The Chiefs are coming off a thrilling close win against the Cleveland Browns in week one. They came back from a double-digit deficit to get the W at home. This game was dominated by the superstars. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill were spectacular.
There are some that wanted to see more production from the ancillary pieces in the Chiefs offense, which I didn’t really understand, but that is a topic for another time. It was a good thing the stars showed up though, because the defense struggled to stop a well-balanced Browns offensive attack.
This week the Chiefs head into Baltimore Sunday night to battle the Ravens. This was one of the more anticipated games of the offseason, but it has lost a little bit of its steam because of the number of injuries the Ravens have suffered. Regardless of injuries, this is another huge test for the Chiefs early in the season.
The Ravens are one of the best-coached teams in the NFL and still have former MVP, Lamar Jackson, playing quarterback for them. This game, however, is going to be more about what the Chiefs do than what the Ravens do. Players like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Chris Jones are always favorites to watch and keep an eye on. However, I am going to be keeping a close eye on four other players. Let’s find out who!
Bolton was one of the Chiefs’ second-round picks in this year’s draft. This pick came with much scrutiny throughout Chiefs Kingdom. He was vaulted into the starting lineup last week with Willie Gay Jr. being on IR. He did not disappoint. He played well from the start, but he seemed to keep getting more and more comfortable throughout the game. The entire Chiefs defense is going to have their hands full with this run-heavy Ravens offense, but I specifically want to see if Bolton can continue to take steps forward.
Injuries seem to be too big of a part of Frank Clark’s story for his time in Kansas City. Unfortunately, it is part of his story again in 2021 as he missed the season opener against the Browns last week. The defense was clearly not clicking on all cylinders against a good Browns offense, and missing Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark definitely didn’t help that. Clark is a vocal and emotional leader on the defensive side of the ball. Also, for all of his faults, he is a very good run defender. There is much debate on whether Clark will be back with his contract next year in KC. I want to see how Clark plays and how healthy he really is.
There is no player under a bigger microscope in Kansas City than Hardman. In week one he only had three targets for 19 yards. As I mentioned previously, Kelce, Hill, and Mahomes dominated the game. It also wasn’t like Mahomes was forcing the ball into double coverage to these guys, they were just open. Mahomes also mentioned that he missed Hardman on what could have been a long touchdown. I want to see if Hardman can continue to develop into a second WR option. He needs to or Kansas City needs to explore other WR options.
Fast forward to the 3:30 mark to hear Mahomes’ comments on Hardman.
Ok, I said I was only going to mention four players, but I am cheating here. I am lumping the entire offensive line together as my fourth. The offensive line started with one of their tougher assignments of the year right out of the gates. The Browns defensive unit and specifically defensive line is a very good one. It is highlighted by all-world DE Myles Garrett and is complimented by Jadaveon Clowney on the other side.
In general, I thought the O-line had a solid performance against the Browns. They protected Mahomes well for the most part and gave him clean pockets to step up into. Rookies Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith were as good as advertised and shined in their first games as pros. Humphrey gave up 0 pressures for the game and Smith was legally assaulting people on the field. I am going to look to see if they can get the run game going a little more in this next matchup. I think the future is extremely bright for this unit and can’t wait to watch their progress throughout the year.
This is going to be another massive matchup early in the year for the Chiefs. The front part of their schedule is extremely difficult. They are going into Baltimore on a Sunday night and need to perform. I am going to be keeping a close on Bolton, Clark, Hardman, and the OL to see how they impact the game.