Some dream trades
Allen Robinson to the Chiefs for a second-round pick
The signing of Josh Gordon indicated what we’ve all realized about the Chiefs, that without a sound running game they must upgrade their passing weapon set to the point where it can strangle any secondary. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce simply cannot handle that kind of workload anymore. Robinson would provide Patrick Mahomes with a high-volume, reliable possession receiver who has the broken play dexterity to thrive alongside Mahomes. Robinson could pull the Chiefs’ offense out of its rut and ease the burden currently placed on their offensive line.
Andre Dillard TO Kansas City Chiefs
WINS ADDED: 0.47
I know the Chiefs already used a ton of resources to try to get better up front this offseason, trading for Orlando Brown, signing Joe Thuney and drafting Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith. Conventional wisdom might hold that K.C. should sit tight at this position. But the fact is, the offensive line is contributing to the Chiefs’ problems in 2021, and rather than falling prey to the sunk-cost fallacy, they should try to fix it. Per NGS, when Patrick Mahomes is under pressure but not blitzed, he has a 34 percent completion rate — the lowest rate in the NFL — along with a TD-to-INT ratio of 3:3 and a passer rating of 46.7. Opponents are having success on such plays in part because defenders who would be blitzing are being used to bracket Travis Kelce instead. But the strategy only really works for opponents if the offensive line fails to do its job. This season, defenders are getting to Mahomes 0.58 seconds faster, on average, than they did in 2020. This contextualizes Mahomes’ turnovers — and it also means adding even more help to the O-line could drive big gains, quickly. Dillard has been a better pass-blocker than run-blocker in his career, which would help drive the fit. Whether Dillard is slotted into a starting role (perhaps moving to the right side) or used as a rotational piece, the former first-rounder could help improve that time-to-pressure figure. Forcing opponents to rethink their pressure strategy would open up more space for skill players — giving Mahomes 0.15 seconds more, on average, would translate to a 30 percent increase in plays where receivers like Kelce or Tyreek Hill have at least 3 feet of separation. This would decrease turnover odds and significantly increase first-down and touchdown odds.
Bold prediction: Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce will have 150-plus yards receiving and two touchdowns. He has already topped 100 yards twice this season. The Giants’ defense has been pedestrian against tight ends, and it hasn’t faced anyone like Kelce. Dalton Schultz went for six catches and 79 yards against them. It makes you wonder the type of damage Kelce can do. — Jordan Raanan
Stat to know: When getting the ball out within 2.5 seconds, Mahomes has a 13-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and an 86% completion percentage this season. But when he takes longer, he has a 5-8 ratio and a 48% completion percentage.
Asked about what has caused the total paucity of statistics in the pass rush, he told the media that the unit’s struggles against the run led to different tactics upfront that led to a decrease in stats, but that those issues are now fixed and should lead to more or better results moving forward.
“We’re trying to figure that out,” Okafor explained of the lack of production against in the passing game. “Early in the season, we were giving up a ton of rush yards, now we’re starting to get that under control. I think once we get the running game under control, it’ll help with the pass rush game.”
He continued, speaking to a reporter’s question about a possible disconnect in terms of production and ability to get to the quarterback. Though he stopped short of saying that the solution to their struggles would be simple, he hinted toward improvement the line showed against Tennessee, despite a lone sack from LB Ben Niemann in the effort.
“There’s a couple of issues,” Okafor said of the apparent disconnect. “There’s not one fix and if there was one fix, it would have happened sooner. So, there’s a couple of issues and each week we’re grinding away at those issues. I feel like even though it may not have showed to the naked eye, I feel like we took some steps in the right direction in the D-line last week.”
Kansas City Chiefs
Trick or Treat: Trick
Candy comparison: Nerds
All flash, little oomph. With Patrick Mahomes, they’re always as frenetic as a sugared-up kid, for better or worse. Their offense is never not colorful, but forced to carry the whole burden, it finally seems a little less imposing.
Continue to let Daniel Jones be an athlete.
Daniel Jones’s improvements this season have seemed to coincide with a more concerted effort to utilize his athleticism. It has also allowed him to stay more upright.
