As the week began, Mark Gunnels covered the latest hot takes about the Kansas City Chiefs.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be benched by Week 10
CEH will be benched by week 10 and Derrick Gore will be the starter— Gavin Lane (@GavinLaneFB) May 24, 2022
This is why I love this series: because we get takes like this one.
I understand the issues about Edwards-Helaire. But unless injuries occur, there’s no way he’ll be benched for Derrick Gore.
In limited carries, Edwards-Helaire actually ran the ball very well in the playoffs. He averaged over seven yards a carry on 13 touches during his two postseason games.
Another thing to keep in mind is that he is a first-round pick. The Chiefs are going to do everything in their power to get the most out of him. That’s just how the game works.
Lastly, if anyone replaces him, it will be free-agent acquisition Ronald Jones.
On Tuesday, Ron Kopp dug into the film for the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout that the Kansas City quarterback has highlighted after OTA sessions.
“He’s got out here these first two days and has had some great days,” said Mahomes. “We have a lot of guys in that receiving room that if they don’t make our team, they’ll make other teams. We have a lot of talent in that room; we have reps like this where we’re rotating a lot of different receivers in, you get to see the guys step up and make plays.”
With all the names competing for one or two spots in the receiving corps, any positive comment from the quarterback throwing them the ball should be listened to — and Mahomes’ comments on Watson were more than just throwaway lines or coach speak.
With special-teams impact being very important for the bottom of the depth chart at wide receiver, Watson’s NFL experience there may give him the edge over rookies or other veteran players that aren’t expected to contribute on special teams.
With all that considered, Watson might be the quiet favorite of the group.
The former Chiefs wide receiver raised eyebrows when a promotional Tweet for his new podcast (coming on June 10) put forth the idea that Kansas City had “suppressed his stats.”
As our Brandon Kiley quickly metioned on Twitter, Hill finished the season with 160 targets (seventh in the NFL) and 111 receptions (third in the NFL). He also finished with 10 or more targets in four of the last seven games he played as a Chiefs receiver (including the postseason). In two of the games without 10 or more targets, he played in 42% of offensive snaps or less.
It has to be said: the idea that head coach Andy Reid or quarterback Patrick Mahomes colluding to surpress Hill’s stats is outright preposterous. The Chiefs have mantained they wanted to keep Hill until the wide receiver market exploded, upon which they changed plans in favor of team flexibility.
On top of that, the Chiefs wound up trading Hill, a Plan-B option that they always were considering if it came to it. In the case of a trade, wouldn’t the Chiefs want Hill’s production to be as great as possible? That way he might be worth — let’s say, y’know — five future draft picks?
But hey. That’s the beauty of the teaser — it’s show biz, baby!
Then Ron Kopp began a summer series covering how we could expect the Chiefs’ offense to adapt to Hill’s absence.
Different passing concepts
At the beginning of the Mahomes era, defenses didn’t respect the Chiefs’ offense as much as they do now — meaning they were much more willing to take chances in man coverage or with one or fewer safeties over the top. Over the years, defenses progressively got more conservative — primarily to counter the lethal, big-play combination that Mahomes and Hill represented.
Last year, opponents took it to an extreme.
Defenses have adjusted to slow down the Chiefs explosive offense this season, aligning with two high safety shells and light boxes at an outlier rate.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 3, 2021
Defenses vs KC (2021)
72% two high shell rate (BUF: 57%, 2nd)
81% light box rate (PIT: 70%, 2nd)#ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/BNbaFzHtLs
On top of the soft coverage meant to prevent deep passes, teams also played very little man coverage when Hill was on the field. More complex defenses (like the New England Patriots’) would double-team Hill in man — but most of the time, his presence resulted in traditional Cover 2 or 4 zone coverage.
Without Hill, defenses may not be as fearful of being beaten over the top, which will make them feel more comfortable about deploying press-man coverage — even though the Chiefs will still have legitimate speed threats like Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. This could lead Kansas City to use more man-beating passing concepts — which typically lead to big plays more often than zone-coverage concepts usually do.
Wednesday closed with a recap of everything that went down as Mahomes and the Buffalo Bills’ young quarterback lost their widely-publicized celebrity golf match to the signal-callers from the Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers.
Hole 11: On a par 4, Rodgers continued great drives by landing a ball in the middle of a narrow fairway. Mahomes hit his ball just left of the fairway. Allen’s second shot appeared to hit a member of the crowd (again), then smacked off the crowd member and onto the green. Mahomes’ approach shot looked to be close to the hole, but it rolled down a hill, setting up a tougher shot. Brady and Rodgers both had better approach shots. Mahomes’ birdie putt rolled over the hole, and he missed his par try. Allen parred the hole. Brady just missed his birdie chance, so the players went to the final hole tied. EVEN
Hole 12: On the par 3, Rodgers got his ball on the green and close to the pin, so Brady opted to take his mulligan — which splashed into the water near the hole. Mahomes splashed his first ball, so he used his mulligan. Mahomes’ second ball hit the green, but it made for an extremely long putt, which Allen almost made. The duo settled for a par, setting up Brady and Rodgers each having a chance for the win. After the Brady miss, Rodgers sunk the putt to win “The Match.” Brady/Rodgers WIN 1UP
On Thursday, we revisited this week’s Arrowhead Pride “Out of Structure” podcast, in which Ron and Matt Stagner had a back-and-forth about some of the position battles we’ll be talking about all summer.
