Judgements Two: Chiefs going to need more than hot Mahomes


Photo courtesy of Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City has every reason to be enthralled  with its quarterback … and every reason to be concerned with its defense.

In Patrick Mahomes they have a sizzling quarterback who’s thrown 10 touchdown passes in two games — and if that sounds like a lot it’s because it is. It’s the first time it’s happened in the first two weeks of any season, and that’s good.

But this isn’t: The Chiefs have gaping holes in their pass defense, with Philip Rivers shredding it for 424 yards in the season opener and Ben Roethlisberger putting up another 452 yards Sunday.

But that’s not all. They allowed 33 first downs in Week One and another 33 in Week Two, and do the math, people. At that rate, they’ll hemorrhage 528 this season. By comparison, they allowed 322 a year ago, while the league average was 308.2.

In effect, then, Mahomes doesn’t have to outscore one defense. He has to outscore two.

In Sunday’s game, for instance, Mahomes’ first three TD passes put the Chiefs up 21-0 in the first quarter. But by halftime, that lead was gone. It was 21-21, thanks to three Ben Roethlisberger second-quarter scoring passes and 278 Ben Roethlisberger first-half passing yards … and that’s a problem.

At his current pace, Mahomes will wind up with 80 touchdown passes … but we know that’s not going to happen. At some point, he can’t put up five TDs a game, and that’s when the Kansas City defense better have things figure out … or else.

No, I don’t think the Chiefs are going to allow 528 first downs, but their defense is so porous right now that a week ago Rivers said he could’ve punctured it for 600 yards passing.

And he was serious.

Remember: Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships. And if you don’t believe it, give Peyton Manning a call. In 2013, he set a single-season record for touchdown passes (55), and the Broncos set a single-season record scoring record (606) … and they were torched by Seattle and the Legion of Boom in Super Bowl XLVIII.

FIRST-AND-25

  1. Let’s get something straight: Buffalo’s Vontae Davis didn’t “retire” at halftime. He quit. There’s a big difference.

2. It’s not too early to jump on the Miami or Tampa Bay bandwagons. Since 1990, 62 percent of the teams that start 2-0 reach the playoffs.

3. In case anyone’s interested … Florida teams are 6-0.

4. Don’t read too much into Jacksonville’s hammering of the Patriots … even without Leonard Fournette. New England was shredded 42-27 in the season opener a year ago … in Foxboro, no less. And it wound up in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years. It’s a long season.

5. Best decision of the day: Doug Marrone’s fourth-quarter challenge of an apparent James White first down. The call was reversed, the Pats punted and the rest you know.

6. The only surprise with last week’s Hall-of-Fame preliminary list for 2019 was that Patrick Mahomes wasn’t on it.

7. You Vike That? Uh, yeah, I do, Kirk Cousins.

8. Rookie head coach update: They were 2-4 this weekend, with Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel and Indianapolis’ Frank Reich the first to break the ice. Overall, they’re 2-11 this year, with Chicago playing Monday night.

9. Detroit was so bad in its season opener that the Detroit Free Press declared rookie coach Matt Patricia “in over his head.” OK, so that’s a bit premature. But he can take comfort in this: At least he has company on the ground floor. Steve Wilks, come on down. The Cardinals have zero offense, and start the countdown on Josh Rosen.

10. Don’t know much about Jacksonville’s Keelan Cole other than I’d sign him as my next centerfielder.

11. Rule change nobody talked about … but should have: Reducing OT to 10 minutes. There were two ties in the first two weeks this season where there were none all of last year. In fact, that’s the first time since 1971 we’ve had ties in the first two weeks.

12. The Steelers don’t need Le’Veon Bell. They need Mel Blount.

13. Case Keenum is 13-3 in regular-season play the past two years. Just sayin.’

14. Sam Darnold reality check: If you’re going to credit the Jets’ rookie with the team’s season-opening win, then you better blame him for Sunday’s loss. Yes, he threw for 334 yards, but he also threw two interceptions (including one in the end zone) and missed a wide-open Quincy Enunwa in the end zone at the end of the first half.

15. Don’t tell me climate change is fake news. That 92-degree temperate at kickoff in Denver was the highest ever there (the previous high was 91).

16. I feel for Cleveland’s Zane Gonzalez, but he must go. And Dan Bailey is the logical replacement except … well, except he says he’s waiting on “the right team.” Uh-oh. Scratch the Browns.

17. So the Lions aren’t happy about long practices and Patricia’s rigid rules. Well, tough. That’s what happens when you can’t stop the run, and your special teams stink. In two weeks, the Lions have given up 359 yards rushing and 325 return yards. Worse, they’ve surrendered one punt return for a TD and a kickoff return for 90 yards. Pee. You.

