Judgments One: Mahomes reminds NFL who the real young gun is
It took barely a quarter Sunday for reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes to remind the rest of the NFL what they’ll be up against this season when facing the Chiefs’ offense.
Mahomes threw for 211 yards in the first quarter of Kansas City’s 40-26 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, thus becoming the first quarterback in 40 years to pass for over 200 yards in the first quarter of a season opener. He didn’t slow down much after that.
A year ago the Jaguars were the only defense to hold Mahomes without a touchdown pass but he erased any thought they might have had of repeating that when he found Sammy Watkins with a 68 yard touchdown throw less than two minutes into the game. Not even an injury to his most explosive receiver, Tyreek Hill, could slow Mahomes.
Instead of wavering after Hill was carted off with an injury that is likely to sideline him for several weeks, Mahomes magically turned Watkins into Hill.
Watkins finished the day with nine catches for 198 receiving yards and three touchdowns, including scores of 68 and 49 yards in that explosive first quarter that seemed to be a declaration by the Chiefs that nothing has changed from a year ago, when Mahomes and Andy Reid’s offense terrorized the NFL.
“We have a mindset throughout the season of taking care of certain goals and this was one of them,’’ Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce said. “Just come out blazing, on fire, like we were last year. I think we’re on the right track.’’
SOME OLD ADAGES NEVER GET OLD AND ANTONIO BROWN IS GLAD OF IT
Patriots’ offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and I were once walking out to a summer practice at the Indianapolis Colts’ training camp after he’d left the Patriots to follow head coach Ron Meyer to Indy after a palace coup in New England by his players got Meyer fired despite having a winning record at the time of his dismissal.
As we were talking a player ran by and jokingly slapped me on the back as he trotted to the field. I realized to my surprise it was Stanley Morgan, who had been among the disgruntled Patriots who’d revolted against Meyer’s manner.
Shocked I turned to Scar and said, “Isn’t that Stanley Morgan? Didn’t he help get you guys fired?’’
Scar smiled a smile of resignation and amusement and said, “Yes. Hey, man, we’re coaches. We’re all whores for talent.’’
Nobody has proven that adage true more than Antonio Brown, who is on his second team this year and has yet to play a snap in a game.
You all know how Brown shot his way out of Pittsburgh after putting up more receiving yards and catches than any of his contemporaries over the past nine seasons, the last six straight being for over 1,000 yards. He led the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns last season as well yet the Steelers finally tired of his constant drama and traded him to the Raiders for of third and fifth round draft picks.
Some thought them crazy because Brown is both a superior talent who may be the best receiver in the NFL and among the hardest workers in the game by all accounts. Others thought the Raiders crazy for giving $30 million guaranteed dollars to a diva with a screw loose. Well, in less than four months Brown managed to author more dramas than William Shakespeare before the Raiders finally tired of him and released him after fining him nearly $300,000 for missed practices, walkthroughs and conduct detrimental to about everything you can think of in Oakland.
That move saved them $29 million of those guarantees, which all went away when he was fined for a third time last week and threatened with suspension after he A) threatened to punch the general manager in the face and B) tape recorded a phone call with head coach Jon Gruden and then posted it on the internet.
But his penalty for temporary insanity was not to lose $30 million. It was to sign in a matter of hours with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, who allegedly handed him a one-year contact with a $1 million bonus, $9 million guaranteed and $5 million in incentives. Wonder what he would have got if he actually had socked Mike Mayock in the noggin? Lord knows but the Patriots’ decision proves again how right Scarnecchia was that day in Indy.
Coaches are indeed “all whores for talent’’ and no one is happier than Brown, who launched a video of himself romping around his backyard like a young doe after learning he’d been released by the Raiders. And that was BEFORE he learned he’d be playing with Tom Brady and for Bill Belichick.
My guess is the Patriots have some sort of contractual wording that can get them out of this deal clean if Brown tries to turn the Patriots’ locker room into a podcast, as he did in Pittsburgh, or a phone call from Belichick into a reality show. Many believe Brady and the tightly-run Patriot locker room will be able to keep Brown’s worst instincts in check while at the same time NFL secondaries will be unable to keep Brown, Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, Philip Dorsett and Brady in check.
Was it a gamble worth taking? Who knows but one thing is sure. Patriots’ offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia knows why they took it.
FIRST AND 25
- You can’t beat the Jets. Then again you don’t have to because they’ll take care of that themselves. New York’s defense forced four Buffalo turnovers but blew a 16-0 lead and lost 17-16. The all-time record of teams that had a 4-0 turnover differential is 117-6. J-E-T-S Jets. Grounded again.
- Took a while to launch the planes but Kliff Kingsbury’s “Air Raid’’ offense took off for Arizona in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Lions. Maybe this thing is going to fly in the NFL.
- Kyler Murray showed why the Cardinals gave up on Josh Rosen to draft him. After going 6-for-16 in the first half for 41 passing yards, the rookie went 23-38 for 267 yards and two TDs in the second half and OT to make a 27-27 tie of the Lions feel like a win for Arizona.
