What an offseason it has been for the Kansas City Chiefs. As defending Super Bowl champions, not only have they extended two of their best players (Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones), but most of their core is still intact. 20 of 22 starters from last year are returning for the Run It Back tour in 2020. The decision making and planning by the front office, namely general manager Brett Veach, has been exceptionally creative. Furthermore, the chemistry in the Kansas City Chiefs facility is rare, from the top of the organization to the bottom.
But we know winning the Super Bowl is no easy task. Winning two in back to back campaigns is even more difficult. So much so, that it has not been done since the New England Patriots did it in 2003 and 2004. The dynamics of this season is set to be unlike any we have ever seen before. Moreover, there are still looming questions for one of the NFL’s best rosters, in the Kansas City Chiefs.
While there is reason for optimism, every season is different. Certain aspects of the team that managed in 2019, is no guarantee for a repeat result. Elsewhere, the depth in some spots is full of inexperience. Andy Reid generally goes with the hot hand, rather than favoring player x over player y. Here are our three biggest questions for the Kansas City Chiefs entering 2020.
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1) Will The Cornerbacks Take Another Step Forward?
Last year, the Chiefs’ cornerback room was widely considered the team’s biggest weakness. Not only did they turn some heads, they shut up some of those doubters. Charvarius Ward quietly had one of the more sustained improvements around the league. His 67.3 passer rating when targeted (minimum 800 snaps), was the fourth best in the NFL. Only Tre’Davious White, Richard Sherman and Stephon Gilmore were ahead of him. That is elite company.
Bashaud Breeland was important in big game situations. His veteran presence was essential when it mattered most. For all of his high moments, there was also some head scratching mistakes as well. During the offseason, there was an expectation that he could be hit with a possible suspension, due to off field incidents. That possibly opens the door for younger players.
Rashad Fenton showed up with confidence and likely receives more responsibility in 2020. He proved he could hang both outside and in the slot. In fact, Fenton’s quarterback rating allowed (57.7) and completion percentage allowed (47.1) were both lower than that of Breeland. His long arms and athletic profile are exactly what the Kansas City Chiefs are wanting from their cornerbacks.
The same potential is what the team envisions in draft picks L’Jarius Sneed and BoPete Keyes. While there is reason for credence that Kansas City’s cornerbacks can get the job done, it is reasonable to have a level of concern. Steve Spagnuolo‘s defense allows them the freedom to play a physical style. Can they turn it up another notch in 2020?
2) Who Locks Down The Interior Offensive Line Spots?
The Chiefs offensive tackles, Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, are a dominant duo. Meanwhile, the inside of the offensive line is full of questions. There were multiple combinations used last year. The starting trio to open the season (Austin Reiter, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Andrew Wylie) was very shaky. We mentioned earlier that Coach Reid goes with the hot hand, and is not hesitant to shake up the lineup if need be. Duvernay-Tardif and Wylie each saw their level of play decrease. LDT also suffered injuries once again. Only Reiter started 16 games out of that group. He was not perfect, but great centers are not just growing on trees.
To compete for those spots, the Kansas City Chiefs have players like Martinas Rankin, Nick Allegretti and Mike Remmers to choose from. All three bring just as much questions as they do answers. There is a possibility that draft pick Lucas Niang and UDFAs Darryl Williams and Yasir Durant can be kicked inside and thrive too. At this moment, it is anybody’s guess of who wins those starting interior offensive line spots.
3) How Will Rookies Fare With Altered Preseason?
Both the NFL and NFLPA have agreed that there will be no preseason games during this COVID affected season. What will this mean for Kansas City Chiefs rookies looking to battle for starting roles? For some, it may be easier to win a starting job, compared to others. On one hand, the dynamics of this offseason have led to more opportunities for one on one time between coaches and rookies. Football also has little to no “preseason” at younger ages. So, rookies may not feel like it is a huge difference. However, receiving reps against other individuals who are fighting for a roster spot, in a different jersey across from you, is totally gone mentally before the season.
– 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.