With roster cuts behind us and the season opener here, Kansas City Chiefs fans can finally lean into the on-field product. It feels good to get back into a weekly drumbeat, rather than hanging on to what-ifs and focusing on the roster bubble. Tailgating is back, fall is around the corner, and the Chiefs march on to another Super Bowl. All feels right in the world.
What hasn't been right is the lack of questions for the mailbag!
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Hypothetically speaking. If the Chiefs were 16-0 on New Year's, would we play for the 17-0 record, would Andy Reid rest the starters?
This is an easy answer for me. I predict Reid would do everything within reason to get that historic undefeated season.
An undefeated regular season has only happened four times in professional football history. The last came in 2007 when the New England Patriots went 16-0. Two teams have reached 14-0 records since then, but that is the closest another team has gotten to an undefeated season. Could you imagine the Chiefs joining that historic group, and becoming the first team to go 17-0 in the regular season? That would be unforgettable and a milestone second only to a Super Bowl win.
This would be the biggest boost possible for Reid's legacy, in my opinion. He has the rings, he has the longevity, he has the transferrable success as well. If he added an undefeated regular season to his bio, that would make him the unequivocal greatest NFL head coach of all time.
How will Spags deal with either limited use or not having CJ?
I imagine defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be putting in extra hours watching the film until All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones is 100% or back at all. Chiefs fans know how exotic his blitz packages can be. Without a reliable pass rusher in Jones, Spags is going to get even more creative.
This defense will likely regress to 2018 form without Jones, no matter what Spags does. But, Their defense might look more like the conservative scheme deployed in the postseason. Postseason pass rush percentages dropped significantly from defensive backs compared to the regular season, the same for linebackers.
I imagine players like defensive tackle Danny Shelton get used to opening lanes for interior blitzes from Leo Chenal or Willie Gay Jr. Shelton even dropped into coverage against the Browns, a wrinkle Spags should use with more nimble players. Until Jones comes back, the Chiefs' pass rush looks like a ton of deception and leveraging a numbers advantage in unexpected ways.
Give me the order of production you would list our current seven wide receivers by the end of the season.
Here is how my list shakes out:
1. Kadarius Toney
2. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
3. Skyy Moore
4. Justin Watson
5. Rashee Rice
6. Justyn Ross
7. Richie James
A lot of that depends on Toney's health, but Chiefs fans already know those red flags. I underestimated Watson's production last year, and he has palpable chemistry with Mahomes. That is something money can't buy and that will give Watson a valuable role in this offense. He will not be a flashy contributor, but a consistent one.
Rice and Moore are the wild cards in this order. Rice had plenty of looks in the preseason, but the drops outweighed stellar production. I think he starts the year as WR3 on the field, mainly due to his help in the run game. But, his ultimate production may not reflect that spot on the depth chart. On the other hand, Moore has the tools to succeed in Reid's offense but failed to do so much last season. He came on strong when it mattered the most though.
The touchdown-only order is very different. Keep in mind, this includes rushing and receiving touchdowns from the wide receiver group.
1. Kadarius Toney
2. Skyy Moore
3. Justyn Ross
4. Rashee Rice
5. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
6. Justin Watson
7. Richie James
Who has a deeper roster than the Chiefs this year? Anyone?
No AFC team has a deeper roster than the Chiefs to start the 2023 season. Remember, everything is all about projections right now and we all have the best-case scenario in our minds. That depth comes in handy in every other scenario.
I said AFC though. I do not think the Chiefs have the deepest team in the league. That accolade goes to the Philadelphia Eagles. Last year's NFC champion does not have a glaring weak point ahead of Week 1, unlike the Chiefs. A much-improved NFC East will test the Eagles' depth, but it is there nonetheless.
Bengals fans will likely say their roster is deeper than Kansas City's, but their co-called depth is mighty shallow. The wide receiver room might be the best in the league, but the team lacks a punch at tight end or defensive back. The Chiefs certainly have the edge in both of those positions.
Chiefs fans will get a good look at the team's depth on the defensive line to start the season. Jones is still holding out and Charles Omenihu still has a suspension to start. That takes away the Chiefs' two best pass rushers on the line, making guys like rookies Felix Anudike-Uzomah and Keondre Coburn step up. Kansas City adding Neil Farrell Jr. is an intriguing addition, hopefully, one that replaces Derrick Nnadi in the near future.
Depther is valuable to any contender and the Chiefs have it in spades right now. But, there are deeper teams in the NFC that await them in the regular season and hopefully the postseason.
A brief recap of [the last preseason] game. I drove all day and could only partially listen.
How brief are we talking? Water cooler version: the Chiefs looked ready for the regular season. The wide receiver corps may not be the best Mahomes has ever had, but it is one of the deepest in the AFC right now.
Shane Buechele and Blaine Gabbert's QB2 competition had no clear winner, especially after less-than-inspiring performances against the Browns. Granted, very few Chiefs offensive starters played against Cleveland and that did not help either quarterback.
Rashee Rice's performance was probably the most frustrating. He had two drops on five targets, including a no-doubt touchdown.
Rice is talented and the Chiefs want to get him involved. But wow, his preseason finale does not have him trending in the right direction. Here is hoping the hands of stone do not show up in Week 1.