Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will travel to Jacksonville, Florida, and take on the 1-0 Jaguars. The Jaguars won their opening week game, beating the Indianapolis Colts 31-21. While the Jaguars offense drew most of the praise for the win, their defense was able to hold their own.
Their pass rush was a driving force, as they sacked the Colts four times and hit quarterback Anthony Richardson six times. Edge rusher Josh Allen was credited with three sacks as he used his speed and athletic ability to chase down the mobile Richardson. Fellow edge rusher Travon Walker lined up opposite Allen, and he got home once on Richardson for a sack.
This duo could be in for a big season and will be the next challenge the Chiefs offensive tackles face.
That Josh Allen
Allen started the 2023 season with a big performance. While two of his three sacks came while chasing after Richardson, the Colts still gave him a ton of respect and found a way to beat their attempts to block him.
Josh Allen has a motor that does not stop. Fights through double chip blocks, works around the RT and still manages to bring down Richardson. pic.twitter.com/7r3CcBxEUx— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) September 14, 2023
Given his prowess as a lanky, flexible rusher, it made sense that the Colts would want to give their young quarterback as much protection as possible.
Allen is hit with not one but two chip blocks, first from the tight end and then one from the running back. He absorbed the contact from both and could continue to work his pass rush up the field.
As he continues to work upfield, he finds his bend point and starts to work around the arc. As Richardson starts to work up the pocket, Allen blows past the right tackle and showing off his superior quickness, runs down Richardson from behind for the sack.
Being a divisional rival, the Colts clearly knew how much of a headache Allen could be as a pass rusher, and despite their best efforts from a scheme standpoint, he was still able to get home.
A year ago, Travon Walker was making his NFL debut after being selected first overall by the Jaguars in the 2022 NFL Draft. After somewhat of a disappointing rookie campaign, Walker started the season hot.
Travon Walker working 1v1 with the RT. The long developing play down field gives him more time to work his pass rush. Good initial power to knock the RT off balance. He then works around the arc and finishes the play with a sack. pic.twitter.com/g6CJ8MNwNT— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) September 14, 2023
Toward the end of the first half, the Colts were looking to run some deeper passing concepts. These concepts require longer protection, and Walker took advantage.
Starting out lined up wide, Walker brings speed off the edge and then transitions into a good bull rush. He shocks the right tackle and uses good inside hands to knock him back and work his way around the arc. Richardson is surveying down the field, unaware that Walker is closing in.
Richardson is nearly caught in a throwing motion but tucks the ball away just as Walker pounces on him for a sack.
How do the Chiefs match up?
The Chiefs' new tackles, Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith, played solid in the brutal one-point loss to the Detroit Lions in week one. Neither player allowed a sack, and each did a quality job blocking another rising star, Aiden Hutchinson.
For as much criticism as Taylor drew Thursday I thought he played a good game against a rising star. Still needs to work on his chemistry, but it was very encouraging. Glides out of his stance here, times his strike well, and works Hutchinson up field giving 15 time to work. pic.twitter.com/LZVBQTiNtj— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) September 10, 2023
Taylor used excellent technique to shut down Hutchinson more than once and was able to give Mahomes more time to operate.
Mahomes had all day to sit in the pocket on this one. Everything condensed around the red zone, but Rice was able to find a void in the zone defense. Mahomes fires it in for six. pic.twitter.com/MA92oGbu9g— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) September 10, 2023
Smith battled all night long, bouncing back from a few mistakes here and there to keep his quarterback clean in big moments. While Smith and Taylor were OK for most of the game, they both did have instances where they struggled.
Smith was sometimes beaten by some speed rushers and called for a hold late in the game.
Taylor struggled with a few power rushes thrown at him by Hutchinson, all the while being unfairly scrutinized by the national media for his snap timing and alignment. He was called for one false start late in the game.
The connection that Taylor has to his former team could make his matchups more interesting to watch, and we might potentially see some cat and mouse when it comes to the moves that Allen and Walker will look to use on him.
Smith must be ready for a potential speed rush that Allen could use, as well as the length advantage.
The Jaguars' best avenue to getting through to Patrick Mahomes could simply be outlasting both tackles on any given play. Allen finished the game with ten total tackles, while Walker finished with six. They both possess high motors and will win plays with a second effort.
Smith and Taylor have not been protecting Mahomes for a long time, but both must be ready for the inevitable scramble from the reigning MVP and be prepared to mirror their men for a prolonged period of time.
The bottom line
The games within the game are usually what decide big matchups, and with two heavyweights in the AFC matching up this week, it is no different. Mahomes and Trevor Lawrence have dominated the headlines this week, but this matchup between the Chiefs tackles and Jaguars edge defenders will likely be a key deciding factor.
While Mahomes and the Chiefs wide receivers continue to get on the same page, the pass protection will be critical. If Allen and Walker can disrupt, the Chiefs could be in for a long day.
If Taylor and Smith can mirror their men and maintain the pocket, the Chiefs offense will have a chance to return to championship form this week.