The Kansas City Chiefs improved to 7-2 after taking care of business 27-17 against the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7). Patrick Mahomes threw for 331 yards and four scores to four separate receivers. The defense got to Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence all afternoon to the tune of five sacks, two of which were courtesy of Stone Cold Chris Jones, who was an absolute monster out there. There was plenty to take away from that decisive win in Arrowhead. Here is what I saw out there.
Chiefs’ New WR Kadarius Toney Is The Truth
When the Chiefs traded a sixth-round and compensatory third-round pick to the New York Giants for former first-rounder Kadarius Toney, expectations were that this would be another fabled “Brett Veach special” reclamation project. Toney had been a bit of a malcontent during his time in New York, and there were some concerns that his attitude problems would cause an issue in the Chiefs’ locker room. Those issues, it turns out, have not yet come to pass, and Toney has already started to flourish in Kansas City.
IT'S TONEY TIME. pic.twitter.com/VaWS3WzyIr — Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 13, 2022
Toney is understandably excited to restart his career with the Chiefs. He had his 2022 coming-out party after being forced into action following a Week Nine abdominal injury to Mecole Hardman. Toney caught four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, ran twice for 33 yards on the ground, and returned two punts for 11 yards. That totals to 101 yards of total offense, which is not bad for a player who has only been in the Andy Reid offense for less than a month. If Toney can keep up and maybe even improve this level of play, it will be tough to keep him off the field when Hardman returns to the fold.
Chiefs’ Defense Continues Showing Out
The Chiefs’ defense continues to improve after another impressive performance against Jacksonville. This was the fourth game in a row where the defense has allowed 24 or fewer points, as they were able to keep the Jags off the scoreboard despite being thrust into some pretty awful situations. Their third-down defense was a massive reason for their success with their backs against the wall. The Chiefs only allowed Jacksonville to pick up four out of their 14 third down attempts, so the Jags were being sent off the field just as quickly as they came on.
This was also the third game in a row where the Chiefs have registered three or more sacks. Chris Jones had a hell of a day with a solo sack, assisting with another, and was an absolute menace in the backfield.
Stone. Cold. Jones. 📺: #JAXvsKC on CBS@StoneColdJones | #HailState🐶 pic.twitter.com/fPz5F0EMd7 — Mississippi State Football (@HailStateFB) November 13, 2022
Linebackers Willie Gay and Nick Bolton were also flying around the field. The young linebacker tandem combined for 16 tackles and a sack as they anchored a unit that held the surging Jaguars running back Travis Etienne to only 45 yards on 11 carries. Etienne was one of the NFL’s hottest running backs, having racked up over 100 yards on the ground over the last three weeks, and the Chiefs held him to his worst output since Week Four. The Chiefs’ defense continues to improve and should be a strength for the rest of the year.
<img decoding="async" width="728" height="90" src="https://i0.wp.com/chiefsedge.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/39/2022/11/nfl.jpg?resize=728%2C90&ssl=1" alt="" class="wp-image-2774 lazyload" srcset="https://i0.wp.com/stadiumrant.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2022/11/nfl.jpg?w=728&ssl=1 728w, https://i0.wp.com/stadiumrant.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2022/11/nfl.jpg?resize=300%2C37&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/stadiumrant.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2022/11/nfl.jpg?resize=500%2C62&ssl=1 500w" sizes="(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px" data-recalc-dims="1" />
Chiefs’ Young Secondary Is Ready To Shine
In the second game since trading veteran cornerback Rashad Fenton, the trio of Chiefs rookie cornerbacks continues to show that the team was correct to place their faith in them. Trent McDuffie appears as if he has not missed a beat after missing two months with a hamstring injury. McDuffie had seven total tackles to go along with his impeccable coverage while the ball is in the air.
THAT’S MY GOSH DANG FIRST ROUND CB RIGHT THERE Great PBU by McDuffie while fighting off the stack. pic.twitter.com/pX7ELrOvpv — Matt Lane (@Matty_KCSN) November 13, 2022
McDuffie has a real chance to be a legitimate top-tier cornerback before the year is through. Not only does McDuffie have excellent ball skills, he is also not afraid of a bit of contact. As a result, you rarely see him make any “business decisions” when it comes to making tackles.
Joshua Williams continues to improve his overall game by providing excellent support with his four tackles along with good pass coverage. Jaylen Watson was also solid with his one tackle and tight coverage on the outside. There will still be some growing pains, and not having Fenton’s experience to fall back on may be painful at times, but these rookies have the talent to be solid contributors when it matters most in the playoffs.
Chiefs’ Offensive Line Had Their Best Game Of The Year
The much-maligned Chiefs’ offensive line absolutely balled out against the Jaguars’ defensive front. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes had tons of time to throw all afternoon, and it was the first time since Week One against the Arizona Cardinals that he finished a game without being sacked. Most of the credit has to go to this offensive line, as they held the Jags’ defensive linemen at bay. The Jags only blitzed once the entire game, following the game plan used all year to try and stop this Chiefs offense. The O-Line stepped up and answered the challenge in a big way.
#Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes finds TE Travis Kelce wide open for a 46-yard pickup. That's Kelce's longest catch of the season. #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/KlHfIp9FZZ — Devon Clements (@DevclemNFL) November 13, 2022
Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco also had running lanes so wide that a Peterbilt could roll through. After a red zone fumble on the game’s first drive, Pacheco had a solid performance on the ground. He had 16 carries for 82 yards and averaged over five yards per carry behind a significant push by his offensive line. These linemen have taken a ton of flack this year due to their performance, but performances like this one will start to quiet the doubters and build more confidence in the players.
Chiefs’ Special Teams Issues Are Getting Out Of Control
Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub has consistently put together some of the best special teams units in the NFL since coming over from the Chicago Bears in 2018. Fans could always count on them to make great decisions and not make mistakes. Unfortunately, those were the expectations heading into this season, and they are not being met.
Jags start the game with a surprise onside kick recovered by the kicker! 🔥 📺: #JAXvsKC on CBS 📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/WuzICNVJEJ pic.twitter.com/JudxgWB3sI — NFL (@NFL) November 13, 2022
Instead of special teams being the strength of the Chiefs as they so often are, they are verging on becoming a liability. The Chiefs were lucky that the defense stepped up on several occasions to preserve this win, but this game is far from being an outlier regarding special teams issues. The inexplicable Week Three loss to the Indianapolis Colts was mainly the failure of the entire special teams unit, which has not improved significantly since. Harrison Butker had been vying with Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker for the title of best kicker before his Week One injury. Now, Butker is having adventures just trying to make extra points.
We can be thankful for punter Tommy Townsend and his phenomenal flow for being excellent, or else the entire special teams would be a disaster right now. Dave Toub is going to have to figure something out because, even though we got away with a win this time, special teams’ mistakes will absolutely destroy you in a playoff game.
All in all, the Chiefs played a great game on offense and defense. If not for the horrendous special teams’ miscues, the Chiefs would have probably won this one by 30. Luckily, the suddenly surging defense played their hearts out with five sacks, and the offensive line gave Patrick Mahomes all day to do what he does best. If the Chiefs can clean up those special teams’ brainfarts and Butker can remember that he is one the best kickers in the league, this team ought to go far in the postseason.