The week began with a new “Football Morning in America” column from NBC Sports analyst Peter King, which included one of his occasional power rankings. In this one, he ranked the Kansas City Chiefs third — behind the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers.
In his rundown for the Chargers, King notes that the Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles are the “two teams that attacked their needs better than any teams in this offseason.” He says that’s why they’re both in his top 10. (The Eagles rank ninth on his list).
We can agree that “winning the offseason” is a good thing. But it’s not the only thing. If there’s one NFL team that is the poster child for “winning the offseason” in recent years, it’s the Chargers. And yet, Los Angeles hasn’t even won the AFC West since 2009 — much less anything else.
Then our lead analyst Ron Kopp Jr. made a detailed evaluation of the former Iowa State Cyclone who could become a Chiefs contributor in 2022.
Rose had the versatility to make plays against the run and the pass both in and outside of the defensive box.
#Chiefs UDFA LB Mike Rose was a decorated college player. Big 12 POY in '20, The Athletic's first-team All-American that year as well— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 23, 2022
Played 3-4 OLB, widening as far as the slot a lot of times. His size didn't make it easy on TEs to deal with on the front of stretch runs pic.twitter.com/quxYoZ6xMk
His size never made him an easy block for tight ends or fullbacks on the front side of outside runs. His frame allows him to control the blocks with those kinds of players, but he has the athleticism to also move quickly around an oncoming blocker to force them back inside.
Rose appears to have a good feel for how to setup a blocker to miss in the run game, reading the ball carrier and putting himself in a good position to pounce last second at the ball carrier #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/hzb8BrMW1C— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 23, 2022
He does a good job getting the most of that athleticism by being an intelligent player at the point of a block. He looks to have a good feel for setting blockers up in the run game; on the front side of typical zone runs, the running back reads the helmet of that edge defender, knowing to cut up or outside depending on the leverage.
As the league’s spring meetings continued in Atlanta, Tuesday brought word that one of the things the owners were discussing was making changes to the league’s annual all-star game. Pete Sweeney reflected on the situation.
Far from the days of Derrick Johnson laying a hit on teammate Jamaal Charles, this past year’s game very quickly morphed from light tackling to straight-up two-hand touch. As a group, the Chiefs played rather poorly and it was somewhat of a waste of an afternoon for both players and spectators.
I’m just not sure we need the Pro Bowl (or its teams) at all. In the arc of a player’s career — especially when he is garnering consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame — making an All-Pro team weighs far more heavily. In Kansas City, we were recently able to witness this disparity with former Chiefs right tackle Mitch Schwartz, who was named an All-Pro four times but was never voted into a Pro Bowl.
If the game makes the league too much money to do away with altogether — which is likely the case — perhaps Rapoport’s suggestion, playing the game as it’s become (flag football) could work. Maybe the answer is — in the explosion of E-sports — just playing it out before a national audience on the latest version of Madden. How about doing the skills challenges live in primetime?
Then we brought you a Jordan Schultz report that one of Kansas City’s free agents had (finally) found a new home.
Williams, 27, first joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent out of LSU back in 2018. Due to various injuries to starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire in 2021, Williams touched the football 134 more times than he did in 2020 — leading to much greater production. Williams eclipsed the 1,000-scrimmage yard mark with 558 rushing yards and 452 receiving yards.
With Williams deciding he wanted to play elsewhere, the Chiefs pivoted, adding veteran Ronald Jones in free agency to a room that already included Derrick Gore. Then the Chiefs drafted seventh-rounder Isiah Pacheco and signed Jerrion Ealy as an undrafted free agent.
On Wednesday, the hype train for the undrafted free-agent wide receiver out of Clemson was in danger of coming completely off the tracks.
The official team Twitter account sent out a wild video of Ross making a one-handed catch, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes quickly quote-tweeted the clip (Mahomes also retweeted a pass to veteran wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster).
