The Chiefs are going to be just fine
Reid and the Kansas City coaching staff didn’t just sit on their hands all week. They worked and schemed and made actual changes designed to get things right. They changed right tackles, from Lucas Niang to Mike Remmers. They made a switch at safety, using the speedier Juan Thornhill in place of Daniel Sorensen. They dedicated themselves to the run game (as much as one can expect an Andy Reid team to).
And while the start was shaky, it all paid off in the end with a 31-13 victory on the road. Mahomes threw for 397 yards. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill had big games. If you’d watched only the second half, you’d have come away thinking the Chiefs were rolling through another 12- or 13-win season, ho hum, no big deal.
The verdict: OVERREACTION. We have to be fair, right? We said last week that it was an overreaction to say the Chiefs were in trouble, so I don’t think we can say they’re out of the woods just because of one good half against a not-very-great Washington team. If they’re really going to commit to the run game, we need to see them do it a few times. If Mahomes is really going to quiet down his feet and patiently take the underneath stuff teams are offering him — as he says he knows he must — we need to keep seeing it. If they’re really going to pressure opposing quarterbacks, we need to see them start doing it. They didn’t have a sack Sunday, and they have only seven through six games.
Loser: Patrick Mahomes’s Stats
The brief flurry of negative Mahomes plays was handled rationally. For about 10 minutes, people on Twitter debated whether the NFL had “figured [Mahomes] out” and whether Mahomes’s contract would doom the Chiefs’ future.
Then, Mahomes and the Chiefs snapped back to form to beat the Washington Football Team 31-13. Mahomes threw for 397 yards and maintained his NFL lead in touchdown passes. The stats for Mahomes aren’t great right now—but he’s still pretty clearly Patrick Mahomes.
Firstly, his ability to put pressure on the quarterback will help relieve a bit of the pressure that the Chiefs’ secondary has to deal with every single week. Secondly, his ability to rotate in and out, giving Frank Clark and Mike Danna rests and giving defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo opportunities to change the personnel can only be a good thing.
Finally, it will help the Chiefs on third down. Mercilus being able to slide into Chris Jones’ defensive end spot, pushing Jones back to the middle on third down while still providing the same level of pressure from the end spot is exactly what the Chiefs need right now. The Chiefs give up the fourth-highest third-down conversion rate, largely because they can not get pressure on the quarterback, especially when Jones moves inside.
Chiefs defense shows signs of life
Fantasy GMs who chose to stream Taylor Heinicke (4.7 yards per attempt) against a Chiefs defense ceding a whopping 7.1 yards per play did not have much fun. Kansas City’s beleaguered unit, still missing its top player (Chris Jones) and seeing its second-best defender (Tyrann Mathieu) suffer a broken thumb, locked down Washington’s attack after a gaffe produced a long Ricky Seals-Jones TD. The Chiefs (3-3) subbed out linebacker Ben Niemann and safety Daniel Sorensen for Willie Gay and Juan Thornhill. The changes helped. This defense still looks closer to 2018’s than the Super Bowl-winning crew, but Patrick Mahomes should be able to buy it time to regroup.
CHIEFS GRADE: B | NEXT: at Titans (Sun.)
Stock Down: DT Jarran Reed
Reed’s start to his Chiefs career has been relatively slow as he hadn’t made the immediate impact many were expecting when he was signed this past offseason. He did make a tackle and two quarterback hits in Sunday’s win, his most productive outing yet, but his presence has overall been lacking since he arrived in Kansas City. Reed will eventually rebound and make more plays on the defensive lines but will continue to be a target of fans until then.
Kansas City Chiefs
3-3 · .556
Biggest needs: OT, CB, S
Week 7 opponent: at Titans
CG: The Chiefs’ defense is a mess right now, and a Week 5 loss to the Buffalo Bills further exposed problems in the secondary. Whether an ineffective pass rush is to blame or not, three Chiefs safeties are in a contract year, including Tyrann Mathieu and Daniel Sorensen.
Kingsley Enagbare LB
SOUTH CAROLINA • SR • 6’4” / 260 LBS
The Chiefs’ defense has been so bad that not even Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes can consistently overcome it. So, naturally, beefing up the “D” is a priority here. Enagbare is a twitched-up athlete who will only get better with more reps and added muscle.
Around the NFL
The Bills had scored on three straight drives when they got the ball back with 9:45 to go in the fourth quarter. But a Jeffery Simmons sack pushed them back after moving the chains, and Allen couldn’t connect on a pair of deep shots, resulting in a punt, with the Titans down 31-27. Tennessee then proceeded to go 70 yards on eight plays, milking almost five minutes of clock in the process. Westbrook-Ikhine emerged with a couple of clutch first-down catches, and then Henry sealed the deal with a 13-yard sprint up the gut, putting the Titans ahead for good.
The bad news rolled into the team’s Berea headquarters on Monday following Cleveland’s 37-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, starting with a bleak timeline for running back Kareem Hunt. Coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters Hunt is “likely” headed to injured reserve with a calf injury that will force him to miss more than the minimum three weeks as required by IR rules.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Browns expect Hunt to miss 4-6 weeks due to the injury, which Hunt suffered in the second half of Sunday’s blowout defeat.
Rookie standout Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (ankle) will also miss multiple weeks, per Stefanski, though he did not specify exactly how many. The linebacker suffered his right high-ankle sprain in the loss to Arizona.
“If you’re looking for your headline here, I think the people who make those statements are kind of whistling in the graveyard just a little bit,” Harbaugh said Monday. “It doesn’t have any meaning. Anybody who knows X’s and O’s are rolling their eyes when they hear something like that.”
In August, people around the league told ESPN: “This might be the year that everybody figures out Lamar Jackson.”
In leading the Ravens to a 5-1 record, Jackson has been one of the most explosive players in the league, ranking sixth in the NFL in passing (1,686) and seventh in rushing (392). In Sunday’s 34-6 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, Jackson set the NFL record for most wins (35) under the age of 25.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs’ offense has been heralded as a juggernaut to which other teams wish they could catch up — but this season, also as a mistake-burdened unit that’s preventing the team from winning big games.
On one hand, it is one of the most efficient in NFL history. Through the first six weeks of the season, the Chiefs have scored 3.14 points per drive — the highest since quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the starter. Kansas City is scoring on 50.9% of its drives. It also leads the league in third-down conversions at 60.3% — and has punted a league-low 10 times.
On the other hand, the Chiefs lead the league in turnovers with 14: eight interceptions and six fumbles. But the problem isn’t simply that the offense is giving the ball away. Instead, it’s where they have been giving it away.
In both extra points and field goals, Chiefs placekicker Harrison Butker has been perfect this season. He is able to easily make kicks from more than 50 yards out — meaning that any time the Chiefs are at (or inside) the 40-yard line, they should score at least three points. But eight of the possessions that have ended in turnovers have been inside the 40 — meaning that at minimum, Kansas City should have scored an additional 24 points.
A tweet to make you think
In Patrick Mahomes 60 career starts (playoffs included), his defense has held their opponents to 27 or fewer points 37 times.— (@LanceTHESPOKEN) October 18, 2021
The Chiefs are 36-1 in those games. pic.twitter.com/SVCGO5hM84