Chiefs v. Jaguars: Can Nick Foles lead Jacksonville to victory?
Offensive notes and players to watch
The Chiefs’ offseason may have seemed largely tied to the deconstruction and reconstruction of a poor defense, but in truth this season is all about the offense. The Chiefs offense in 2018 was one of the top offenses of all time. The game has changed a great deal in the last decade and a half, but that doesn’t change the fact that this offense was as unstoppable as nearly any offense in the league’s history.That said, they were stopped here and there.
There were a few teams in particular – the Patriots, Ravens, and Broncos – that were able to slow this team for a quarter or two. In every case but the Patriots, it still wasn’t enough. Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and company found ways to make one insane play after another. What was most amazing was this offense nearly carried a completely broken defense to the franchise’s first Super Bowl berth in nearly 50 years. Even the great offenses of the Dick Vermeil era can’t make that claim.
The question on everyone’s mind is what happens next. Can this offense repeat that greatness, or even surpass it in 2019? Who has the advantage coming into the second year of the Mahomes era, Mahomes himself or opposing defenses? Here’s why I think both these questions answer favorably for the Chiefs.
Mahomes is coming into his second season leading the offense. Usually, quarterbacks make a decent jump in their sophomore year because their processing improves relative to the speed of the game. What’s more, the Chiefs front office has added more weapons to an already lethal list of skill players. It’s a scary proposition for the rest of the league.
In that sense, it’s lucky the Chiefs get to play what will likely be one of the best five defenses the team will play all year. Last season, the Chiefs walked all over the Jaguars. However, it was largely due to the defense and running game and not so much the heroics of Mahomes. Not that he had a poor performance, but objectively it might have been one of his poorest of the season. That’s a good thing for Chiefs fans.
Mahomes should have a better game this time around. He has more understanding, faster processing, better weapons. He now has a third receiver with blazing speed. Ramsey could hardly keep up with Hill last season, how well do you think the team’s third corner will perform against a receiver with 4.33 speed? I haven’t even mentioned a re-energized Travis Kelce, who had a huge game against the Jaguars last season, and a fully healthy Sammy Watkins.
The primary wild card will be the running game. Damien Williams has barely seen the field during the preseason due mostly to injury. How ready will he be to take the bulk of the carries? Are the Chiefs still even considering him for this? However, the addition of LeSean McCoy has the potential for a massive payoff.
Yes, he’s older for a running back and had a very down year in 2018. Yet, as recently as 2017, he had a Pro Bowl year amassing over 1,500 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. Add this to the fact that he played for the Bills. No disrespect to that franchise, but they simply don’t have the coaching and infrastructure that the Chiefs do. This is a plug and play offense when it comes to the running back, and LeSean McCoy might be the most talented one on the team even at the age of 31.
All that said, I expect the Chiefs to throw the ball in this game. A lot. They had a balanced attack against this team last season, throwing 38 times and running 30 times, but they also had a bell cow running back in Kareem Hunt. With the uncertainty around the position, and the late add of McCoy, I expect Mahomes to shoulder more of the offensive burden this game than he will going forward.
Fortunately, this offense is built for that. There isn’t a team in the league who should be able to keep up with our skill positions, and we should see that play out on Sunday.