- Lions’ head coach Matt Patricia continued the tradition of Bill Belichick’s coaching tree being a shrub.
- Maybe it’s going to take longer for The Quarterback Whisperer, Bruce Arians, to turn around Jameis Winston than people thought after his three-pick performance in losing to the 49ers at home Sunday.
- How much more is Dak Prescott worth today than he was Sunday morning?
- How much did holdout Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon lose Sunday as his Chargers upped their career record to 5-0 without him in the lineup?
- Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell make you wonder is training camp really necessary?
- The Jets had better find a kicker soon. No need to look in Norway again.
- Bad as things went in Cleveland, the Browns did manage to do one remarkable thing. Their 182 penalty yards on 18 penalties was the most in an NFL game since 1951.
- Eli Manning looked like a guy headed to spectator status soon.
- Someone needs to tell Jags’ LB Myles Jack a punch to the face of a helmet-wearing opponent doesn’t hurt him.
- Adam Vinatieri is 46 years old and looked it Sunday. Vinatieri missed an extra point and field goals of 29 and 46 yards.
- In 2018 only Tampa Bay had more turnovers than the Buffalo Bills. The Bills showed Sunday they’re in mid-season form, opening the season with four more turnovers in the first half against the Jets.
- Ezekiel Elliott was a welcome sight in Dallas Sunday but not as welcomed as 11-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten. Witten, returning after a one-year retirement, got a huge ovation when he was first announced and then brought the house down when he caught his first touchdown pass since 2017.
- DeSean Jackson continued his habit of beating his former teams, racking up eight catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ come-from-behind 32-27 win over the Redskins.
- Will the Jaguars sign Colin Kaepernick after Nick Foles broke his clavicle Sunday and faces surgery on Monday? I would. They won’t.
- The Rams may have to monitor his carries but did Todd Gurley look shot to you?
- Let the Dolphins make their No. 1 draft pick now and get it over with.
- A year ago four-time All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson led the Redskins in rushing with 1,042 yards. Sunday he was stunned to learn he was a healthy scratch in the season opener against the Eagles. “I don’t think I’ve grasped it yet,’’ he said after the game. He wasn’t alone.
- Larry Fitzgerald may be 36 but he looked like he was 26. He’s the NFL’s ageless receiver.
- After Rams coach Sean McVay kept his starters on the sidelines all pre-season and then traveled to Carolina and beat the Panthers on opening day will we ever see a starter on the field in August again?
- Eagles’ fans were wondering about all those sitting vets in Philadelphia this summer until their team roared out and scored the first 25 points of the second half. Just like that Doug Pedersen was a genius like McVay.
- Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn fired his offensive, defensive and special team coordinators in the offseason then saw his team fall behind 28-0 in Sunday’s 28-12 road loss to the Vikings. Only one head left to roll if things don’t get better fast in Atlanta.
- You have to feel sorry for poor Foles, who broke his clavicle in the first quarter of his first start in Jacksonville. Of course not too sorry. He’s got $50 million guaranteed to rest his shoulder on.
FIVE OVERREACTIONS FOR OVERREACTION MONDAY
- Offense is dead. Probably not but the Bears and Packers’ Thursday night opener made it seem that way. So did the Jets and the Bills on Sunday.
- Mitch Trubisky is not a quarterback the Bears’ can build around.
- Antonio Brown will be polishing the Lombardi Trophy and Tom Brady’s shoes next February.
- The Air Raid offense will revolutionize the NFL. Or maybe not?
- Who needs Andrew Luck?
GOLD JACKET QUOTE OF THE DAY
CLEVELAND BROWNS QUARTERBCK BAKER MAYFIELD on what he knows is coming after Sunday’s 43-13 loss: “Everyone is going to throw us in the trash. Quite frankly, I don’t give a damn what happens on the outside. I know what we’re going to do. We’re going to bounce back.’’
SUNDAY’S BIGGEST WINNER
Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson has been a much-maligned replacement for departed Joe Flacco, the argument being he is an option quarterback whose only option is to run because he can’t throw a towel into a hamper. Despite going 6-1 as a rookie starter last year, Jackson completed only 58% of his throws and that fell to 48.3% in a 10-7 playoff loss to the Chargers. He answered his critics in Sunday’s 59-10 annihilation of the Dolphins, throwing for 324 yards and five touchdowns and then deadpanning “Not bad for a running back.’’ Touché.
SUNDAY’S BIGGEST LOSER
Cleveland Browns’ fans – After an offseason hearing nothing but hype about their beloved Browns’ Super Bowl chances, Cleveland fans sat in shocked silence Sunday as their team got creamed at home by the Tennessee Titans, 43-13. Many filed out in the fourth quarter, leading newly acquired wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. to say “We don’t want to see them leaving with nine minutes left in the (fourth) quarter. I know they been losing around here but that’s not what we’re here to do.’’ Tell that to the disappointed denizens of the Dawg Pound.