With the first quarter of the season under the team’s belt, we polled our staff writers for various awards for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley taught us to think in quarters. Each season is broken up into four sections comprised of four weeks apiece, he would say, and his focus would be on how his team fared at each stage of the season. We’re not sure if this worked for the team in any positive or negative way, but it’s given us a stopping point to at least look at the team beyond the record.
Of course, we’re all thrilled with the Chiefs record. The Chiefs have four wins and zero losses. They sit atop the division and already own road wins over the Denver Broncos and L.A. Chargers. As for the Raiders, who they have yet to play, Jon Gruden has taken care of imploding them from the inside.
But now that we’re at the quarter season mark, it’s time for us to take stock of the individual players as well. Instead of waiting until the end fo the year to give away awards, we thought we’d do so after each of Haley’s stops to see how the season’s narrative changes over time. After a poll of our contributing writers here at Arrowhead Addict, here are the results.
Chiefs Offensive MVP: Patrick Mahomes
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This is the only category in which there was zero competition. Every single entry from among our writers voted Patrick Mahomes on the Offensive MVP list and really it’s the only way to vote (obviously). There’s an argument to be made for Tyreek Hill for sure and if Mahomes weren’t enjoying a truly magical season—as in historic—then some of us would be swayed for sure. But we’re confident that even the Cheetah himself would smile and nod at his quarterback taking home this award.
Chiefs Defensive MVP: Dee Ford
And the winner is… Dee? Ford? As in Dee Ford? As in the first round pick from 2014 that made everyone groan when a back injury forced the team’s hand and guaranteed his fifth year option? Yes, that Dee Ford.
Ford has been the second-best story on the Chiefs this season. A team that needed pass rushing help found it in an unexpected source, at least to those of us on the outside. Injuries and inconsistency have been Ford’s story to date, overshadowing any positive pass rushing output in the last few seasons. Last season, he was riddled with back pain that wouldn’t go away and he was forced to miss several games. It’s uncertain whether or not the Chiefs would have kept him for a fifth year, but they had no choice regardless.
This year, he’s playing like a man possessed (or, you know, a man in search of a big free agent payday). With three sacks in four games, Dee Ford is terrorizing quarterbacks to the tune of a major free agent score next March. He’s second in quarterback pressures behind only Khalil Mack and is largely responsible for what few defensive highlights belong to K.C.
Ford won the lion’s share of the votes from our writers, but it’s also notable that Orlando Scandrick also earned a handful of votes. For a veteran cornerback who most wrote off as “David Amerson replacing David Amerson,” Scandrick has blossomed into a revelation. He was cast aside by the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, but the Chiefs are employing him in all the right ways and he’s responded in kind. A great FA find for Brett Veach.
(One other note: Eric Berry received a vote here and, well, the writer is not wrong for saying so. Perhaps that’s even the best answer.)
Comeback Player of the Year: Dee Ford
There’s no question here at all: Dee Ford is not only the team’s defensive most valuable player but he’s also the Comeback Player of the Year (so far). We’ve chronicled his return already above, but suffice it to say that no one else even comes close here. Even if Ford’s production drops as the season wears on, he’s still likely to hold on to this one.
The only other competition could come from a surprise candidate on offense. Cam Erving is fourth starting left guard for the Chiefs in the last four years, but he might be the one who sticks. The Chiefs signed him to an extension already and he seems to be taking well to playing between Eric Fisher and Mitch Morse. Plus he’s also versatile enough to slide left or right to fill in when injury arises.
De’Anthony Thomas and Chris Conley were also mentioned here as players who have played a role in the Chiefs offensive juggernaut returning from disappointing or injury-laden seasons in 2017.
Rookie of the Year: Derrick Nnadi
The most depressing award the Chiefs will hand out this year will be the Rookie of the Year Award. Certainly the team cannot go all season without giving someone a real chance to show what they can do.
So far, Derrick Nnadi looks like the single best option as he’s holding up quite well in very limited reps along the defensive front. The Chiefs brought in Xavier Williams in free agency but Nnadi is likely the better player already and his presence gives the Chiefs some real depth and talent up front. Still he hasn’t emerged as a game-changer and he’s not even playing 25 percent of the snaps at this point, so we’re trying our best to fan whatever little flames are here.
The only other potential vote to cast here is Armani Watts, who actually had a sack against the Denver Broncos in a cleverly drawn up play by Bob Sutton. However, outside of that single sack, Watts has barely played at all in a sinking ship of a secondary. It’s silly the Chiefs aren’t letting him play over Eric Murray and/or Ron Parker, but perhaps that will change as the season wears on.
Chiefs LVP: Lots of Names
So who is the Chiefs least valuable player at this point? No one seems to agree, but there are plenty of fingers pointing to the defensive side, so at least there’s some agreement there.
The names rattled off by our writers here include almost everyone on defense. Justin Houston and Breeland Speaks. Anthony Hitchens got multiple votes, but so did Reggie Ragland, Eric Murray and even Kendall Fuller. Speaks got multiple votes if you could the writer who threw the whole draft class into this category.
In short, despite the great start and the overwhelming offensive capability, these Chiefs have a lot of areas of need or ways in which they could grow/improve. That’s bad and good news, but if this section can trend upward, that’s a death knell for the rest of the AFC.