Chiefs fans had to thoroughly enjoy the whipping the team put on the elite NFL New England Patriots. The whole sports world seemed in total shock that a Midwest team had the audacity to spoil the opening game of the 2017 NFL season for the one and only Bill Belichick.
The Chiefs hung more points and total yardage on Superman than any other team in his career. It was done by an opposing quarterback who had the hometown gurus wanting to bench him. Alex Smith played a near perfect game in the opener against the defending world champions.
The one thing that surprised even the most positive Chiefs fans was the ability of Smith to stretch the field. He threw two 70-plus-yard TD passes right on the money. The first was to speedster Tyreek Hill, who literally blew by the Patriots secondary like they were standing still. The second was to rookie running back Kareem Hunt racing out of the backfield with a linebacker on coverage. That was the throw that was the most impressive of the game. Smith hit Hunt right in stride.
A quarterback is unable to hit the deep throw without receivers with great speed who can get deep. This is the first time Smith has had the type of receivers who can take the top off a defense. Jeremy Maclin was a good receiver but his deep days were over during his career with the Chiefs.
The defense looked like the typical bend-but-don’t-break defensive units of the past. The loss of Eric Berry will be devastating. He provided leadership and experience. He was key on the fourth-down stops that turned a potential blowout for the Patriots into a come-from-behind victory.
The defense did show some signs of becoming a better run stopper. The pass rush did not show up until the end of the game when the 41-year-old Tom Brady had to throw the ball.
The first game showed that the defensive line has more depth and can play at a high level. The linebacking crew looked solid but we will continue to hold our breath in future games be holding our breath that Derrick Johnson will be able to hold up physically. Many feel that both Johnson and Justin Houston are over the hill. I disagree but health issues do come into play.
The secondary will be tested without the presence of Berry. Phillip Gaines had a solid game in New England but he still must prove he can play for 16 weeks in the NFL. Daniel Sorensen, Eric Murray and Steven Nelson are going to have to become solid NFL performers if the team is going to challenge in the AFC West Division. Marcus Peters seems to be the real deal. Hopefully he will remain healthy.
The offensive line was just as big as Smith in the first game. Smith could throw in rhythm and Hunt and Charcandrick West found open holes in the running game.
Overall, the receivers all played well with a specific role in the offense. Albert Wilson and Chris Conley are becoming very good position receivers. De’Anthony Thomas can play inside and outside receiver. He is very effective on reverses and misdirection plays in the running back position. Demarcus Robinson is becoming more and more a part of the offense as well as becoming an excellent special teams player.
The real key to the entire offense is Tyreek Hill. He is a big-play waiting to happen. He might be the fastest guy in pads in the history of football. You can see the defense react to his every movement.
That brings us to the tight end position, in which the Chiefs have great depth. Demetrius Harris is becoming a real threat in the goal-line package. Ross Travis is a good run blocker and given the chance he can be a solid receiver.
The real question is how good the Chiefs offense can be become if the super talented Travis Kelce can grow up and control his emotions. He may be the team’s best offensive weapon. He can catch the ball and is better than any other tight end in the NFL in the open field. He has become a much-improved blocker and Andy Reid is even putting him into the running game with option type looks. However, he is a total knothead! He hurts the team with his undisciplined temper tantrums and penalties. He fumbles the ball or does something stupid in just about every game. He is his own worst enemy and his actions affect the team in key situations. The organization makes endless excuses for him.
The Chiefs have a good team this year and we need Travis Kelce to show some leadership on the field during key times. He is a tremendous physical talent but needs to develop a mature brain to go with that talent. His teammates seem to really like him, so now is the time for him to become an All-Pro and team leader.
Injuries and depth will be a big factor in 2017. The season opener is always a great game to win, but it is a long season and the mental and physical truth of the game will always play out. It was great to have the opening season game have emphasis on how well the Chiefs played against the NFL’s most famous franchise. Go Chiefs!
• You must love the way rookie running back Kareem Hunt started his career with a fumble but fought back from adversity to set rookie first game records. The guy is a player.
• My quote of the week come from College Football Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz: “The guy who usually tells you about the football taking crazy bounces is the guy who dropped it.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.