The Chiefs’ defensive rankings in four years with Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback: 24th, 14th, 18th, and 26th. This seems like another year where below-average defense is most likely, and mediocrity might be the ceiling.
The Chiefs have significant defensive turnover with players like safety Tyrann Mathieu, corner Charvarius Ward, and defensive tackle Jarran Reed gone from last year’s roster. They signed safety Justin Reid and used first-round picks on cornerback Trent McDuffie and defensive end George Karlaftis. Not to repeat myself for the 400th time, but it’s hard for rookies to come in and be impact players. For every Micah Parsons, there are a number of guys who struggle to become even competent starters right away.
Having said that, if Karlaftis is the exception, this pass rush could be really good, given that they have Chris Jones, Frank Clark, and Carlos Dunlap on the roster.
The secondary is a big question. The Chiefs ranked 25th against the pass last year. They are replacing Ward with McDuffie and Mathieu with Reid. It’s far from a guarantee that those moves represent upgrades.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs could get stung by a little bit of regression. Their defense was third in turnover EPA last year, and counting on those takeaways year to year is risky. Their defense was third in AGL, meaning they might need to count on backups more in 2022 if they don’t get the same injury luck.
There’s a scenario where Clark has a career year, and Karlaftis is a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. But short of that, this looks like a defense that will likely struggle.
30. George Karlaftis, EDGE, Chiefs
Karlaftis busted out the full pass-rush move arsenal against the Bears and was highly effective, registering three pressures on snaps in which he was tasked to get after the quarterback. He looked explosive and weaponized his arms well at the point of attack. Karlaftis won with a one-arm bull rush, an outside speed rush and a swim later in the game. He was washed out in a few instances against the run but altogether had a dandy debut.
Kansas City Chiefs: RB Ronald Jones
If you want to see a good example of how quickly things can change in the NFL, look at Ronald Jones’ fall from the second string to possibly being cut from the Kansas City Chiefs.
The team signed Jones to be Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s insurance policy after the former lost his starting job in Tampa Bay after 2020. Jones fits Kansas City’s heavy inside-zone approach, but the Chiefs have better complements to Edwards-Helaire.
The team unearthed a draft steal in former Rutgers rusher Isiah Pacheco. He fell to the seventh round after poor production zapped his draft stock. However, his excellent athleticism and receiving ability at 5’10”, 216 pounds make him a good fit as a role player in Andy Reid’s offense.
It’s hard to justify keeping Jones with a better receiving back in Pacheco and a more physical runner in Jerick McKinnon in tow. McKinnon was especially impressive when he filled in for Edwards-Helaire last year, showing toughness as he fought through contact. He energized the offense while on the field.
Jones is simply the odd man out. He should catch on elsewhere, but having a redundant skill set is a wasted roster spot for a Super Bowl contender.
And with that, Colin Cowherd, host of “The Herd,” said that the Chiefs’ four-time Pro Bowl QB understands “continuity” is the ingredient to sustaining a winning NFL program.
“Mahomes has figured it out,” Cowherd said. “You got to trust your GM. Patrick Mahomes does. You got to trust your coach to elevate players. Do you want to every couple years have new tight ends, new receivers, a new offensive coordinator, new players, or do you want continuity because we know continuity is what wins in sports?
“Continuity is what’s winning in sports. It’s the Warriors’ continuity, the Milwaukee Bucks’ continuity. You’re starting to look at the Rams, they’re really building continuity. Chiefs have continuity. What do you want? People want to be around winners. Take a little less, be a winning brand. … You win more in salary-cap leagues, when the star takes a little less.”
The CHIEFS are the modern-day equivalent of the Brady-Belichick Patriots: as long as Andy Reid is on the sidelines and Patrick Mahomes is under center, they can sleepwalk in the fall and still sniff the Super Bowl. With speedster Tyreek Hill going to the Dolphins via trade, however, the pressure is on No. 15 to elevate discount targets like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster, or perhaps feed tight end Travis Kelce to a record degree. That’s doubly the case considering they’re banking on instant results from rookies like George Karlaftis and Trent McDuffie to buoy a defense that’s had porous stretches.
QB2 — Patrick Mahomes (29): A scheme-transcendent quarterback — meaning he could function and produce in every system — Mahomes has logged 132.7 more fantasy points than any player in the league since 2018. He has also posted at least 37 touchdown passes and 60 rushing attempts in three of his four pro seasons as a starter. And we don’t really need to dive into the game tape here to see the talent. Mahomes is an elite player at the position. The arm strength stands out. There’s the natural movement skills, too. And his ability to go off script leads to more fantasy scoring opportunities. Remember, Mahomes will turn just 30 years old during the 2025 season, and I think you could make a case that he should be ranked ahead of Allen on the first team. — Bowen
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“It was just really giving us advice,” rookie receiver Samori Toure said Wednesday, via ESPN. “Basically, letting us know that the Green Bay receiving corps has always been held to a super-high standard. All the legends who have been through here. It’s just about us carrying on that standard and stepping up.”
Fellow rookie Romeo Doubs echoed Toure on Wednesday.
“He just wants us to see what he sees,” the fourth-round pick said. “So then that way we can be able to react faster, play faster and just be able to dominate and continue to be who we are.”
Ultimately, it’s best to view Rodgers’ words as constructive criticism. The Packers have experienced options at receiver in Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins and Allen Lazard, who Rodgers spoke highly of on Tuesday. They don’t need to solely rely on the likes of Doubs, Toure, Christian Watson and second-year wideout Amari Rodgers.
“I appreciate this about Aaron, the urgency to get some of this stuff corrected,” coach Matt LaFleur said, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.
What initially felt like discomfort for Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow turned into a more serious and pressing matter, he said Wednesday.
In his first news conference since his appendectomy on July 26, Burrow said his appendix ruptured, which prompted surgery. The third-year player will continue his progress on Wednesday when he participates in team drills at practice for the first time since the procedure.
It’s part of the plan to get Burrow ready for the start of the regular season on Sept. 11.
Burrow said he is looking to add weight and return his body to its pre-surgery form ahead of the team’s Week 1 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He said he is not expecting to play in the preseason. “I think it will be OK,” Burrow said. “We have a good plan as far as nutrition and weight room and all that stuff. I feel good right now and just going to keep feeling better.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The first-team defense did allow one big play: a 26-yard completion on a vertical route that featured the wide receiver leaping over cornerback L’Jarius Sneed to make the catch. The third-down completion was a buzzkill — and was the very type of play that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is now working hard to prevent.
“What I’m always looking at is big plays,” Spagnuolo explained to reporters after Tuesday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. “When the passes get deep like that, it puts everybody on their heels and it can lead to points allowed — which is our No. 1 goal [to prevent]. There were some things in this past game that we need to clean up from a standpoint of long pass plays.”
But that particular play was negated by the sack, run-stuff and batted pass at the line that followed it, resulting in zero additional yards — and a punt.
So the starting defense still eventually suffocated Chicago’s first team offense — but that one big play still got them into Kansas City territory and nearly into field-goal range, demonstrating how those long pass plays can ruin all the other work a defense might put in.
A tweet to make you think
QB cap hits in the AFC West:— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 17, 2022
$35.8M - Patrick Mahomes (#2 in NFL)
$24.0M - Russell Wilson (#8)
$19.4M - Derek Carr (#11)
$7.2M - Justin Herbert (#25)
LAC able to do much more w their roster thanks to Herbert's cap hit (lower than Trey Lance, Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson etc)