Travis Kelce thinks the Cleveland Browns are primed for a run in 2021, but can Baker Mayfield and Co. truly take the AFC crown away from the Kansas City Chiefs? Kelce is still a key part of an offense that’s the most explosive in the NFL when everything clicks. There’s nothing wrong with a passing game featuring Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, and Tyreek Hill, but there are question marks about the running game, specifically regarding depth. The Chiefs might need a few more weapons on the ground to keep the run-first Browns at bay.
Be sure to check out the May edition here.
The Browns are the Biggest Threat to the Chiefs’ Dominance of the AFC?
True. Kelce had a point when he lavished praise upon Cleveland recently. The All-Pro tight end has no doubt the Browns are the biggest threat to the Chiefs in the conference:
“I would say they’re definitely a contender, without a doubt. It’s definitely there. Baker (Mayfield) and the gang have upped the ante, made this team an unbelievable team and a team you have to prepare for and take serious. I think that moving forward, without a doubt, I can see a lot more playoff games between us, and I’ll just take it one day at a time and hope for it. I think the Browns and Chiefs are definitely neck and neck, for sure.”
It is a bold statement, but Kelce isn’t wrong. Something special is being built in Cleveland, and its foundation is a rock-solid offensive line led by skilled center J.C. Tretter. He is the linchpin of a unit that knocks open holes for running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. They form the best one-two punch the NFL has seen in a long time.
Hunt and Chubb lead the way, but Mayfield is no slouch. The cocksure quarterback has his critics, but is a winner who has earned the support of his team. If there’s a question mark about this loaded offense, it’s whether or not there will be enough targets for diva receiver Odell Beckham Jr. He is healthy again and sure to want a lot of the ball.
Kelce and the Chiefs will be in trouble if Cleveland’s revamped defense delivers on its influx of talent. Ace pass-rusher Myles Garrett now has Malik Jackson, Takkarist McKinley, and rookie Tommy Togiai for company. They will be the key to slowing Mahomes down if the Browns and Chiefs renew hostilities in this season’s playoffs.
Le’Veon Bell Was Right to Criticize Andy Reid?
False. Bell is not shy about venting his frustrations regarding Reid. The once-great running back made his feelings clear earlier this week: “I’d never play for Andy Reid again… I’d retire first.”
Bell subsequently apologized. Well, sort of, anyway:
“I said what I said & I don’t regret at all what I said…for those who have a PERSONAL PROBLEM with me because of what I SAID, that’s fine…you have your right! just understand I ALSO have MY RIGHT for how I feel about MY PERSONAL problem with dude because of what HE SAID to me.”
Even without being privy to conversations between Bell and Reid, blaming the coach seems like a stretch. It was surprising that Bell did not carry the ball more than 63 times after joining the Chiefs midstream last season. The fact is, though, a back with as diverse a skill set as Bell’s should not have been able to miss in a Reid-coached offense. Reid’s history is loaded with examples of dual-threat running backs dominating defenses. Think Brian Westbrook and Jamaal Charles.
Working with a play-caller as imaginative and daring as Reid ought to have been the resurrection of Bell’s career. Instead, this gifted athlete appears destined to never again recapture his mid-2010s peak with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Chiefs have Enough Depth at Running Back?
False. Bell not returning to Kansas City only emphasizes the lack of depth in the backfield. Clyde Edwards-Helaire proved he can be the guy during his productive rookie campaign in 2020, but he will be overworked this season. The list of names behind Edwards-Helaire contains a far from inspiring group.
Elijah McGuire was on the practice squad last season, while Darwin Thompson was a sixth-round pick in 2019. Darrel Williams is serviceable but not dynamic in any one area. Jerick McKinnon was a smart pickup in free agency, but injuries wrecked his audition to be a ‘bell cow’ back for the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs will become worryingly one-dimensional if Edwards-Helaire breaks down in 2021.
Chris Jones can Continue to Dominate at Defensive End?
True. During the Chiefs’ May edition of “True or False”, I referenced the idea of game-wrecking defensive tackle Chris Jones moving to the edge. Great minds and all that, because defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has been letting Jones play outside during OTAs.
It’s something Spags is keen to continue: “He’ll play out there a little bit. We’ll move him back inside when we have to.”
Jones moving to defensive end raises the question of whether he can be as productive as he’s been from the inside. He has helped himself to 40.5 sacks during five seasons as a pro. Jones’ numbers are good enough to justify keeping him at the interior, but there are good reasons to believe he can be even more dominant at end.
For one thing, Jones has only registered double-digit sacks once as a tackle, with 15.5 in 2018. Putting him on the edge as a bookend for Frank Clark would likely prompt a spike in Jones’ numbers. Clark and former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed will prevent opponents from double-teaming him. Playing as the left defensive end will put Jones over right tackles and maybe a few tight ends. Those are mismatches the Chiefs’ defense will consistently win.
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