As many of us tuned into the 2020 NFL draft a couple of weeks ago, I had a realization that seemed somewhat surreal to me. Due to the ongoing pandemic: the NFL draft may be the most watched sporting event in the entire year of 2020.
The draft has continually earned more viewings every single year, with the 2019 event attracting nearly double the viewership than in just 2015. And new ratings show that this year’s draft saw a record-breaking 15.6 million viewers; a 37% increase from last year. Needless to say, the NFL has never been hotter.
But with reports of a potential “second coronavirus wave,” expected to arrive in the fall, this year’s NFL season may end up being exclusive to TV, or even postponed.
Interestingly, due to the enormous amount of TV revenue generated in a typical season, the NFL is in a better position than other sports financially to play to empty stadiums. In fact, due to the postponement of virtually every other sporting event – including the Olympics – TV viewership will most likely be higher this year.
At least the NFL season has until the fall to figure out their strategy. Perhaps by then, we may have figured out a way to mitigate the spread of another coronavirus outbreak, or possibly even have an effective and reliable treatment. For the time being, we can all still boo Roger Goodell and hope for the best.
Until next time, Go Chiefs!
~ Scott Asner, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri
With the September 8 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars just weeks away, I’m excited about the Kansas City Chiefs’ prospects for 2019. Like every other Chiefs fan, I’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time – ever since our heart-breaking overtime loss to the New England Patriots in last year’s AFC Championship game.
Unless you were living in a cave last season, it would have
been impossible not to notice that second year-quarterback Patrick Mahomes lit
up the scoreboard all season long, becoming just the second quarterback in NFL
history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a single season. Mahomes
led the chiefs to an impressive 12-4 regular season record, a performance that
was good enough to earn Kansas City the AFC West title and home-field advantage
throughout the AFC playoffs – the first time the Chiefs reached the top seed in
the conference since 1997. It was also good enough to earn Patrick Mahomes the
NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award.
Despite having the NFL’s best offense and home-field
advantage, I was still concerned the Chiefs might somehow find a way to snatch
defeat from the jaws of victory when they faced the Indianapolis Colts in the
divisional round. After all, the Chiefs
had lost the last six of their previous home playoff games and 4 of their last
playoff games against Indianapolis.
My fears proved to be unfounded. Mahomes picked apart the Colts secondary and
Kansas City’s unstoppable offense rolled up an impressive 31-13 victory to end
25 years of playoff drought.
Although the Chiefs fielded the best offense in the league,
the defense – which ranked second to last among NFL teams in total defense –
played inconsistently throughout the season.
Despite performing well against Indianapolis in the divisional round,
the defense collapsed in the second half of the AFC Conference Championship
against New England, allowing the Patriots to run the ball into the end zone
during the overtime period (and ending our dreams of Superbowl glory).
Following the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Chiefs fired defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and brought in Steve Spagnuolo, a veteran defensive guru who is known for running aggressive defenses and favoring unconventional blitzing schemes. Spagnuolo has a lot of experience coaching defense for winning teams, most notably the 2007 New York Giants Super Bowl team. He also worked previously as part of Andy Reid’s coaching staff with the Philadelphia Eagles and spent two years as a head coach with the St. Louis Rams.
In addition to changing the defensive coaching staff and
going from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3, the Chiefs let some marquee players go.
Gone are defensive lineman Allen Bailey, linebackers Justin Houston and Dee
Ford, cornerback Steven Nelson and safety Eric Berry. Given the disaster that was the Chiefs’
secondary last year – not to mention Berry’s chronic injury issues – those
moves should have come as no surprise.
Losing veterans Dee Ford and Justin Houston DID surprise a lot of
people, yet considering the move to a 4-3 defense, it may prove to be
Their likely replacements include defensive linemen Frank
Clark, a free agent acquisition formerly with the Seattle Seahawks and Alex
Okafor, acquired from the New Orleans Saints.
Along with linebacker Damien Wilson (Dallas Cowboys), all three of these
players have significant experience playing in the 4-3 scheme. Adding to the mix are free agent defensive
backs Bashard Breeland (Green Bay Packers) and Tyrann Mathieu (Houston
Texans). Bashard, a cornerback who
played with the Washington Redskins for three seasons, signed with the Packers
last September. Despite playing in only
7 games last season, he amassed 20 tackles, four passes defended, two
interceptions and a tackle for loss.
Tyrann Mathieu is a veteran safety who will provide leadership and
The new free agents will be joined by veteran stalwarts
Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland at linebacker, defensive tackle Chris Jones
(who just reported to training camp after a long holdout) and defensive backs
Daniel Sorenson (safety) and Kendall Fuller (cornerback). Juan Thornhill, a second- round pick in the
2019 draft, has impressed in training camp and will likely compete with
Sorenson for the starting free safety slot.
Will this makeover of the Chiefs defense be enough to take them over the threshold? No one can say for certain, but we will all know soon enough. One thing I do expect: a vastly improved Kansas City Chiefs defense.