Handing out positional grades for Chiefs vs. Cardinals

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 11:Safety Justin Reid #20 of the Kansas City Chiefs kicks the ball during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 11:Safety Justin Reid #20 of the Kansas City Chiefs kicks the ball during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Let’s look at how some positions for the Kansas City Chiefs fared against the Arizona Cardinals in the season-opening game in Glendale.

The Kansas City Chiefs rocked the Arizona Cardinals to the tune of 44 to 21. Here are a few of the players who helped make it happen and how they performed overall.

Wide Receivers: 14 catches, 169 yards, 1 TD

One of the new additions to the Chiefs’ wide receiver room, and the presumed WR1 in this offense, had a solid outing. JuJu Smith-Schuster was targeted a total of 8 times, second-most on the team, and worked the intermediate boundary and inside areas for a total of 6 catches and 79 yards.

It’s way too early to take any projections seriously, but a performance like this averaged over the course of the season would give Smith-Schuster 102 catches for 1,343 yards. A season like that would probably be towards the top of what the Chiefs expected when they signed him, and I do think it’s well within the realm of possibility. JSS did have 2 fumbles, including 1 he lost, which hurts his performance. Hopefully, we see some stickier hands in the future.

Other receivers like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, and Skyy Moore combined for 8 catches for 90 yards and 1 TD. Hardman caught the lone touchdown, and Moore had the longest reception of the day from the wide receivers for 30 yards. Justin Watson had 1 target but was not able to bring it in as he was injured on the play.

Mahomes spent most of the day working the shallow to intermediate zones and all the receivers seemed comfortable working that area. Mahomes did have a couple of deep targets to MVS and Hardman which were overthrown, something we also saw in the preseason. Looks like there’s still some work to be done to consistently hit those deep throws.

Overall I give wide receivers a B for this performance. 

Running Backs: 23 rushes, 126 rushing yards, 6 receptions 60 rec. yards, 3 TDs

The team has hinted all offseason leading up to this game that they would be taking a committee approach with this group of running backs. In this game that appeared to come true with Clyde Edwards-Helaire getting a majority of the carries at the beginning of the game, followed by Jerick McKinnon, and then Isiah Pacheco.

Edwards-Helaire for his portion had an outstanding performance as he averaged 6 yards per rush, 10.6 yards per reception, and caught two receiving touchdowns. Those two touchdowns actually already match CEH with his single-season high, which he achieved last year in 10 games. As a back that came into the league with high praise for his receiving ability it seemed strange it has taken this long to get Edwards-Helaire involved in the passing game. Hopefully, this is a sign the Chiefs are finally giving him a chance to really showcase what he can do.

McKinnon was second in the game at running back and had a modest 4 rushes for 22 yards and 3 receptions for 27 yards. He showed off much of the same ability he displayed for the Chiefs in the playoffs. McKinnon clearly has speed the Chiefs like and he should continue to put in solid production for this rotation.

As for Pacheco, I won’t go too much into it as we’ll be covering his performance more in the rookie round-up tomorrow. But I’ll wrap up this section by saying that Pacheco was a great closer for this game and looks like he has a bright future in this offense.

Overall I’d give the running backs an A for his performance. 

Defense: 21 points, 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 3/12 3rd down conversion

Nick Bolton: 10 tackles, 9 solo, 1 tackle for loss. The new quarterback for the defense stepped into today’s game and picked up right where he left off after a promising rookie campaign. Bolton led the team in tackles and was consistently involved in almost every play. The concerns about size and athleticism he had coming into his career don’t seem to be holding him back too much so far in his career.

Chris Jones may have not lit up in the box score, but anyone watching the game saw him continuing to be a problem for offenses. Jones was consistently getting pressure, clogging holes, and eating up blocks. Hopefully, he can notch his first sack of the season in his next game against the Chargers.

Carlos Dunlap, the veteran addition to this defense on the edge, notched an important first sack with the Chiefs. His job coming on to the Chiefs was to provide assistance in getting pressure and helping out in the run defense, and in this game, Dunlap did both well.

Overall I’d give the defense a B+ rating for holding the Cardinals to 21 points and 6 drives of 5 punts and a turnover on downs.

Special Teams: Justin Reid: 1/2 extra points, 5 touchbacks on kickoffs

Just wanted to give Reid an honorable mention here. Harrison Butker hurt his ankle on the opening kickoff and Reid immediately took over for the next 2 extra points and all kickoffs. While punter Tommy Townsend probably could have done a fine job, Reid as a starting safety being able to come in and take over kicking duties for Butker in an emergency is stupendous.

Hopefully, Reid won’t have to step in and help out again this season, but seeing it in the preseason and now a real game, it’s very comforting knowing Reid can step-in in a pinch and help out.

It should also be noted that Butker made a 54-yard field goal with a modified run-up . Butker showed the reason why he is truly one of the best kickers in the NFL.

Overall an A performance for the Special Teams

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