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Arrowheadlines: an imperfect Mahomes leads the Chiefs to victory

Chiefs headlines for Friday, September 16

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The latest

NFL trade aftermath, regret and second-guessing: How teams move on after franchise-altering moves, including Chiefs and Tyreek Hill | ESPN

The decision to trade Hill wasn’t easy for Veach and the Chiefs. Hill was their leading wide receiver in each of his six pro seasons. He accounted for 25% of the targets from quarterback Patrick Mahomes last season, the 12th-highest team share in the league per NFL Next Gen Stats, and caught a Chiefs-record 111 passes. And his 4,854 receiving yards since 2018 are fourth-most in the NFL.

But the Chiefs reasoned through it. Hill was headed into the final season of his contract in 2022, and both sides were negotiating toward an extension when the market for wide receivers exploded, causing the Chiefs to rethink sinking big money on a 28-year-old receiver. They considered trading Hill for days, but the move ultimately came together quickly, with Hill choosing the Miami Dolphins over the other finalist, the New York Jets. The Chiefs had ultimately come to the conclusion that what they could get in return — five draft picks plus plenty of salary cap space that would allow for future moves — was too rich for them to pass up.

Justin Herbert injured as mistakes doom Chargers in loss to Chiefs | LA Times

“You’re not going to see a quarterback at any level of football play tougher and do more for their team and will their team to give them a chance than him,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “Nobody can do what he can do. Nobody.”

Herbert suffered a rib injury, according to the Chargers, and underwent initial tests at Arrowhead Stadium. The team had no update upon departing for the return trip to Southern California.

Trailing 27-17, Herbert led the Chargers to a touchdown with 1:11 remaining despite moving gingerly and holding his left arm in position to protect his ribs. He left the field upon the game’s conclusion in obvious pain.

“He showed us a lot of guts,” Staley said. “He showed us what he does every day, that we’re never out of the fight. He brought us back and gave us a chance.”

2022 NFL season, Week 2: What We Learned from Chiefs’ win over Chargers on Thursday | NFL.COM

Mahomes did just enough. The Chargers took the judicious route in defending Mahomes (unlike the Cardinals in Week 1), rushing four most often, playing coverage and making the Chiefs beat them with a thousand paper cuts. The strategy mostly worked, as the Chiefs really only flourished on two long drives and Mahomes was mostly held in check. They were burned on one of their selective pressures when Mahomes hit Justin Watson on a 41-yard TD, beating J.C. Jackson in his first game as a Charger. But Mahomes called it “an ugly win” more than once on the Prime Video postgame show, and for good reason. The Chargers didn’t force a turnover but could have had three picks. Samuel should have had a pick-six on a line-drive throw near the Chargers’ goal line at the end of the third, dropping an interception for the second week in a row. Mahomes had a pick wiped out in the first half on a questionable illegal contact penalty — and they eventually converted that into six points. Kyle Van Noy also had his hands on a late pass that could have been picked. Mahomes barely even looked to scramble. It was a weird outing, but it had the feeling of Michael Jordan on an off day: He’s still better than you are and will find ways to win. The TD passes went to Jerick McKinnon and Justin Watson. Travis Kelce had a quiet night by his standards. Andy Reid was a bit passive on some game-management decisions. The Chargers played well enough defensively to win. But Mahomes did enough to overcome all that.

Jaylen Watson: First Career INT Was ‘Surreal Feeling’ | Arrowhead Report

Watson, who spent some time in coverage against Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams and didn’t put out tremendous tape in those situations, finished the contest with four tackles and some otherwise respectable reps in coverage. With the game tied in the fourth quarter, Watson jumped a Justin Herbert pass, picked it off and took it 99 yards back the other way for a touchdown. After the game, Watson recalled how his first career takeaway and touchdown unfolded.

“Me and Justin (Reid), we worked together and the ball just ended up in my chest and I took it home,” Watson said. “It was a surreal feeling. [I’m] just so grateful and blessed to be in this position . . . it’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

Why the Patrick Mahomes-Justin Herbert showdown on Amazon will produce paltry viewership | The Athletic

Look for viewership for Thursday Night Football, despite featuring marquee quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Justin Herbert of the Chargers, to fall off a cliff. That’s because the NFL’s great experiment with moving an entire game package to streaming launches Thursday night on Amazon Prime (Prime did show a preseason game; more on that below).

The NFL is well aware the numbers will pale by comparison, but just how much will they shrink? And is the league ready for the inevitable stories on social media of fans griping about not finding the game and why it’s not on a network?

TNF averaged about 16 million viewers per game last year on Fox, and Amazon has told advertisers to expect 12.5 million comparable viewers. Experts scoff at that and expect a number half that, if not lower.

