Chiefs offense gets going, galvanized by perception that officials are picking on their right tackle
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Sometimes the smallest things can galvanize an NFL team: an injury to a key player, some bulletin-board material supplied by an opponent, a coach getting on certain players or any perceived slight that might be overheard in the media.
In the case of the Kansas City Chiefs, it appears to be the perception that officials are picking on their right tackle.
After their season-opening loss to Detroit, video of Jawaan Taylor circulated on social media that showed him consistently lined up an extra step in the backfield, and getting what appeared to be a small jump on the snap.
While both may seem minor, that can be the difference in an offensive tackle executing a block or giving up a sack.
The video no doubt circulated among officials, too. They flagged Taylor five times — two false starts, two holding penalties and an illegal formation — in Week 2 at Jacksonville.
Afterward, Chiefs coach Andy Reid gave the officials the benefit of the doubt, and he said that Taylor spent the past week working on his alignment and get-off to ensure the flags stopped flying.
Only they didn’t. Taylor was still flagged a couple of more times in Sunday’s 41-10 rout of the Chicago Bears.
“I just think they’ve got an eye on him and they better keep an eye on everybody else too. It’s to the point of being ridiculous,” Reid said after watching film Monday. “They got their point proved to the world. Now let’s make sure we’re staying consistent.”
So did Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has a bigger stake than just about anyone in Taylor doing his job.
“It’s wild to me,” Mahomes said. “I mean, when you look at the tablet, (both offensive tackles) are in the exact same spot. I don’t understand it. It’s hard. He’s playing great football and he’s getting these penalties thrown on him.
“I know it’s hard to officiate,” Mahomes added, “but I watch a lot of tape and he’s no deeper (lining up) than anyone in the league. It’s crazy to see, and hopefully it calms down as the season goes on. He’s making adjustments and they’re still calling him.”
Perhaps that perceived bullying is why Taylor and the rest of Chiefs offensive line played so well Sunday.
Mahomes was never sacked, and barely touched, while throwing for 272 yards and three touchdowns. And a running game that had been slow to get going the first two weeks of the season went for 153 yards and a pair of scores.
“It always feels good to get the whole offense going,” Mahomes said. “I mean obviously, the first two weeks we have been kind of out of rhythm, we haven’t gotten sustained drives going. So just to not have those killer penalties and to kind of get the offense moving in the right direction, all of the other stuff comes with it. So I was proud of the guys. Still little things here and there that we can tweak but it was a step in the right direction.”
The Chiefs may never have a true No. 1 wide receiver this season, but they’re making up for it by spreading the ball around. They once again had at least 10 players catch a pass against Chicago, including five by rookie wideout Rashee Rice.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Longtime backup QB Chad Henne retired after last season’s Super Bowl, and veteran Blaine Gabbert hardly impressed during the preseason. He was just 3 of 5 for 31 yards with a pair of interceptions in mop-up duty Sunday.
Drue Tranquill took over on-the-field calls with linebacker Nick Bolton inactive because of an injury. The former Los Angeles Chargers standout, whose free-agent signing went largely unnoticed, proceeded to lead Kansas City with eight tackles and a half sack.
STOCK UP, PART II
Did anyone have a better day in Kansas City than Travis Kelce? The All-Pro tight end caught seven passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, then was spotted leaving Arrowhead Stadium with pop megastar Taylor Swift — in a convertible, no less.
The Chiefs had 31 first downs, going 10 of 14 on third down. They ran 75 offensive plays to 51 for the Bears and outgained them 456 to 203. They held the ball for 13 more minutes, were penalized just three times for 15 yards and only punted once. In other words, good luck finding anyone on the Kansas City sideline that had a bad day against the Bears.
Mahomes tweaked his ankle against the Bears but was walking around fine after the game. Reid said Monday that he expected his quarterback to be a little “stiff,” but does not anticipate any problems heading into practice this week.
11 — Jerick McKinnon had two more TD receptions on Sunday, giving him 11 in just 33 games with the Chiefs. That’s the fourth-most touchdown receptions by a running back in franchise history.
The Chiefs visit another reeling opponent Sunday night in the New York Jets.