18. The Patriots … not Dallas or the 49ers … add wide receiver Josh Gordon, and I’ll be honest: I didn’t see that coming. 1) Because the Browns were reluctant to keep Gordon in the AFC and, 2) because while Bill Belichick can put up with “attitude guys” (see Randy Moss and Corey Dillon) he’s not someone who will tolerate players with accountability issues.

19. Someone put out an APB on the Chiefs’ pass rush. Been missing for two weeks. And while you’re at it, please find Rob Gronkowski. Two catches for 15 yards? Advantage: Jalen Ramsey.

20. I stand by last week’s prediction: First Browns’ win comes Thursday vs. the Jets.

21. On second thought, with my first Fantasy Football pick I’ll take … Ryan Fitzmagic.

22. One question: If this continues, what does Tampa Bay do with Jameis Winston when he returns? Answer:  Nothing. Let him sit.

23. The Buffalo Bills are this year’s Cleveland Browns. Look at their schedule for the next two months, and tell me where there’s a win: At Minnesota; at Green Bay; Tennessee; at Houston; at Indianapolis; New England; Chicago and at the Jets.

24. Let’s just call it like it is: Officials blew the roughing-the-passer call on Clay Matthews that keyed Minnesota’s game-tying touchdown. Because if that’s a penalty, we’ve changed the game into something nobody recognizes, including officials.

25. The Rams are 2-0. The rest of the NFC West is 1-4, with San Francisco barely escaping a second loss Sunday. Two weeks into the season it’s clear the division belongs to L.A. Everyone else plays for second.

FIVE THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

  1. That was the eighth time in his last 10 games that Dak Prescott failed to throw for 200 yards. He’s 3-5 in those games.

2. Eli Manning is no longer a quarterback. He’s a piñata, frozen behind an offensive line that can’t block and looking for the next checkdown (how else do you explain Saquon Barkley’s team-record 14 catches for … 80 yards?).

3. It’s not often you hear DeSean Jackson mentioned in the same sentence with Jerry Rice but … yep, with his 23rd TD catch of 60 or more yards, Jackson just tied Rice’s NFL record.

4. The Washington Redskins didn’t just lose a game Sunday; they broke a home sellout streak that dates back over 50 years. The team announced the attendance for the Colts-Redskins game at 57,013, which doesn’t sound all that bad until you consider this: It means that a third of FedEx Field was empty.

5. Raider Nation can’t blame this one on Derek Carr. He completed 29 of 32 passes, a 90.6 completion percentage that’s the fourth-best ever in an NFL game among quarterbacks with 20 or more attempts. Carr is, however, the only one to attempt 30 or more passes and complete 90 percent of them.

GOLD JACKET QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I told him after the game that he’s a great effing player … and I hate him.” — Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer on Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

SUNDAY’S BIGGEST WINNER

KANSAS CITY QB PATRICK MAHOMES. Ten TD passes in two weeks? You gotta be kidding. The only thing wrong with this guy is he’s not on my Fantasy team.

SUNDAY’S BIGGEST LOSER

  1. (Tie) MINNESOTA PK DANIEL CARLSON and CLEVELAND PK ZANE GONZALEZ. Carlson missed three field goals, including two in OT — both of which could have been game-winners. Bad, huh? The second was a 35-yarder that wasn’t close. But misery loves company, and Daniel had it in Gonzalez. After having a game-winning field goal blocked at the end of last week’s tie, he misses two extra points and shanks two field goals — including another game-winner at the gun. Wonder why those Bud Light fridges are still on lock-down. Talk to Gonzalez. Not sure who had a worse weekend, but I am sure both might want to look into travel plans.
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1 Comment

  1. brian wolf
    September 17, 2018
    Reply

    Good posts the last two weeks Clark. I wonder if this weeks games are averaging 16 penalties per game as well ?

    Youre right about the roughing the passer calls, its getting more and more ridiculous. These calls really decide games and offensive lineman already get away with too much holding and movement before the snap. Once a defensive lineman is frustrated, he is more determined to hit the QB…and so it goes.

    What makes me upset to is all the offensive pass interference the referees “dont see”… The Texans Fuller, clearly pushed off Malcolm Butler for a momentum changing TD against the Titans…Gronk gets away with it all the time to. The Redzone channel clearly wants TDs scored but not when there is OBVIOUS offensive pass interference…

    Does ANY QB take the snap from center anymore ? Sometimes Brady does but anyone else ?
    I guess I need to see more games to find out but the players dont seem as intense and fundamental as they used to be. Lots of mistakes and cheap mental breakdowns but hopefully by week 10, all that will change.

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