On “Monday Night Football,” the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the Philadelphia Eagles in a Super Bowl LVII rematch. With the Chiefs leading by 10 points at halftime, it looked like Kansas City would once again walk away with a victory — but thanks to a comedy of errors by the Chiefs’ offense, Philidelphia was able to escape with a 21-17 victory.
Here are five things we learned from Monday night’s loss.
1. Marquez Valdes-Scantling shouldn’t start another game
They don’t make pills harder to swallow than watching a starting wide receiver drop what should have been the game-winning touchdown.
But it’s more than one dropped pass.
Valdes-Scantling is averaging a scant 0.94 yards per route run this season. He had three targets on Monday night — and caught none of them. He was a complete non-factor.
The sixth-year veteran has an $11 million cap hit this season, which puts him in line for one of the worst contracts under Kansas City general manager Brett Veach. But here’s the kicker: that’s not even a lot of money for a good wide receiver.
Valdes-Scantling hasn’t just been bad in 2023. He’s been a liability. Whatever value he once gave the team is now so far in the rearview mirror, we can’t even see the player he used to be.
The Chiefs shouldn’t let the contract they gave him force them to keep him on the field. The money is already gone. Let’s not compound the problem.
2. The Chiefs should hit them in the gut over and over again
It makes me sad to write this, but right now, Kansas City needs to stop trying to throw the ball. Outside of Travis Kelce (who is going through a slump by his standards), the Chiefs have absolutely nobody who can reliably get open further than five yards down the field. This is part of the reason Kelce is struggling: he is facing routine double teams. (This doesn’t, however, give him an excuse to drop passes or fumble the ball).
The receiving corps’ inability to play at a professional level should force head coach Andy Reid’s hand: the Chiefs should become a run-first team. It ran the ball for 168 yards on Monday night. When the defense is as good as it is, all the team has to do is avoid shooting itself in the foot — and move down the field four yards at a time.
You know... kind of like the Chiefs did in Monday night’s first half.
3. We should put some respect on Dave Merritt’s name
Last season, Kansas City’s defensive backs coach was given five rookies. He developed them at light speed — and helped the Chiefs win a Super Bowl.
This season, his unit is quietly shutting down the league's top receivers on a weekly basis. This is why defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo can blitz at such a high rate: he knows that the coverage is going to hold up.
L’Jarius Sneed has become one of the NFL’s best press corners. He’s previously held star wide receivers like Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill in check. On Monday night, the Eagles’ stud wideout A.J. Brown was just the latest in a long line of victims.
Meanwhile, Trent McDuffie might be the league’s nastiest defensive back.
Thank you, Coach Merritt.
4. The offensive tackles are a problem
It’s not just the holding calls or the false starts. It’s also the poor pass blocking — and the lack of athleticism needed to pull and block in space.
Despite investing heavily in the position — in both free agency and the draft — Kansas City still has a pair of duds for offensive tackles.
There was hope that right tackle Jawaan Taylor would take a step forward after signing a big contract in the offseason — but he has been mediocre at best.
Left tackle Donovan Smith has arguably played badly this year. In Monday night’s first half, he was flagged for holding — and throughout the game, struggled to stand up to the Eagles' athletic defensive line. Smith is on a one-year deal. The team will once again head into the offseason with a question mark at left tackle.
5. The Chiefs’ pass rush is an insatiable beast
Earlier this week, defensive tackle Chris Jones said that he wasn’t concerned about the fact that he hadn’t registered a sack in a couple of games, expressing confidence he would hit the 15 sacks he needs to earn a $1.75 million incentive this season.
On Monday night, he took a big step toward achieving that goal, registering two sacks — and a third tackle-for-loss on a designed run by Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts. McDuffie also had a pair of sacks — and defensive end George Karlaftis joined the party, too. The Chiefs totaled five sacks and nine tackles-for-a loss against the Eagles. It’s just a shame that such a great performance was squandered by an inept offensive performance.