What went right: Well, nobody’s going to accuse the Chiefs of forgetting to protect their star quarterback again. After the Buccaneers tore apart a line of backups and replacement-level talent in Super Bowl LV, the Chiefs went all-in this offseason to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Andy Reid & Co. made Joe Thuney the highest-paid guard in league history and then traded their first-round pick as part of a package to acquire former Ravens tackle Orlando Brown.
Adding two new starters on the left side would amount to a busy offseason for most teams, but that’s not even half the story. The Chiefs also re-signed Mike Remmers, brought Kyle Long out of retirement, signed Austin Blythe, drafted Creed Humphrey in the second round and are expected to welcome Laurent Duvernay-Tardif back from his 2020 opt-out. If they think the only thing that kept them from winning the Super Bowl was their offensive line, well, that probably won’t be an issue in 2021.
Kansas City Chiefs: TE Noah Gray
With quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, last year’s first-round pick, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson already on the roster, very little wiggle room exists for someone else to break into the Kansas City Chiefs lineup and become yet another threat.
The Chiefs did spend a fifth-round pick on tight end Noah Gray. The rookie has made a positive early impression, and Kelce turns 32 later this year.
“Noah has been really good—I think he has a veteran-type skill set where he knows how to get himself open even if it’s not exactly what the play is designed to do,” Mahomes told reporters. “He knows how to get his eyes back and how to get on the quarterback’s timing.”
Kansas City used heavy doses of 12 personal in 2018 and ‘19. With Sammy Watkins gone, head coach Andy Reid may vary up his looks a little more.
Early in Spagnuolo’s tenure as defensive coordinator in Kansas City, the Chiefs hadn’t really found a player to fit the Bobby Taylor play style. Tyrann Mathieu plays the role of Dawkins, Ward plays the role of Troy Vincent, but in 2019 the team didn’t have anyone with the size, ball skills and versatility of Taylor. That obviously, wasn’t a detriment to the team because of their Super Bowl win. Still, the desire to add a player with that specific skill set remained.
Speaking to reporters last week, Spagnuolo revealed that second-year CB L’Jarius Sneed could be in the mix to play the role of Taylor for Kansas City.
“I’ll tell you what, back in Philadelphia we had Bobby Taylor,” Spagnuolo explained. “What we did with Bobby is that he played outside in the four-DB packages and he moved (inside) in the five-DB (packages). So we may go that route.”
This is a powerful, small group of elite teams. These three teams combined to win 38 games in the regular season last year and I bet they surpass that number this season. The Raiders’ challenge starts Week 1 against the Ravens at home.
On Monday, Smith was named the 2021 George Halas Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America. He had already earned 2020 Comeback Player of the Year honors.
Per the PFWA, the Halas Award is given to a player, coach, or staff member “who overcomes the most adversity to succeed.” Washington head coach Ron Rivera, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, and New England Patriots running back James White were also nominated.
Former Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid pleaded not guilty Monday to critically injuring a young girl in a crash, and the judge allowed him to resume driving with restrictions.
The judge modified his bond during his arraignment to allow him to have a special interlock device installed that requires him to pass a breathalyzer test before his vehicle will start.
Reid, the son of Chiefs Coach Andy Reid, was charged with driving while intoxicated causing serious physical injury in April, two months after he hit two cars on an Interstate 435 entrance ramp near Arrowhead Stadium. The collision happened just days before the Chiefs played in the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, Florida.
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“He hasn’t missed anything that’s been slated. He’s doing a lot of extra, frankly, so the anticipation would be for him to go every day is the outlook,” McCarthy said. “We’re not naive. It’s just like any player that comes back from injury, especially a major joint injury. The first year back, there’s going to be some things you have to work through, but I would anticipate we’d start with him in full mode, get him into the team periods and get back to playing football.”
Prescott is coming back from a dislocated and compound fracture of his right ankle suffered in a game in October against the New York Giants.
So confident were the Cowboys in his return that they signed him to a four-year, $160 million contract that included a record $66 million signing bonus.
Jones has worn No. 11 for the entirety of his NFL career, which was spent exclusively with the Atlanta Falcons until his trade to the Titans over the weekend. In college at Alabama, he wore No. 8, and with the NFL’s recent relaxation of its jersey numbering rules, Jones ideally could return to No. 8, though he’d have to obtain it from rookie punter James Smith. If Brown was very willing to give the number to his new teammate, it’s likely Smith would hand over his jersey, too, if he’s even still on the team by September.
Those wondering if Jones will simply trim a digit from his number to become No. 1 will not see that reality unless a former member of the organization, Oilers great Warren Moon, were to give his approval for Jones to wear the jersey. Moon’s No. 1 is one of eight jersey numbers retired by the franchise.
During an organized team activity Monday, the Niners lost two players to what will almost certainly be season-ending injuries more than three months before the 2021 campaign begins. Offensive lineman Justin Skule suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, and safety Tarvarius Moore tore his Achilles, according to a team spokesperson.
While neither Skule nor Moore has been an established starter for the Niners, both have played prominent roles in recent seasons.
According to the L.A. Times, Fassel, who lived in Las Vegas, was experiencing chest pains on Monday and was taken to a local hospital. Fassel died of a heart attack while under sedation, his son said.
“It is with a very heavy heart to announce that we lost our Dad yesterday. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” John Fassel, the Cowboys special teams coordinator, said in a statement to the Times. “While our Dad will be remembered as a longtime fan and face of the football world, his legacy will live forever in our hearts as the greatest Dad and Grandpa of all time. He leaves behind his wife Kitty, their 5 kids and spouses, as well as 16 happy and healthy grandkids. We love you Dad.”
Rodgers has insisted that he’s not going to play for the Packers this year and the Packers have insisted they’re not going to trade him, which has created an impasse. The ongoing standoff between the two sides has already cost the quarterback $500,000 and that number could get bumped up to nearly $600,000 by the end of the week.
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Looking forward to 2021
The biggest thing the Chiefs need to improve their red-zone defense is more athleticism and playmaking from the linebacker position. Judging by the back-to-back years of selecting second-round linebackers, they understand that. Willie Gay Jr. and Nick Bolton are both players that can help correct that weakness for the future — but Gay has a bigger opportunity to make a difference.
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