We had the opportunity to ask five questions of Arrowhead Pride’s Pete Sweeney this week. Before tonight’s game, read up and learn more about the Chiefs.
Dave Choate: Patrick Mahomes is a player I liked a lot heading into last year’s draft, and I’m glad to see him getting a chance so early in his career. What are your expectations for his first full season as a starter, and how has he looked so far?
Pete SweeneyThe great thing about Patrick Mahomes taking over as starting quarterback this season is we really don’t know what to expect. To date, Mahomes has one start to his name—a Week 17 win over the Denver Broncos last season. Mahomes finished 22 of 35 for 284 yards and an interception, at times seeming like a rookie and at times flashing the greatness people see in him. Rather than going for a complete rebuild, the Chiefs have loaded up with Mahomes on his first contract, signing Sammy Watkins to a lucrative deal this offseason. I want to say Mahomes will shine as a rookie, but he may take a year to develop into the premier quarterback everybody expects him to be.
Dave Choate: Sammy Watkins was sort of an interesting addition for this team. Is he the true No. 1 guy at wide receiver in Kansas City, or is it Tyreek Hill? Also, what’s with the cult thing?
Pete Sweeney: During Sammy Watkins’ initial press conference, Andy Reid was pressed about where Watkins would play. Reid said Watkins would play the “X” position, lining on the line of scrimmage. Tyreek Hill would stay in his “Z” position, or a yard off. Reid’s offense doesn’t have your typical No. 1 and No. 2 receiver, so the Chiefs are looking at Hill and Watkins as 1A and 1B, respectively.
Dave Choate: How does the defense look these days? I’m not as familiar with the unit as I once was, so I’d love to know strengths, weaknesses, and major changes in the last couple of seasons.
Pete Sweeney: Management completely reinforced the Chiefs defense this offseason, as the team selected defensive players in with their first five picks of the NFL Draft. Inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens was the team’s top signing, and he will be expected to team with Reggie Ragland to stop the run, something the Chiefs couldn’t do against Derrick Henry and the Titans in the playoffs. The biggest concern right now is the safety position—Daniel Sorensen (knee) is expected to miss the first few games of the regular season, and team leader Eric Berry has missed several practices in a row with a sore heel, a problem he had last season before rupturing his Achilles.
Dave Choate: Who are the promising rookies and undrafted players we should keep an eye on when the starters leave in the second half of this one?
Pete Sweeney: Sixth-round cornerback Tremon Smith has been flashing in training camp, both on defense and as a kick returner. Running back Darrel Williams is an undrafted rookie from LSU who is a bruiser. He looks a bit like teammate Spencer Ware. Outside linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon, at 6 feet 7 and 290 pounds, has the look and feel of a professional wrestler. The 2017 second-rounder seems to be finally putting it together as a potential contributor. Chase Litton and Matt McGloin are battling for the Chiefs’ No. 3 quarterback position, and I find that Litton has a much higher ceiling than people expected.
Dave Choate: What are your expectations for the season? Can Kansas City emerge victorious from the AFC this year?
Pete Sweeney: I think that winning the AFC will be a stretch for the Chiefs with so many personnel changes in the offseason. They may be a year away from contending for a Super Bowl, but making the playoffs at 9-7 or 10-6 is feasible.