There were hardly any bright spots during the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 7 loss to the Tennessee Titans on a dark, gloomy Sunday in Chiefs Kingdom. The team has fallen to 3-4 — only the second time during head coach Andy Reid’s nine-year tenure that this far into the season, they’ve had more losses than wins.
The Chiefs continued to lack ball security — but that effect on the game was compounded by the passing offense’s failures, the third-down defense’s inability to get a stop and the penalties. No aspect of the team was good enough, and Reid knew that as he addressed reporters following the game.
“I’ve seen our guys do it and make the plays, we’re just not doing it now,” admitted Reid. “We weren’t doing it offensively, we weren’t finishing it defensively... We really need to get both sides playing well. We have to eliminate the turnovers and penalties; these are things that haven’t been common to us. I’m seeing things I haven’t seen before.”
“Guys that I’ve seen perform did not do certain things,” Reid continued. “We’re right there to do the right thing and make something happen, and it’s bouncing the other way. We have to fix that.”
There’s nothing about this two-time defending AFC champion, defending AFC West champion (for five years running) that resembles a contender. They’re 1-4 against the other teams competing for the AFC crown — and as each of those games has happened, they’ve only become less competitive.
The players aren’t executing — but simultaneously, their coaches have failed to put them in the most successful positions. Whether it’s starting individual players that shouldn’t be starting — or not designing plays that can penetrate a poor pass defense — the coaching staff deserves some heat. And they know it.
“This is all of us in it; this is me,” emphasized Reid. “It’s completely my responsibility and fault for the way we played today. The coaches feel the same way about it... as play-callers, we have to go back and look at what we’re giving our guys to work with. That’s where we all have a piece of this.”
Reid described quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ unimpressive, mistake-filled performance on Sunday as him “trying to make things happen,” which led to two turnovers and an unbelievably ineffective passing game. He admits that Mahomes is pressing — but he doesn’t believe his signal-caller is the only one.
“Here we sit with an average record, and we’ve been up and down on both sides of the ball,” Reid started. “You try to go above and beyond with what you’re doing, and it can go out of whack; this is both sides of the ball.”
The pressing led to missed opportunities — or more accurately, undisciplined plays. The Chiefs were called for nine penalties, which resulted in 77 yards being lost — and they were significantly untimely. They got the Titans into multiple third downs, but allowed conversions on 67% of their 12 attempts to succeed — some by way of penalty.
“I thought we were close,” Reid said of the first-half defensive performance. “It was a fingertip away from taking care of a big play — or a penalty happened. They had a nice screen on a third-and-long; we were getting them into those good situations — and they were able to work their way out of it. We have to fix that.”
“You want to stay out of third-and-longs; penalties killed that,” he added. “We were looking at long-yard situations. We have to take care of that — whether we think it’s the right or wrong call, we have to make sure we’re not in those situations against good defensive fronts.”
Currently, Reid doesn’t recognize his team — and neither do the team’s fans. Star players aren’t playing up to their established standards, the coaching staff is struggling to help them — and nearly midway through the season, the team has a losing record.
It has to be mentioned that Reid has brought a less-talented Chiefs team back from an even worse start and still made the postseason — but it isn’t simple. And any shot that the team might have at turning it around won’t be simple, either.
“We have to make sure we hang together and fix the problem,” declared Reid. “The easy way out is not doing that.”
This team’s uncharacteristic play has shown no signs of getting better; in fact, it seems to have gotten worse as the season has advanced.
If it continues to spiral, there will be questions raised at every level of the organization — because sky-high expectations were legitimate. The team isn't playing up to its collective ceiling — and that starts with the coach who has led the franchise to a winning record in every season he’s coached.