AFC—had better have a plan for Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid and the vaunted Kansas City offense.
The Buffalo Bills, who recently extended Ed Oliver, signed Cameron Dantzler and added Leonard Floyd, may be plotting an inevitable postseason showdown with the Chiefs. The rest of the league should follow suit. Of course, building a defense capable of truly containing the most consistent offense in recent memory is easier in theory than in practice.
What would such a defense look like? We’ve decided to have a little fun and dive into that very question. What follows is a mythical starting lineup that might not feature all of the league’s top defenders but would match up well with Kansas City’s personnel and scheme. Factors like past production, skill sets and upside were considered here.
Kadarius Toney, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
All eyes are squarely on Toney as the fourth-year pro tries to finally ascend to the No. 1 wide receiver role. Toney has teased the football world with his talents as an electric playmaker with explosive running skills, but the Chiefs believe he has the potential to fill the void created by Tyreek Hill’s departure. Although it is hard to imagine anyone replacing the splash plays routinely delivered by Hill, the opportunity to serve as a primary receiver for an offense featuring Patrick Mahomes and directed by Andy Reid could result in ridiculous numbers for Toney.
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Star wide receiver Tyreek Hill joined the Miami Dolphins after pursuing a better contract and more touches on offense. He certainly got more touches in 2022, as Hill recorded a career-high 119 receptions for a career-high 1,710 yards and seven touchdowns.
Hill ranked second in the NFL behind Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson in both receptions and receiving yards, but he’s expecting more in 2023. He believes 2,000 receiving yards is a realistic goal.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” Hill said, via Pro Football Network. “I think the added game gives me quite the advantage, so yeah.”
Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson still owns the NFL record for most receiving yards in a single season with 1,964, which he accomplished back in 2012. We recently saw another wide receiver come close to the record, as Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams recorded 145 catches for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns en route to a Super Bowl victory in 2021.
2022 record: 5-12
The Broncos were never likely to trade draft picks — something they’ve been short on after dealing away selections for Russell Wilson and Sean Payton — for Cook, no matter how much they liked him. But now that he’s a free agent? Perhaps that changes things.
Payton is a major selling point, even if playing with Wilson doesn’t carry the same luster it once did. Payton’s success with backs in New Orleans figures to help Denver’s case. Look what the former Saints coach did over the years with Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Latavius Murray.
Denver parted with a couple backs recently, and don’t forget that Broncos GM George Paton was the Vikings’ assistant GM when they drafted Cook. Javonte Williams is still very much in the mix to start, and the team signed Samaje Perine to play an important role this season, but Williams’ recovery from an ACL injury can’t be forgotten and Perine has always been a complementary piece. That makes Cook seem like a possibility here.
The Ravens scrapped the huddle and allowed quarterback Lamar Jackson to make the calls at the line of scrimmage.
Jackson ran for 119 yards and a touchdown and threw for 318 yards and three TDs in a 42-38 loss to the Dolphins, but that wasn’t the lasting impression. Ravens quarterbacks coach Tee Martin remembers Jackson being extremely comfortable in gaining this increased freedom.
“I just saw the expression on his face when he came off the field,” Martin said. “He was in a good place.”
Jackson will have the opportunity to get back to that “good place” under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
In four seasons with offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Baltimore primarily huddled up and ran the play that was called. Under Monken, Jackson can slide the pass protection to one side if he sees a defender blitzing or switch a receiver’s route if the cornerback lines up a certain way.
The former Green Bay Packers star was all smiles when speaking to reporters following the Jets’ final organized team activities practice Friday.
“The last six weeks have been about the most fun I’ve had in a while,” Rodgers said. “It’s fun to come to work and be excited about what we’re doing.”
Rodgers, who restructured his Packers contract to facilitate his April 24 trade to New York, could be on the books until 2026 if his options are picked up.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs did not have a great offseason regarding movement at the tackle position.
The Chiefs are getting a "pass" on an awful offseason performance as it relates to OT.— DKnotMetcalf (@david_kallas) June 6, 2023
The use of the word awful is harsh.
Chiefs fans have been spoiled when it comes to offensive line play over the last two seasons, particularly when it pertains to the interior — anchored by Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith.
The questions are at the tackle positions, but the answers are entirely unknown. It seems that, as of right now, Donovan Smith will be starting at left tackle, and Jawaan Taylor will hold down the right side.
Both guys are former second-round picks, but Smith is four years older than Taylor. Smith’s last season in Tampa Bay is one he’d like to forget. He was the most penalized offensive lineman in the league. One could contribute that to the nagging injuries he endured.
But it sounds like the eight-year veteran is back where he needs to be physically and mentally.
A tweet to make you think
After reading this, I understand fully Frank I’m no longer salty…it does suck watching him play for Donkeys but at the end of the day a man gotta take care of his family. Best Of Luck Shark ❤️ https://t.co/R44IkXKg4m— DG aka WoofyBryant (@_keepitprolific) June 9, 2023