1) Kansas City Chiefs
No surprise here. After all, had Dee Ford just lined up on the right side of the line of scrimmage, the Chiefs would currently be back-to-back champions. (Yes, I absolutely believe Kansas City would have beaten the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.)
Frankly, the Patrick Mahomes Chiefs dynasty feels like it’s already underway. Still just 24 years old, Mahomes capped off his first season as a starter by earning league MVP and his second by snagging Super Bowl MVP. Simply put, he’s the best show in sports today. And he’s only going to get better. Good luck stopping this generational talent — especially now that his Chiefs just exorcised multiple demons. Remember all that talk about how Andy Reid can’t win the big one? How K.C. is doomed to an eternity of postseason disappointment? No longer.
Tier 1: Bona Fide Franchise Quarterbacks
2019: Aaron Rodgers Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck
There should never really be more than eight or nine quarterbacks in this cluster – the top 25 percent on planet earth. And extreme youth, or guys over the age of 36, continue to reign supreme. I was super high on Jackson since his draft selection and his MVP season was one for the ages. Mahomes is the best football player on earth. Wilson is a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer who seems destined to be better appreciated down the line than, by many, in realtime. I do have some reservations about a few guys in this group, however.
I believe it’s fair to ask if Rodgers’ best work is in the past. That is not to say he does not still possess elite traits, but the DNA of that franchise is changing and this coaching staff may still prove to be an odd match for him — he won’t be finishing his career in Green Bay, regardless. Big Ben coming off an elbow surgery gives me some pause and Brees’ injury history the last few years makes me wonder a bit, too. If Wentz stays healthy, and I understand that is a bit of a big if, he will be in the MVP conversation. Book it.
Mahomes: 4 votes
Jackson: 3 votes
It was close, but the slimmest possible majority of Bleacher Report’s NFL correspondents preferred Mahomes because of his sustained magic.
Still, everyone who voted for Mahomes essentially left room for that to change. It was apparent this was a debate between one player with unmatched early-career accomplishments and one with unprecedented early-career potential.
But that’s complicated by the fact that Mahomes still—amazingly—has plenty of room to grow, while Jackson still—incredibly—has accomplished a ton for a guy whose high ceiling might be his top selling point.
It seems there’s really no wrong answer.
3. Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · QB
Comp pct: 45.5. Expected comp pct: 36.5. Difference: +9.0 percentage points.
TD-to-INT ratio: 12:2. Passer rating: 119.0.
Sometimes, this exercise can be clouded slightly by those with whom these quarterbacks are playing. Wilson and Prescott don’t have Tyreek Hill at their disposal, and since Mahomes does, sometimes those deep passes intended for Hill are expected to be caught because Hill has run himself open by a significant enough margin for the pass to no longer be considered difficult to complete. Evidence of this effectiveness: Hill has 18 touchdowns on deep targets since 2016, which is the second-most in the NFL in that span of time. (Antonio Brown, despite playing just one game last season, still ranks first with 19 — a testament to his prolific production in Pittsburgh.)
“The NFL would lose $5.5 billion of stadium revenue (the sum of tickets, concessions, sponsors, parking and team stores) — or 38% of its total revenue — based on figures for the 2018 season,” Mike Ozanian wrote. “But the impact on the individual teams would vary greatly. For example, the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots would lose over half their total revenue while the Buffalo Bills, the Tennessee Titans and the Cincinnati Bengals would lose less than one-third.”
The Chiefs wouldn’t be hurt as much as other teams based on the Forbes calculations. But it would still be a big chunk of change: an estimated $128 million in total stadium revenue (out of $410 million in total revenue). That’s 31.2% of the Chiefs’ revenue.
No. 27 - Kansas City Chiefs: Shaquill Griffin, CB, UCF
It seems like every team is either re-drafting someone who was drafted long after the first round ended, or sticking with their original picks. The Chiefs shore up their secondary by snatching Shaquill Griffin off the board before the Seahawks can snap him up in the third round, which is what they did originally. Griffin has outplayed that draft status with the Seahawks, with 186 combined tackles, one sack, and three picks over the past three seasons and locking up a 2019 Pro Bowl bid. Now I hope that the Chiefs take his brother, Shaquem, if we redo the 2018 draft.
From afar, Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub monitors their sessions via videos recorded and sent to him by the group.
“We’re kind of fortunate,” Toub said, via the AP, “because those guys can get together and kick and work on the operation. They can do that on our own. We can work on our skill set, whereas to play football you need 22 guys out there. You can’t sit down face to face, but they video everything they do and send it to me and we talk.”
