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Ask Terez: What’s up with Travis Kelce, Mitch Morse and Eric Berry’s replacements?

Travis Kelce refuses to answer questions about taunting penalty, lauds teammates instead

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

The Chiefs scored a 27-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Here, KC Star beat writer Terez A. Paylor answers five Twitter questions about Eric Berry’s replacements, Travis Kelce, Mitch Morse and more.

First, let’s remember the Chiefs had more fourth quarter comebacks last year –– home vs. San Diego, at Denver and at Carolina –– than they ever had under quarterback Alex Smith. So the key thing to remember here is that the Chiefs have been building, slowly, toward having a more dynamic offense. Most of the burden for that lies on the right shoulder of quarterback Alex Smith, however. If he takes and connects on enough shots downfield to loosen up the defense for coach Andy Reid’s well-designed short-passing game, then this offense will be really, really difficult to stop. Smith has certainly been part of the reason the offense has looked a little more dynamic than normal through two games, though on Sunday, it had a more to do with rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who has undeniably brought an explosive dimension to the offense. Combine that with Ty Hill’s elevation to the No. 1 receiver spot, and right there, that gives the Chiefs three explosive playmakers (including tight end Travis Kelce) who can get the ball, as well. That’s super difficult to stop, folks. Speaking of Kelce ...

On Sunday, Kelce was flagged for taunting because he ran over to the Eagles’ sideline following Hunt’s 53-yard touchdown jaunt and started yapping something (to whom, we don’t know). This is the second game in a row Kelce has landed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the third game in a row if you could the Chiefs’ playoff loss to Pittsburgh. Reid did not throw him under the bus after the game, but it’s clear his patience is running thin. He was asked three times about Kelce after the game, and Reid offered short, sharp responses to each. “You have to be smarter than that,” Reid said, when asked the first time. By the way, please don’t think Reid is just some big teddy bear who doesn’t know how to reign his players in –– you don’t last as long as he has in the NFL without having some teeth. You have to wonder if Reid might soon be approaching the point where he shows them.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith commented on his scrambling first downs and teammate Travis Kelce's leaping fourth quarter touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles’ defensive line is really good –– as they go eight deep and even have a few players that could start on the Chiefs’ front seven, which is saying something (I’d take Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett any day, just to name a few). In short, I do think we saw two top-10 front sevens today. The astounding thing about the Chiefs is that they have racked up nine sacks the last two weeks without dialing up a ton of pressure. This has allowed them to essentially rush four, especially in nickel situations, and drop seven into coverage. In a league full of pass-happy teams, that’s the kind of thing that gives you an advantage defensively and could help you win a lot of ballgames, even in the playoffs.

Not really. Again, the Eagles’ front four is terrific. Do the offensive line need to get better? Yes. But remember, quarterbacks also share the blame when it comes to this sort of stuff, because they also help set the protections. If Morse is out for a while, it will be a loss because he’s a good, aware player with good movement skills. But Zach Fulton has played center before –– I’ve said many times I believe it’s his best position –– and newly-acquired swing tackle Cameron Erving can play center in a pinch. They’ll be fine in the short term without Morse. The problem could come if another lineman gets hurt, because there’s fewer good ones than ever, and teams cannot develop them the way they used to because of practice limits.

I’ll need to check the tape to get a thorough look at both. But both flashed at different points of the game. Eric Murray saved the Chiefs a touchdown when Eagles tight end Zach Ertz caught a deflection and rumbled toward the end zone before getting tracked down from behind. Daniel Sorensen, meanwhile, made the entire press box ooh and ahh with his flying attempt at a tackle of Carson Wentz in the fourth quarter as the Chiefs tried to hold on for the win.

First responders held a field-sized American flag for the playing of the National Anthem before the start of the Kansas City Chiefs home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.

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