Photo: Melina Vastola USA TODAY
The Sunshine State hasn’t been kind to the Chiefs over the decades. But on Sunday in Jacksonville, Kansas City threw that jinx out the door and manhandled the Jaguars 28-2. So who stood out in the season opening victory for the boys in red?
1. QB Alex Smith - For the Chiefs starting quarterback, this game couldn’t get here fast enough. In guiding Kansas City to a 28-2 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, he was steady, didn’t make mistakes and ran the offense with perfect precision.
On the day, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, threw a pair of touchdowns (Donnie Avery and Junior Hemingway) and completed 21 of 34 passes. Granted he never really stretched the field but that’s not his game. His job is to throw the short passes in the flat, the outs, the slants and get the ball into the hands of his playmakers.
In doing just that, he put to rest that he isn’t the right fit to run Andy Reid’s offense. He hit nine different receivers, stood in the pocket going through his progressions until he found an open teammate.
Now the Jaguars secondary isn’t all that good. And with three NFC East games coming up, he’ll have to be sharper throwing the rock deeper down the field. But on Sunday, that didn’t matter.
2. LB Justin Houston - What more could I say about the third year Pro Bowl player. Against the Jaguars he had three sacks and five solo tackles. He was so effective in getting into the Jacksonville backfield; the Chiefs were able to disguise their pass rush all afternoon.
By doing so that opened up the Chiefs final score when fellow linebacker, Tamba Hali, intercepted an errant pass for a pick six against Jaguars Quarterback, Blaine Gabbert.
So who really gets the credit for Houston’s performance? It has to go to Defensive Coordinator, Bob Sutton. He has brought such a high octane energy to his defense that they are no longer over thinking. But what I love more so, is that players like Houston are using their instincts to make plays.
This young man has super stardom in his future. Granted he was battling rookie Luke Joeckel, who was unimpressive in his NFL debut. The next three weeks he’ll face stronger offensive lines but I don’t think that’s going to matter much. He’ll get his sacks.
3. DT Dontari Poe - Like Houston he was a beast on the field Sunday. He had five solo tackles and 1.5 sacks. But his presence up the middle could be felt by the Jaguars front three.
For the most part, Poe had his way with all afternoon against the Jags. His push-back and large wingspan were impressive. He was a force inside KC’s front three that hasn’t existed in almost forever.
At the moment, he might be the most improved defensive player on the Chiefs roster. If his maturation and learning curve hit the next level, he could become a force that will bring fear to opposing offenses.
4. G Geoff Schwartz - I’ve said it for weeks. The former Minnesota Vikings Guard should never have been placed on the second team. He’s the Chiefs third best offensive lineman behind tackles, Brandon Albert and rookie, Jeff Fisher.
His play in the middle of the offensive line did two things. He was able to pitch a hand to the aforementioned Fisher and also center, Rodney Hudson. I don’t’ want to pick on Guard, Jon Asamoah, who was hobbling before the game, but KC’s offensive line is far better with Schwartz manning one of the guard slots.
5. WR Junior Hemingway - Though he only caught a single pass it was a big one. His 3-yard back of the end zone catch was brilliant. First the ball was high so he had to adjust his length to get in the air to snag the perfectly placed touchdown pass. Secondly, he had to land in the end zone with both feet in the field of play.
What Hemingway brings to the Chiefs offense is a physical slot receiver who can get separation at the line of scrimmage. Though Dexter McCluster had a nice afternoon (3 receptions for 43 yards) he’s not a physical player.
If Hemingway can continue to perform well in the Red Zone, he not McCluster will be on the field when the Chiefs are striving for touchdowns.
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