Then, tight end Travis Kelce quote-tweeted Mahomes with his take on Ross’ catch.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid noted Ross was “knocking the rust off” at Chiefs minicamp after his 2021 college season ended early due to a foot injury — and Ross missed the 2020 season due to spinal surgery.
Also on Thursday: John Dixon laid out the case for why the Chiefs’ former first-round pick should get more respect.
For Edwards-Helaire, that “as long as he remains healthy” qualifier has been the main problem. Projected over a full season, the running back might have earned more than 1,300 yards scrimmage yards (including nearly 1,000 rushing yards) in his rookie season, along with around 1,100 yards (including nearly 900 on the ground) in his second year.
Even with first-round expectations (which might not be fair, but are nonetheless part of NFL life), it’s likely that few fans (or analysts) would have quibbled much with that production — especially in a Reid offense with Mahomes under center. It’s just that it didn’t happen — and the two costly fumbles in Weeks 2 and 3 of last season did happen.
So to this point in his career, it’s entirely reasonable to be disappointed in what we have seen from Edwards-Helaire.
But that doesn’t make him a bust.
Even with what is a disappointing career arc to this point, Edwards-Helaire has provided an AV of 13 to the Chiefs. An AV of 4 in a given year is average — so through two seasons, he’s well above that.
While appearing on Brandon Marshall’s “I Am Athlete Tonight” SiriusXM program on Wednesday, the former Kansas City running back said that differences between himself and the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy were the reason he did not return to the team in 2020 — and that Bieniemy’s coaching style was preventing him from getting a head coaching job.
While reacting to McCoy’s comments during his press conference on Thursday, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid didn’t seem surprised.
“Sometimes it’s hard on a veteran player,” he noted. “Maybe their performance level isn’t what it used to be — and it’s hard to take [criticism] sometimes. [Bieniemy’s] going to push you to try to maximize what you’ve got. That’s one of his strengths.
“He’s no different than he is with you guys. He’ll come in and shoot you straight. Sometimes you want to hear it. Sometimes you don’t.”
But Reid — who is never interested in escalating a war of words — then made a point of saying how much he respects McCoy.
“I’m a big LeSean fan,” said Reid. “In my eyes, he’s a future Hall-of-Fame running back. If you look at it statistically, he’s tremendous. But he wasn’t the youngest pup in the kennel here. He was on the back side [of his career] — and sometimes that’s hard to take.”
Despite Pro Football Focus placing him at the bottom of their list of ‘all-around’ NFL safeties on Thursday, the former Houston Texans player made it clear that he’s enjoying his experience with the Chiefs.
“You’ve got guys coming from all over the place,” Reid said of Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s coverage schemes. “Coverage spinning in different directions. This is undoubtedly going to be the most fun defense I’ve played in so far.”
He elaborated on what he found fun about his new system.
“You get to do a little bit of everything,” he explained. “You aren’t just playing deep. You get to play man coverage, you get to play zone coverage, you get to blitz inside, you get to blitz outside, you get to do spin coverages. Sometimes, the linebackers and safeties trade responsibilities. Corners and safeties trade responsibilities. Guys going all over the place — and it’s really hard to get a read.”
We closed out the week with the star tight end’s reaction to San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle’s statement that Kelce (and some others at the position) are underpaid.
Even though Kelce is signed to the second-biggest contract among NFL tight ends based on total value, he has only the sixth-highest guaranteed-money figure. So while he has good reason to request an extension and re-work his deal to make up for it, that’s not the priority for Kansas City’s longest-tenured offensive veteran.
“I appreciate Kittle saying that, ‘cause that’s my guy, and he always wants to see every tight end get paid as much as their production is,” Kelce acknowledged. “But at the same time, I signed my contract understanding what I had... I put a lot into this. Money in my mind is almost secondary at this point in my career. I’m here for the legacy — and I’m here to make the Kansas City Chiefs the best team possible.”