On Monday’s Mailbag Edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast, we were asked what players (besides Patrick Mahomes) would be most difficult to lose for one or two games. We all came up with different answers, but here’s who we thought would be the toughest to replace.
For a stretch of 2019, the Kansas City Chiefs went without Tyreek Hill and were still able to survive. That’s largely because of the impact Kelce makes on a game — and on the game plans of defensive coordinators. Since he is such a unique player with a rare skillset, the gap between him and any other tight end on the roster is massive. The Chiefs love to isolate Kelce on the back side of formations, forcing defenses to figure out not only how to treat him, but which coverage to play. No one forces that dilemma the same way Kelce does. As we saw in the playoff game against the Houston Texans, Kelce can dominate corners — even big ones — because of his wide receiver skillset. He’s a special player — one without a replacement.
Last year, Mathieu’s impact was certainly felt in Kansas City; he should have garnered consideration to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He is one of the best slot defenders in all of football — and the heart of the Chiefs defense. He is an outstanding leader and communicator in the back end of Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme, making him uniquely capable of handling the slot. Behind Mathieu, there are big questions about who can handle those responsibilities if he loses time. Losing him for a stretch would very difficult.
This one might come as a shock to you. Yes, Hitchens’ contract is very large — to this point, the worst on the Chiefs roster. Hitchens’ struggles after the snap are obvious — but when he missed the game against the Houston Texans last season, we saw what life was like without his communication skills. It was a jumbled mess. Before the ball is snapped, there is no one behind Hitchens who can do what he does — and the Chiefs have not actively sought someone who can effectively replace him. If Hitchens misses time, that will be troubling. As a player, Hitchens leaves a lot to be desired. But his impact in setting the front has been a valuable asset that could not easily be replaced.
How to listen to Arrowhead Pride podcasts
Arrowhead Pride podcasts are available on Amazon Alexa, Apple, Google, Spotify and Stitcher. Please rate and review, as this help us grow AP Radio to reach more Chiefs fans all over the world!
Up next: The Arrowhead Pride Editor’s Show on Tuesday.
Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss an episode!