DL Breeland Speaks
After being the Chiefs’ top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Speaks has struggled to find a role in the defense. The defensive end was unable to get much playing time his rookie year, playing out of position as an outside linebacker. He was finally moved back to his natural position, playing hand-in-the-dirt defensive lineman in 2019, but was injured in the preseason, missing the entire 2019 season and Super Bowl run. If Speaks continues to struggle to get on the field, especially early in training camp, he could be cut before the start of the season and remembered as a bust.
Buck Buchanan Led by Example
However, in 1963 the Kansas City Chiefs drafted a Grambling stand out named Buck Buchanan. Buchanan would eventually make it to the NFL Hall of Fame. He became the first overall pick for the Chiefs. Surely, all eyes were on Buchanan. No one from an HBCU school like Grambling was ever picked that high in the NFL draft. The Chiefs knew something others didn’t. Or, they simply had the guts to make the selection. Either way, the pick signified the legitimacy of players from smaller schools, especially African-Americans who received very little name recognition from the NFL. And Buchanan dominated right from the start!
Hank Stram said the following of Buchanan:
“Buck Buchanan kind of revolutionized the play of the defensive tackle position. Normally, the ends were pass rushers and the tackles were run stoppers. Buchanan was a man standing at 6-foot-7 weighing 300 pounds and no one could stop him.”
Buchanan Earned Respect
The impact was felt not only by the Chiefs. Other players took notice too. Buchanan was a giant of a man on and off the field. Trying to get ahead by breaking the rules were simply not tolerated. Buchanan felt players like him needed to be squeaky clean and play the game the right way.
1. Kansas City (15-4, won Super Bowl 54 over San Francisco 31-20)
I hate picking teams to repeat. It’s happened once this century, and not for the past 15 years. Too much can happen. And the Chiefs absolutely are vulnerable on defense. It’s not a superior defense—31st overall in 2018, 17th last year—but defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo used Chris Jones in the front and Tyrann Mathieu in the back so well last season, all the way through the Super Bowl. All three return. I just love the offense too much to pick anyone else first.
One of the big factors this year is how teams come off the challenges of this unconventional offseason. And in the Chiefs’ case, whether they come back to training camp fat and happy. Those things are impossible to tell, but it certainly has happened to some champions. I don’t see it happening to Patrick Mahomes; he respects the game too much. I don’t see it happening to a leader like Mathieu on defense. I don’t see it happening with Andy Reid, the coaching lifer. But we’ll see. Otherwise, where are they challenged? The offensive speed is all back, led by Tyreek Hill. (And that’s good, because slight receivers like Hill and Mecole Hardman are vulnerable to injury.) The added offensive piece, LSU back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, could give Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy an added dimension. Last year, the Chiefs were 23rd in the league in rush yards per game, but the combo platter of Damien Williams and the versatile Edwards-Helaire could be lethal. Before the draft, GM Brett Veach told Reid to study Edwards-Helaire, saying he reminded him of longtime Reid favorite Brian Westbrook. When Reid watched, he concluded Edwards-Helaire might be better. Yikes. A poor man’s Marshall Faulk. Just what the rest of the AFC didn’t want to see in Kansas City.
1. Kansas City Chiefs. The Browns had Otto Graham in the 1950s, the Packers had Bart Starr in the 1960s, the Steelers Terry Bradshaw in the 1970s, the 49ers Joe Montana in the 1980s, the Cowboys Troy Aikman in the 1990s and the Patriots Tom Brady in the 2000s. Dynasties are constructed on the backs of franchise quarterbacks. Now the Chiefs have that guy in Patrick Mahomes. He became a league MVP and Super Bowl MVP before the age of 25. He’s also had a 5,000-yard, 50-TD passing season on his resume. KC is never out of it with Mahomes taking the snaps. He rallied the Chiefs from a 24-point second-quarter deficit to a playoff victory over the Houston Texans, then rallied KC from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit for a Super Bowl victory over the 49ers. The one area the Chiefs needed to improve was the running game and they did that with their first-round draft pick HB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rushed for 16 touchdowns and caught 55 passes at LSU last season.
