The Chiefs, who had finished below .500 in five of the previous six years, never had a losing season with Smith. They’ve now had a winning record n eight straight seasons.
“What’s really special for me and still is special is to watch them and where that organization is at, and to know that I’ve potentially played even the smallest role in helping build that,” Smith said.
“You know, it was the worst team in football at 2-14 and to make the playoffs that first year and just to be a part of the culture change is something that I look back and I’m proud of. And to see, obviously, all those guys, Patrick continue to take it to the highest level, to win a championship.”
Chris Jones continues to look like he’s primed for a big season. Jones had a sack against the Cardinals, giving him two in roughly three quarters of preseason play, and also deflected a pass and forced a fumble. The Chiefs need not worry about his position change to defensive end, particularly because his replacement at defensive tackle, Jarran Reed, also had a sack. — Adam Teicher
Next game: vs. Vikings (8 p.m. ET, Aug. 27)
NFL Research: Mahomes’ 20 preseason pass attempts thus far are the second most by a Super Bowl-losing quarterback over the last five seasons. The only QB with more was Tom Brady (44) in 2018 after losing in Super Bowl LII to the Eagles.
Why the Chiefs won
Kansas City’s defense wouldn’t allow the Cardinals to get into any sort of groove with Murray under center. Conversely, the Chiefs converted on a pair of fourth downs on their first drive which led to Butker’s field goal. The Chiefs also capitalized on several big plays. Byron Pringle’s 41-yard catch set up Hardman’s touchdown just before halftime and Buechele’s 36-yard completion to Marcus Kemp helped set up his touchdown pass to McKinnon. Kansas City also enjoyed a solid performance from running back Darwin Thompson, who had four straight carries for 28 yards on the Chiefs’ second possession. He had a 13-yard run on the Chiefs’ first drive of the second half.
After the Cardinals trimmed their lead to one possession, the Chiefs controlled the ball for the game’s final nine minutes. The main catalysts on the drive were Gore (who led both teams with 54 yards on eight carries) and backup quarterback Anthony Gordon, who completed all seven of his passes for 42 yards.
Pringle was the top receiver in the game, catching four of five targets for 64 yards. The highlight was this 41-yard reception from Chad Henne, whom he has established a rapport with so far in the preseason.
The fourth-year wide-out from Kansas City is certainly making the most of his playing time opportunities in these exhibitions. Prior to their win against the Cardinals, he showed off his viability as a red-zone target by catching a touchdown pass in last week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. We’ll see if he can keep this up in their preseason finale against the Minnesota Vikings next week.
Pringle is slotted right behind Tyreek Hill on the unofficial depth chart and at best is the No. 4 receiving option behind him, Mecole Hardman, and Travis Kelce. Given his production, however, he could be in line for more touches, potentially making him a late-round sleeper.
In three seasons with the Red Raiders from 2014-2016, the QB-HC combo of Mahomes and Kingsbury combined for 857 completions for 11,252 passing yards, 93 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. What Mahomes was able to accomplish under Kingsbury, in part, is the reason he ended up in Kansas City. It’s also, in part, the reason that Kingsbury landed a head-coaching job with the Cardinals in 2019.
Now, the two old friends are reunited on the NFL gridiron for the first time since both have been in the league. It’s only for a meaningless preseason game, but it at least allowed for the two to catch up ahead of the game.
TIGHT END UNITS
Best: Kansas City Chiefs
You could easily make the case that there are teams with better depth at tight end, but none of those teams has Travis Kelce. The 32-year-old has finished no lower than seventh in snaps and no lower than second in receptions and yards at the tight end position in each of the past five seasons. Blake Bell is back as solid depth, and fifth-round rookie Noah Gray is already generating hype.
Mathieu himself could actually end up benefiting from the team’s purported “timing thing” in a financial sense. Now that the ink is dry on Jamal Adams’ new contract with the Seahawks, NFL executives are poring over the details to assess the new market value for the elite hybrid defensive backs across the league. The three-time Pro Bowler’s four-year, $70 million extension includes $38 million in guaranteed money. The deal makes Adams the league’s highest-paid safety in average annual value (AAV) at $17.5 million, easily surpassing that of the Broncos’ Justin Simmons ($15.25 million), with Budda Baker ($14.75 million), Eddie Jackson ($14.6 million) and Kevin Byard ($14.1 million) next in line. While Adams didn’t crack the coveted $20 million mark that represents the pay rate for elite players at premium non-quarterback positions (wide receiver, pass rusher, cornerback), this is a big step up in safety compensation. And while the position was long undervalued, it’s about to see an influx of big-money deals.
6 - Tyrann Mathieu
Kansas City Chiefs · S · Age 29
The Honey Badger can roam anywhere — although at this point, I’d hate to see him divorced from defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who knows just how to unlock his magic. Turning 30 next May, Mathieu is a rangy, heady player in the mold of Devin McCourty, a safety who has excelled into his mid-30s.
Around the NFL
Why Washington won
We could easily chalk this win up to Washington’s defense, but Jaret Patterson deserves our game ball. The rookie running back who went undrafted out of Buffalo led Washington in rushing and receiving last week, but really had a breakout performance on Friday night. Patterson rushed for 71 yards on 16 carries, punched in the game-winning score and caught three passes for 25 yards. He also returned one kick for 37 yards.
The 5-foot-8 unit showed off his extraordinary vision, and always kept his feet churning to push forward for extra yards as bodies bounced off of him. He sees things before they happen, and there’s a spot on the 53-man roster for him.
Asked by NFL.com’s Adam Schein on Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio before the Richards news broke if he would have taken the Jeopardy! job, Rodgers confirmed he would’ve, if they worked around his football schedule.
“Yeah, I definitely would’ve,” Rodgers told Schein. “I mean, if they would have figured out a way to make it work with my schedule, yeah, for sure.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
3. Fullback Michael Burton is here to stay
In this space after the 49ers game, I pointed out that after seeing him used in the offense’s first-team drives, we might have to rethink the assumptions we’ve been making about what the Chiefs might do with fullback Michael Burton. We had thought that with so many other positions where the team might need to keep more players than usual, they might not be able to replace the retired Anthony Sherman.
But after another week of the preseason, it seems even more clear that Burton is here to stay. It wasn’t a big stat line against the Cardinals with one reception for six yards on two targets. But after being on the field for a third of last week’s special-teams plays, he made a big stop in kick coverage against Arizona.
Reid has a well-earned reputation as an innovator. But this is probably one place where he’s inclined to stick to his traditional roots. He will have a fullback on the Kansas City roster in 2021 — and Burton will be the guy.
Now, all we need is a nickname. Nominations are now open.
A tweet to make you think
Just watched the game. That has to be one of the most encouraging preseason games of all-time, right?— Tom Childs (@tomchilds56) August 21, 2021