Tim Crone: Path to Super Bowl still goes through Chiefs
As a golf fan you know the world is turned upside down when the Masters is played in November. It was a great tournament with a lot of low scores, but the tournament was made for spring. However, the golfers were still happy to be able to play the tournament in such an unusual year.
Sunday will be the return of the Kansas City Chiefs following a bye week. The first nine games made a statement that they are still the team to beat if you want to win the Super Bowl. Prior to the bye week the offense solidified that it is able to beat you both on the ground and in the air. The offensive coaching staff is proficient with taking what the other team gives them.
Some of the early season games have been won by a dominant pass game, and yet in two games, the running game was better than in any other time in the Andy Reid era.
The injuries in the offensive line and the loss of outstanding offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tariff to a COVID-19 opt-out has made the offensive line an adventure, but the ability of general manager Brett Veach to provide quality depth has kept the offense chugging right along. The addition of Mike Remmers and Daniel Kilgore has been critical. Hopefully, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz will be able to overcome back problems and take over again on the right side of the line.
The Chiefs are still loaded at the offensive skill positions. The first-round draft choice, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, has been huge. The addition of Le’Veon Bell was a coup. He should be very productive in the last portion of the season and in the playoffs.
The receiving corps is totally amazing, even with the hamstring injury to clutch number 3 receiver Sammy Watkins. Reid and Veach found Byron Pringle, a player who would be a starter on many teams in the NFL.
Travis Kelce is one of the most amazing athletes to watch. He is not very fast, but he is always open and does not miss anything that is even close. Tyreek Hill is the best deep threat in the NFL, bar none. The media does not give Kelce and Hill enough credit. They are both the best in the NFL at their craft.
A hot topic for the talking heads is always the league MVP. For the first half of the season it was all about Patrick Mahomes by light years. Mahomes can have three bad quarters and still beat you in the fourth quarter by two touchdowns.
The Chiefs’ defense is better than last year due to quality depth. Defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton has been outstanding coming out of Division II Missouri S&T as an undrafted free agent.
The secondary has been solid with several younger players who have made great contributions throughout the season. The Honey Badger – also know as Tyrann Mathieu – leads that unit by example. He plays full speed on every snap.
A major weakness for the Chiefs lies at the linebacker positions. Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson are up and down. Rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr. should get more snaps as the season goes on through the playoffs. Ben Niemann has turned out to be solid in nickel packages.
The guy who has been a wild card all year for the defense is free safety Daniel Sorensen. Teams try to pick on Sorensen but he seems to rise to the top when the team and defense need it the most. He is smart and has experience. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo uses him and Mathieu all over the field.
The special teams have not been as solid as past years. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub’s squads have given up some key fake punts and missed extra points. Chiefs fans are hopeful that talented All-Pro kicker Harrison Butker can get the cobwebs out of his head to get over his problem with kicking extra points. Rookie punter Tommy Townsend has been another good pick-up by the organization.
The second half of the season will be remarkably interesting with opponents like the Raiders, Buccaneers, Saints and an improved Dolphins team. The Steelers and Ravens will be very tough outs in the playoffs. A key for success is for the Chiefs to stay away from injuries and out of harm’s way from COVID-19. It is a relief to be worried about a Super Bowl appearance and not merely in the hunt for a first-round draft pick. Chiefs fans, enjoy the rest of the regular season.
• The quote of the week comes from former NFL head coach Chuck Knox: “Look for and recognize mistakes. This means being honest with yourself and if there is a doubt in any area, go back and check 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.