The pros of a Brandin Cooks trade for KC
Yates is correct in pointing out the talent and cost on Cooks’ deal, which is what would make him an exemplary fit for several teams—and that’s certainly true for K.C. as well. He’s a proven playmaker who is currently leading the Texans in every receiving category without anyone else particularly close. In fact, it’s pretty amazing Cooks can produce much of anything at all given that he’s the only dangerous target on the team. Week to week, he should be seeing double teams and a game plan that relies on nullifying his effectiveness.
Despite being the only threat in the Texans passing game, Cooks has 45 catches on 64 targets so far in 2021 for 502 receiving yards in only 7 games. Those are Pro Bowl caliber numbers thus far, save for the single touchdown, but as an offensive whole, it’s not as if the Texans are hitting the end zone all that often.
And Cooks should be a familiar name to everyone in Chiefs Kingdom as a former first-round pick who, despite being well-traveled, has put up five seasons with 1,000 yards or more receiving.
Kansas City receives: 2022 seventh-round pick
Dallas receives: C Austin Blythe
We often see veterans traded away after they’ve been supplanted by surprisingly successful rookies. Such is the argument for Austin Blythe, whom the Chiefs signed for the veteran minimum of $990,000 guaranteed, with another $760,000 tied up in performance incentives that Blythe is unlikely to meet. Blythe has yet to see a snap this season, as the Chiefs selected Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft, and he immediately established himself as an impressive starter through camp and into the regular season.
Blythe is far from a dominant starter along the offensive line—there’s a reason he was available for the veteran minimum—but he was a three-year starter at guard and center for the Rams before signing with the Chiefs this offseason. He could start over a few currently rostered centers in the league, including Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz, who has struggled mightily in his second season as a pro. Failed snaps between Biadasz and quarterback Dak Prescott have been common enough that GM Jerry Jones was asked about it earlier this month; Biadasz’s pass protection, even after a successful snap, is leaving plenty to be desired as well. Backup interior offensive lineman Connor McGovern has worked on snapping in practice—a clear sign the Cowboys are willing to investigate other options—but apparently has struggled there as well. With Jones’s history of trade deadline acquisitions considered (Amari Cooper in 2018, Michael Bennett Jr. in 2019, Eli Ankou in 2020), center is a position to watch in Dallas.
7 - Patrick Mahomes
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QB
He’s helping the Chiefs stay afloat, but he’s also not playing very smart. Everyone would still rush to sign up for his gifts, but the decision-making has been poor enough to prefer other gunslingers right now. (-3)
10 Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 5
2021 stats: 7 games | 67.5 pct | 2,093 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 18 pass TD | 9 INT | 219 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles
This ranking feels awkward, a reminder that this column is about 2021 play alone. It’s not that Mahomes consistently struggled before Sunday’s blowout loss in Nashville. He’s sixth in QBR and fifth in EPA/CPOE composite, two worthy efficiency metrics. But his four fumbles and nine sacks in the last three weeks are as concerning as his picks. Every opposing defense runs the same game plan, rarely blitzing, flooding the field with defensive backs and limiting deep plays outside the numbers. This plan is increasingly working.
Fast forward to now, the Bengals have the top seed in the AFC and the Chiefs have struggled to a 3-4 start.
It’s a good example of just how quickly things can change in the NFL and a lesson in the cliche that’s why they play the games.
So much so, sportscaster and managing editor of Vegas Sports and Information Network Brent Musburger told Peter King of NBC Sports the Bengals would be favored over the Chiefs in a head-to-head matchup right now:
“If both teams were healthy, and the game was played on a neutral field, who’d be favored—Cincinnati or Kansas City?” I asked.
Pause. “If both teams were completely healthy, Cincinnati would be favored.”
Even with the emergence of quarterback Daniel Jones, it’s extremely tempting to snag Patrick Mahomes. But would he be able to weather this storm in New York? He’s having his own struggles in Kansas City dealing with similar issues.
Then there’s tight end Travis Kelce, who would be everything Evan Engram is not. Or wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who is nearly impossible to cover and track.
Defensive lineman Chris Jones is an intriguing option on the other side of the ball but ultimately, we’re going to bore you and create a stir with our choice (which is based solely on desperate need).
With Nick Gates out for the season and Billy Price struggling, we’ve opted to snag center Creed Humphrey — a 2021 second-round pick — from K.C.
Yes, the Chiefs have plenty of offensive line issues themselves, so the theft of Humphrey may lead to some eyebrows being raised. However, through seven weeks of the season he’s among the highest-graded centers in football. He’s an elite pass protector and above average run blocker, and he’s had just a single penalty accepted against him.
The home of the two-time Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will shine bright all holiday season as guests experience the thrill of spectacular lights displays featuring familiar holiday favorites accompanied by a festive soundtrack. Guests will enjoy brand-new displays including Prehistoric Christmas, Big Foot Monster Trucks and the Snow Flurry Tunnel, as well as Magic of Lights favorites including the 12 Days of Christmas, Toyland and the Enchanting Tunnel of Lights. New in 2021, Magic of Lights will also feature the Illuminating Mega Trees, boasting 40 feet of dancing lights synchronized to popular holiday tunes. Created with nearly one million sparkling lights, Magic of Lights is a nostalgic and festive experience for guests of all ages that can’t be missed this holiday season.
