There’s a wrinkle in whatever the NFL does—Kansas City will use one of its home games in Germany in November, a game that would be televised in the U.S. at 9:30 a.m. ET, 6:30 a.m. PT. It’s not a premier window for a TV audience. The NFL traditionally does not schedule division games in Europe—30 of the 34 games in England and Germany have been non-division games—because most teams like to keep home-field edge in division games. It’s likely that the game Kansas City hosts in Germany (likely Frankfurt) will be against Detroit or Chicago, and possibly against Miami, but I’d think the NFL would want to hold Miami-KC as a doubleheader or primetime game because of its attractiveness. My bet for the Germany game: Detroit versus Kansas City in Frankfurt—because the league won’t want to risk exporting a 2-8 team (and Chicago just might be that) and a non-competitive game in a significant window. I’m not saying Chicago will be an also-ran by mid-November; I’m saying Detroit’s got a better chance of being a contender this year than Chicago does.
“I mean, we talked about it a little earlier in the week, saying they were liking the play and everything and it could be up early,” center Creed Humphrey said Friday. “Yeah, when we got the first 15, though, installed, and that was the first play, that got me fired up.”
The call: 36–37 Cut U EZ.
The concept: Old School.
The idea: Let the Eagles know what kind of game was coming.
The truth is, with what Reid, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, offensive line coach Andy Heck, assistant O-line coach Corey Matthaei and quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy had emphasized for two weeks, and the way practices had gone, hearing the call itself could be seen as simple affirmation of the plan for the players. But since that plan diverged so drastically from the way Kansas City would normally play and countered how so many people have seen the Chiefs, knowing how the game would begin mattered.
On the play, a first-and-10 from the K.C. 25, Mahomes lined up in the shotgun, with two receivers to his right, one motioning in, and Isiah Pacheco offset to his right. At the snap, Humphrey and right tackle Andrew Wylie pulled left. Humphrey stoned Philly edge rusher Josh Sweat to create a crease for Pacheco, taking the handoff from Mahomes, and Wylie led him through it, ushering C.J. Gardner-Johnson out of the way.
Pacheco picked up only three yards. But the Chiefs were setting the tone—with the pullers taking two Eagles defenders out of the play, and Trey Smith knocking Fletcher Cox’s helmet off in finishing his block. The idea was specific to what the Chiefs wanted to do to Philly from a gameplan standpoint. It was also two years in the making.
Speaking to Peter King of NBC Sports, former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who took the Arizona Cardinals head coaching job last week, shouldered the blame for the pair of coverage busts.
“Our players were prepped. I did not do a good enough job myself to put them in a position to make the play,” Gannon told King. “I didn’t do a good enough job to get out of the call what I wanted out of the call. I didn’t give them the tools that they needed to win the down.
“On the second one, I thought [Mahomes] was gonna play that as a drop back and that [coverage] was a zero [blitz]. Jesus Christ wouldn’t have covered that in a zero.”
Position of greatest need: Defensive line
The Chiefs have Steve Spagnuolo as their defensive coordinator, so the team should always target defensive linemen in the offseason. Coach Andy Reid, general manager Brett Veach and Spagnuolo had success last year in selecting defensive end George Karlaftis late in the first round of the draft. You could argue that the Chiefs should target another pass rusher to pair with Karlaftis, similar to how the team acquired linebackers Willie Gay and Nick Bolton in the second round in consecutive years to solidify the middle of the defense. — Nate Taylor
88. NICK BOLTON, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
We saw in the Super Bowl, on the biggest stage, just what Bolton is capable of, and the Chiefs linebacker ended his year with impressive grades in all areas. He finished with 61 total pressures including the playoffs and allowed just one touchdown in coverage.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – OLB/DE Andre Carter II, Army
He’s got an outside shot to be the first West Pointer taken in Round 1 in the NFL’s common draft era (since 1967) ... even if a player like Georgia Tech’s Keion White is probably an easier evaluation here. But when you’re 6-7 and 260 pounds, Carter must be on the radar. His 15½ sacks in 2021 ranked second only to Anderson nationally and earned him a spot on that season’s third-team All-American squad. Carter – or, sure, White – could give the champs a nice edge mix with veteran Frank Clark and 2022 first-rounder George Karlaftis.
Around the NFL
1. Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow reset QB market
Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow are two franchise quarterbacks who are now eligible for contract extensions. There are really no conversations for the Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals to have. Both are quarterbacks they want on roster for years to come. Even though it’s expensive, it can be beneficial to get these deals done ASAP.
My crazy prediction is that both quarterbacks will sign deals that reset the quarterback market. While some are expecting this, predicting both will reset the entire market in the coming months is actually a hot take. You have to remember, Deshaun Watson’s fully-guaranteed contract kind of ruined the market. Lamar Jackson has won an MVP (something Burrow and Herbert haven’t done yet), and the Ravens want to keep him in the fold. Yet, that hasn’t happened yet. The other part of this prediction is picking BOTH to surpass Aaron Rodgers’ AAV of $50.27 million. Spotrac has Herbert’s projected AAV at $42.4M, and Burrow’s at $44M. Those projected contracts wouldn’t even break into the top five of highest-paid quarterbacks.
I’m not Joel Corry, so I won’t/can’t wax poetic on dollars and cents, but there are multiple facets of a contract extension that makes it what it is — and each player views these facets a bit differently. Obviously stars expect deals that are well-rounded, but is Burrow’s goal to surpass Rodgers in terms of AAV? Does Herbert desire incredible guarantees like Watson has and Jackson wants? That’s what will be interesting to watch.
The new Indianapolis Colts head coach is expected to name veteran NFL assistant Jim Bob Cooter as the team’s offensive coordinator, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Monday.
Cooter, 38, was most recently the Jacksonville Jaguars’ passing game coordinator. Steichen and Cooter have some recent history together, as Cooter served as an offensive consultant for Steichen with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021.
A former college quarterback at Tennessee, Cooter brings critical quarterback expertise to the Colts, who are widely expected to draft a quarterback this offseason. Indianapolis has the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
2. Establish a plan for wide receivers
The wide receiver room’s statistical leader during the 2022 season was JuJu Smith-Schuster, taking advantage of his one-year deal and setting up to explore the free-agent market this offseason. Along with him, wide receivers Mecole Hardman and Justin Watson will be unrestricted free agents.
The free-agent market for wide receivers is very thin, which strengthens the cases of Smith-Schuster and Hardman to get competitive offers elsewhere. The Chiefs’ effort level in re-signing either player will speak to their plan for the position.
Bringing back either player sets the Chiefs up to have a high level of continuity in the pass-catching group — but letting them walk would signal a continued push to get younger and less expensive at the position, following the trend in acquiring wide receivers Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney. There may only be room for one veteran, multi-year contract in the receiver room, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling may have solidified that honor.
No matter their plan, focusing on the wide receiver position should always be one of the top priorities with Mahomes.