4. Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Jones is an absolute disruptive force on that defensive line, not just in the run game. Ask the Philadelphia Eagles what they thought about Jones and what he did in the second half of the Super Bowl.
But how about 15.5 sacks this past season for an interior defensive lineman? Most defenses are designed to free up edge rushers and linebackers, so to get that many sacks from the interior makes Jones an absolute brute force.
One thing that stood out to me was the speed and violence Seahawks interior defensive lineman Michael Bennett played with. Since then, I’ve watched the NFL’s top defensive lineman with that in mind.
Jones and Bennett are different players, but Jones plays with the same speed and violence on the interior. That’s a great thing to be reminded of when you’re thinking about intimidating players. — Burmeister
Kansas City Chiefs
Signing WR Richie James isn’t nearly the headline-grabber that is paying $80 million for ex-Jaguars OT Jawaan Taylor, but he quietly emerged as a reliable target machine for Daniel Jones during the Giants’ 2022 playoff push. Much cheaper than the departed JuJu Smith-Schuster, he adds solid depth behind Kadarius Toney and Marquez Valdes-Scantling out wide.
WR Tyreek Hill
In today’s pass-driven NFL, it’s become easier for wide receivers to rack up gaudy numbers and harder for them to make Hall of Fame cases. There is no shortage of playmaking receivers, which is why even a player like Davante Adams—who has six Pro Bowl nods, three first-team All-Pro selections and has twice led the league in receiving touchdowns—can struggle to stand out.
Miami Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill isn’t just another great receiver, though. With one Super Bowl ring already in his pocket, the 29-year-old is on the cusp of the Hall of Fame.
Hill has been to seven Pro Bowls, made four first-team All-Pro lists and won Super Bowl LIV. He’s 1,660 receiving yards away from the 10,000-yard mark and is looking to reach that milestone this season.
In fact, Hill is hoping to set a new single-season record.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” Hill said when asked if the 2,000 yards was realistic, per Joe Morgan of Fox News. “I think the added game gives me quite the advantage, so yeah.”
Hill might not have to set a record to solidify his Hall of Fame case. Another strong campaign and a second Super Bowl win would be enough.
Kansas City Chiefs: Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon
Pacheco and McKinnon have clearly defined roles, which is nice. Pacheco was the primary runner last season while McKinnon was an excellent third-down back and receiving option. The overall production wasn’t quite there and it’s hard to separate their success from the ideal situation.
1. Patrick Mahomes (2017 to present)
There can’t be any question as to who tops this list, and that’s because Patrick Mahomes would top every list for every NFL team except the New England Patriots. Ever since Mahomes entered the league in 2017, but especially after he took over the starting quarterback role in 2018, he’s been absolutely unstoppable—an instant legend who is breaking waves of new records every year.
It’s very likely that we’re all watching the greatest quarterback who will ever play in a Chiefs uniform, no matter how much longer the NFL perseveres as a sport or K.C. exists as a franchise. That makes this era—one filled with Most Valuable Player Awards, Super Bowl appearances, and winning 4 of every 5 games—a golden one for the Chiefs Kingdom.
Around the NFL
With Aaron Rodgers going to New York, Love is heading into the 2023 season with only one official NFL start. Love told reporters this week he believes the minicamp sessions have benefited him and the team heading into the season.
“I think we’ve got a great team,” Love said, via the Wisconsin State Journal. “I think we have a good offense, a young offense. We have a lot of work to keep putting in, keep building together. And I think we have a really good defense. Once we get everybody back and healthy, we’ll be really good.
“I think we’ve got playmakers on offense. I think all the weapons we have at receiver, tight end and running back, we’ve got guys who can make plays. ... I think once everybody gets rolling, gets comfortable with the offense and being where they need to be every play, the sky’s the limit for us.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Week to week, some opposing offenses have one, two — or maybe even three really good wide receivers to combat. From there, perhaps the best receiver on that team spends most of their snaps aligned in one specific spot. Others often move around from play to play. At times, the best wide receiver primarily resides in the slot position, nearer to the middle of the field. No matter what, it pays for the defense to have several adequate options for combatting whatever is presented to them. Enter Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed.
In 2022, Trent McDuffie started 14 games (including three playoff matchups), aligning in the slot for 38% of his defensive snaps and 57% along the perimeter. Third-year veteran L’Jarius Sneed aligned out wide for 51% of his snaps, while 41% came from the slot. McDuffie took more and more of the slot reps as the season went on, including 46% during Kansas City’s playoff run.
Percentages aside, the point is this: the Chiefs have two guys capable of excelling as all-around skillful defensive backs regardless of where they align — while most teams struggle to find one player who can bring this inside-out skill set to the table — the Chiefs had a hard time finding such a coveted type of player like this for several years, since the departure of Brandon Flowers back in 2014. This creates a rather unique element of unpredictability for their defense.
A tweet to make you think
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