Around the NFL
Of the 32 teams, 30 employ white offensive coordinators (or white head coaches who hold both titles) — a more lopsided split than the league’s 28-4 white-to-minority head coach ratio. Since 2015, teams have combined to fill 83 offensive coordinator positions, with six going to minority candidates. And one of those (Edgar Bennett with the Packers in 2015) was a title bump that did not come with play-calling responsibilities.
This year, white assistants filled all 10 offensive coordinator vacancies. This mix of hires came from recently fired head coaches (Pat Shurmur in Denver, Jay Gruden in Jacksonville and Jason Garrett with the Giants), second-chance OCs (Bill Lazor in Chicago and Kevin O’Connell in L.A.), through the quarterback-coaching pipeline (Alex Van Pelt, Cincinnati and Scott Turner, Washington) and from the college ranks (Joe Brady, Carolina). Chan Gailey (Miami) and Gary Kubiak (Minnesota) are also former head coaches but had settled in as assistants in recent years.
For a regime that had been so methodical in its team-building process, giving up four picks—including the 22nd overall—for a player making about $12 million a year seemed out of character. But with blockbuster deals like this, it’s important to look at the price tag in terms of practical assets. Even if the Bills hit on a receiver at no. 22, that player was unlikely to replicate the production that Diggs could bring in 2020, especially without a typical offseason program. The mid- and late-round picks Buffalo gave up in the deal make the package sent to Minnesota look like a gigantic haul, but combined, those selections still wouldn’t have been enough to catapult the Bills into the top half of the first round to find a better caliber of receiver prospect. With an $11.5 million cap hit in 2020, Diggs will cost about $9 million more than a rookie wideout would have against the cap, but the reason teams maintain cap flexibility is to make a move like this possible. Spending big in free agency is dangerous because it usually involves overpaying for flawed players. Diggs, on the other hand, will carry the 17th highest cap hit among receivers this season. There just aren’t many chances to bring in a proven, cost-controlled player with this kind of talent—even if doing so required a first rounder.
The civil suit, filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks unspecified statutory and punitive damages from the airline.
According to the lawsuit, the player and another passenger in the same row made four complaints to flight attendants that the woman was making “unwanted sexual advances” before she was moved to a different seat.
The two men are suing United, the lawsuit says, because the airline refused to give them the name of the woman, the flight attendants and potential witnesses and because the airline failed to follow policies to respond to sexual harassment and assault on the Feb. 10 flight.
Will fans be allowed in the stands?
Maybe, and it certainly depends on the state. Multiple team executives have told me they anticipate games being played with diminished capacity crowds. The numbers vary, but a 70,000-seat stadium could “safely” hold between 10-20,000 fans, according to sources.
7. Chris Harris
Los Angeles Chargers · CB
2019 stats: 16 games, 6 passes defensed, 1 INT, 55 tackles.
Harris and Von Miller entered 2019 as two of the NFL’s top defensive players — but both Broncos players endured off seasons in new head coach Vic Fangio’s scheme. Harris had been most effective serving primarily in the slot, but he spent most of his time outside last season, a switch that ended up making nobody happy. It also couldn’t have helped that he likely knew he was playing his final season in Denver. The Chargers have plans to move Harris back inside while also deploying him in other ways, with an expansive coverage package under excellent coordinator Gus Bradley that includes expanded man concepts. And by staying in the AFC West, Harris will get at least two annual chances to show the team where he began his career as an undrafted free agent that it made a big mistake by not keeping him.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Pete: Running back Darwin Thompson
Talk about a case of the forgotten man. Damien Williams had another highly productive playoffs, the Chiefs drafted a running back in the first round with the No. 32 overall pick and general manager Brett Veach signed Patrick Mahomes’ old college buddy, DeAndre Washington, in free agency. Oh, and Darrel Williams should be back in the mix. Fullback Anthony Sherman will likely be kept around and H-back John Lovett could push to make the 53. Where does that leave last year’s sixth-rounder in Darwin Thompson? It remains to be seen, but it is worth noting that running backs coach Deland McCullough is a big believer in Thompson. He says the second-year back looks improved every time he touches the football. Thompson will need to prove his worth in training camp. PETE’S OTHER UNDERDOGS TO WATCH: Dorian O’Daniel, Tyler Newsome
A tweet to make you think
Just getting in a fraze mow on our Training Camp fields. Looks like the weather is finally going to warm up a bit that we can start growing grass in St. Joe. pic.twitter.com/jbv4INDk5y— Travis Hogan (@Twillhog75) May 20, 2020
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