The season is approaching. The editorial staff of TDActu invites you to take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of the 32 franchises. Today the Kansas City Chiefs 2023. You can find all the presentations by clicking on this link.
2022 is the season the Chiefs have won the Super Bowl. They were then emerging from a 2-year “draught” where they learned from their two “failures” (defeat in the 2020 Super Bowl against the Buccaneers, and defeat in the AFC conference final against the Bengals in 2021). The team now seems to be in symbiosis around superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Focusing more on efficiency, less on the spectacular side, the franchise coached by Andy Reid learned to win in another way. From there to speak of dynasty?
Last season: 14 wins – 3 losses, Super Bowl Champion
Movements in the off-season
Notable arrivals: Jawaan Taylor (OT), Donovan Smith (OT), Drue Tranquill (LB), Mike Edwards (S), Charles Omenihu (DE), Richie James (WR), Blaine Gabbert (QB)
Re-signatures: Nick Alelegretti (OL), Derrick Nnadi (DT), Justin Watson (WR), Tommy Townsend (P)
Draft: Felix Anudike-Uzomah (EDGE), Rashee Rice (WR), Wanya Morris (OT), Chamarri Conner (S), BJ Thompson (LB), Keondre Coburn (Texas), Nic Jones (CB)
Notable losses: Orlando Brown Jr. (OT), JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR), Frank Clark (EDGE), Carlos Dunlap (EDGE), Mecole Hardman (WR), Juan Thonhill (S), Andrew Wylie (OT)
The Chiefs’ priority during the offseason: how to properly surround and protect Patrick Mahomes? To this question, general manager Brett Veach decided to go in another direction on several areas. For the position of offensive tackle, Orlando Brown Jr. will now protect Joe Burrow. Donovan Smith, used to protecting elite quarterbacks, should replace him. The right tackle position should gain quality with Jawaan Taylor, signed on the long term.
In terms of targets, only Rashee Rice has arrived at this position. A player accustomed to aerial offensive systems. Decisive during the Super Bowl, JuJu Smith-Schuster left to be number 1 receiver for the Patriots. Irregular and often injured, Mecole Hardman was left free.
In defense, too expensive and unproductive, Frank Clark was cut. To replace him, the Chiefs turned to the Draft with the first-round selection of former Kansas State Felix Anudike-Uzomah, a pure pass rusher. Drue Tranquill looks like the right pick at linebacker. On the second curtain, to replace Juan Thonhill, only Mike Edwards arrived, in addition to Chamarri Conner via the Draft.
Strong point(s): the Patrick Mahomes – Travis Kelce connection
The statistics speak for themselves. The 2 players played 78 games together, found each other 496 times, for 6319 yards and 46 touchdowns. Essential to the success of the Chiefs, this duo should still be there for 2023.
Mahomes became more and more complete. He’s learned to use his legs, and you can tell he’s getting more and more mature. Whatever receivers and offensive line he’ll have at his disposal, his winning mentality is contagious.
In defense, one name stands out: Chris Jones. The defensive tackle is one of the very best in his position. The Chiefs are the 2nd best team in the number of sacks last year, and he is the symbol with his 15.5 sacks. While waiting for the emergence of a Karlaftis, he embodies Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive pass rush.
The run defense is symbolized by a nice squad of linebackers. Already very good with Willie Gay and Nick Bolton, this squad saw the arrival of Drue Tranquill, one of the best players of the rival Chargers in 2022. With the hatching of an interesting Leo Chenal last year, the position has a bright present and future.
The weak point(s): air defense and running
If the air attack is number 1 in 2022 on the side of the Chiefs, the air defense has sometimes been on alternating current. It’s not one of the worst defenses, far from it. But, facing receivers like Davantae Adams (Raiders), Keenan Allen (Chargers) or even Jerry Jeudy (Broncos), the Chiefs’ cornerbacks must be at their best to limit their production. With only 11 interceptions in 2022, including 3 for safety Juan Thornhill, now at the Browns, the quality of aerial cover seems below the best in the elite.
On the ground, no player has passed 1000 yards since Kareem Hunt in the 2017 season. It’s been an eternity in the NFL. Isiah Pacheco had an honorable rookie season (830 yards, 5 touchdowns), but must gain consistency and limit fumbles. Former first round Clyde Edwards-Helaire no longer seems to be favored by Andy Reid to carry the ball. That leaves Jerick McKinnon, who had a better season in reception than in the race. With the addition of tackles more specialized in pass protection than rushing, the number of rushing yards for the season could be worse compared to last season.
The X factor: recipients
Receiving balls from Patrick Mahomes is Travis Kelce and the others. The team’s 2nd best receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, is gone. Then, in the number of yards, there is Marques Valdes-Scantling, then… a running back, Jerick McKinnon. Rashee Rice is only a rookie, his development is to be followed within a squad from which we expect a number 1. The young Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney will therefore have more responsibilities.
For the second city, the Chiefs hope that he will continue the momentum of his excellent Super Bowl, and that the injuries are now behind him. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid seem to have complete confidence in him, and hope that he will be an alternative to Kelce in the aerial field. Unless the ghost Justyn Ross manages to create a surprise. Tall, and with good hands, the former Clemson is back from injury. During the preseason, he impressed the coaches, and seems ready to exploit his potential within an increasingly oriented aerial attack team.
Player to watch: George Karlaftis (DE)
To sacking the quarterback, there is Chris Jones and the others. However, George Karlaftis had a great rookie season with 6 sacks (2nd best rookie behind Aidan Hutchinson) and 2 fumbles covered. The former Purdue saw Frank Clark leave, but he’s going to have another contender in Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
It’s up to him to use this competition to emerge as the second threat to the opposing quarterback. With a very good first step and a very good game intelligence, Steve Spagnoulo should trust him to fully exploit his potential.
2023 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule
Lions, @Jaguars, Chicago, @Jets, @Vikings, Broncos, Chargers, @Broncos, Dolphins, Eagles, @Raiders, @Packers, Bills, @Patriots, Raiders, Bengals, @Chargers
Podcast audio preview
The Chiefs have the best quarterback and one of the best receivers in the NFL. The offense should always be effective, even if the receiving group is questionable. Exactly, questions will always exist in defense, especially in terms of air cover.
Looking at the calendar, we see opponents reinforced with the main objective of beating them. Andy Reid’s team will therefore have to raise their level if they want to keep their crown. A challenge that has not been taken up by an NFL team since the Patriots in 2005.