Opening Day for the Kansas City Chiefs saw the team travel to Jacksonville to take on a Jaguars team that prevented Patrick Mahomes from throwing a touchdown and picked him off twice in their 2018 meeting in Arrowhead Stadium. Jacksonville was out to prove that their defense was back to being one of the best in the league. With this being an AFC game, it could be a critical game that affects the tiebreaker late in the season when the Chiefs hope to be battling for home field advantage.
The Chiefs and Jaguars had a physical game in 2018. Chris Jones and Dee Ford were ejected. This game was just as physical.
- Nick Foles left the game with a broken left clavicle and is out indefinitely.
- Tyreek Hill injured his collarbone and we will know more in a few days. Adam Schefter reported that Hill will reportedly miss a few weeks but not need surgery. Ian Rapoprt reported that he has the same injury Green Bay WR Jake Kumerow had last year and he missed about two months. Rapoport later changed to saying Hill might miss a few weeks. So this is one of those injuries we will wait to hear more on later this week. Andy Reid said about the hit on Tyreek Hill by Jalen Ramsey, “I’m not sure that was the cleanest of plays.”
- Patrick Mahomes sprained his ankle and was limited with his mobility the rest of the game.
- Jaguars’ Myles Jack was ejected from the game for throwing a punch at Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson.
The Chiefs were in control most of the game and won easily 40-26. The win puts the Chiefs in first place in the AFC West with the rest of the division yet to play.
Patrick Mahomes started off hot in this one with a 68-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins on third down on the first series of the game. He ended up 25-for-33 for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Sammy Watkins was his favorite target in this one.
Mahomes had a chance at another touchdown but threw the ball over Travis Kelce’s head who was wide-open in the end zone. Mahomes tried his no-look pass and many are pointing out that he had an easy pass if he had not done that. However, there was a defender between Mahomes and Kelce so even if he had looked he might have had to throw the ball higher than Kelce could have jumped just to get it over the defender. Regardless, it is that mentality that makes Mahomes a great player. Sometimes it’s going to turn out great and sometimes he’s going to miss the receiver. You have to take the good with the bad and the good by far exceeds the bad he flashes.
Non-Mahomes Player of the Game:
Sammy Watkins set a career high with three touchdowns and 198 yards receiving on nine receptions. His nine receptions came on just 11 targets. His longest reception was a 68-yard touchdown on the third play from scrimmage. Mahomes found Watkins in the middle of the field for a first down. When the Jaguars defender tried to jump in front and knock the ball away he missed and it left Watkins alone with the ball but with four Jaguars defenders within a short distance of him. Watkins exploded past them and took the ball to the end zone for the Chiefs first score of the 2019 season.
With the Chiefs up just 23-13 on the first possession of the second half, the Jaguars went on a nine play drive that took 6:10 off the clock. On third and two on the Chiefs’ 26, Damien Wilson stripped the ball from Leonard Fournette after a short reception and the ball was recovered by Bashaud Breeland. The Chiefs then went on a 12 play, 60 yard drive that took another 6:26 off the clock and ended in a Kansas City touchdown. This swing changed the momentum of the second half and put the Chiefs in complete control of the game.
LeSean McCoy was really good in his first game with the Chiefs. McCoy carried the ball ten times for 81 yards rushing. His longest run was 31 yards. McCoy said after the game that learning the protections is the biggest thing for him at this time. I could see McCoy earning more carries next week but he and Damien Williams make for a real nice pair of running backs for this team. They can split carries to keep both fresh in the game and healthy from week to week.
Travis Kelce had three receptions for 88 yards in this game. His longest reception went for 42 yards. Kelce was effective beating his defender on multiple occasions and providing Patrick Mahomes with a nice, big target to throw to.
Room for Improvement:
The Chiefs defense was either the same or just slightly better than last season. The Chiefs allowed 347 yards passing to the Jacksonville quarterbacks, 275 of those yards were earned by backup and first-year quarterback Gardner Minshew out of Washington State. Minshew can throw. We saw that in Mike Leach’s offense last year but you would hope your defense would be a little more effective than the Chiefs were in the kid’s first NFL game. Minshew connected on 22 of 25 passes against the Chiefs.
The defensive line was not able to put much of any pressure on the Jacksonville quarterbacks. The Chiefs traded for Frank Clark and signed him to a big contract but he had just one tackle on the day and I don’t remember him getting anywhere near the quarterback. Chris Jones also had just one tackle and was also not spotted near the quarterback. That is unacceptable.
The defensive back play was also concerning but until the line can get pressure on the quarterback it’s difficult to place much blame on the coverage. You can only cover receivers for so long. It did appear that the defensive backs did a better job tackling after they allowed a reception so that’s a positive but let’s see a few more of those passes broken up.
There wasn’t anything to second guess in this game. It was never that close. It felt like the Chiefs were in control the entire game and nothing stood out to me that should have been done differently.
Whether it was the plan going into the game or an adjustment made because of how the game progressed, the Chiefs’ use of LeSean McCoy was an excellent decision. McCoy provided strong rushing out of the backfield when Damien Williams was struggling to gain much on the ground. McCoy looks like he could get the majority of the carries next week but the Chiefs would be smart to not throw too much at him to keep him healthy for the long haul.
Next week the Chiefs travel to Oakland for their last regular season game there before the Raiders move to Las Vegas next season. I don’t expect the Chiefs to have much trouble in this one but you never know what will happen in the NFL. The Chiefs will have to play without Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes will likely have a sore ankle and be limited in mobility.
Overall, this was a nice start to the season. Any win you can get in the National Football League is a good win. Don’t apologize for any mistakes you made. The Chiefs will try to clean up their mistakes in practice this week but right now they are 1-0. Enjoy it.