Frank Clark‘s uncertain status is likely to send the Kansas City Chiefs on the hunt for another edge rusher before the start of the 2021 NFL season. Melvin Ingram‘s name has been mentioned since Clark encountered legal issues off the field. The Chiefs’ defense won’t thank Patrick Mahomes for apparently throwing shade on Los Angeles Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert. Mahomes insisted his recent comments were misinterpreted, but now an AFC West rival has extra motivation to shred Kansas City in 2021.
The Chiefs can trust Mahomes to match Herbert point-for-point in a shootout, but this offense needs a boost at running back. Fortunately, head coach Andy Reid could turn to an old favorite who is ready to shun retirement for a 13th season on the gridiron.
Here is what’s true or false about the Chiefs in July. Be sure to check out the June edition here.
The Chiefs Should Sign Melvin Ingram Before Training Camp?
True. The Chiefs need to bring longtime divisional foe Ingram into the fold as soon as possible. He would fill any potential void created by Clark’s legal situation. The most dominant edge rusher on the Kansas City roster has been charged with felony possession of an assault weapon. It’s a charge dating back to Clark’s arrest on March 13, but not related to a separate arrest (also for having a concealed firearm in his car) on June 20.
Understandably, there is speculation Clark could miss at least a portion of the upcoming season. Much will depend on what, if any, disciplinary action the NFL chooses to take while the player’s legal issues are still pending. Either way, the Chiefs would be smart to get some insurance on the edges of their defensive line. Few veterans are better fits for the role than Ingram.
At 32, Ingram can still bring the heat. More importantly, he’s versatile enough to fit the schemes of Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Ingram can win against left tackles on the outside, but he can also slide inside and attack the B-gaps. Spagnuolo loves to move edge rushers inside in obvious passing situations, a role Clark has played more than once. Ingram can also attack offenses either from a standing position or after putting his hand in the dirt. His ability to play in space would allow Spagnuolo to drop him into coverage in the fire-zone pressures that have become a staple of the Chiefs’ system.
An Ingram-Chiefs union remains likely, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. He recently appeared on the Pat McAfee Show and revealed that although Ingram previously visited Kansas City but left without a deal, saying “usually when you have a veteran like that who wants real money in for a visit and you don’t sign, that’s a guy you revisit kind of before camp.”
The Chiefs’ Defense Would Rank Near the Bottom of the League Without Clark
False. Clark would be a big loss, but Spagnuolo could still coordinate a competent, top-half ranking defense without him. The Chiefs ranked a solid 10th in points allowed in 2020 but were exactly middle of the pack in yards. There are reasons to believe both numbers will improve this year thanks to some key changes along the front.
The most notable of those changes involves dominant defensive tackle Chris Jones moving to defensive end. Spagnuolo hasn’t been shy about talking up Jones’ potential to wreak havoc off the edge. Not many right tackles and tight ends will relish trying to subdue Jones’ intimidating 6’6″, 310-pound frame, nor his explosive takeoff speed.
Jones won’t be the only difference-maker. The addition of Jarran Reed this offseason was a huge boost for Spagnuolo. Reed immediately makes the Chiefs’ front seven a different beast. Pairing Reed with Khalen Saunders, who should improve during his third season, will give Kansas City a formidable one-two punch at D-tackle. The beating heart of any strong defense is the middle of the line, and few teams are deeper and more talented in this area than the Chiefs.
Herbert Will Supplant Mahomes as the AFC West’s Best QB in 2021
False. There’s no chance Herbert outperforms Mahomes in 2021, no matter how much the latter inadvertently stoked the fires of this burgeoning rivalry. Mahomes was heckled during a celebrity golf tournament and told to “Watch out for Justin Herbert next year.” To which Mahomes deftly replied, “I’ll see it when I believe it.”
The perceived slight gained some traction on social media, but Mahomes was quick to play the whole thing down. He told USA Today Sports, “Yeah, I think it got taken out of context. I was talking some trash to all those Raiders and Broncos and Chargers fans out there. I have a ton of respect for him as a player.”
Mahomes’ respect for the Chargers’ signal-caller is natural after Herbert threw 31 touchdown passes as a rookie in 2020. The Chargers are building a special supporting cast around the face of the franchise. Herbert throws to a terrific trio of wide receivers led by the brilliant Keenan Allen and featuring Tyron Johnson and Mike Williams. Add in running back Austin Ekeler and tight end Jared Cook and Herbert is spoiled for choice.
The Chargers are the biggest threat to the Chiefs’ dominance of the West, but KC will own this division as long as Mahomes stays upright. He was hounded by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV, but remains the most dynamic playmaker in the game. That won’t change as long as his primary weapons, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, are still in peak form.
LeSean McCoy Will Wear a Chiefs Uniform in 2021?
True. Mahomes has all the pass-catchers he needs, but an extra body for the backfield wouldn’t hurt. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was capable as a rookie, but there’s room for improvement, particularly since depth is questionable. Jerick McKinnon‘s injury history is extensive, while Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams are unspectacular.
Reid’s best move would be to reunite with McCoy for a third tour. The 33-year-old became a star on Reid’s watch with the Philadelphia Eagles and rejoined his old coach to help the Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV. McCoy jumped ship to the Bucs last year and won another ring, albeit as a passenger. He’s not about to call it quits, though, recently telling NFL Total Access he’s ready to play this season. McCoy wants another title run and will not find a better situation than working for Reid again.
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