8. MATT NAGY, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Matt Nagy was hired by the Chicago Bears on the back of his work as a coordinator in Kansas City. Now, with Bienemy leaving to prove he can succeed elsewhere, Nagy steps back into that role. Realistically, it’s difficult to determine how much of the Chiefs’ success on offense is due to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, and it’s noteworthy that Bienemy hasn’t been given the chance that Nagy received. But the chances are that Nagy will once again be at the helm of one of the best offenses in the game.
Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney, Kansas City Chiefs
This is probably an either/or type of situation, but it feels unfair to mention Skyy Moore or Kadarius Toney without the other.
Smith-Schuster left for the Patriots, Mecole Hardman joined the Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t replace them in free agency. Although the Chiefs added Rashee Rice in the second round of the draft, he’s not expected to hold a starting role in 2023.
That leaves Moore and Toney as the next-best options behind tight end Travis Kelce and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
And you can be sure Patrick Mahomes will be throwing often.
Expecting both receivers to have a breakout season is a stretch—barring an injury to Kelce or MVS, of course—but one of Moore and Toney should have a strong year in Kansas City’s prolific offense.
Kansas City Chiefs
TE Travis Kelce
One of the greatest two-man connections in NFL history is Patrick Mahomes and Kelce, who last year, at age 33, led the Chiefs — and all tight ends in the league — with 1,338 receiving yards and 12 touchdown receptions. This upcoming season, however, could be the final great year for Kelce, who is a future Hall of Famer. Kelce will once again attempt to record at least 1,000 receiving yards, which would extend his NFL-record streak to eight years. — Nate Taylor
AFC West: Las Vegas Raiders
2022 season finish: 6-11 (third place, no postseason)
Wide receiver Davante Adams’ 1,516 receiving yards were the third-most in the NFL behind only Justin Jefferson’s 1,809 and Tyreek Hill’s 1,710. Adams also led the league in receiving touchdowns with 14 in 2022, gleefully proving he didn’t need to be in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers to be one of the NFL’s best. His production could noticeably dip with Jimmy Garoppolo replacing Adams’ BFF Derek Carr as the Raiders starting quarterback. Adams caught seven touchdowns thrown 30 or more yards downfield, the most since Hall of Famer Randy Moss’ seven such scores he caught in the Patriots’ perfect 16-0 regular season in 2008. On the flip side, Garoppolo has completed just 8 of his 47 career passes (17%) thrown 30 or more yards downfield. The pairing is a significant stylistic clash.
They’ve hosted five straight AFC Championship Games and won seven straight AFC West titles and, since Reid took over, achieved 10 straight winning seasons.
That last figure isn’t so much a bar as a telling foundation in the parity-weighted NFL, in which Buffalo is second in that category with a mere four straight winning seasons.
All great elements of a compelling portfolio for a dynastic claim.
But the profile lacks one decidedly elusive jewel to make the notion a matter of irrefutable acclamation in even the most contrarian minds: The statement it would make to become the first NFL team to repeat as champion in the nearly two decades since the New England Patriots became the last to do it in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Buoyed by one of the winningest coaches in NFL history, his connectivity with a savvy and relentless general manager and the truly incredible quarterback who changed everything, not to mention plenty of other vital players and reasons, the Chiefs are uniquely poised for the quest.
Around the NFL
Monday’s deadline for franchised players to agree to long-term contracts passed without deals for the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley, the Las Vegas Raiders’ Josh Jacobs and the Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Pollard.
The three running backs were the only players who received the franchise tag not to have reached a long-term contract, and they had until 4 p.m. ET Monday to get one. They will now have to play the 2023 season on their franchise tenders, worth $10.091 million for running backs. Pollard has already signed his tender. Barkley and Jacobs, however, remain unsigned and stayed away from their teams’ offseason programs.
“It is what it is,” Barkley tweeted Monday.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Defensive lineman Mike Danna
Danna isn’t a brand-new face. In fact, he’s entering his first-ever contract year. The timing couldn’t be much better, because the role I expect him to fill should improve his production.
As a defensive end — his primary position — Danna has proven to be a solid rotational player who relies on excellent technique, football IQ and competitive toughness. Even though he had to battle through a lower-leg injury early in the 2022 season, Spagnuolo found a groove for Danna: rushing the passer from the interior of the defensive line. His quickness proved to be a major hurdle for many offensive guards.
1) a healthy version of Danna is proving more important than anyone expected entering 2022— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) November 23, 2022
2) this play demonstrates just how important getting into favorable 2nd/3rd-down situations is for this defense to unlock it's ceiling pic.twitter.com/M27W8drK87
Because of his size, Danna can’t always play on the inside; on early downs, he would surely become a target in the running game. But like Tranquill, Danna can be an impactful matchup problem in obvious passing situations.
With Danna joining All-Pro tackle Chris Jones, Tershawn Wharton (returning from injury this season) and recently-signed Charles Omenihu (another defensive end who can play inside), you can argue that no other team has a more formidable interior pass-rushing group. As part of it, Danna could claim five or more sacks this season.
A tweet to make you think
Buy one now— Bobby Stroupe (@bobbystroupe) July 18, 2023