Chiefs stock watch, Week 1: This is the sound of settling

Chiefs Kingdom is already hearing the sounds of settling for their current wide receiver corps.
Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs
Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Well, that was certainly not a great way to start the season.

The Kansas City Chiefs dropped the season opener in Arrowhead by a final score of 21-20 to the new darlings of the NFL: the Detroit Lions. This game was tough to watch if you were betting the over because neither offense could get going outside of a few plays here and there.

Sure, the excuses are already built in for this: "Oh, we didn't have Kelce or Jones" or "It's the first game." These excuses would have flown 10 years ago, but the Chiefs are currently in the business of winning. That performance is not going to cut it. There is enough talent on the offensive side of the ball, especially when your quarterback is Patrick Mahomes, to win a game when the defense only gives up 14 points.

The defense had a hell of a performance against an offense ranked third in the NFL in total yards while their best player is up the suites flanked by a couple of mob bosses. This game was not an abject failure, as a few guys showed up, but enough disappointments brought Kansas City their first L of the year.

Let's check in with our first Stock Watch of the year for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Stock Up

Donovan Smith, OL

We will start with the positives on offense, and it will be for one of the biggest dudes out there. Donavan Smith is an absolute dawg at left tackle. From the game's first snap, he was throwing folks around out there and helped keep Patrick Mahomes upright for the entire game. Whatever was ailing him during his last year in Tampa Bay seems to have cleared up as he secured the left side of the line on both passing and running plays.

The whole offensive line performed well, Jawaan Taylor's questionable starts and lineups notwithstanding, as Mahomes had plenty of time to throw all night and was not sacked at all. Sure, he had a holding penalty on the last drive, but he still showed out. Smith had a great game and is a clear upgrade over Orlando Brown Jr., especially in pass protection. Here's hoping he keeps it up all year.

Mike Danna, DL

The entire defensive line, minus Chris Jones, held their own against the best offensive line in the NFC this side of Philadelphia. Still, Mike Danna was the one who stood out the most. Danna picked up the start in CJ's absence and made the most of it.

Danna racked up six tackles and picked up a huge third-down sack at the end of the first half. The Lions looked to be running their four-minute drill to try and get the last score of the half, but Danna beat his man on the third and five with the defense rushing only four. That forced the Lions to give the ball back to Patrick Mahomes, who answered with a 92-yard touchdown drive to give the Chiefs a 14-7 lead going into halftime. He also knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage in the first quarter. It was a quick hitter where every Detroit lineman went low on the Chiefs, and Danna was the only one who remained on his feet to knock the ball off course.

Danna has been a rotational piece for the entirety of his Chiefs career to this point, so it is nice to see that someone could step up when called upon, a feat that some folks on the offensive side of the ball could use a little training in.

Trent McDuffie, CB

Let me start this off by saying Trent McDuffie is him. He is THAT guy. It has been known that if the Chiefs are going to generate pressure on the quarterback, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will need to send people on blitzes. That would leave the Chiefs corners, most notably McDuffie, in one-on-one situations against the Lions' talented wide receivers.

McDuffie was up to the challenge and was more than willing to get in and create contact. He led the entire game in tackles with eight, six of which were solo, and even had a couple of stuffed runs at the line of scrimmage. His best contribution would be the biggest play of the night for the Chiefs defense.

Last year, McDuffie only created one turnover in his 12 regular season games, so seeing him get off the schneid in Week 1. McDuffie has the highest ceiling of anyone currently on the defensive roster. His development in Year Two will be worth watching.

Stock Down

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB

Now to the bad stuff, and we will start with the Chief, who got the first offensive touch of the game in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Starting running back Isiah Pacheco has been banged up throughout the preseason, so CEH got the start in the backfield. This was possibly his best last chance to show that he has more than he has shown on tape and significantly more than Chiefs Kingdom believes he has.

