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Kansas City Chiefs Early August Scouting Report
John Cooney
8/16/2019

Wow! So far so good. Can you believe that the Chiefs are actually having a hiccup-free training camp so far? With the Tyreek Hill saga apparently closed and the team experiencing overall health thus far, it is all systems go for 2019.

 

I know, there’s more pre-season games and practices yet to be completed but let’s look at the now, which is pretty darn good.

 

QB Patrick Mahomesis picking up where he left off in 2018. Mahomes is almost certain to experience a dip in his overall numbers this season compared to last, but I would not bet on those performance stats to take a precipitous fall. The 3rd season passer actually looks better than last season already. It is quite evident that he has supreme self-confidence in Coach Andy Reid’s offense and his own knowledge of the playbook. It is scary to think that Mahomes may actually play faster than last year. Yeah, he may not get to 50 TD passes or 5000 yards… but he won’t finish far off that pace. IN the words of TE Travis Kelce, "One-five is ready for every moment you can think of."

 

The main reason for the continued aerial bombardment of defenses opposing Kansas City this season is the return in good standing of ultra-swift and at times unstoppable Tyreek Hill. Hill got back on the practice field late last month and ended up with a bruised quad. No worries, he got back promptly and is full speed, which is, as said earlier, at times unstoppable. What we are not hearing much about is fellow wideout Sammy Watkins. Don’t let the non-reporting of Watkins’ daily camp work fool you into thinking something is wrong. On the contrary, other than being sick the last day or so, Watkins is there making plays when called on. He’s historically had injury issues throughout his NFL career so a dialed back rep slate is keeping Sudden Sammy ready to hit the regular season running full blast. In a practice last week Watkins and Mahomes hooded up for a perfect deep TD toss. It feels as if the QB and Watkins can ring up the home run whenever the defense falls asleep on the job.

 

I’ve said it before and I continue to make this comparison; the 2019 Chiefs are the updated, outdoor version of the 1999 St. Louis Rams known as the "Greatest Show on Turf." Now, Kansas City doesn’t have a Marshall Faulk, but the way this program is set up and how defenses are stressed by the speed of the wideouts and the power of Mahomes’ arm, RB Damien Williams can create plenty of yards from scrimmage his way. He’s not Faulk-fast not is he the acute router the Rams’ RB was but he fits seamlessly in this offense. Rookie RB Darwin Thompson offers the same versatility in a smaller package. However, I am having a hard time figuring where Carlos Hyde fits in. Seriously, you have to wonder why Coach Reid would transition DB Tremon Smith to RB right in the middle of training camp. The backfield already sports the Williams Boys (Damien and Darrell), Hyde, Thompson, undrafted tryout guyMarcus Marshall and now Smith. Smith had 15 interceptions in college which is an indication of good hands. He returned kicks last season and turned in a 4.32-forty dash at his Pro Day workout. If anything, Coach Reid and Coach Bieniemy may be looking to inject more speed to the backfield. All of the backs are fair to good catching the football, with Hyde being the exception. Hmmm. But, for what it is worth, guess who scored the first TD for the Chiefs this season? Yep, Carlos Hyde.

 

A quick review of the pre-season tilt versus Cincinnati Saturday starting with the points scored; 38. Right on track!

 

QB: Mahomes was Mahomes. The ball jets off his hand and he completed all 4 passes for 66 yards, 36 on a Kelce connection. The in-season direct backup to Mahomes will be Chad Henne and he needs to be that. Henne is a steadying veteran presence who has helped Mahomes a great deal from the sideline. But I am darn impressed with the maturation and ability displayed in camp and this game by Chase Litton. Litton fired 15 passes, hitting 11 of them for 122 yards and 2 TDs. He did throw a pick early in his session but rebounded like a champ. Rookie QB Kyle Shurmurwas OK at best; his arm strength is iffy from what I have seen in college and camp cut-ups.

