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What we learned about the Chiefs in this week

Taking a look at the week of June 28 on Arrowhead Pride...

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Andy Reid named NFL’s top head coach

The Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach has long been seen as one of the league’s top coaches. But on Monday, CBS Sports analyst Cody Benjamin put him at the top of his list.

For years, the Chiefs’ head coach has stood in Belichick’s shadow. And why not? Just as in any discussion about the greatest quarterback of all time, head-to-head records are part of the discussion. During his 14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Reid was 1-4 against Belichick.

But more recently, things have been changing. While in Kansas City, Reid is 4-3 against New England’s longtime coach — and now that Brady has left the Patriots (and won a championship with a different team) it’s looking more like his presence in New England might have been a larger factor than we thought.

Meanwhile, Reid’s Chiefs teams have assembled a record of 0.695 over eight seasons — and in five of those, Alex Smith was under center. So Benjamin has it right: Belichick is definitely in the conversation to be considered one of the greatest coaches in NFL history — but at this moment, Reid has the edge.

Travis Kelce wins free beer for Chiefs fans

We also learned that as Tight End University concluded, the Chiefs’ tight end won a golf competition that will reward the team’s fans.

There are a couple of catches, of course. The first is that the free beer for Chiefs fans won’t be available until National Tight Ends Day — an invention of Kittle and 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garropolo last season — which will be on Sunday, October 24. (If you’re keeping track at home, N.T.E.D. is an annual event that takes place on the fourth Sunday in October).

And here’s the other catch: we don’t know exactly how Chiefs fans will be able to claim their free beer. Presumably, Bud Light will have those details available sometime before the end of October.

So stay tuned. And stay thirsty.

Chiefs named among NFL teams with depth issues that could matter

On Tuesday, ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell suggested that with injuries to Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill or Kelce in 2021, the Chiefs might be in trouble.

Just for starters, Barnwell appears to have forgotten that Blake Bell has returned to the Chiefs. Should Kelce be injured, Bell is far more likely to step in than Keizer — who might not make the final roster in September. And even that presumes that the Chiefs won’t believe Gray is ready to fill in. From their statements, they seem to think he will contribute in 2021 — but since Gray a rookie, it’s fair to be cautious about taking their confidence at face value. Barnwell’s point still holds, though: if Kelce is unavailable, there could be a significant drop-off. A year from now, it will be interesting to see how pundits like Barnwell see the situation.

Concerning Hill, Barnwell appears not to have noticed that with Sammy Watkins as the second wideout, the Chiefs have essentially been in that same situation for much of the last three seasons. Thankfully, Hill has missed only four games during that time. Should he miss significant time in 2021, the players available to replace him may not be household names outside of Kansas City — but they will still have Mahomes throwing them the ball. That should count for something.

So as is often the case with the Chiefs, it all comes back to Mahomes — which is exactly where Barnwell started.

PFF calls Chiefs’ offensive line chemistry a major concern for 2021

Then we covered Pro Football Focus writer Sam Monson’s identification of the cohesion between the newly-revamped Kansas City offensive line as an issue for the coming season. John Dixon agreed it was something to watch.

Still, I don’t think I’d pick this particular problem as one of the five most identifiable vulnerabilities among NFL teams. I’m happy to agree that to be effective, offensive linemen need good chemistry. It’s just that under head coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs have seldom faced this particular problem to begin a season — and this is hardly the first time since his arrival where significant parts of the Week 1 line were unsettled before training camp has begun. I can’t say whether it’s Reid, offensive line coach Andy Heck or some other factor — but I do think that unit cohesion has rarely been an issue when Kansas City has picked its best five offensive linemen to begin their seasons.

So I’ll agree with Monson that the Chiefs need to get it right. I’m just not all that worried about it.

Darrius Shepherd ‘couldn’t ask for more’ than playing for his hometown team

Then on Wednesday, we covered some remarks from the former Blue Springs High School, North Dakota State and Green Bay Packers wideout — who won a job with the Chiefs after a minicamp tryout.

