In this week’s postgame mailbag, The Star’s Terez A. Paylor answers postgame Twitter questions about Tyreek Hill’s rookie of the year chances, the flagging pass rush and the status of the “conservative” offense. Read on for all that, plus the number of the day.
1. Any shot at Tyreek Hill for rookie of the year? – @MattGrither
No, because Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott has been superb this season. He’s a potential MVP candidate, which should make either Elliott or Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott a rookie-of-the-year lock. But there’s no question about it, Tyreek Hill has been superb this year. Hill has emerged as maybe the game’s most explosive punt returner since Devin Hester, while also showing an aptitude for offensive concepts that no one could have predicted. He’s contributed a ton at wide receiver, a bit at running and generally been a threat that teams must always prepare for. He should be a lock for the team’s rookie of the year award, at least, though defensive tackle Chris Jones would win in almost any other year.
2. I think the Titans loss was very much needed. The offense appeared to be more aggressive the past two games. Your thoughts? – @GunnNorman
Not sure if I’d say they’ve been more aggressive, necessarily, but they certainly have been more productive — and often, those two things look one and the same. The Chiefs’ second-half issues crested in that Titans game and amped the pressure on the coaching staff to get it figured out. They’ve done a nice job the last few weeks marrying play calling and execution; now they just need to keep it up throughout the playoffs.
3. How big of a concern is the pass rush in your eyes? Zero sacks the last two weeks without Houston? #AskTerez – @bake0905
It’s a small one, just because you’ll get beaten in the playoffs if you don’t rush the passer. But on the list of concerns, it’s still pretty low behind run defense and short-yardage running. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game that he expects Justin Houston to be ready to go for the divisional round, and that should provide a huge boost for the edge rush, obviously.
4. After Charcandrick West’s 100-plus yards from scrimmage, will the Chiefs have a decision to make regarding who gets the majority of carries going forward? – @shamuskearney
No, because they’ve already made that decision. When Spencer Ware has been healthy, he’s been the guy. Period. He logged the majority of first-string reps through the offseason, and that has carried over to the season. The biggest strength of the Ware-West duo has always been their complementary, yet versatile, running styles. Both men will continue to see reps, but Ware should carry the mail against Pittsburgh, provided he’s healthy.
5. What scares you more: Le’Veon Bell against our linebackers or Antonio Brown on the right side opposite Marcus Peters? – @petealden
This can change if the Steelers lose in the first round, obviously, but why not look ahead to the Chiefs’ likely divisional-round opponent? Look, the Steelers exposed plenty of the Chiefs’ flaws in their Week 4 curb-stomping. The offense was sloppy, with multiple turnovers and horrendous drops, and Ben Roethlisberger lit up the Chiefs’ defense like a Christmas tree. The Steelers are a team that can obviously come into Arrowhead Stadium and win, but the Chiefs are much better than they were then. To directly answer your question, though, I’d be more concerned about Bell. Because if the Steelers start running the ball downhill, that will only open up their dangerous passing attack and the game will basically be over.
2 — The number of times the Chiefs have gone undefeated against the AFC West in franchise history, counting 2016. The other time came in 1995, when the Chiefs went 8-0 against Denver, Oakland, San Diego and Seattle.