So, our Kansas City Chiefs have finally found their identity on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs have stars that are beginning to emerge all over and their investment in young players is now beginning to pay dividends. There have been many valid criticisms throughout the course of the year but it looks like the players are finally settling in and the coaches are finding their groove. The one exception is the Special Teams unit that has struggled mightily this year but that is probably attributable to the massive turnover during the last offseason. There is still seven games left and Toub is a great and well respected coach who is more than capable and has fielded some of the best Special Teams units in the NFL for almost two decades. But for now, let's take a look at some of the emerging stars whom some might refer to as "Bulls".
Isiah Pacheco ran against the Jaguars to the tune of 82 yards on 16 carries for 5.1 yards per carry. Unfortunately he did have a fumble during the game but at this point there is no cause for concern and the coaching staff seemed to share that sentiment as they went right back to him on the next possession.
Noah Gray is also now emerging as a reliable target and a "go-to-guy" for Mahomes which will only add more potency to an already formidable Offense. Chiefs fans were already clamoring for an emerging second Tight End in Jody Fortson but no one was really talking about Gray. He was a late round pick who had largely remained silent until the Tennessee game in which he grabbed an amazing athletic catch on a critical 3rd down in overtime that helped spur the Chiefs on to victory and then on Sunday's game against the Jaguars he grabbed one of Mahomes's four touchdowns that day and Gray's first receiving touchdown this season.
When Kadarius Toney arrived their was a mixed reaction from fans. Although Kadarius Toney was selected in the first round and showed some elite traits in his college film he had very little production in the NFL and came in with some injury concerns. No one really knew what to expect and some thought we might have made a mistake in trading away two draft picks (a 3rd rounder and a 6th rounder) for a potential bust. But the coaches surprised everyone and wasted no time in getting Toney involved in the Offense and he really showed what he was capable of in the Jaguars game as he netted 4 receptions on 5 targets for 57 yards and his first NFL touchdown.
Khalen Saunders has been a mixed bag since arriving in 2019. He has shown flashes of what he can do and has shown to be incredibly fast and very athletic for such a big man (6' 0" 324 lbs.) but he has also had to deal with injuries. It appears as though the light may have come on for Saunders this year as he has been a force in the Chiefs very stout run Defense and as an added dimension he has also contributed 2.5 sacks in the last 3 games. If he keeps this up not only will it create an almost unblockable front when paired with superstar Defensive Lineman Chris Jones, but it will make the Front Office's decision whether to try to re-sign him this offseason a very easy one.
The Chiefs' secondary is really coming into it's own. The Safety play has been somewhat average but the play from the Corners has been increasingly impressive especially considering that the Chiefs are fielding three rookies all at once. The only player with experience is L'Jarius Sneed. Jaylen Watson was the first to see the field and he really flashed some potential and his defining moment this season was when he grabbed a critical pick 6 near the endzone when the Chargers were about to score. Joshua Williams has also flashed and after a bit of a rough start he has settled in and he is an extremely physical tackler who tackles like a Safety. He also appears to be very sticky in coverage. Trent McDuffie had a rough start to his career missing 6 of the Chiefs 9 games played this year but since he has returned he has been very sticky in coverage and flashes superstar shut-down corner potential.
I would be remiss if I did not point out the great young players in the Linebacker corps. Bolton and Gay were already known and we have also seen that Darius Harris can be a solid back-up but there was some concern surrounding Linebacker Leo Chenal who was selected in the 3rd round of the last draft. But Chenal finally flashed some ability during the game against the Jaguars and picked up his first career sack.
And finally the Offensive Line, that has struggled most of the year looked incredible in what may have been their best game this year. They kept Mahomes clean and upright and at times Mahomes looked like he could have a picnic and then take a nap in the pocket created by the Linemen. The often maligned Orlando Brown Jr. had what might have been his best game as a Chief. They also excelled in run blocking for the Chiefs Running Backs and created some nice holes for them to get through.
Overall it looks like the Chiefs are rounding into form and we now have seven games to get healthy and gear up for the playoffs. The Chiefs now are in sole possession of first place in the AFC. With their destiny in their own hands and several young stars emerging on the team the sky is the limit for this team and they have the ability and experience to reach another AFC Championship and maybe even a Superbowl. They only have to follow our Superstar Quarterback and he will lead them all the way to the Big Dance.