Now that the preseason has begun, we are only a matter of weeks away from the return of the NFL’s regular season. With the regular season looming, there are more questions than answers for the Chiefs. These unanswered questions will play a major factor in how the regular season will play out for Kansas City. Let’s look at the questions surrounding the reigning Super Bowl champions and how the answers are likely to play out.
Let’s begin with the biggest question when will Chris Jones return to the Chiefs? Wow, that question is as complicated as the answer is unknown. “Show me the money!” This is what the agent for Chris Jones is saying right now. With Charles Omenihu being suspended for the first six games of the regular season, Chris Jones and his agent appear to have the upper hand. Let’s be honest, if Chris Jones is not in the middle of that defensive line and Omenihu is missing for the first six games, the defense goes from a potential top-15 defense to suspect, at best. Granted, Mahomes has proven that he can lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl with a questionable defense, but it is always ideal to be able to get stops in the playoffs.
Let’s be honest, the quickest way to get Jones back into the uniform is to pay him the money he is requesting. Will paying Chris Jones prevent the front office from surrounding Patrick Mahomes with the talent necessary to compete for championships year in and year out? The answer is no. With the salary cap continuing to increase yearly and Mahomes’ contract flexibility, this is feasible. I’m not saying pay the man exactly what he’s asking but pay him close to what he’s asking. Mahomes is making history every time he steps on the field, and not taking advantage of each year that he is your QB1 is a mistake. With that said, Jones will likely get paid, and he will report before the end of the preseason. It makes no sense to have your best defensive player get paid and not be in game shape. This would only put your highest investment on defense in jeopardy of being injured for an epic run at consecutive world championships.
The next question is protection. With both edge pass protectors being new additions to the offensive line, will they be able to protect the league’s best QB1? If training camp is a good indicator, the Chiefs will be in a good position. The tackle with the biggest question mark is Donovan Smith. Smith was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past offseason after his performance took a downturn due to an elbow injury. It appears that Donovan has made a full recovery from his elbow injury and has performed better than expected. Several reports have Donovan grading out better than Orlando Brown and are expecting his performance to be better than Brown’s has been for the past two seasons. Again, this assessment is being conducted during training camp, and not against the variety of top-tier pash rushers of the National Football League.
The right tackle protection will be provided by Jawaan Taylor. Taylor is young, athletic, and a large human being. The Chiefs may have lured the best right tackle in the NFL to protect the best quarterback in the NFL. Taylor’s grades have been off the chart and his strength and athleticism are second to none at the position. Many have speculated on the Chiefs’ ability to protect Mahomes after losing Orlando Brown and Andre Wylie who were the starting tackles for the Chiefs. Only time will tell, but early indications are that the offensive line for the Kansas City Chiefs will be just as good and more likely better. If this is the case, it will give the Chiefs’ offense more time to sync with the new additions at wide receiver. If that is the case, Mahomes has the prime opportunity to repeat as the MVP, and the Chiefs are primed and ready to play for another ring.
The final question for the Chiefs may be the most important question for the Chiefs. How will the Chiefs adapt to all the moves made by AFC opponents this offseason? Looking across the AFC, there are major contenders standing in the way of Kansas City returning to the AFC championship game. For example, the Baltimore Ravens are the first that come to mind. The Ravens have solidified their quarterback position for the long term. Jackson signed a five-year $260 million deal with $185 million in guarantees including a $72.5 million signing bonus. Unfortunately for the rest of the AFC, the Jackson contract is not the only upgrade made by the Ravens. Also, they acquired wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Nelson Agholor, and drafty the speedy playmaker Zay Flowers from Boston College. This will be the most talent Lamar Jackson has ever been surrounded by since he became QB1 in Baltimore.
There is a slew of other teams that pose a serious threat to Kansas City. The Buffalo Bills are a team that comes to mind. Yes, their season ended embarrassingly to the Bengals last year, but they are a legit threat. Even though this offseason started awkwardly with the dispute with Diggs and Allen, they are legit on both sides of the ball and were able to come into Arrowhead and get a win last season. The other immediate threat is the Cincinnati Bengals. No matter how much the Chiefs’ Kingdom wants to overlook the Bengals, if they have Burrow, Chase, Higgins, and Boyd, they are the top threat to the Kansas City Chiefs. Why? Their ability to strike at any moment due to the weapons at wide receiver. Granted, this might change with Higgins being in a contract year, but this is why the Bengals are trying to strike while the iron is hot. Yes. They might be able to retain Burrow, Higgins, and Chase, but that means that Boyd would walk. Also, it means that a lot of their salary cap will be taken up by the offensive side of the ball. Even though this is an offensive league, you must have enough on the defensive side to get a couple of key stops per game. Will Cincinnati be able to do this if they resign the major players? I don’t know. What I do know is that they are trying to take the crown from the Chiefs, and they are enemy number one.
With all that said, time will tell if things play out as suggested above. One thing I do know is that the Chiefs are going to be up for the task to take on anyone trying to prevent them from making history this season.