Chiefs

Insta-reaction from Chiefs’ win: On Travis Kelce, Justin Houston, Kareem Hunt

Chiefs greeted by celebrating fans after defeating Eagles 27-20

Chiefs work way to locker room after 27-20 victory over the Eagles on Sunday.
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Chiefs work way to locker room after 27-20 victory over the Eagles on Sunday.

Part of the reason we talked so much about how well the Chiefs’ offensive line was last week against the Patriots was the surprise.

This is a good group, actually. They’re athletic, better in pass protection than run blocking and at their best when they get into space and even downfield. The Patriots allowed them to play that way, and the Chiefs’ blocking was dang near perfect.

Well, today, not so much.

The Eagles have a terrific front seven. One of the best in football, really. Very physical, but also quick, and smart, and this was the biggest mismatch of the day.

The Chiefs do not need to run the ball a lot. Don’t need to run it as much as most teams, anyway. But they do need to at least have a threat there, something teams have to respect, and the problem was compounded once the Eagles’ line — particularly the interior — blew through and into quarterback Alex Smith.

OK, here’s more in the immediate wake of the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over the Eagles on Sunday. Please check back this evening for a (hopefully) more coherent column.

▪  The Travis Kelce Experience is a hell of a thing. This is the third consecutive game he’s taken a blank-brained penalty for what amounts to unsportsmanlike conduct. There are excuses for each one. The Steelers’ d-back pushed him first. The Patriots’ linebacker forearmed his facemask. Maybe today was just some brotherly stuff, going over to haze his sibling (Jason, who plays for Philly) a little bit.

But it’s a weekly thing now, and there is little doubt that it’s going to cost the Chiefs in a significant way.

The problem, then, is that he’s too dang good to bench, and he showed it taking a shovel pass for a highlight, leaping go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Nobody else on the roster could’ve scored on that play, and not many in the league could.

You will hear people talk about Kelce needing to grow up, and to stop with the bad decisions, but this is a little like saying you want to keep eating ice cream but not take the calories.

People can change, and we see it all the time. But if you’ve watched Kelce regularly, and heard him promise maturity, I just don’t know how you can believe there will be a significant change.

This is his fifth NFL season. He turns 28 in a few weeks. If the pace of the penalties is getting quicker, not slower, don’t you at some point need to allow for the possibility that this is just who he is?

That, if anything, his growing stature in the NFL is making him feel freer?

"Any other questions?" was the response from Travis Kelce when asked a second and third time about his taunting penalty.

I like Kelce. I happen to think the NFL needs more emotion, not less, but the rules are in place and Kelce habitually breaks them so my biggest problem is probably different than most.

I wish he’d stop taking the bait from reporters who should know better, because he just sounds silly when he calls himself mature, or changed.

The Chiefs are going to live with both sides of him. He should, too.

▪  Justin Houston was, well, he was Justin Houston. The 2014 version. He’s said he’s 100 percent healthy, and I think it’s right to want him to prove it, and I also think that so far he’s proving it. The sack totals are always what people pay attention to, and rightfully so, but Houston is also one of the league’s better run defenders.

On separate plays, he set the edge, shed the Eagles’ right and left tackles, and made the solo tackle. One man being able to do all that has a fundamental impact on how the offense can operate. He remains the Chiefs’ best all-around player, and the one guy they can probably least afford to lose.

▪  The Eagles threw at Marcus Peters more than the Patriots did last week. He’s still got it, if you had any doubts. The most dangerous thing about him — and part of why I’d completely ignore him if I was the quarterback — is that he plays possum. He baits you. He has a feel for exactly how to appear beat, and once the quarterback throws his way, exploding to the spot in which he needs to be.

▪  I watched last week’s game twice on replay, and each time was more impressed with Kareem Hunt than watching live. There are so many subtleties there, most notably his patience and instincts in setting up blocks. But he also has a vicious stiff-arm. It’s quick, and sometimes looks like the defender just can’t hold on. Easier to see on replay. I’m guessing I’ll see the same thing this week as I watch the game a few more times.

Kareem Hunt ran for 81 yards and two touchdowns in the Kansas City Chiefs' 27-20 win against the Philadelphia Eagles at Arrowhead Stadium on Sept. 17, 2017.

Sam Mellinger: 816-234-4365, @mellinger

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