The Chiefs currently have 15 wide receivers on their roster, so it will be an uphill battle for Shepherd to make the team in September. But for now, he’s living the dream.

“They’ve been on a great run,” he said. “Watching as a fan, it’s something you want to be a part of. Now to actually be a part of it, you couldn’t ask for more. I’m excited to help contribute to that and keep winning games — and hopefully get a Super Bowl this year.”

When Kansas City’s training camp opens at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri in late July, we’ll get an opportunity to see what Shepherd can do with his hometown team.

3 Chiefs superlatives for the 2021 season

During their midweek Out of Structure podcast, Ron Kopp Jr. and Matt Stagner had some fun imagining some postseason superlatives for 2021.

Most likely to make fans throw things at their televisions in frustration

Ron: Head coach Andy Reid. I think Andy is the easy answer for this, right? We all do it! We all question the creative play-call on third-and-5 that sometimes doesn’t work. By making these plays work in big moments, Reid can often make us feel stupid about complaining — but there are still some frustrating calls.

For example: Week 16 of last season against the Atlanta Falcons. On fourth-and-short, Watkins got the ball in his hands on a toss — and then threw it deep across the field to quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was in tight coverage. It happens.

Matt: Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. I’ll take the other safe answer. Over the last couple of years, Robinson has had many frustrating moments. He’s fumbled, been in the wrong places, dropped passes he should have caught or run backward on punt returns. When Robinson is in the game, something weird is likely to happen — and now that he should get more snaps, it may happen even more often.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s hype has been curbed ahead of 2021

After NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew’s Thursday running back ranking — in which he ranked the Kansas City running back as 17th — Pete Sweeney examined the former LSU star’s situation.

There are many reasons to think he will see an increase from his 217 touches in 2020, beginning with the thought that he is 100 percent. An ankle-and-hip injury cost him three games last year. He was targeted 54 times, and with the way the team is talking, that number should be closer to 100 in 2021.

In addition, the Chiefs’ Week 1 starting offensive line in 2021 has a chance to be even better than it was at the beginning of 2020. That means Edwards-Helaires rushing numbers (181 carries for 803 yards) could go up as well.

In the span of a year’s time, Edwards-Helaire has arguably gone from a little overhyped to a bit underrated.

Why the Chiefs should not consider signing Golden Tate

On Thursday, ESPN’s Field Yates picked what he saw as the best moves each NFL team could make before the season begins — and for the Chiefs, he suggested signing the longtime Detroit Lions wide receiver.

Since the Chiefs were among the suitors trying to land Pittsburgh Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster — and were rumored to be in the mix for others — it’s hard to blame Yates for making this suggestion. The 11-year NFL veteran would indeed bring a lot of experience to Kansas City — and unlike Smith-Schuster, might be willing to accept a relatively inexpensive contract for a role where he wouldn’t rack up a lot of production.

But if we’re really talking about the best move the Chiefs could yet make, I’m not sure this is it. Extending safety Tyrann Mathieu’s contract — which would have both long and short-term benefits — should be Kansas City general manager Brett Veach’s next priority. Once that is done, Veach would also have some additional cap space with which to work, giving him options beyond signing a wide receiver who will be 33 years old when the season begins.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire among 10 who could have big second seasons

Kansas City’s starting running back was back to the forefront on Friday, as Yahoo! Sports’ Eric Edholm chose him among the players he expected to have big sophomore seasons.

Of course, Pete Sweeney’s main point on Thursday was that Edwards-Helaire would enter the season with lower expectations than he did as a first-round pick in 2020; Edholm’s article could help push the needle of the expectations meter a little higher.

Otherwise, Edholm is essentially making the same points about the former LSU star that Pete did: he should get more receiving targets in 2021 — and will be playing behind what we presume will be a better offensive line.

But Edholm makes another significant point: in his first and second seasons, we saw something similar with McCaffrey. Should Edwards-Helaire develop into the kind of threat McCaffrey has become, the complaints about the round in which he was drafted might simply fade away.