On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the up-and-coming Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs looked every part of the heavyweight champ as they defended their home turf, winning 27-17 to move their record to 7-2.
Here are five things we learned from the game.
1. Prince Tega Wanogho has earned a chance to be the starting right tackle
For the Chiefs, the tackle position has been an issue all season. Orlando Brown Jr. has not been living up to the payday he wants, while Andrew Wylie has looked like a guard who is doing his best to play tackle. So here’s the question that’s been lingering out there for a while: what about Prince Tega Wanogho?
Coming into Sunday, Wanogho’s Pro Football Focus grade of 81.3 was the highest for a Kansas City offensive tackle. Admittedly, that’s based on a very limited sample size — only 14 reps — but adding that to the fact that Jacksonville only managed to hit quarterback Patrick Mahomes four times on Sunday, you have to wonder if Wanogho might be the team’s best option on the right side — or at the least, he has earned his first career start against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11.
2. Kadarius Infinity Stoney makes this offense even more dangerous
With Mecole Hardman out on Sunday, there was a question about whether the Chiefs’ new wide receiver Kadarius Toney was ready to step in as Kansas Citys’s de facto go-to speed weapon. Toney gave a clear answer, catching four out of his five targets for 57 yards and a touchdown. While that was exciting in itself, it was even more exciting to see that he was able to seamlessly integrate into the offense. This isn’t a situation where the Chiefs have to manufacture touches for Toney. Instead, he fits into Kansas City’s existing offensive framework: spreading the ball around and creating yards after the catch.
Toney plays a lot bigger than he looks; he can high-point the ball at the catch point. He also has a little bit of that big dog in him; he takes the fight to the opponent. Toney’s addition may end up being the final infinity stone that unlocks the full power of the Chiefs’ offense.
3. The Chiefs' pass rush can be relentless
Coming into this Sunday’s game, the Kansas City defense had a total of 16 sacks in eight games. But then the defense tallied five sacks against the Jaguars.
Carlos Dunlap tallied his 100th career sack — a personal milestone that he had set for this seaspm. Chris Jones joined the party with 1.5 sacks of his own — and then Leo Chenal, Willie Gay Jr. and Khalen Sauders all pitched in with sacks.
Saunders’ sudden emergence as a pass-rushing threat might be the most shocking (and welcome) development. If Saunders is putting pressure on the quarterback — along with Jones, Dunlap (and Frank Clark when he returns in Week 11) — then the Chiefs might actually have a pass rush capable of making some noise down the stretch.
4. Trent McDuffie is the real deal
Sometimes you see the way a guy moves around on the football field and you just know that he is different. His reaction time seems to be faster; his positioning is better. Well before it happens, it seems like he knows what the opposing team is going to do.
This is the feeling I get when I watch McDuffie.
When you look at his box score from Sunday’s game it’s not that impressive: seven tackles (four solo) and two passes defended. But one of those passes was a deep shot down the line that would have been a huge gain had he not been there to break it up. The same goes for his tackles. Two of his them came on plays where he left his assignment to assist his teammates in stopping the ball carrier. His numbers are also suppressed by the fact that opposing teams are not throwing the ball in his direction.
Sunday was only his third game in the league. But it may be that with McDuffie’s selection, Kansas City general manager Brett Veach hit a home run.
5. The Chiefs’ special teams continue to be a train wreck
A special-teams unit cannot be fooled with an onside kick to start a game. To turn over the opening kick is terrible. To have it happen because the unit wasn’t prepared — and was caught with its pants down — is unforgivable.
It also appears that placekicker Harrison Butker was rushed back from injury too fast, which has made extra-point attempts become a roll of the dice. Add in that Jody Fortson fumbled a punt return just before halftime and you get a picture of an unprepared special-teams unit that lacks discipline.
This is no longer a case of putting the wrong guy out there to return punts. This is a complete and total failure by the coaching staff. This is Dave Toub’s 10th season as the Chiefs’ special-teams coordinator. It’s time to ask if it should be his last.