 

WR: Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins combined for 1 target and a 7-yard grab by Sammy. End of night for those all-too-important-for-pre-season-action guys. Rookie Mecole Hardmancaught 2 of his 3 targets for 31 yards and a speedy catch-n-run TD of 17 yards. Quite frankly the wideouts overall were not heavily involved as TEs were utilized in this one. 2nd year WR Byron Pringle failed to snag any of the 3 passes sent his way, but he did open eyes with a 50-yard kickoff return.

 

TE: Travis Kelce snared his only toss for 36 yards from Pat Mahomes. One-n-done. Overall TEs combined for 16 of the 38 targets launched by KC passers. Deon Yelder led the way with 6 but held onto just 2, one going 14-yards and a TD from Litton. Nick Keizer followed with 4 targets, snatching 3 for 24 scoreless yards. Both Keizer and Yelder thrived on special teams cover squads. Blake Belldid well with his 3 throws, snagging 2 for 37 yards. He’s a big guy (6’6-255). Converting (to FB/TE) Princeton QB John Lovett hauled in both his targets for 23 yards. Expect Blake Bell to be Kelce’s backup coming out of camp.

 

RB: Well, for fun Josh Caldwell closed out the game looking like a winner against the Bengals end-of-the-bench practice squanders. Caldwell ‘led’ the Chiefs with 59 yards rushing on just 4 carries. He notched a 4-yard score as well. No, Caldwell won’t make the squad. Projected starter Damien Williams did not suit up as he’s been nursing a hamstring ailment. Rookie Darwin Thompson did play, rolled up 51 YFS on 6 touches and logged a TD catch of 29 yards (from Litton). Thompson is nifty but he doesn’t have a ‘big’ game. Smallish RB that gets knocked off his pins a bit too easy for the NFL… right now. Tremon Smith, the DB-turned-RB, gained all of 5 yards on 3 totes. RB vision? Carlos Hyde carried twice for 2 yards, breaking the scoring ice for the Chiefs on his 1-yard plunge for 6. For fantasy coaches, this does have the look and feel of a RBBC. Damien Williams should get the majority of touches, but he’ll likely be sharing the workload.

 

O-Line: I’ll keep this simple… the unit looked solid and almost ready to get the regular season started. Barring injuries, the Chiefs front-five should be a strength. I am interested to see if the pass-pro takes a step up this season, though.

 

The defense is going to be aggressive under Coach Spaguolo.

 

TanohKpassagnon started at left DE, nailed down a late 1st-half sack. Like both of those facts a bunch.

BreelandSpeaksgot the right DE start and one play after K-Pass got his sack, Speaks notched one of his own. Pressure from the DE spots… a Coach Spags specialty.

LB Darren Leewas in on 8 tackles, 4 of those solo.

The Bengals averaged 1.8 YPC for the game; Joe Mixon did not play however.

NOTE: rookie S/CB Juan Thornhill did not do anything that stood out this game but has elevated his practice play greatly. Early on he was around the football but failing to finish off as he so often did in college, with the pick. Lately, Thornhill is not only getting to the football, he’s taking it away. With the rookie and a fired up Tyrann Mathieurunning the inside zones Kansas City’s secondary could be a strength this year.

 

Special teams are looking special this year. Really special. WRs Byron Pringle and MecoleHardman could be the kick returners this season and both appear to be dangerous as heck. Overall the Chiefs kickoff guys averaged over 37 yards per bring back versus Cincy. Coach Toubhas the bomb-squaders flying downfield and around the football on kickoff and punt coverages. And if you wonder why the Chiefs might end up keeping 4 TEs once camp breaks, consider the tremendous cover work on teams by reserve TEs Nick Keizer and Deon Yelder. Those guys are buzzing every special teams snap and both came up with fumble recoveries in this contest.

 

Stay tuned as another Eye in the Sky Report will follow after the next pre-season game is played (Saturday vs. Pittsburgh) and the week of practice is in the books after the game with the Steelers.

 

Keep your Eye in the Sky over Kansas City.

 

End.

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