, Joe Montana threw 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions during a postseason where he led the 49ers to a win in Super Bowl XXIV. Through two games, Mahomes has eight touchdowns and zero interceptions, which means he could tie or pass Montana with a big game in Super Bowl LIV.
“This week is very, very emotional,” Morgan said. “It’s a very happy time, and it’s a very sad time. Happy that the Chiefs made it after 50 years. Sad that’s it’s happening when Derrick worked so hard to try to get here, and he’s going to miss it. But I know that he’s up there shining down, looking at it and taking it all in stride.”
Including his spectacular 27-yard touchdown, in which he eluded Tennessee Titans defenders before running along the sideline and spinning into the end zone, Mahomes rushed for a team-high 53 yards against both the Houston Texans and Titans.
“That’s a positive for us that you have that threat,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “He is smart with it. He knows when to get down and stay up.”
Mahomes has become a running threat, even though he’s not a burner. His 4.8 speed in the 40 was just the sixth fastest among quarterbacks timed at the 2017 NFL Combine.
But Mahomes is still very adept at moving inside and outside the pocket because he has great short-area quickness, lateral movement skills and ability to change direction.
In the offseason, the Chiefs targeted Mathieu in free agency — signing him to a three-year, $42 million contract — because they knew what he brought to the table. He’s so versatile that he can line up at deep safety, hover around the line of scrimmage to provide extra run support or even shadow a receiver as a slot cornerback. He’s impacted games by duping quarterbacks into easy interceptions, wreaking havoc with timely blitzes and willingly throwing his 5-foot-9, 190-pound body into the path of much larger running backs to produce a critical tackle. Oh, yeah, Mathieu also has mentored younger players like All-Rookie safety Juan Thornhill and second-year cornerback Charvarius Ward.
When Reid was a kid, it wasn’t just about football though.
When I first met him, he was always hanging around the gym, always had a basketball in his hand. After his school was out, he’d be up in the gym shooting baskets or hanging around the football field. I’d start my basketball practices and have to shoo him out of the gym.
Around the NFL
Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets
Who he was in August: An emerging star as a back-end playmaker and leader who made last year’s “Next Up” list in this very space.
The numbers: The only real standout “number” for Adams is his 6.5 sacks, which obviously led all defensive backs. Blitz-happy Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams deployed Adams as a supplemental pass-rusher in addition to his other duties, and Adams took to the role gleefully.
Who he is now: He’s as multidimensional a threat at the safety position as the league has. He played 403 snaps as a deep safety, 369 snaps as a linebacker and 94 snaps as a slot corner in 2019, according to ESPN Stats & Info’s player tracking. And who can forget his game-winning run stuff against the Cowboys in October?
“I don’t like to compare, but I do talk often about the qualities that make up the good and the great, and he embodies those qualities,” Niners general manager John Lynch, a 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist who played safety for defensive-minded coaches like Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, Monte Kiffin, Herm Edwards, Mike Tomlin and Lovie Smith, said last week. “He’s smart, confident and humble. I think we all know we’re on borrowed time with him (in San Francisco).
DENVER BRONCOS: Let Vic Fangio build the defense of his dreams.
It sounds counterintuitive for the Broncos to worry about defense, but much of their young offensive nucleus is in place and will need time to grow under new coordinator Pat Shurmur. The decline of the once-great Denver defense slipped under the radar in 2019, with Fangio presiding over a unit that fell from fifth in defensive efficiency in 2018 down to 13th. With four of Denver’s best defensive players (Justin Simmons, Chris Harris, Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris) headed for free agency, GM John Elway has plenty of work to do and plenty of cap space to work with. Fangio’s defenses have succeeded everywhere he’s coached once he’s put the right players in place via free agency and/or the draft. He needs to find those guys now, before his defense takes a bigger fall.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
If you had suggested to any Chiefs fan back in early August that Matt Moore would be one of the keys in a Chiefs Super Bowl run, they would have laughed in your face. He went from completely off the radar to leading the team to wins. You can’t tell the story of the 2019 Chiefs without the steady presence of a recently-retired quarterback who helped the Chiefs steal a win from a playoff team — without which the team could not have earned a postseason bye week.
Without Mahomes, the team also began to show its true colors. You never want your star player to miss time, but the win against the Vikings was one of the moments where people began to realize the defense really was different — and that the team had the kind of character that could win a championship.
This is excellent news — but just about what we expected to hear. On Friday — before leaving Kansas City for Miami — the Chiefs said that tight end Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones should be considered questionable for Super Bowl LIV. While nursing injuries, both played in the AFC championship against the Tennessee Titans. They were limited in last week’s practices in Kansas City — and while that could also occur during the team’s final practices in Miami, no one seriously expects either of them to miss Sunday’s game.
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