The Kansas City Chiefs generated the outcome they desperately needed against the Denver Broncos. Besides losing Patrick Mahomes to injury, it was an evening full of bright spots. Meanwhile, the report cards are in. Who’s stock is either rising or falling entering Week Eight? Let’s find out with this week’s version of three up and three down.
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The Pass Rush
It was easily the defense’s best attempt at a pass rush all season. Kansas City had Joe Flacco seeing ghosts. He held on to the ball to long due to coverage and being confused by the Chiefs looks. Mixing these kind of looks, is exactly what many thought we would see with the new defensive scheme. Better late than never? Apparently so, as the Chiefs dumped Flacco for nine sacks, ten quarterback hits and a forced fumble. This kind of game could be the spark Frank Clark, Alex Okafor, Emmanuel Ogbah and others were looking for to carry them in the future.
The Run Defense
Going into this matchup, the Chiefs run defense had allowed 125+ rushing yards in five consecutive games. On the other hand, the Denver Broncos were entering the game with a successful rushing attack. We mentioned how the mixture of defensive looks were what many originally expected from the Chiefs defense. That idea goes hand in hand here too. Kansas City realized they needed to stack the box and it paid off. Give credit to guys like Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland and even Damien Wilson in being aggressive and attacking the line of scrimmage. The feeble Denver offensive line was unable to handle all the bodies up front. With running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman having nowhere to run, they were held to their worst games of the year. Kansas City’s defense allowed just 71 yards and 3.4 yards per carry, which is a major improvement.
Rookie cornerback Rashad Fenton received his first extensive snaps at cornerback this year. He quickly grabbed my attention. What made this performance so satisfactory? Fenton displayed sound technique in many areas. He’s physical at that catch point, while also locating the ball in the air. Some of the veteran cornerbacks still have trouble doing this consistently for the Chiefs. He also displayed good long speed against the receivers. Fenton doesn’t lack confidence, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his snaps increase.
Thankfully for the Chiefs and the NFL, Mahomes knee injury was not as bad as it could have been. Though, Kansas City will miss him for an unknown amount of time. We could see him back before the bye, or the first game afterwards. The Chiefs will now turn to Matt Moore to lead their offense until the reigning MVP returns. For fans, it will be disappointing not to see Mahomes versus Aaron Rodgers this Sunday night like we all anticipated.
The offensive line performed respectably against the Broncos. However, the play of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has started to stick out. It hasn’t stood out in a good way either. When the Broncos made plays in the backfield, it was often due to Duvernay-Tardif getting beat. He has long been a top guard around the league. But if his play continues to deteriorate, the Chiefs may think of freeing up some cap space by releasing him this offseason.
We have mentioned over and over again that LeSean McCoy is the best pure rusher of the Chiefs running backs. It seemed like there was finally a plan of the running game on Thursday night, which involved a heavy dosage of McCoy. The former Pitt Panther gained 64 of the team’s 80 rushing yards on the evening. To boot, Damien Williams only generated seven rushing yards and 0.8 yards per carry. Williams may be useful in the screen game, but the plan should continue to feed McCoy in the running game.
That will wrap up this week’s version of three up and three down. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.