Thursday Night Observations

That’s the last time I’m ever doing that. By that I mean staying up until 5:30 am to watch the night standalone game from Lisbon, Portugal. (I signed off Twitter at halftime, vowing to get to sleep, but I wound up watching the second half in real time in a silent rage anyway.) I can just as easily watch my Survivor entries turn to dust in 40 minutes on Game Rewind the next morning. What a terrible outcome, and moreover, I have only one share of Kareem Hunt – in my least important ($20 entry fee) Vegas league.

• Hunt looked like peak Marshall Faulk with 246 yards from scrimmage, five catches and three TDs. And he did it on only 17 carries. Despite modest timed speed (4.62 40), Hunt had no problem getting to the outside or outrunning the defense for a long score, and he broke tackles all game. If we’re drafting again today, he’s an easy first-rounder, though the Patriots defense looked awfully weak.

• Alex Smith throwing so many deep balls was shocking. First, he hit Tyreek Hill on a perfect throw for a 75-yard TD (after a Pats defender let him run wide open), then he threw a perfect bullet to hit Hunt in stride. He also tried a downfield shot to Travis Kelce. While Smith won’t be mistaken for Aaron Rodgers’ arm-strength-wise, it makes you wonder why the team was so conservative with him for so long. Smith was nearly perfect with 10.5 YPA and four TDs.

• Hill was a player I faded this draft season as I wasn’t sure whether he could make the transition to outside WR, and even if he could whether Smith could get him the ball down the field. After one game, the numbers look good, but set aside the one blown coverage TD, and he had six catches for 58 yards, i.e., fewer than 10 YPC. Of course, the big ones count too.

• Tough break on Eric Berry, who is likely out for the year with an Achilles’ injury, as the Chiefs defense looked very stout in the second half.

• The Patriots made some uncharacteristically poor coaching decisions, from kicking a field goal on 4th-and-a-short-1, to running Mike Gillislee into the teeth of the defense twice on failed fourth-down tries. Moreover, how is the defense that thin, whereby they lost an injury-prone player like Dont’a Hightower, and all hell broke loose? And what was the obsession with handing the ball off to Chris Hogan?

• Mike Gillislee scored three times, and it looks like he has the LeGarrette Blount role after all, which is what people thought before they got sucked into the Rex Burkhead speculation. Gillislee didn’t look especially good at breaking tackles, though, so maybe he won’t keep it. And the Chiefs were a favorable matchup – 24th in YPC last year as they often have a lot of defensive backs on the field.

• Tom Brady had a pedestrian game, mostly because the Chiefs secondary is good, and Brandin Cooks drew two pass interference penalties near the goal line, setting up short TD runs. The ball came out of his hands just fine.

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• Don’t worry about Brandin Cooks. He had seven targets, including two deep down the field, 88 yards, drew two PI penalties at the goal line and another holding call in the middle of the field, despite facing one of his toughest opponents.

• Danny Amendola had six catches on seven targets for 100 yards before leaving with a concussion. He’s had at least two other concussions in his career, so he’s on dangerous ground. Moreover, his targets were in large part due to a weak slot corner on the Chiefs, and he fumbled.

• Chris Hogan caught only one of five targets and couldn’t seem to get open. He was bizarrely used as a running back three times, though.

• Rex Burkhead had three carries for 15 yards, and one catch for eight. With Gillislee and James White (10 carries, three catches) and Dion Lewis around, it’s hard to see his upside barring injuries.

• How embarrassingly bad was Mark Wahlberg’s introduction before the game? Do that crap on your own time, not while we’re waiting (some of us at 1:30 am) for the game to start.

• It was a tough Survivor week, so I won’t beat myself up too badly for taking the Pats. But this did look much more like the aging and sluggish group that showed up for three quarters in the Super Bowl than a heavily favored juggernaut. I pretty much ignored their lucky Super Bowl result because I thought the return of Rob Gronkowski and addition of Cooks would take them to a new level, and it might. But it didn’t last night.