The first half of the Chiefs’ season opener against Jacksonville is over, and they lead 21-2 at EverBank Field.
Here are three quick halftime observations:
1. First and foremost, it’s hard to call the defense’s performance anything short of dominant. Defensive end Tyson Jackson and linebacker Justin Houston each racked up a sack, while cornerback Brandon Flowers had a big interception. Nose tackle Dontari Poe was incredibly active, batting down a pass and racking up a sack and four tackles. The unit held Maurice Jones-Drew to 14 yards on six carries, while the Jaguars only coverted two of nine third downs.
That said, the Jaguars definitely shot themselves in the foot multiple times. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert made one horrendous throw, a pick straight to Flowers, but his receivers dropped at least four balls and he still finished 9 of 18 for 60 yards. Still, the Jaguars never crossed their own 40-yard line, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Jaguars give backup quarterback Chad Henne a shot.
2. Again, you have to consider the opponent, but quarterback Alex Smith is giving the Chiefs everything they missed last season at the position. Smith has shown some wheels and improvisational skills, scrambling three times for 22 yards, and has been very accurate on medium-to-short routes. His 3-yard touchdown pass to receiver Junior Hemingway was a thing of beauty, as Hemingway hauled in the pass near the back of the end zone and somehow got his feet down.
Coach Andy Reid has also done a nice job getting running back Jamaal Charles in involed. He rushed 10 times for 48 yards and a touchdown and also had three catches for 23 yards, including a 15-yard catch in which he split out wide as a receiver and worked over an overmatched linebacker on a quick slant.
3. In a half that was decidedly all-Chiefs, one negative stuck out like a sore thumb. The Jaguars actually blocked a punt, which bounced out of the end zone, led to a safety and gave the Jaguars a 2-0 lead. It was disconcerting because the man who blocked the punt, J.T. Thomas, came in free and the Chiefs also allowed a blocked punt during the season. The unit somewhat redeemed itself later in the quarter, when it sprung Dexter McCluster for a 37-yard gain that led to a score, but this is the punt protection unit is worth watching going forward.