One of the reasons the Kansas City Chiefs drafted running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the 2020 draft was his skill as a receiver. Edwards-Helaire showed good hands, a touch for running routes and a gift for making defenders miss in the open field at LSU, where he caught 55 passes his final season in 2019.
That ability is finally beginning to show with the Chiefs.
“I am 1,010% confident in my hands,” Edwards-Helaire said. “I feel like I am one of the best pass-catchers as far as running backs in the league. I will completely stand on that. That’s just one of those things that [offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy] and Coach [Andy] Reid are trying to get implemented.”
That’s the case this season for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs more than in recent seasons. Edwards-Helaire is one of the beneficiaries as the pass-catching load has shifted through the first four games of the post-Tyreek Hill era from wide receivers to tight ends and running backs.
Tight ends, led by Travis Kelce, and running backs have 54% of the Chiefs’ catches, 48% of their yards and 82% of their receiving touchdowns. Those numbers are up from last season, when their backs and tight ends provided 46% of the receptions, 43% of the yards and 46% of the touchdowns.
Travis Kelce celebrated the Chiefs’ first touchdown in their win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a play on which he made a nifty 16-yard reception, by doing what has become a usual sight for him in the end zone: He danced.
In a prime-time setting, the game proved to be one of the most gratifying in Kelce’s 10-year career, a career for the star tight end that will years later be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. By winning in a dominant manner, the Chiefs were able to gain a level of revenge against the Buccaneers, the team that defeated them in Super Bowl LV, a game played at their home venue, the first in NFL history. Kelce, in the middle of Sunday’s game, reached another statistical accomplishment, one that led to him getting emotional during his postgame comments. And yet, Kelce expressed his happiness the most when he watched his two mentees at his position score a touchdown.
Kelce smiled late in the second quarter and leaped into the air to chest bump Noah Gray, the second-year tight end who scored a rushing touchdown. In the third quarter, Kelce raised his arms in the air, signaling a touchdown, when Jody Fortson, the second-year tight end, crossed the goal line after making a short reception.
Monday night the Raiders (1-3) face the division’s best quarterback in Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who will provide their secondary its stiffest test of the season.
‘’He’s at such an elite status in terms of his ability to perform under pressure, make plays within the system,’’ Las Vegas defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. ‘’It’s a difficult challenge and I think our preparation for each week, we try to attack it brand new whoever the opponent is and try to see what they do best, how can we take it away, who are they going to in certain situations?’’
With the Chiefs (3-1) and Mahomes, the Raiders are presented with numerous issues that are sure to challenge a secondary that has the slimmest margin for errors.
Mahomes, who ranks seventh in the league with 1,106 yards passing, is tied for first with 11 passing touchdowns, alongside Detroit’s Jared Goff and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson. He has 2,546 yards passing in eight career games against the Raider, more than he’s accumulated against any other opponent.
‘’He’s getting comfortable, he’s getting older, he’s getting wiser,’’ veteran safety Duron Harmon said about Mahomes. ‘’He knows where he wants to go with the football. He’s doing a good job of getting the ball out quick. Even when it’s dropped back, he just knows where he wants to go with the ball. This is a young quarterback who has continued to grow year after year, game after game.’’
The evolution of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been a process to behold.
Mahomes has reinvented his game before our eyes, morphing — out of necessity — from a quick-strike superstar to one of the NFL’s truly patient performers. And, most importantly, the Chiefs have remained among the league’s elite teams while Mahomes, coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy developed a new formula.
The Chiefs’ offense is much different from the one Mahomes took charge of during his record-setting second season in the NFL, and it’s certainly less pleasing aesthetically for fans of long passes. But the object is to win games — and the Chiefs still look great in that area.
Kansas City (3-1) is atop the AFC West Division, which it has won the previous six seasons. Mahomes is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes (11), ranks first in Total QBR (82.3) and second in passer rating (108.4).
“I am all about bringing recognition and showing love to the big boys up front,” said Chiefs guard Trey Smith via email.
Smith is one of two big boys promoting his brand through a new t-shirt.
In June of 2022, Charlie Hustle, the Kansas City t-shirt company, reached out to Brian Bradtke, the marketing representative for Smith and center Creed Humphrey.
In previous years Charlie Hustle had customized popular t-shirts of Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and Mecole Hardman.