What did Edwards-Helaire do with this opportunity? He had 6 carries for 22 yards, good for 3.7 yards per carry, and only caught 1 pass for 7 yards. For a first-round running back on the last year of a rookie deal with his option not picked up, that was not what you are looking for.

I do not care how much confidence Coach Reid says he has in CEH because what is being displayed on the field has proven otherwise. The vision problems are still there, and he has never been as effective in the passing game as he was hoped to be coming out of LSU. If this is the type of performance he will put out there, this might not only be his last year in KC but his last year in the league. CEH ain't it.

The Chiefs Wide Receiving Corps

If you have made it this far, you have been waiting for this. The song quoted in the article's title is Death Cab For Cutie, and it has been running through my head repeatedly after watching how poorly the wide receivers performed Thursday night.

Are we to believe that Brett Veach and the coaching staff honestly felt that this group of wide receivers was good enough to let Deandre Hopkins slide on by? I get that Travis Kelce was unavailable, and it was tough to game-plan the one day they had. Still, most of these guys have been in the league and specifically on this team for a while now, and you are telling me this is the best they have?

The wide receiver room is the main reason the Chiefs lost this game on Thursday night, and there is no debate about it. They started off all right and looked decent in the first half. Justin Watson had a big grab for a third down conversion on the first quarter's scoring drive, Marquez Valdez-Scantling made a catch that was nothing short of spectacular to convert a third and 17 on the scoring drive in the second quarter, and rookie Rashee Rice caught his first NFL touchdown in the first quarter after dropping his first NFL target just a few plays earlier. Something must have happened during halftime because the entire receiving corps completely disappeared.

MVS and Watson had zero catches in the second half, but at least they had already contributed something. Skyy Moore, who was slated for a big Year Two building off of a big performance in last year's Super Bowl, seemed to think this was still a preseason game. He was on the field more than any other wideout but was only targeted three times and did not have a single reception. We are not asking Skyy to be a top-end WR1, but come on, man, we need more than that.

The biggest letdown of the game has to be the play of Kadarius Toney. His displays of abject ineptitude figuratively, and in one case literally, handed the Lions this game. That first drop hit Toney square in the hands-on what should have been a third-down conversion well into Detroit territory with an opportunity to go up two scores. Instead, the ball deflects right into Brian Branch's hands for a pick-six. That was at least a ten-point swing right there.

The second drop was on a third and two in the Lions' red zone, where it appeared Toney lost track of the ball after Richie James crossed in front of him. I am not saying that is an easy catch, but one would think the assumed top wideout on the roster should make that play. Chiefs had to settle for a field goal and left another 4 points on the field. Despite the atrocious game Toney had up to this point, all of it would have been forgiven—ALL OF IT—if not for the third drop, which ended the game.

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell decided to go for it on fourth down on the Chiefs 45 with the score sitting at 21-20, and the Chiefs' defense came up with the huge stop. That gave Patrick Mahomes the ball with all three timeouts and two and a half minutes to go. Mahomes has made a legend of himself in situations like these, and you just knew that, despite all the gaffes and miscues, he was going to pull another rabbit out of the hat. So what happens on the very first play? Kadarius Toney, wide open 20 yards downfield, has the ball placed perfectly in his hands with no one around and drops it. Again. You could feel the air leave the entire stadium after that one. Two penalties, another drop by Skyy Moore, and three plays later, the Lions are in victory formation, stealing a win in Arrowhead. Heartbreaking stuff.

There are a couple of things here to understand. This is a Week One game against a non-conference opponent who was jacked up for one of their franchise's biggest games in years. Travis Kelce was also not there, and it is now crystal clear that the offense that runs through him is somewhat lost without him. But these wide receivers make up the unit the Chiefs thought was good enough to pass on the likes of Deandre Hopkins. It is a terrible look from a group that's been here for some time and has no excuse for their dreadful performances. We settled with what we had and thought, "Ah yeah, we're gonna be fine. We got Patty Mahomes and Kelce. What could possibly go wrong?" We found out what could go wrong, and that sound you hear is the sound of settling.