Play-action passes are more effective because the defense must account for the running back, but Jones himself running it, which creates the extra second to find a receiver downfield, or it allows a receiver to clear into an open space. Jones is also the team’s leading rusher this season.
While that may not be ideal in the long run, Jones’s ability to pick up chunk yards with his feet has given this offense enough balance to keep defenses honest. He’s averaging 5.6 yards per rush. That helps keep New York in mid to short-yardage situations. It also helps the Giants if they’re looking to extend plays.
Jones has averaged 6.2 yards per carry his entire NFL career, so, strangely, they waited until this year to utilize that portion of his game, but it has been beneficial. The Giants should definitely look to run their zone-read schemes regardless of who is at running back.
Around the NFL
Tonyan’s agent, Jack Bechta, tweeted Friday that his client suffered a clean tear of the ACL in his left knee, while sources told ESPN that Hill also suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Tonyan injured the knee at the end of a 33-yard reception late in the third quarter. It was one of the key plays on the drive that gave the Packers a 24-14 lead on the way to their 24-21 victory. He finished the game with three catches for 49 yards.
A former undrafted free agent, Tonyan ranks third on the Packers in receptions (18) and receiving yards (204) this season. Although he had only two touchdown catches through eight games, his 13 touchdowns since the start of the 2020 season rank second among all NFL tight ends in that span.
Jackson exploded for 120 yards and a touchdown on three receptions in Los Angeles’ Week 3 win over the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he’s largely been quiet (if not absent entirely) since then. Jackson has 221 receiving yards, but only eight catches on the year. He’s seen just 15 targets through seven games, and he’s played less than 40 percent of the Rams’ offensive snaps in every game thus far.
Simply, Jackson isn’t seeing the field enough to make a difference. As his 75-yard score in Week 3 showed, he’s still good for a few big plays, but needs to be out there to make them. With NFL receiving leader Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson also involved, Jackson has been mostly squeezed out, and he doesn’t want to spend the twilight of his career on the sideline.
“He’s a tremendous player that has a great track record and resume, and I think all the circumstances surrounding that, that want to be able to be open-minded, this hasn’t exactly been probably what he envisioned,” McVay said. “I think he deserves an opportunity to be able to see if there’s better options out there for him and that’s where we’re at.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Still, Bieniemy said that the team’s coaches were going to stick to their routines.
“You keep coaching,” he explained. ”You don’t change anything. You keep coaching all the fundamentals and all the necessary things that have helped them get to a point to where that wasn’t an issue.
“No one ever wants to go into a game [by] turning over the football — but at certain times, things happened. The thing that we need to do is make sure that we have the wherewithal to overcome the adversity and make something positive happen. So just like I told the guys: ‘We’ve got to create our own luck.’”
Bieniemy said that would come down to playing against their opponents — rather than themselves.
“We’ve got to get out of our own way,” he said. “We’ve got to eliminate the penalties. We’ve got to stop being our worst enemy. And I think if we can get out of our own way — and start playing against the opponent — we have a chance.”
So what’s the latest?
Is Gordon ready to contribute more? Could we actually see Gordon play something like the 20 plays Reid spoke about against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football?
“It’s kind of unique the way things have worked the last couple weeks,” said head coach Andy Reid on Thursday. “With all the two-minute stuff, we didn’t get him in there [against Tennessee]. But he’s progressing and doing the right things — and I’m proud of him for that. We’ll see how things work out going forward, but he’s doing a nice job for us.”
Apparently, the Chiefs wanted to make him a significant part of their offense against the Titans, too.
“Well, we had big plans for him last week,” said offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Friday. “Unfortunately, we fell behind and we were playing catch-up mode — and that wasn’t the situation that we wanted to put him in. We want him to have the opportunity to go out and do the things that he’s practiced all week long, so it’s all about making sure that you’re putting your guys in the right situation.
“We didn’t feel at that particular time that was the right situation for him to be in. Now, if that was to happen this week, will he be prepared for it? Yes, he will be.”
So, it does seem that it is finally the week where the game script won’t dictate how much action Gordon sees — and that is a good thing, since the Chiefs’ offense could use another impact pass-catcher beyond Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
So far, Gordon has one catch on two targets. He made an 11-yard catch for a first down in the Chiefs’ loss to the Bills.