The Chiefs would obviously have to pull off a trade with Tampa to acquire Evans, as he is in the final year of his current contract. But based on the fact that the Buccaneers have not offered him an extension, the team may decide to cut their losses now while giving Evans a chance to win another ring with the Chiefs.
Evans would immediately become Mahomes’ best target not named Kelce. The four-time Pro Bowler enters this 2023 season looking to extend his NFL record of nine consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career.
No One Knows What a False Start Is
It’s not a new season until there’s an officiating issue to complain about, and the missed calls du jour were a series of what certainly looked like false starts by Chiefs right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who was often lined up well off the line of scrimmage. Referee John Hussey’s crew didn’t call the game tight in general (the first flag didn’t come until late in the second quarter), and sure, plenty of tackles get away with early movement if they can time the snap correctly, but the leniency granted to Taylor was noticeable.
The Lions won, though, so there’s no need to get too worked up about this. Taylor didn’t quite get away with it all game, either. He was finally called pre-snap on the Chiefs’ final drive, leading to this Cris Collinsworth crack.
It took 58 minutes, but Jawaan Taylor just finally got called for a penalty.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 8, 2023
Collinworth: "Jawaan Taylor playing slot receiver."pic.twitter.com/PbWziIfNxe
But the fourth-and-25 call was incredible on its own. Insulting, too, if you were on the other side.
“No respect,” Lions defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson told USA TODAY Sports. “You’re going for it on fourth-and-20, you’ve got no respect for us.”
Gardner-Johnson allowed that the greatness of Mahomes was an undeniable X-factor in Reid’s decision, but he still didn’t understand the logic.
“That’s not going against the players, it’s the coordinator not thinking we’re going to be prepared in the situation,” Gardner-Johnson said.
2. Rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice’s first career reception was a big one.
Rice, who joined the Chiefs as a second-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, hauled in a 1-yard touchdown grab on Kansas City’s second possession. The score marked the first catch of Rice’s career. Rice finished the game with three grabs for 29 yards and a touchdown.
He was one of 11 players to catch a pass for the Chiefs on Thursday, joining wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (2 catches for 48 yards), wide receiver Justin Watson (2 catches for 45 yards), tailback Isiah Pacheco (4 catches for 31 yards), tight end Noah Gray (3 catches for 31 yards), tight end Blake Bell (2 catches for 12 yards), tailback Jerick McKinnon (1 catch for 10 yards), tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire (1 catch for 7 yards), wide receiver Richie James (1 catch for 6 yards), wide receiver Justyn Ross (1 catch for 6 yards) and wide receiver Kadarius Toney (1 catch for 1 yard).
That tally of 11 players with a catch tied the mark for the most in a single game for Kansas City since quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the starter in 2018, matching an output achieved twice before.
The Chiefs, though, have plenty of evidence that shows many of their short-yardage plays that are Mahomes-less — and when the ball is not immediately given to a running back — are not successful.
During this year’s preseason, the Chiefs, against the New Orleans Saints, failed on a fourth-and-inches sneak by Bell while Mahomes watched from a few feet away. The same result occurred against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round of the playoffs, as tight end Noah Gray was stonewalled, even with fellow tight end Travis Kelce trying to push him forward. Last season, the Chiefs ranked 31st in third-down conversion percentage on plays when the offense only needed a yard for a first down, converting just 48.3 percent of their 29 plays, according to TruMedia. When Mahomes was allowed to pass in similar situations, he completed six passes for a first down while six passes fell incomplete. The Chiefs were the lone team in the league last season that refused to run a traditional quarterback sneak on plays that were either third-and-1 or fourth-and-1.
One of the most egregious examples was in the Chiefs’ dramatic overtime win over the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round of the 2021 playoffs. In the fourth quarter of that game, the Chiefs possessed the ball inside the red zone. A touchdown would’ve given them a nine-point lead with nine minutes left. But on third-and-1 from the Bills’ 7-yard line, Mahomes, who lined up in the pistol, motioned to the left, lining up where a slot receiver would be, while Bell moved from his traditional spot to be under center. Once the ball was snapped, Bell ran an option play to the left, pitching the ball to running back Jerick McKinnon. The Bills swarmed McKinnon for a 3-yard loss.
Everyone knows Mahomes is more athletic than Bell.
Around the NFL
Giants: WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee), S Gervarrius Owens (hamstring), CB Cor’Dale Flott (hamstring) DOUBTFUL; TE Darren Waller (hamstring), DL D.J. Davidson (knee), LB Cam Brown (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
Cowboys: OL Tyler Smith (hamstring), S Donovan Smith (calf) DOUBTFUL; OT Tyron Smith (ankle), DE Sam Williams (foot) QUESTIONABLE
Waller was a late addition to the injury report after being limited with a hamstring injury suffered in Friday’s practice. He’ll likely be a game-time decision for Sunday. All of the other Giants on the injury report were limited Friday.
Tyler Smith, who was injured Monday, returned to the practice field Friday and took part in a simulated game. Tyron Smith took part in practice Friday. His game status will be determined by Saturday’s walkthrough.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa has been back with his team for only two days, but he left no doubt Friday that he intends to play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I’m confident,” Bosa said. “I’m not sure what [coach] Kyle [Shanahan’s] plan is, but I would be up for [a] normal workload, for sure.”
Bosa, speaking to Bay Area media for the first time since signing a record-setting five-year, $170 million contract extension that includes $122.5 million in guarantees Friday morning, took part in practice on a limited basis Thursday and then was listed as a full participant in San Francisco’s half-speed Friday session.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
3. Skyy Moore is still not living up to the hype
I’ll be fair to Moore: the pass thrown to him on the Chiefs’ last offensive play was a tough catch. A fourth-and-25 where defenders and offensive teammates are the area is a play you wouldn’t expect an average player to make. But it is a play you would expect That Dude to make.
I'd be far more concerned about Skyy Moore than Kadarius Toney from that game.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) September 8, 2023
Toney had drops, they were bad. We also know he can be an electric playmaker even if only as a gimmick player.
Skyy Moore ran 31 routes & had 4 targets. The only pass he caught was negated by…
The problem is that even though Moore has been hyped up as a guy who is ready to be That Dude, we still haven’t seen it. He was a non-factor on Thursday night — and that’s the problem: when they needed a play the most, the Chiefs went to him. He didn’t make it.
It’s not fair to expect the extraordinary from someone who’s just not that guy.