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Solving the Chiefs’ recent offensive issues in the red zone

The Nerd Squad talks about Kansas City’s recent red zone difficulties in the latest episode of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

On the this week’s mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast, we were asked about the reason for the Kansas City Chiefs‘ recent red zone woes.

The answer is complicated; everyone shares a little blame.

Personnel is part of it. There could be a lack of trust up front to run the football effectively against stout defensive fronts at the goal line. The offensive line has been a patchwork all year, so the Chiefs may feel they need to get creative deep in the red zone simply because they aren’t confident they can just line up and beat an opposing defense at the line of scrimmage.

The Chiefs’ play-calling relies on a lot of misdirection and horizontal stretches to the front pylon for guys like Tyreek Hill. To head coach Andy Reid’s credit, these plays have proven to be successful for a good stretch of the season. What’s more, the team has found ways to build from their horizontal stretches with some creative screens in the middle of the field to guys like fullback Anthony Sherman and tight end Travis Kelce.

For most, the frustration comes in when cute plays like these don’t work — even though they’ve generally been successful this season.

That’s not to diminish questions about play-calling — because those concerns are still valid. Kansas City’s confidence in handing the football to the running back at the goal line may not be as high as it is with other teams, but it’s worth exploring the way the Denver Broncos and Tampa Buccaneers defenses were able to hold up against the Chiefs in the red zone. Isolating a big-bodied receiver like Kelce on the back side of a formation — running a fade or slant route in a goal-to-go situation — could present some new challenges for defenses.

There isn’t one concrete reason why the Chiefs have had these red-zone issues — but there are some small adjustments we could see as soon as this week that could jump-start the offense on these critical downs.


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