Chiefs leave the field after 24-10 victory over Chargers

Chiefs leave the field after 24-10 victory over LA Chargers at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, Ca.
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Chiefs leave the field after 24-10 victory over LA Chargers at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, Ca.

Sam Mellinger

Chiefs 24, Chargers 10: Insta-reaction!

By Sam Mellinger

September 24, 2017 06:38 PM

CARSON, Calif.

If a human being sat in every seat of this stadium, and then was bussed to Arrowhead Stadium, they would not fill even the lower bowl. The StubHub Center is awkwardly small for the scope of the NFL, like hosting a board meeting in a Honda Civic.

And it’s awesome!

Honestly, I’m all in with this. It’s intimate, intense. Every seat is close to the field — even the seats they tarped off — so the crowd reactions are immediate and informed in a way that’s often lost when many in a crowd of 70,000 need binoculars to see if that was Ross Travis or Travis Kelce.

There is something informative here, too.

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The NFL, like all leagues, has long known that it is moving toward smaller stadiums with more premium seating. Most of that is pragmatic. With the advancements in technology, it’s never been more tempting to stay home and save money. But some of it is an acknowledgment that ticket demand and closer seating makes for a better in-game experience.

I don’t think any of us will live long enough to see 27,000 seat venues be the norm, but I think we’re already in a world where NFL stadiums are downsizing. Arrowhead lost capacity in its renovation. Other new stadiums are opening with capacities similar, or in some cases below, the buildings they replaced.

Like anything else in the world, this is about money. It means smaller buildings to construct and maintain, and the ability to charge higher ticket prices.

But it could create some more intense and louder atmospheres, too. Bigger isn’t always better.

OK, now the rest of the Insta-reaction from the Chiefs’ 24-10 win over the Chargers here.

I wrote about Clark Hunt’s tepid statement after president Donald Trump essentially trashed the NFL, and we’ll have more on the website soon about the players who kneeled or sat during the anthem today.

The rest of these words will be about the football.

▪ This felt a lot like a lot of Chiefs games from the past, particularly last season, with the offense starting hot and then hanging on to do just enough.

This is, I believe, what prompted Travis Kelce to call out “conservative” play calling in the past. It is frustrating to watch.

The Chiefs — and I think I’ll get more into this in the game column — are not built for traditional combat. They are a team built to gimmick, coached by a coach who’s great at the gimmick.

One thing I will point out, though. The Chargers did a really good job controlling the ball. At one point, they were running twice as many plays as the Chiefs. They kept the Chiefs off the field, and as weird as it is to write that a key to beating the Chiefs is keeping the offense off the field, maybe we’re at that point.

I want to watch this game again, probably twice, before saying anything more definitive, and it’s also worth pointing out that some penalties ruined drives. But I did get the sense watching live that the play calling changed a bit after the early 14-0 lead.

▪ This game was HEATED. We saw personal fouls, trash talking, intensity on both sides, throughout. At one point, Chris Jones was trying to calm down Justin Houston, which was a strange thing to see.

For the most part, everything stayed harmless. Marcus Peters took an unsportsmanlike penalty in the second quarter, presumably for something he said to an official. I’m as pro-Peters as anyone, and believe the NFL goes overboard in policing emotion, but from what I saw he deserved it. He’d been arguing with the official for a while, and stopped for a moment, and then it was only when he went back that the flag came out.

I assume Andy Reid will say he’s got it taken care of, again.

▪ These shovel passes, particularly in the red zone, are an absolute Thing with the Chiefs, and they are terrific.

Their second touchdown came on a shovel to Albert Wilson, that basically had the affect of (another) handoff to Wilson up the middle.

I’m sure we’ll do more with screen grabs and breakdowns during the week, but this is Reid at his best. He is using a versatile group of skill position players, and marrying their talents to an innovative package that presents more problems than a defense can possibly have solutions for.

Like other leagues, the NFL is about adjustments. Defenses will be spending more and more time figuring out how to defend this, and my first thought is that they’ll key on the middle and whichever side Hill is running toward. Make the Chiefs beat you with De’Anthony Thomas, or even Kareem Hunt.

It’s admittedly a less-than-perfect plan, but I don’t know what else you can do.

▪ Terez wrote extensively about Terrance Mitchell this week, and the piece is even more relevant now. Mitchell’s been picked on this season, but he’s held up pretty well. We all tend to notice only the interceptions and completions with corners, but Mitchell competes for the ball, and wins his fair share.

He had the first multi-interception game of his career on Sunday, but also lost a floating jump ball down the right side line to Travis Benjamin.

There was a time in the middle of the Patriots game that I thought the Chiefs were in big trouble this year if offenses dedicated themselves to attacking Mitchell, but I’m off that, at least for now. You don’t want Mitchell to be your No. 1 cornerback, but as depth, you could do worse.

The key, as always, is a consistent pass rush. Not necessarily sacks, but pressure, and forcing the quarterback to change his plan after the snap.

The Chiefs were pretty good at that on Sunday.

Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters weighed in on Terrance Mitchell's big day and his matchup with Kennan Allen but didn't want to talk about the national anthem.


▪ There was one snap where Justin Huston shed the block of Joe Barksdale, who goes 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, and then set the edge. He missed the tackle on Melvin Gordon, but did enough to slow him down and force him momentarily backward that the play went for just one yard.

Houston was visibly furious with himself, slapping his helmet well after the play.

Guy’s got high standards.

▪ Kareem Hunt took 17 carries for 172 yards, and we’ll see the numbers soon enough, but by my unofficial count forced 835 missed tackles.

He really is something, you guys. This is everything he did at Toledo. I was impressed with his college tape, but figured that as a rookie and adjusting to the better competition he’d have more of an adjustment.

I was very, very wrong.

Kid’s a star.

Enough that now the only thing from his college scouting report I think could be a deterrent to his career is questions about his durability.