“We are excited to bring Magic of Lights to the Kansas City community and GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium for the first time ever and hope it becomes an annual holiday tradition,” said Ken Hudgens, Owner of Magic of Lights.
“We are thrilled to be working with the team at FunGuys Events to bring Magic of Lights to the parking lots at GEHA Field at Arrowhead this holiday season,” Vice President of Arrowhead Events Jeremy Slavens said. “We continually look for creative ways to make memories for guests and we’re sure that this winter light show experience will be a hit for adults and kids alike.”
NFL replay official Carl Madsen died Sunday hours after officiating the Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs game.
He was 71.
Metro Nashville Police received a call at 4:46 p.m. Sunday and officers were dispatched to an SUV that had stopped in a traffic lane of Interstate 65 northbound near Metro Center, MNPD spokesperson Don Aaron told The Tennessean.
The police report said Madsen, the driver of the vehicle “appeared to be unresponsive,” Aaron said.
Officers, who saw the driver who appeared to be unconscious, used a baton to break the passenger side window after not being able to enter the vehicle because the doors were locked.
Around the NFL
Defensive end J.J. Watt will undergo what is likely to be season-ending shoulder surgery, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday night. No date has been set for the procedure.
The Cardinals host the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night in a matchup for early control of the NFC. Arizona is 7-0, and Green Bay is 6-1, producing, perhaps, the best Thursday night game of the Super Bowl era. It’s the highest combined winning percentage (.929) for a Thursday game in October or later during the Super Bowl era and the first time since the 1970 merger that two teams with at least 13 combined wins meet in Week 8 or earlier.
Watt, in his first year with the Cardinals, injured his shoulder in the second quarter Sunday, yet still managed to play the rest of the game with the injury. He finished with a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit.
Mac Jones, New England Patriots
174-for-247 (70.4% completion), 1,779 yards, 9 TD, 6 INT — 92.8 passer rating
The lowest upside of any of the top quarterbacks in the draft, Mac Jones was perfect for New England because he had a very high floor the Patriots could utilize from the jump. An organization used to working around a player’s physical limitations, the rookie has quickly become comfortable in the New England offense and looks like a long-term starter for the franchise.
What he’s doing right
Jones is playing a style that very much befits a Bill Belichick football team. He’s not making a ton of mistakes and costing his team the game, and has shown an ability to move the chains and keep the team in contention. Hot off the best game of his career, in which Jones threw for 307 yards against the Jets, we could see his development hit a higher gear where he’s given more rope to play.
What he’s doing wrong
In order for Jones to move from “very good” to “excellent” he has to start making more plays downfield. To his credit this has improved over the last two weeks, but at some point completing a lot of passes and moving the chains isn’t good enough, and you need to have a quarterback with the ability to routinely gash defenses for 20+ yards when they make a defensive error. Thus far Jones hasn’t shown that aspect to his game.
Tom Brady looking better than ... ever?
Tom Brady is good at football, water is wet. Here’s the deal though: While everyone knew Brady would be good, I don’t think anyone saw this season coming. The Buccaneers quarterback isn’t just thriving, he’s obliterating the NFL from the pocket in a way we haven’t seen since 2007 when he threw for 50 touchdowns.
Projections are tricky this year because of the 17 game season, so let’s normalize this for a 16 game slate and compare to that record-setting year with Randy Moss.
2007: 398-of-578 (67.9% completion), 4,806 yards, 50 TD, 8 INT — 117.2 rating
2021 (projected): 464-of-692 (67% completion), 5,200 yards, 48 TD, 7 INT — 108.2 rating
With the 17th game added in it’s looking like this will be Brady’s best season ever. At 44 years old.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
1. Play Nick Bolton over a healthy Anthony Hitchens
The rookie linebacker was the star of the game against the Titans, totaling 15 tackles and 4 tackles for loss. He was the catalyst in neutralizing running back Derrick Henry more than any other team has done this season — outside of Week 1.
He was inserted as the starting MIKE linebacker because Hitchens had to miss the game with the injury he suffered in Week 6 — but we don’t believe the team should look back. Bolton showed explosiveness — and an ability to come downhill through gaps to make run stops — at a higher level than we’ve seen from Hitchens this season.
Bolton struggled to cover his hook zone on passing plays effectively, but Hitchens isn’t any better in those scenarios.
It’s unrealistic to expect Hitchens to ride the bench for the rest of the season, but if the Chiefs want their best defensive players in the game, Bolton should be in — and playing the middle linebacker position — as much as possible.
John: There was no need for the Chiefs to abandon the rush
While working through the snap count data for Sunday’s game, I discovered that Kansas City had passed the ball on 81% of its offensive snaps. In both this season and last, that was the highest percentage for any Chiefs game.
Of course, the top-level analysis of such a situation would be that the team abandoned the run because it was behind. But even as the second half began — when Kansas City had the first possession and was trailing Tennessee 27-0 — there was still enough time for the offense to run the ball at least some of the time. But by abandoning the running game — which had been reasonably successful over a very few iterations — the Chiefs made it easy for the Titans to defend against the pass on every snap.
Yes... running the ball on some plays takes additional time off the clock — but not nearly as much as drives that end without scores.