Chiefs news for 24 January 2020
There are still places where Reid isn’t perfect. I imagine he’d tell you as much. Even as he has challenged some of the narratives that have followed him throughout his career in these playoffs, there will perpetually be decisions to question. It’s the nature of the job. The Chiefs could stand to be more aggressive on fourth down. Maybe stick with the fully aggressive game plan an extra drive or two longer before starting to consider running down the clock. Never run the ball on first down ever again. (Too far?) But Reid’s success as an offensive innovator is unmatched, at least in part thanks to his willingness to play to the strengths of his players and continually evolve. And it sounds like he’s still tinkering.
“You’re always changing,” Reid said. “That’s what’s so great about this league. You don’t get stale. There’s always work to be done, always learning that takes place. Football’s in a good place right now.”
Mahomes is 2-1 in games against the Chargers in which Joey Bosa played. In those three games, Bosa failed to log a sack but did notch five QB hits, while Mahomes completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 599 yards, four passing TDs and two picks. The Chiefs QB scampered for 80 yards against Bosa and L.A. this season, and figures to run some more in Super Bowl LIV. Mahomes is scrambling at a much higher rate (12.2 pct.) in the postseason than in the regular season (4.6) and has run for 53 yards in each of Kansas City’s playoff games this year.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and safety Jordan Lucas did not practice on Thursday with an illness as the team continues its preparation for next week’s Super Bowl LIV showdown with the San Francisco 49ers.
Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, however, returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with an illness. Defensive tackle Chris Jones (calf) was limited again on Thursday but said he feels “1,000 percent” ready to play a full game in next week’s Super Bowl.
The Chiefs’ defensive makeover
I was skeptical of the move to hire Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator. His track record has many more bad years than good ones. I grew even more skeptical as the Chiefs overhauled their defense on the fly and in ways Spagnuolo clearly had a hand in directing.
But after a bit of a sluggish start, Spags & Co. proved me wrong. The Tyrann Mathieu signing was a difference-maker. Replacing Dee Ford with Frank Clark worked out (though one could argue the Ford thing worked out for the 49ers as well). Chris Jones managed to continue to thrive as a pass-rusher in spite of Spagnuolo’s history of not asking his defensive tackles to be that.
And now the Chiefs are in the Super Bowl after holding Derrick Henry to 69 yards in the AFC Championship Game. With Patrick Mahomes and all those speedsters on offense, the Chiefs only needed their defense to elevate from terrible to OK in order to go further than last year’s Chiefs did. And that defense has been better than OK.
Jones stressed that the Chiefs’ bye week will help him beyond just his health. Jones knows the 49ers have a creative strong offense that rushed for 285 yards in their victory last week over the Green Bay Packers. For the Chiefs to become champions, Jones believes he and his teammates will have to outsmart the 49ers.
“It’s very fortunate we’re able to get this bye week and take advantage of it and rest, get our bodies right and our mental capacity of the game right,” Jones said. “Later on in the season, especially for younger guys, you have to start actually forcing yourself to study more and look at the playbook. Around this time, you’re (usually) done with football — unless you’re fortunate enough to make it to the Super Bowl.”
“For him to come out of his way after the game and wish me luck and everything. (He’s) a real class act…,” Garoppolo said. “For him to do something as simple as that. It went a long way.”
During that 2018 game in Kansas City, Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL. The injury ended his first season as the season starter in San Francisco after just a few games. The former Patriots back-up said he didn’t even know that season’s MVP, Mahomes, at the time.
Mahomes was pressured (hurried, knocked down or sacked) a total of 11 times against the Titans. Considering that Mahomes dropped back 40-plus times, that number is impressive by itself. However, those stats don’t reflect whether pressure was due to play design (like a failed read-option) or Mahomes holding the ball for an extraordinary amount of time. So I charted every snap to determine how many of those pressures were on the offensive line. I found that five total pressures and one quarterback hit could be attributed to line failures. The rest were due to other factors.
That’s an exceptional performance against a Tennessee defense that was expected to put more pressure on Mahomes than he faced the previous week against the Houston Texans (in which he was pressured 11 snaps despite dropping back 40-plus times). While neither of those defenses are considered among the best in the league at rushing the passer — unlike the San Francisco 49ers, their Super Bowl opponent — the offensive line’s ability to keep Mahomes clean has been noticeably improved from where it was earlier in the season.