In this week’s Blitz, The Star’s Terez A. Paylor answers five postgame Twitter questions about Travis Kelce’s ejection, Alex Smith’s importance, the running game without Spencer Ware and much more.
1. Would Kelce have thrown his towel had Smith been out there? — @eliasbichara
I’m going to use this question to address Travis Kelce’s ejection (he threw his towel in a referee’s direction after an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty) and Marcus Peters’ “punt” celebration. Both guys are fabulous players who bring a ton of energy to every game and genuinely care. You’d rather have them than face them, that’s for sure, and they’re both a ton of fun to watch. But it’s really important for both players to realize that they could have really hurt their team with their actions Sunday. They also would have been criticized, significantly, for their behavior if the Chiefs were playing a better team and lost. If either player replicates those actions in the future, it could cost the Chiefs in a meaningful situation and provoke chatter that, at best, Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s team lacks discipline, and at worst, they cannot be trusted. It’s something Reid, who is quite good at handling big personalities, needs to address. Because if it happens again, there will be no shortage of criticism for him, too.
2. Hey @TerezPaylor, is Kelce’s behavior today a suspension-worthy offense? — @jfseibel
A fine is more likely. According to the NFL, a player who has an verbal offense against an official can be fined $24,309 for a first offense and $48,620 for a second offense. Considering he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct due to his behavior after a non-call — not to mention the fact he threw his towel in the referee’s direction, prompting a second flag and an ejection — the max fine seems like a lock. As for a suspension? Well, the NFL has the power to do what it likes. If it wants to make a statement with a suspension, it will. But it probably would have been more likely if the towel had actually hit the referee. The answer, for the record, is probably not … but you never know.
3. How important is Alex Smith going forward? — @RetiredUsnCapt
Very important, obviously. I think everybody wanted to see what Nick Foles can do, especially after his promising performance against Indianapolis a week ago. But while he completed 20 of 33 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars, he was also inaccurate at times and late with throws. Smith throws with a better rhythm, just because he’s been in the offense so long, and at the end of the day, if the Chiefs are going to go to the Super Bowl, odds are it will be Smith — who generally makes better decisions and is more accurate than Foles — who leads them there. But the fact the Chiefs can even have someone like Foles as insurance is terrific.
4. What happened to the running game? Is Ware that valuable? — @Scott 2345
It’s probably a combination of things. The Chiefs seem to run the ball better when hard-charging running back Spencer Ware, who was out because of a concussion, and starting left guard Parker Ehinger, who is on injured reserve with a knee injury, are in the game. But that should be no excuse for their lack of effectiveness on the ground Sunday. The Jaguars have the league’s 27th-ranked run defense, and the Chiefs eeked out a measly 62 yards on 2.8 yards per carry. The O-linemen seemed to accept some responsibility for that after the game, but everyone should share blame for this.
5. Is the running defense going to improve when Houston returns? They allowed 200-plus yards today. — @AndresHdez31
Look, teams are going to run on the Chiefs some — one of the reasons they’re good against the pass is because defensive coordinator Bob Sutton chooses not to drop an extra man into the box, instead allowing an additional defensive back to roam in an increasingly-pass happy league. It’s a sound strategy, but you’re going to give up some yards if you do that. Two hundred-plus, though, is not okay. It’s up to the defensive linemen and linebackers to fill their gaps correctly, be a bit more physical and make more plays. Justin Houston, when at full strength, will fortify an improving edge rush (thanks to Dee Ford) and also re-establish himself as the Chiefs’ best edge setter against the run almost immediately.
336 – The number of days it had been between NFL starts for Chiefs quarterback Nick Foles, who made his first start Sunday since a Dec. 6, 2015, matchup against Arizona as a member of the St. Louis Rams.