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What we learned about the Chiefs this week

Taking a look at the week of July 4 on Arrowhead Pride...

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

Justin Reid says Chiefs want him to ‘command the back end’

After the July 4 holiday, we got back to business on Tuesday by covering a recent public appearance where the Kansas City Chiefs’ new safety said he thinks the team wants him to be a leader in the secondary.

“Absolutely. I think that’s the reason they brought me there: to command the back end,” Reid recently told Houston reporters (including Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson). “Not just be a leader by speaking, but to be a leader by example and to help those young guys on the roster develop in the players they’re capable of being.”

Reid is intimately familiar with the role Mathieu played for the Chiefs, having started a dozen games alongside him during his 2018 rookie season with the Texans.

“Tyrann, I’ll never forget his thing was a mentality and attitude, the work ethic and just playing with a savviness,” he said. “He called it ‘championship swagger’ — fall forward. His pregame speeches were second to none. He was a big leader in the room; he’s someone that everybody gravitated to. So when he did leave Houston, I kind of took over a little bit of that role by the precedent that he set.”

Creed Humphrey says 2022 Chiefs welcome new-look AFC West

The team’s starting center was also in the news, having discussed how the Chiefs feel about the improvements their division rivals have made in the offseason.

“It’s going to be extremely competitive, and we’re excited about it, for sure,” said Humphrey. “Everybody’s added some really good pieces and it’s going to be a blast. It’s a tough division already, and when they’ve added these pieces, it’s just going to be even tougher. And that’s fun for us. We embrace the competition, so we’re really excited about it. There will be some tough games, but you know if you’re coming out of there (the division), you have a chance to really be able to compete with anybody, so we’re really excited about it.”

5 Chiefs statistics from 2021 — and what they mean for 2022

Then Ron Kopp uncovered some numbers that can help us see what to expect in the coming season.

4. The Chiefs’ defense allowed the highest yards per possession and second-most yards per play

The unit ranked second-worst in rushing yards per attempt and fourth-worst in net passing yards per attempt.

While a fun stretch towards the end of the season — including two matchups against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger halfway out the door — made the defense’s overall performance easier to stomach, there were problems from Week 1 all the way to the bitter end.

It’s a big part of why there was so much defensive turnover this offseason. But sometimes, that’s all it takes to get a jump start. A new look — one with which opponents are less familiar — can naturally result in improved production; think of the team’s early years under defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. This can be especially true if some of the new players are upgrades over their predecessors. As a whole, we should expect the unit to improve.

Why Chiefs wide receiver Josh Gordon might not be on the roster bubble

On Wednesday, John Dixon reacted to ESPN Chiefs beat reporter Adam Teicher’s contention that the Kansas City wideout’s inability to play on special teams will make his roster spot insecure.

Teicher is being consistent: in his 53-man roster projection from June 21, Gordon’s absence was the headline. (At that time, he predicted five wideouts would make the team: Smith-Schuster, Valdes-Scantling, Hardman, Moore and Daurice Fountain). If the Chiefs decide to keep five wideouts on their initial 53-man roster, Teicher will probably be right: special-teams ability is likely to be a substantial part of the equation — and Gordon’s roster spot would certainly be at risk.

Nor is Teicher the only one who thinks so. On Wednesday, Spotrac listed Gordon among its NFL roster-bubble candidates.

However, under head coach Andy Reid, Kansas City typically goes into Week 1 with six wideouts. We’ll agree that Smith-Schuster, Valdes-Scantling, Hardman and Moore look like locks at the position. But with so much uncertainty surrounding such a critical position (especially in an offense led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes) it just doesn’t seem likely that this would be a position where Kansas City would choose to skimp. If the Chiefs decide to go with six, one of the last two could easily be a player who is not on special-teams coordinator Dave Toub’s pocket list.

Getting to know Chiefs rookie cornerback Joshua Williams

Then our Rookies Conversations podcast series continued with Stephen Serda’s interview of Fayetteville State co-defensive coordinator (and safeties coach) James Lott.

What should Chiefs fans know about Williams before they see him on the field?