Roster spots available: one or two
Established players: Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ronald Jones II
In recent history, the Chiefs have typically kept three running backs to start the season. However, there were four running backs in the rotation down the stretch of 2021. We identified three players competing for those one or two spots:
Seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco
Undrafted free agent Jerrion Ealy
Ron’s thoughts: I would actually give Gore the nod to be the third member of the position group — but I am predicting the Chiefs will keep four running backs. It would make sense for Kansas City to value the player that can best fill in on passing downs. The other three backs either aren’t known for their work there (Jones) or don’t have a lot of experience on in those situations.
Matt’s thoughts: Pacheco was not only the fastest running back in the draft, but one of the best in pass protection. He’s someone who could compete for passing-down action — along with having the potential to return kicks. Speaking of returners, Jerrion Ealy has some serious special-teams chops; he was named an All-SEC performer. Whether he’s on the running back depth chart or even part of the receiver group — he’s the only guy listed as both — he’s one to watch.
Chiefs’ defensive line coach impressed with George Karlaftis, has lofty expectations for Frank Clark and Chris Jones
Following Thursday’s OTA session at the Chiefs’ practice facility, a number of Kansas City assistant coaches — including new defensive line coach Joe Cullen — took a turn fielding questions from local beat reporters.
“There’s been a lot of great guys that have come out of Purdue,” Cullen explained. “The motor just kept showing up the more we all watched him. It’s only even been better. Coach talked about slowing him down. He’s a throwback — he’s old school, goes hard every single play he’s on the field. He wants to get better in everything he does. I’m just really excited that we have him here.”
Whether Cullen’s first season in Kansas City is a success likely depends on Karlaftis’ development and the performance of existing starters Frank Clark and Chris Jones. Clark’s production continued to decline in his third season in Kansas City.
Jones began last season with an ultimately fruitless move outside as an EDGE defender before moving back inside to defensive tackle. Cullen left no doubt about where he sees Jones’ best fit.
“I think when Chris is on his game, there’s not a better defensive tackle in the NFL,” Cullen claimed. “There will be different spots where he’ll move around within the nature of the scheme. I’m excited to get him in here and get rolling.”
The reporters did their best to determine if there has been any friction between the new quarterbacks coach — who has spent the last four years as head coach of the Chicago Bears — and the offensive coordinator.
Reid said that Nagy and Bieniemy like and respect each other.
“I think that the respect that the guys have for each other is the main thing,” he said. “I could tell you that there’s no friction, jealousies or any of that going on. I didn’t think it would [happen] — and it hasn’t. They like each other, which helps.”
Reid then pointed out that for NFL coaches, there are what he called “tight spots” on almost a weekly basis — and that sometimes, those can be the cause of fiction within a coaching staff. But he said that’s never been the case with Nagy and Bieniemy.
“There’s never been any friction there,” he said. “I would tell you that it’s been positive since they’ve been together — in whatever role.”
“Nags is my guy,” declared Bieniemy. “Me and Nags stayed in contact the whole time he was a head coach in Chicago. So it’s been great having him back here. Obviously, he’s been a great ear with him having the experience here. Obviously, a lot of things that we’ve done, he’s familiar with [them]. So it’s been fun [and] it’s been exciting. Every day, we talk about something different — whether it was his experience as a head coach or our families interacting and doing things together. So it’s been good — a homecoming.”
We also heard from wide receivers coach Joe Bleymaier, who addressed the No. 1 question since Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins.
“Yeah, big shoes to fill.” acknowledged Bleymaier. “I don’t know if one guy can do it, but the collective and the guys that we brought in just starting from scratch and teaching everybody, what we do, and how we do it.
“I think the story still to be written about how we fill that gap.”
Bleymaier said the Chiefs would try to emphasize each player’s strengths and let his performance decide how they fit into the offense, instead of trying to force a certain player into a predetermined role.
“We’re still trying to figure that out as we go and let those guys kind of dictate where we go with it, as opposed to saying you’re one, two, and three and this is what you can do. We want them to show us and showcase their abilities. And then as they grow and get comfortable with our quarterbacks, with our offense, with the roles that they’ve kind of carved out, then we can narrow down and attack a defense.
“But right now, it’s just kind of everybody feeling it out and writing their own story.”