Buy, Sell, Hold
This series will take a closer look at the storylines from the game to weigh their accuracy. Every game produces narratives surrounding specific players, plays and schemes, and game plans that most affected the game’s outcome. When they fit the facts, that conclusion will be a "Buy", meaning it’s an accurate conclusion and we might want to see more of that player or scheme in the future. When the storyline fails to match the facts, or just fails, then it should be "Sold". A "Hold" is a wait and see because it’s still too early to form an accurate conclusion. Let’s see if this week’s storylines hold water!
Chris Jones for defensive MVP: If it wasn’t for Jaylen Watson’s incredible interception, everyone would be talking about Chris Jones even more than they already are. It’s time to buy the narrative that Chris Jones is going to have a career year. Who needs to see more games? Jones has a history of being a dominant force on the D-line, and it’s clear he’s focused this year.
Justin Watson needs more deep shots: After what Mahomes was saying about Watson during the offseason, after what we saw in preseason games, and after that beautiful route and catch for a huge touchdown against J.C. Jackson in this game, it’s time to take the training wheels off this offense and let it fly downfield to Watson. There are two narratives here: 1) that the Chiefs offense was conservative in this game and 2) that Justin Watson can help re-establish the big play. Both are buys. First, the Chiefs offense has undoubtedly lacked big plays. Second, certain receivers have an often undefinable skill for catching deep balls. Tyreek Hill is one. Mecole Hardman is not one. Justin Watson appears to have that something, a timing with quarterback and ability to track the deep ball, that makes him an excellent candidate to help open back up the Chiefs offense. Let’s do it!
Patrick Mahomes is lucky: Anyone else tired of hearing about how Mahomes should have had more interceptions in a game and just keeps getting lucky? In this game specifically, Chargers’ players got their hands on a couple balls. The storyline says they should have been interceptions. Why should they? Defensive players typically drop five of those balls for every one they catch. Am I the only person who saw the Chiefs defenders come close to intercepting Herbert? I’m looking at you Willie Gay! There have been enough of these near interceptions by Mahomes that it’s safe to conclude there’s something he’s doing right, even on the poor throws, that is making intercepting his passes very difficult—except when one of his own players (*cough* Tyreek) tips the ball into the air.
Chiefs should run the ball more: Sell this narrative every time it appears. Looking at this game specifically, the stat line suggests the Chiefs ran the ball well. Watch the game again and you’ll see clearly this conclusion doesn’t hold water. To run the ball well means consistently getting chunk plays on runs. Other than the 50-yard by Helaire, Chiefs were pounding their heads against a wall. This isn’t the Chiefs identity and, like in this game, a game plan focused on running the ball clearly hamstrings the offense rather than opening it up. Andy Reid’s and Patrick Mahomes’ greatest strengths are passing the ball. That’s when this offense purrs. Attack! Attack! Attack!
Jaylen Watson should start: Arguably the biggest storyline from the game is Jaylen Watson’s incredible pick six in the fourth quarter that undoubtedly led to a Chiefs victory. The reason Jaylen Watson is a hold is because it’s way too early to hand him a starting job and replace Rashad Fenton, as some fans have been pounding the table for. That was a season-defining play, but it’s prudent to wait and see how consistently Watson plays moving forward before increasing his snaps in such a crucial position as Corner.
Referees missed a lot of calls: This is interesting narrative for this game. Typically, it says the Chiefs got the advantage and one because of two missed calls, both on Mahomes interceptions. Yes, these plays would have changed the momentum of the game, and perhaps the outcome. However, blaming the referees is for losers. Then, why is this a "Hold". Because the referees did miss a lot of calls. Watching the game again and, looking specifically at the referees’ role in the game, you’ll see they did, in fact, miss a lot of calls. But not concerning the interceptions. They allowed a lot of holding by offensive linemen. First, there were few penalties in the game— we’re always grateful for that—but there were some egregious holds on defensive linemen that didn’t get called. The Chargers offensive linemen adapted themselves to this latitude much quicker than their Chiefs counterparts. You’ll see this is one factor in the reason why the game flipped from the Chargers dominating the first half and the Chiefs taking back control in the second half. The amount of holding calls is definitely something to monitor the rest of the season to see if this is an area referees are going to let go more often. Let’s hope so!