There was plenty that did not go the Chiefs’ way this offseason, but the additions of Joe Thuney and Jarran Reed are very solid — plus trading for Orlando Brown is going to pay dividends for years to come. This offense is one of the best in football with elite players at wide receiver, tight end and quarterback. They may even have a Pro Bowl running back in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The defense is very solid as well, as the front four is dominant and I think the linebacking corps got a good one in the draft with Nick Bolton. The secondary has several playmakers as well such as Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill. Keep an eye on cornerback L’Jarius Sneed this year too.
Biggest strength: The offensive trio of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill is the reason Kansas City is once again the betting favorite to bring home a Lombardi Trophy this season. According to PFF’s wins above replacement metric, Mahomes has been the most valuable quarterback in the NFL over the past three seasons by more than a full win. Kelce comfortably ranks first at the tight end position, and Hill comes in at fourth among wide receivers. Throw in coach Andy Reid, one of the top offensive playcallers in the NFL, and the offense becomes nearly impossible to stop.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Last season Patrick Mahomes continued to show why he’s the best quarterback in football. At just 25 years old, Mahomes led his team to a 14-1 record in 15 games, improving his career regular season record 38-8. He also threw for over 4,700 yards and 38 touchdown passes with a QBR of 82.9. Mahomes led the Chiefs to their second-straight Super Bowl, but was unable to defeat Brady and the Buccaneers. With an improved and rebooted offensive line protecting him, Mahomes is the odds-on favorite to take home the MVP award next season. If he stays healthy, it’s hard to see him not leading Kansas City to at least the AFC Championship game.
What would a breakout season actually look like for the Chiefs’ young linebacker? First, he’ll need more opportunity in the way of snaps. Despite appearing in all 16 regular-season games in 2020, starting in eight of them, Gay only played 25% of the Chiefs’ total defensive snaps on the year. Compare that against Wilson, who played nearly 50% of the defensive snaps for Kansas City in 2020 and nearly 65% during the Super Bowl-winning 2019 season.
Beyond the snaps, obviously, the production needs to match for Gay’s year to be considered a breakout. Would matching Wilson’s best season in Kansas City qualify as a breakout? Probably not. Would a 100-tackle season get the job done? It’d be a start considering only 42 players in the NFL had 100 or more combined tackles last season. A good baseline might be what Chargers rookie Kenneth Murray was able to accomplish in 2020.
Last season, Murray posted 107 combined tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and three passes defended. He did so while starting all 16 games for Los Angeles. If Gay can match or exceed those numbers in his second year, he’ll be looking good.
Every powerhouse team gets contributions from a leading cast of powerhouse players, and the Chiefs are no different.
The Chiefs boast 18 Hall of Famers, most of whom spent most of their careers in Kansas City: quarterbacks Len Dawson, Joe Montana and Warren Moon; running back Marcus Allen; tight end Tony Gonzalez; offensive linemen Willie Roaf, Will Shields and Mike Webster; defensive linemen Curley Culp and Buck Buchanan; linebackers Derrick Thomas, Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell; cornerbacks Emmitt Thomas and Ty Law; safety Johnny Robinson; and kickers Jan Stenerud and Morten Anderson.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Arrowhead Events are hosting the second-annual Red Friday Run presented by GEHA to coincide with the club’s 30th year of the traditional Red Friday celebration on Friday, September 10. This year’s edition of the race remains virtual and will be part of festivities leading up to the 2021 NFL season prior to the Chiefs hosting the Cleveland Browns at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium for Week 1 on Sunday, September 12.
Registration is now open at www.chiefs.com/redfridayrun with two registration options available. Early-bird registration, which is open now through Friday, August 20, is $40 for the general public and $35 for Chiefs Season Ticket Members. Pre-event registration, which will last from Saturday, August 21 through Friday, September 10, is $45 for the general public and $40 for Season Ticket Members.
Around the NFL
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the New Orleans Saints and RT Ryan Ramczyk agreed to a five-year, $96 million extension, per sources informed of the situation.
Ramczyk, a 2017 first-round pick, was scheduled to make $11.064 million on the fifth-year option. Now the Saints locked him down for years to come.
The Eagles’ Lane Johnson previously sat atop the right tackle market, averaging $18 million on a $72 million deal. Ramczyk waved while passing by Johnson with his $19.2 million average. The new agreement comes in fifth in average per year salary among all offensive tackles.
“I’ll just continue to be me and just let this thing kind of work itself out and see what happens,” Adams said in a separate interview with Mellon. “Obviously, I love Derek to death. We’ve got a great friendship and we still communicate really, really consistently. He’s one of my best friends. Obviously it would be a dream to be able to play with him. But I’m a Packer now. Until that point when we make that decision, I guess we just gotta, we’ll see what happens.”
Pederson’s time with the Eagles came to an end in January following a couple of meetings with owner Jeffery Lurie during which the two realized they’d be better off parting ways. The coach departed Philadelphia with a Super Bowl ring on his finger and a year’s worth of frustration and disappointment still attached to his waist.
That unhappy ending hasn’t discouraged him, though. On Monday, the coach said he’s ready to get back on a sideline when he’s given an opportunity.
“The competitor inside wants to continue to compete,” Pederson said during an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic, via NJ.com. “Hopefully, I get an opportunity to lead another football team and do the same things again and learn from the last five years — what a great teaching moment for me. I always talk about how we learn from failures and different things like that. I don’t want to say that this was a failure, but at the same time, I want to learn from the last five years moving forward in my next opportunity.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Before digging deeper into this phase of the game, I’ll lay the foundation with how statistically effective Mahomes’ rushing was.
Mahomes had 62 official rushing attempts in 2020, the ninth-most among all NFL quarterbacks. Most of his runs came in scrambling form; he scrambled 42 times in the regular season, per PFF. It was the fifth-most scrambles in the league; the players ahead of him were Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray.
Mahomes averaged 7.1 yards per scramble in 2020, a nearly identical rate as Jackson and a higher rate than Watson.
Once you remove quarterback kneel-downs and scrambling situations, only six regular-season plays were designed for Mahomes to run — and three more in the postseason. He totaled 13 yards on the nine plays with one touchdown scored — and a scary injury in the Divisional Round against the Cleveland Browns.
The Chiefs did not attempt a quarterback sneak in 2020.
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