9. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs offense got most of the attention last year, but it was their defensive improvement that made them a Super Bowl winner. The team switched to the 4-3 under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, spending huge money on Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu in the offseason. Those moves worked out perfectly, and the team was also happy to re-sign star defensive tackle Chris Jones during the offseason. Stopping the run remains an issue for Kansas City, but they allowed the seventh fewest points in 2019 and return all of their top talent from last season.
“He’s just a unique talent,” general manager Brett Veach said. “The guy is explosive, he has the ability to kind of make things out of nothing and that’s kind of the one thing you look at with these running backs. I mean, this guy can consistently make plays when there really is nothing there to be made, so again, throwing him in now with Tyreek [Hill] and Sammy [Watkins] and Travis [Kelce] and Mecole [Hardman] on the outside, we think it’s going to be really exciting.”
Kansas City Chiefs · 2018
Stats: 12-4 record, 66% completion rate, 5,097 passing yards, 50:12 TD-to-INT ratio, 113.8 passer rating.
Four of the five QBs on this list (Brady, Rodgers, Ryan, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton, who collectively accounted for seven MVP awards) were veterans when they won, while last year’s winner, Lamar Jackson, had the benefit of starting eight games (including the playoffs) in the season before he was named MVP. Mahomes’ stunning 2018, meanwhile, was prefaced by a lone rookie start in the final week of 2017. Mahomes’ second-year passing numbers were even more impressive than Dan Marino’s historic 1984 sophomore campaign in Miami, while the Chiefs scored at least 26 points in every game. It’s a shame it took Kansas City another season to assemble a complementary defense capable of helping the explosive offense capture a Lombardi Trophy.
Charvarius Ward – 76
Ward is entering his third season with the Chiefs. Along with several other players in the Kansas City Chiefs’ Madden 21 ratings, he should definitely be given a little more appreciation.
Charvarius Ward ranked with the top NFL cornerbacks in solo tackles in 2019. (Photo by the Kansas City Chiefs).
Of the cornerbacks in Kansas City, Ward has shown the most improvement. He defended 10 passes, had one forced fumble and two interceptions in his first full year as a starter. After the 2019 season, he ranked 7th out of all NFL cornerbacks in solo tackles with 64.
Ward might not be at the peak of his career, but he is still a young player (24) with a lot more to give.
The defensive back could be an even stronger contender this coming season with the Chiefs being on the rise as a team. The numbers show that he has improved his game significantly since previous seasons, but the Madden 21 ratings kept him with the same rating he had in Madden 20.
The NFL is a constantly evolving sphere, or maybe more appropriately, a “bubble.” As I’ve been playing on repeat, sports predictions are not only hard, they are impossible to get right with any significance. “Predicting” that the Kansas City Chiefs would win the Super Bowl last year is nothing more than seeing that Patrick Mahomes had won MVP, the Chiefs had been a good team, and so why couldn’t they be good again or even better?
“No, but I picked the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl and I was right.”
Around the NFL
Here’s an exercise that should hopefully bring some perspective: Pick someone, anyone, and scroll through their mentions and comments on social media. We ask athletes to be available to us, to sacrifice their bodies, to eat and pray like we do, to vote the way we vote, to express themselves the way that we express ourselves, to dress how we dress, celebrate how we celebrate and play like we believe we would have played if our lives depended on it. We can rationalize it all away in our heads easily by saying that they make millions and that this is the other side of the coin, when in reality we know that’s not true. Their careers are far shorter. Their medical expenses are much higher. In order to play at a high level, a good player once told me, you would net roughly 40% of your paycheck with the rest going to various tentacles in the operation.
Lynch was a surprising, if not stunning choice back in January 2017. Having no prior front office experience, the 49ers leapt off the cliff in hiring Lynch, who tabbed Kyle Shanahan as his head coach a month later.
The flight hasn’t exactly been free of turbulence, but 2019’s sprint to a conference title and Super Bowl LIV appearance confirmed San Francisco was wise in thinking outside of the box when it chose the nine-time Pro Bowler.
Lynch’s most significant move came just nine months after he was hired, when he sent a second-round pick to New England for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. From there, the former All-Pro safety has meticulously built the team into a title contender.
“I was hoping we would get him,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I’m still hoping — a little bit.”
In April, Jackson worked out with Brown, who is the cousin of Ravens first-round pick Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Jackson later said he would be “happy” if Baltimore signed the seven-time Pro Bowl wideout.
On Wednesday, Jackson reiterated his stance on Brown.
“We want to win and I can tell in him [that] he wants to win,” Brown said. “He wants to play ball.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
While you might not be familiar with Chaney, a quick look at his resume will reveal why is is joining the Chiefs through the program that gives minority coaching candidates an opportunity to gain experience with NFL teams.
A graduate of Mississippi State — from which no fewer than four current Chiefs matriculated — Chaney was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010 during head coach Andy Reid’s tenure. After Reid’s departure for Kansas City, Chaney spent time with the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders before retiring after the 2014 season.
He then became head football coach of St. Lucie West Centennial High School in Florida — his alma mater — before returning to Mississippi State in 2019, where he now serves as Assistant Director of Player Personnel with Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach.
Last season, 171 individuals received NFL coaching experience through the program — including six with Kansas City: former Chiefs linebacker Shawn Barber, Jarrod James, Skylor Magee, Lawal McCray, Denarius McGhee and former San Diego Chargers running back Natrone Means. Four current and former NFL coaches — including Hue Jackson, Marvin Lewis, Anthony Lynn and Mike Tomlin — have benefited from Bill Walsh fellowships, as did former Chiefs defensive backs coach Al Harris.
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