The 2021 NFL Draft is taking place in Cleveland. The 2022 draft will be held in Las Vegas (as a makeup for the city not being able to hold the 2020 draft due to the coronavirus pandemic) and the 2023 draft is headed to Kansas City.
DT Mike Pennel
Average Salary: $1.04 million per Spotrac
Pennel was the free-agent signing that transformed the Chiefs’ run defense in 2019. His performance plugged a seemingly endless sieve of rushing yards. By the end of the season, he had the second-highest run-stop percentage (13.3%) in and the most tackles per missed tackle (31.0) in the AFC West per PFF.
A native of Topeka, Kansas, Pennel quickly established himself as a leader in Kansas City. He even gave a fiery speech ahead of Super Bowl LIV. In 2020, there will be 79 defensive tackles that will make more money than Pennel. His contract will most certainly be a deal if he continues his top-notch defensive performance.
The quarterback group, though, should be a comfortable one for Patterson. Henne also started at Michigan, where he completed 828 of 1,387 passes for 9,715 yards, 87 touchdowns and 37 interceptions from 2004 to 2007. And Ta’amu was Patterson’s Ole Miss teammate in 2017.
“We’ve got a lot of Michigan background in our quarterback room with Chad,” Reid said. “Jordan and Shea actually played together at Mississippi, so they also know each other.”
Around the NFL
4. College/AAF overtime hybrid
The Alliance of American Football came into its short-lived existence with an expedited overtime setup that gave each team one crack (four downs) starting at the 10-yard line with no option to kick an extra point. There can be ties. In college, teams alternate possessions from the 25-yard line until a winner is declared. I think, in borrowing the best of both worlds, each team should be guaranteed a possession from the 10-yard line and alternate until a winner is declared. This adds both a higher likelihood of a quick resolution and heightened drama in that coaches have one of three extra point options (see item No. 3 above) to choose from. A coach who scores first and kicks an extra point immediately leaves himself exposed to a team attempting a two-point try (and so on, and so on). No longer will we have to listen to Xx___JOSHALLENPIRATE___xX on Reddit complain about overtime coin flips unfairly favoring cities with liberal mayors, or something of the sort.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio called George Floyd’s death a “societal issue that we all have to join in to correct,” but said he doesn’t see discrimination or racism as problems overall in the NFL.
“I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal. We’re a league of meritocracy, you earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don’t see racism at all in the NFL, I don’t see discrimination in the NFL,” Fangio told reporters Tuesday when asked about his experiences in the league over the past four decades. “We all live together, joined as one, for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. If society reflected an NFL team, we’d all be great.”
Jernigan, who had reached an agreement on a one-year, $3.25 million deal with Houston, is not expected to sign with the team, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Tuesday evening, according to sources informed of the situation.
Jernigan did not take a physical with the Texans and is not expected to do so, Garafolo added, with each side agreeing to part ways.
Sign Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year deal
This is the big swing for New England and admittedly the least likely in this three-step-plan to get them that seventh title, but it’s a door they should at least knock on to see if anyone answers. While the secondary has largely remained intact this offseason, the Patriots front seven did lose a couple of key figures, including linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins along with defensive tackle Danny Shelton. Now there are players (Chase Winovich and Ja’Whaun Bentley along with rookies Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings) who could come in and help cushion the blow of those losses, but adding a player as talented as Clowney would make New England’s defense that much more lethal.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
P Dustin Colquitt - The Chiefs moved on from Colquitt after 15 years of service to the franchise. He has said he still wants to play.
CB Morris Claiborne - Claiborne, a training camp addition, was suspended for the first four games of the season and would only play in eight regular-season games for the Chiefs.
QB Matt Moore - Moore finished the job for Patrick Mahomes in Denver before starting two games while he was out, winning one against the Minnesota Vikings that helped lead the Chiefs to a playoff bye week. Despite his two wins, the Chiefs moved on from Moore when they chose to bring back Chad Henne.
RB Spencer Ware - Ware went from the streets to starter in his return to Kansas City in 2019, but it was extremely short-lived. A Week 16 shoulder injury sent Ware to injured reserve, ending his season.
A tweet to make you think
I’ve learned in past few hours that you can’t change the world , but if you can touch 1 person that’s all that matter ✊— The_Juan_And_Only (@Juan_Thornhill) June 2, 2020
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