The Chiefs knew from his past stops in Arizona and Houston that he would be someone others in the locker room would look and listen to in good times and bad. But they weren’t quite expecting Mathieu to come in and take over the way he has in Year 1. Coach Andy Reid called the phenomenon extraordinary.
”This organization was blessed to have Eric Berry ... a great leader, tough, all those things,” Reid said. “Before that I was with Brian Dawkins. I’ve been lucky to be around some really good safeties. They’re all different in their own way but they’re all great football players with great instincts and good leaders. They lead a different way.
”This kid here, he’s a special kid. He’s not the biggest guy. You’re not looking at one of those huge safeties but, man, is he a good football player. He just gets it.”
Not only do the Texans get to avoid a trip to Baltimore, but they get an extra day to rest before Sunday’s Divisional Round game against the Chiefs. It will be a tall order for either AFC road team to win this coming weekend, but at least Kansas City should bring back fond memories for Bill O’Brien and friends. Houston’s 31-24 win at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 6 was the high-water mark of the Texans’ season. They held the ball on offense for nearly 40 minutes and held the Chiefs to seven points over the last three quarters.
Houston has been chasing that performance since, with consistently erratic play since losing 41-7 in Baltimore in Week 11, typified by Saturday’s no-no-no-no-YES effort against the Bills. Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense are capable of playing better than they have the last few months. All they have to do is watch that Week 6 film.
Heading into the Divisional Round to face the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s clear Houston needs Watt at full-force to slow Patrick Mahomes and Co.
”We’ll see how he does during the week, how he’s feeling,” coach Bill O’Brien said of Watt playing more this week, via Aaron Reiss of The Athletic. “That’s a lot of communication between he and I and Romeo (Crennel). He’s been doing this for a long time, so he’ll help us determine how he’s feeling and how much he’ll be in there.”
Give Patrick Mahomes a new contract. Mahomes has one definite season left on his rookie deal, though the Chiefs could use the fifth-year option on Mahomes in 2021 if it still exists in the next CBA. But that’s just kicking the can down the road. The Chiefs can get some much-needed clarity on their salary cap for years to come by re-signing Mahomes long-term now that he’s eligible for a new contract.
Dobbins was the best runner in the country this season. He finished with 301 carries for 2,003 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was top five in all three categories. Against Clemson, Dobbins carried the ball 18 times for 174 yards and one touchdown. Dobbins is a first-round talent and could land in Kansas City on draft night.
There is a clear Mount Rushmore of running back prospects in the 2020 draft class. D’Andre Swift, Travis Etienne, and Jonathan Taylor join Dobbins as runners who could all go in the first round. The Chiefs will be picking at the very bottom of the draft. This means that one of these top four can fall right into their lap and Dobbins would be a perfect fit.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Chiefs could let linebacker Reggie Ragland walk after this season and find his replacement with a linebacker like Murray. He showed improved range for Oklahoma this season, and would give the Chiefs a linebacker who can get after the passer.
Around the NFL
After knocking Tom Brady and the defending champion New England Patriots out of the playoffs, the Tennessee Titans face what might be a tougher task: slowing down quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens’ offense, which leads the league at 33.2 points per game.
”Offensively, near the top in almost all statistical categories,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said on Monday. “Offensively, they have the best player in the league who’s impossible to tackle. It’s a great scheme. I think on any other day it’d be fun to watch, but not when you’re trying to prepare for them and stop them. [Ravens offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman] does a fantastic job.”
“My personal darkhorse, by the way: the Las Vegas (nee Oakland) Raiders. Jon Gruden’s favorite quarterback is always the one he doesn’t have. No clue if he’s remotely interested, but my antennae would be up for the Raiders and Brady,” King wrote.
Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy has signed a deal to become the Cowboys’ next head coach, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
Rapoport later added that McCarthy’s deal with the Cowboys is for five years.
McCarthy’s hiring comes less than a day after the Cowboys officially parted ways with Jason Garrett after nine seasons as the team’s head coach.
McCarthy spent last season out of football after 13 seasons served as the head coach of the Packers. He came into this year’s hiring cycle prepared, completing interviews with the Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns and New York Giants in the last few weeks before heading to Frisco, Texas, over the weekend.
The Rams’ move into their long-awaited new home will not include Wade Phillips.
Los Angeles is not bringing back the veteran defensive coordinator, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday, per a source informed of the situation. Phillips’ contract expired with the end of the 2019 season and the Rams are declining to renew it.
The Rams later confirmed the news that Phillips will not be brought back.
”His wealth of experience, sound advice, and helpful demeanor has been invaluable to our coaches and players, and also has set an example for me as a head coach and a leader of men,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said in a statement.
Tua Tagovailoa declared his intent to enter the 2020 NFL Draft during a press conference Monday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Tagovailoa was on a direct path to being a top-three pick in the upcoming draft before suffering a significant hip injury that included a dislocation and a broken back wall of the hip socket in Alabama’s ninth game of the 2019 season. As the football world feared the worst for the college star, Tagovailoa flew to Houston to undergo successful surgery and has been on a path to the pros ever since.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported in December Tagovailoa is still expected to be a first-round pick, even after suffering the hip injury, according to five NFL executives polled on the quarterback’s draft stock.
”Some Chicagoans are probably happy to hear I’m finally stepping away and getting my body right,” Long wrote on his official Twitter account. “Some Chicagoans may be sad to hear this. Either way [you] feel about it, I want [you] to know how lucky I am to have spent time in your city. I became a man while playing in Chicago. Thank you.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
This certainly doesn’t look like the chart of a limited wide receiver! Hill’s routes are quite varied, covering all portions of the field with very little repetition.
But how does he compare to other wide receivers?
We could create a chart for each receiver and inspect them visually. Or we could just calculate the density of their most common region of the field.
I restricted this analysis to wide receivers with at least 8 games of charts on NGS site. Here’s what I found:
2. Kenny Golladay, Lions
3. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
4. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
5. D.J. Chark, Jaguars
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