Here is my initial reaction to the game:
Having your two best players in the lineup makes a difference.
Kansas City received a significant boost from two of its best players returning to the starting lineup: defensive tackle Chris Jones and tight end Travis Kelce. In a one-score win, their presence alone may have been the difference between a win and a loss on Sunday.
Ahead of the game, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo would not commit to a snap count for Jones — and it did not seem the Chiefs held him back. Kelce seemed to be on a shorter leash than Jones — but that is to be expected. Jones missed the offseason and training camp; Kelce was returning from injury.
Both had solid outings in their returns. Jones seemingly disrupted the Jaguars’ offensive line and quarterback Trevor Lawrence all afternoon. He earned his first sack of the season in the second quarter — and he had another key strip-sack late in the game (Referrees credited him with half a sack, split with rookie Felix Anudike-Uzomah). The final quarterback pressure count will be available this week, but I get the feeling Jones will be very pleased.
While Kelce was limited, his touchdown came on one of those Patrick Mahomes specials — an out-of-structure play in which the quarterback bought enough time for Kelce to find a soft spot in the coverage. That gave the Chiefs a lead they never relinquished.
Considering that head coach Andy Reid usually has his crew finishing in the top five every season, it’s difficult to complain about the Chiefs’ offense. So with the nitpicking factor acknowledged, the Chiefs have struggled in key short-yardage situations.
Sunday in Jacksonville went better. Two successful fourth-down attempts allowed the Chiefs to win the game — even though the offense was a little sloppy early in the game.
On fourth-and-2 at the Jacksonville 42 in the second quarter, Mahomes found running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the right flat. The running back broke a tackle for a 10-yard gain, and wide receiver Skyy Moore had a touchdown two plays later.
Looking to extend their lead in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs faced fourth-and-1 at the Jaguars 30-yard line. Reid called a handoff to running back Isiah Pacheco, who picked up 2 yards for the first down. Kansas City kicked a field goal on the drive to extend its lead to eight points, and it wouldn’t need any more scoring to secure the win.
The Chiefs could have a problem on their hands at right tackle.
It wasn’t perfect in Jacksonville, especially when it came to right tackle Jawaan Taylor’s homecoming. One week after the nation watched NBC commentators Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth beg referees for penalties against No. 74, they finally delivered.
Taylor took a staggering five penalties in the game — including two false starts. It appeared that Reid and offensive line coach Andy Heck actually temporarily benched Taylor for Prince Tega Wanogho midway through the third quarter.
Unlike last week, Kansas City found a way to win the game despite the miscues and mistakes — the greatest of which evidently came from Taylor. Earning the win makes those types of things easier to swallow, but the offseason price tag for Taylor will likely raise some eyebrows this week — since Kansas City gave the 25-year-old a four-year contract that includes $60 million guaranteed.