Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu spoke to the media following a dismal defensive showing in the team’s 38-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football. The unquestioned leader of the defense struggled to explain the unit’s continued poor performance.
“Honestly, I think we are just beating ourselves,” said Mathieu after the game. “Go back to the Ravens game. Miscommunication, blown coverages. Chargers game — kind of the same thing. And tonight — I think most of the explosive pass plays were guys just running wide open down the field. Obviously, we are going to practice that. Our coaches don’t teach that.”
Mathieu also noted — as other players and coaches have in the team’s unexpected 2-3 start — the level of play opponents continue to bring against the Chiefs.
“Every team we play wants to beat us —they want to beat us bad,” observed Mathieu. “We have to understand that when we come into these kinds of games.”
The Chiefs’ defense has allowed 30 or more points in four consecutive weeks, showing no sign of improvement. Mathieu appeared to share much of the fan base’s confusion about the problems.
“I feel like we practice really hard,” he offered. “We detail our work. I don’t know what it is. Obviously, we aren’t going to give up. I’m not going to give up — our coaches aren’t going to give up. And this is still a long season for us.
“We don’t want to be 2-3. That’s not our expectations. But we do have a lot of football left to play. You kind of put these games behind you and look forward to turning the page going forward.”
Mathieu was also frustrated by another week of routine errors leading to big plays.
“If you really look back at it, it’s missed tackles, it’s blown coverages — and that’s really kind of a theme,” he said. “So if we can stop some of these tackles — teams are in third and long. If we don’t miscommunicate on a third down — then we’re off the field and give the ball back to our offense.
“We’ve just got to find a way to stop the bleeding when it’s happening — and try our best to get it right.”
While he praised the performance of Bills quarterback Josh Allen, Mathieu disputed any narrative that the defense was unprepared for the Bills’ game plan.
“I don’t think they did anything we didn’t practice for — prepare for,” countered Mathieu. This is a simple game: cover your guy, make the tackle inside out. And if you don’t do those things, it’s embarrassing — and it looks bad.”
One positive take Mathieu made from the evening was the defense’s performance for most of the third quarter. He said he hoped that could be something the team can build upon — given that it can continue to expect every opponent’s best effort and game plan. That includes the team’s next opponent: the Washington Football Team.
“I think we took the field in the second half,” explained Mathieu, “with the urgency we should have took it with in the first half. I think as a defense overall we can continue to grow — and I know we will.
“There’s a certain urgency you have to have when you play for the Kansas City Chiefs — knowing that everybody in this league they want what we have. All the success we’ve had. Teams are chasing that — that glory — each and every week. We go to Washington next week. They’re going to want to beat us. So every game is important from here on out.”
Mathieu also recalled the times the defense struggled during his previous two seasons in Kansas City — which both ended with Super Bowl appearances. He is hopeful that, as before, this year’s unit can find an opportunity to rise above its early-season miscues.
“I think at some point, you break through,” said Mathieu of his teammates. “I thought we were able to do that in 2019. I thought in 2020, we were able to do that as well. And I look forward to seeing us do that this season.”