Humphrey was a logical choice after 610 AM Sport Radio posted a video last year, promoting Humphrey for Offensive Rookie of the Year, to the tune of the 1999 song “Higher” by the band Creed.
As part of that social media push, the #CreedIsGood slogan, which is a play on words of Gordon Gekko’s famous line from Wall Street, went viral.
Because of the fanfare around that campaign, Charlie Hustle first inquired about Humphrey but quickly realized that Smith, who lines up next to Humphrey on the right side, would be great for a t-shirt collection as well.
Smith’s shirt has a drawing of him holding of a stack of flapjacks with the slogan: “Pancake Specialist.”
Really excited about my collaboration with @CharlieHustleCo! While y’all are there check out the @creed_humphrey shirt as well! ( @B2Bradtke )#ThePancakeSpecialist #B2#VictoryMonday https://t.co/zeaVLpkr7n— Trey Smith (@treysmith) October 3, 2022
“The pancake block is the ultimate end goal for offensive linemen,” Smith said.
Around the NFL
The NFL’s players union said Friday it has agreed to changes to the concussion protocols and wants the revisions in place for Sunday’s games.
The NFL did not commit to the union’s timeline but said it agrees that changes to the concussion protocols are necessary.
Tagovailoa, 24, was hit and appeared woozy during a Sept. 25 game against the Bills but later returned to the field. He was allowed to play in a game against the Bengals four days later and was stretchered off the field with what the team said is a concussion.
“Our union has agreed to change the concussion protocols to protect players from returning to play in the case of any similar incident to what we saw on September 25,” the NFL Players Association’s board and executive committee said.
“We would like these changes to go into effect before this weekend’s games to immediately protect the players and hope the NFL accepts the change before then as well,” the union, known as the NFLPA, said.
The NFL said in a statement that it agreed changes need to be made, but it made no mention of changes by this Sunday when the next games occur.
Love him or hate him, the increasingly disastrous 2022 Broncos season falls directly at the feet of head coach Nathaniel Hackett. No different than his (fired) predecessors, Hackett bears chief responsibility for Denver’s disappointing record and an offense that can’t be described as anything other than broken.
While general manager George Paton has given zero indication Hackett’s job is insecure — Paton handpicked him only nine months ago, after all — there exists a sentiment among NFL circles that perhaps the former Packers assistant already warrants the figurative axe.
“I’d give him one more week, maybe two. Otherwise, this season’s over before it even started,” an NFC executive told The Score’s Jordan Schultz.
Don’t listen to whatever the Panthers say publicly or privately about this; if you’re a sinking ship with a reset inevitable at quarterback and/or head coach, you take offers for anyone — even the guy you’re paying big bucks to play a mostly replaceable position. Yes, they’re a better team with McCaffrey as a safety valve out of the backfield, but they also have bigger holes that his departure could help fill. Even with an increasingly worrisome medical track record, McCaffrey could still fetch a decent haul as a two-time All-Pro who just turned 26. The Panthers, meanwhile, would save at least $35 million from 2023-2025 by parting ways.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Opponent Scout: Raiders’ Davante Adams will get a chance to take over the game
For the vast majority of the snaps, the same players are used in each formation. Wide receivers Davante Adams and Mack Hollins have both played over 92% of the team’s snaps, with Hollins primarily as an outside receiver and Adams moving all over the formation. The slot receiver in 11 personnel is always Hunter Renfrow. While he has missed the last two games with a concussion, he was a full participant in Thursday’s practice.
Dynamic tight end Darren Waller will be featured, but they also have a solid second tight end: Foster Moreau. He missed Week 4 with a knee injury. Starting running back Josh Jacobs is one of the most heavily-utilized backs in the league, currently taking 89% of the entire backfield’s carries.
Davante Adams has 22 more tgts than any other Raiders player— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) October 7, 2022
Carr will force him the ball in any single-coverage situation, and they beat Surtain on a couple backshoulders last week
Fenton/Watson will be challenged plenty on the perimeter #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/1HmBgBQHG5
Adams hogs the target share, with 22 more targets than anyone else on the team. When Carr recognizes him in any sort of single coverage, he will force the ball to him in a variety of ways. For opposing defenses, the most dangerous of these may be the back-shoulder throws on outside vertical patterns.