“Last year, they had an exclusive game, I think it was Week 16, Cardinals, Niners. It was rumored to have done 4.8 million,” said Daniel Cohen, Octagon’s executive vice president global media rights consulting. “I think with all the marketing that goes into it, they can get closer to six this year.”

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in attendance for Chiefs vs. Chargers ‘Thursday Night Football’ game | Chiefs Wire

The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers are set to face off on the first “Thursday Night Football” game of the season in Week 2. It also happens to be the NFL’s debut game on Amazon Prime Video, which is the new home of “Thursday Night Football.” The Chiefs have a special guest in the house because of this fact.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is in the house and chopping it up on the sidelines with fans, celebrities and players ahead of the game. KSHB-TV’s Aaron Ladd captured a photo of him taking a picture and signing autographs with some fans.

Some Chiefs players seemed to take notice of Bezos’ presence on the sideline too. They seemed pretty excited to be sharing the field with him.

Around the NFL

RB Index, Week 2: Saquon Barkley is BACK! Plus, my top 15 running backs after Week 1 | NFL.COM

Barkley preached all preseason long about how good he felt after being plagued by injuries over the last three seasons, missing 21 games since the start of the 2019 campaign. I was skeptical at first, ranking him in the bottom half of my annual RB1 rankings at the beginning of August, but started to come around and believe in the fifth-year back again by September. And boy, did he make good on his word in Week 1.

Barkley put on a clinic in Sunday’s win and ran to the tune of 164 yards, a Giants’ season-opening record and the most rushing yards of any player in Week 1. Despite never having the lead until the final minute, this pesky New York team hung around and chipped away at Tennessee’s lead in the second half, thanks in large part to Barkley’s 12-carry, 122-yard effort over the final two quarters. Barkley also put the cherry on top of the Giants’ late-game rally by converting a Daniel Jones shovel pass when first-year head coach Brian Daboll elected to go for two and the lead late.

Denver Broncos need Randy Gregory, defense to build on positive moments from loss to Seattle Seahawks | ESPN

Gregory, the former Dallas Cowboys pass-rusher who signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Broncos this past March, had shoulder and knee surgeries after the 2021 season. As a result, the Broncos held him out of all of the offseason football functions and kept him on a limited snap count in training camp, as well as the preseason.

First-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett kept saying all that mattered about Gregory’s recovery was readiness for Week 1.

“[Gregory] was huge,” said Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, who had two sacks. “You saw him on the first drive, he pushed [rookie tackle Charles Cross] back and got into the lap of Geno [Smith] and kind of set the tone for me and for us as edge rushers.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Tom Brady anger goes well beyond ‘MF’er’ theory | NY Post

Tom Brady has been “pissing off” Ryan Fitzpatrick since the former quarterback played for the Bills over a decade ago.

During an appearance on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast, Fitzpatrick said Brady showed him “zero respect” during their matchups through the years. The ex-QB — who is now an analyst for Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” coverage on Prime Video — recalled facing Brady and the Patriots on a number of occasions during his stints with the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins.

“I’ve told this story before, but he just pisses me off. Because you’re in Buffalo, you’re playing New England, they’re kicking our ass every single year they’re beating us,” Fitzpatrick said. “We finally in 2011 knocked them off. It was right at the beginning of the season. We had this great start and he threw five interceptions in the game, which was just wonderful to see every single one of them. Just wonderful to see.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots talks with Ryan Fitzpatrick of the New York Jets after the Patriots defeat the Jets 41-3 at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016, in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

“And (Brady would) run straight off. Like, no handshake, no quarterback middle of the field, no, ‘Where are the cameras? OK, hey, stay healthy buddy.’ Just ran straight off. So it bothered me so much because there was no respect there. Every time I played him after that, I was like ‘All right, let’s make this dude respect me.’”

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

The 5 NFL teams that admit they wanted Patrick Mahomes

Whether it was a gorgeous spotted trout you hooked during a fishing trip — or your high-school sweetheart who went off to college and fell in love with a guy named Thad — most of us have a story about the one that got away.

Now imagine that the trout was Moby Dick and your high school girlfriend was Kate Upton. Your soulmate — the answer to all of life’s troubles — was within your grasp.

And you let it slip away.

So you’re forced to go through life with a pain deep in your gut. There is no consolation prize. Instead, there is only an unrelenting longing for what could have been.

This is how I imagine every NFL general manager who did not draft Patrick Mahomes in 2017 feels each morning when they get out of bed and look at the mirror.

Luckily for Kansas City Chiefs fans, we don’t have to worry about any of this. We drafted the love of our lives.

Back in 2018, the late, great Terez Paylor wrote about the Chiefs’ covert operations (and their courting of Mahomes) during the months leading up to the draft

A tweet to make you think

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