On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs went on the road and lost 20-17 against the embattled Indianapolis Colts in what has to be one of the worst performances in the Andy Reid era. Here are five things we learned from the game:
1. The Chiefs didn’t respect the Colts
In his Wednesday press conference, head coach Andy Reid said that his team was not looking past Indianapolis.
“You can’t skip over anybody — not that our guys would,” said Reid. “There’s so much parity in this league, it’s crazy. Every game, you’ve got to be spot on. So I don’t think anybody’s looking at that game [in Week 4]. I sense that there’s a big focus on this game.”
Anyone who watched Sunday’s matchup could see that this was blatantly untrue. The Chiefs showed up assuming they would have little trouble moving the ball against Indianapolis. Instead, the Chiefs' offense looked stale, disorganized and ineffective.
But that wasn’t even the worst of it. The Chiefs' special teams unit had one of the worst performances in memory. Rookie wideout Skyy Moore muffed a punt on what would have been the Chiefs' opening possession. From there, it all just went downhill.
Reid can say that the Chiefs didn’t overlook the Colts — but if that’s true, then the Chiefs have even bigger problems on their hands. They either overlooked an opponent — or worse, they are not nearly as good as we thought they were.
But Reid was right about one thing: this is the NFL. You can’t skip over anybody. It’s too bad the team didn’t listen their his advice.
2. Orlando Brown Jr. is not worth the money
Coming into Sunday’s game, Brown had allowed seven pressures in the first two games of the season. That number is sure to go up. The Indianapolis front four left Brown gasping for air on multiple reps. The Chiefs' offensive line was clearly struggling to provide quarterback Patrick Mahomes a clean pocket from which to work — and Brown appeared to be the one who was struggling the most.
For a player who turned down a multi-year extension, deciding to bet on himself while playing under the franchise tag, the early returns have not been good. Brown simply does not have the athleticism required to hang with good pass rushers.
His feet look slow — and he often finds himself playing catch-up, rather than anticipating a defender's move. At 6-foot-8 and 363 pounds, he is a massive human — but due to his height and lack of speed, he often finds himself over-leveraged and out over his knees.
It’s not all bad with Brown. He does have some good reps. He’s just not one of the league’s top-three tackles.
3. The Chiefs need another offensive weapon
Let’s be clear: this is not about the Chiefs missing Tyreek Hill. Even when Hill was with the team in 2021, Kansas City still needed another offensive weapon.
Travis Kelce is still one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. Juju Smith-Schuster is a good possession receiver who can move the chains. Justin Watson has a fun story — but we will have to see if he can develop into a contributor like Byron Pringle. The running backs look pretty good. Despite being stymied against the Indianapolis defensive line on Sunday, Clyde Edwards-Helaire continues to look like he has turned a corner — and Isiah Pacheco and Jerrick McKinnon are making the most of their opportunities.
But beyond that, the team still hasn’t found the weapon they need. Mahomes and Marquez Valdes-Scantling look like they have never played football together before. Eventually, Skyy Moore could be that guy, but it might not be this season. Remember: Moore is still a rookie and Reid’s offensive system is complex.
In short, the Chiefs have a set of quality guys at their offensive skill positions. But they need a difference-maker — and at the moment, those are in short supply.
4. Eric Bieniemy is calling the plays
At the end of the first half, Mahomes and the team’s offensive coordinator got into a spirited conversation. The dispute seemed to be about Mahomes’ desire to score more points before halftime.
Here is the exchange between Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and OC Eric Bieniemy at end of first half. Seems Bieniemy may have made the decision to run the ball on second-and-20 at the KC 36 to bleed the final second-quarter seconds. Chiefs ball to start third. pic.twitter.com/2MwaVi2ayf— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) September 25, 2022
After the game, both Reid and Mahomes downplayed the interaction, calling it a “conversation” instead of an “argument.” While this may be true, it was still a discussion in which the quarterback was visibly frustrated with his offensive coordinator.
But one thing has been lost in all of this: in order for Mahomes to be angry with Bieniemy over the play-call, Bieniemy has to be the one who was calling the plays.
The lack of clarity on who calls the Kansas City’s offensive plays has long been cited as a reason why Bieniemy has been passed over for multiple head-coaching jobs. But now, there can be no doubt about it: the offensive coordinator is calling at least some of the plays.
Whether he is doing it well, however, is open for debate.
5. The Chiefs have a good defense
Good defenses look great against bad offenses. Great defenses look good against great offenses. Three games into the season, we don’t really know which offenses are good and which ones are great. So the jury is still out on whether the Chiefs' defense is really good — or whether it can be great.
One thing is for certain: despite conceding the game-winning touchdown, this defense did enough to win Sunday’s game. The problem was the rest of the team.
For most of the game, the Colts’ offense looked outmatched as defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo dialed up blitz after blitz on third down. Kansas City made Indianapolis quarterback Matt Ryan’s life a living hell on Sunday, sacking him five times — and holding the Colts to just 3.0 yards per rushing attempt.
When you look at the Chiefs' starting defense, you see a bunch of playmakers up and down the roster. On Sunday, L’Jarius Sneed and Justin Reid looked like future Pro Bowlers. Meanwhile, Nick Bolton continued to show improvement. By the end of the year, he could easily be considered one of the league’s top three linebackers.
Filling in for Willie Gay Jr. while he serves his suspension, linebacker Darius Harris played lights-out on Sunday — and the Kansas City front four led by Chris Jones, Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap seemed to create pressure at will. Sunday’s clear mental lapse by Jones aside, this Kansas City defense is starting to look dominant.