Ross Jacobs has been an FFM correspondent on NFL games and NFL Draft matters for the past few years. He is going to be writing up some of his notes on various games he’s watching/studying this year. Typically, he will have written/submitted his work before mine, so this is a look at the same game with different eyes...and you can compare and contrast or find some new takeaways.
2020 Week 2 Analysis: Chiefs @ Chargers (By Ross Jacobs)
-What a wild ride this was. Chargers rookie QB Justin Herbert suddenly starts the game out of nowhere over Tyrod Taylor and manages to keep his team competitive. It comes out later that Taylor's lung was punctured by the doctor administering a shot of pain killers to him before the game. I've never heard of anything like this, and it's unclear when Taylor will be back and what could happen between him, the team, and the doctor.
-The Chargers surprised many people by controlling this game from the start and nearly holding off the defending champs, but I'm going to cover several reasons why I wasn't surprised and how it all fits together.
-Firstly, getting down early in a game and storming back at the end to snatch victory has become something of a habit for these Chiefs. They've had a terrific record the past few years, blown out countless weaker opponents, but every time lately that they have faced stiffer competition they have needed unbelievable miracles from Patrick Mahomes to bail them out. If you look at their recent history this is the pattern. The reality is this is not some dominant team. They are a fundamentally flawed team with decent coaching and the greatest weapon football has ever known. Mahomes is keeping this team afloat almost by himself. I believe they would be merely average at best were it not for Mahomes.
-The defense is ok at best, but the injuries are starting to pile up and they weren't particularly deep to begin with. The secondary is average but typically get bailed out by a pretty aggressive pass rush. But when Frank Clark went down in this game the pass rush suddenly dried up. Chris Jones is still a beast, but without his buddy they were able to focus solely on him and reduce his impact. He needs Clark to provide that complementary threat. Without a pass rush this defense is going to get quickly exposed because they can't stop anything otherwise. A good rush was their only real weapon on defense.
-As for the offense they honestly haven't been a whole lot better. I'm not sure what's going on, but they keep starting out very slow. Mahomes is the king of bringing them back, but even he can't do it forever. I think the play calling may be getting too conservative again like I warned in week 1. Reid is falling back into old habits with the Eagles, and it's just Mahomes magic that is keeping them from realizing there's a problem. That's not to say the offense is bad. They are still very hard to stop for most teams. The Chargers have a pretty nasty defense, and that front seven really gave the Chiefs problems, but my point is that the Chiefs are far from unstoppable. If you can get to Patrick consistently and keep the ball out of his hands by running (which isn't hard to do on the Chiefs defense) you can beat them. That's the formula, and there are an awful lot of teams that fit the bill this year. The Patriots, Colts, and Ravens all match up quite nicely against the Chiefs weaknesses.
-So have the Chargers found the next great QB after his sparkling debut? Not so much. I was actually very unimpressed by Herbert here. He ran the offense ok, but this Chiefs defense is pretty bad as I've mentioned. Herbert was staring down receivers all day, and he still made a couple of baffling decisions like his ill-advised throw across his body into double coverage that resulted in an easy interception for the Chiefs. You could do worse than Herbert, but mark my words he's no star. This isn't going to end well.
-Jerry Tillery flashed a little bit again but not as much as week 1. Not sure if it's a lack of snaps or what, but I'm not seeing anything super consistent out of him. There's a spark of something though.
-Don't panic on Mahomes. He's fine. This was just a really tough defense, and he still finished with 300 yards and a couple TD's. Not sure he's going to hang with the running guys this year, but he'll be in the mix. I'm still hoping to see some more aggressive play-calling soon. They should be throwing early and often.
-This is the type of game you're going to get sometimes with Edwards-Helaire. 10 attempts for 38 yards and a half dozen dump passes. He's going to do his best work in blowouts against weaker teams where he can pile up 20 carries, but he's still an easy RB1 this year.
-Tyreek saved a bad day with his long bomb TD from Mahomes late in the game. KC has really gotten away from feeding him a good number of targets and it's hurting them and his fantasy numbers. Hill should be seeing 10-12 targets a game and a handful of running plays. It's a travesty that he doesn't get more work. I'll never understand why this coaching staff isn't trying to get the fastest man in football the ball every other play. Either way he's still a WR1 but probably not a high end one until his targets tick up.
-Sell high on Herbert if you have him. This goodness isn't going to last. The Buccaneers and Saints are going to kill him.
-Hunter Henry works very well as long as Herbert is the QB. Herbert can't read defenses so he's just throwing to his main target most plays, and Henry is an easy outlet. He should be an easy TE1, but if Taylor takes back over he probably falls to the back end of that.
-Austin Ekeler looked better this week, but that was probably just because the Chiefs run defense is terrible. He still looks a bit slower than last year. He's getting a heavy workload though, and his receiving numbers will be better with Herbert. TD's are going to be hard to come by, but Ekeler looks like he's going to repeat his RB1 finish from a year ago. Color me surprised.