Lott: “Just know that Josh is a very approachable, energetic young man. He has a lot to him that you won’t know unless you get to know him. He’s very eccentric in some of the things that he does, and he’s a hard worker. The biggest thing for Josh is, I think you’re going to see Josh compete all the time. I think there’s no task or no matchup or no game too big, where he doesn’t just pull from his inner energy and compete. So well before [fans] know him, they [should] know Josh is a guy who loves to compete, and he doesn’t have to talk a lot of trash. He just kind of backs it up as the game goes on.”

Chiefs Multiverse: Imagining Rich Gannon as the starting quarterback

Then Jared Sapp re-opened a can of worms: Kansas City’s decision to start recently-injured quarterback Elvis Grbac in the 1997 postseason.

A “what if” scenario with Gannon as Kansas City’s unquestioned starting quarterback has two main questions.

The first: what would have happened in the 1997 playoffs? With Gannon as the starter, the Chiefs were clearly playing more confident football down the stretch; it’s not hard to imagine that a Gannon-led Kansas City team could have won home playoff games against the Broncos and Steelers — both of which it had already defeated in Arrowhead that season. While it’s a bit harder to imagine the team defeating Brett Favre’s Packers in the Super Bowl, Gannon would have been capable of making the crucial late-game scrambles that Elway made to seal the victory.

The second question: what would have happened if the Chiefs — instead of signing Grbac — had simply passed the torch to Gannon in 1997? Could he have reached the same level of play he would later have in Oakland, where he was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and was twice named an All-Pro?

Given Schottenheimer’s conservative style, it’s probably unrealistic to think Gannon could have reached those heights in Kansas City. By the end of Schottenheimer’s tenure, the offensive staff had shown no signs of the creativity and innovation Gannon would find in then-Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. This was in spite of the fact that current Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy — who would later coach the Packers to victory in Super Bowl XLV — was serving as the Chiefs’ quarterback’s coach. A further example of the staff’s shortcomings was its inability to see the talent of depth receiver Joe Horn, who became one of the best players in football after signing with the Saints in 2000.

Chiefs’ Khalen Saunders shows true colors after fighting words are spoken

On Thursday, we had some fun with the big defensive tackle’s reaction to an Internet article saying that St. Louis is a better barbecue city than Kansas City.

Don’t misunderstand. Saunders wasn’t suggesting that he agreed with characterizing his hometown of St. Louis as the barbecue capital of the United States. In fact, a later tweet made it clear that as far as he was concerned, Jack Stack’s barbecue sauce is thicker than his Eastern Missouri blood.

Now there’s a barbecue opinion that Kansas Citians can get behind — although, as always, strong partisanship exists about the area’s best joints. (While I am in the minority, I am a long-time advocate for the Rosedale Barbecue on Southwest Boulevard. Your mileage may vary).

4 Chiefs become nominees to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Thursday also brought big news out of Canton, Ohio.

On Thursday, four former Kansas City Chiefs passed the first hurdle to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August of 2023: wide receiver Otis Taylor, head coach Marty Schottenheimer, general manager Carl Peterson and scout Lloyd Wells.

Taylor was nominated as a Senior candidate, while Schottenheimer, Peterson and Wells were nominated as Coach/Contributor candidates. A total of 25 Seniors candidates were named, along with 29 total Coach/Contributor candidates.

The Senior and Coach/Contributor selection committees will now pare these two lists to 12 candidates each before July 27. The Seniors committee will reduce that to three finalists on August 16, while the Coach/Contributor group will be reduced to one finalist on August 23. In most years, only one person from each group may become a finalist. However, under special rules, the Hall will allow three Senior finalists in 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Starting in 2023, all NFL games will be available through the Internet

Then we concluded the week with a report we have been expecting: that after this season, the NFL Sunday Ticket package will move from the DirecTV satellite to one of three Internet streaming services.

This is big news for two different reasons.

First, when Sunday Ticket becomes a streaming package, subscribers will be able to watch NFL games of their choosing on any kind of Internet-capable device — a television, computer, tablet or cellular phone — that will work during poor weather conditions; satellite services like DirecTV can fail during thunderstorms and snowstorms.

Second, Sunday Ticket will become less costly to obtain. While the price of the package itself will not be significantly less, the cost of the hosting service will be lower; Apple, Disney and Amazon subscriptions are less expensive than those for satellite TV.

The league is expected to make its new Sunday Ticket deal with one of the three streaming services this fall.