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5 things we learned as the Chiefs dropped the season opener to the Lions

Kansas City’s offense shot themselves in the foot over and over again.

Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

In their first game of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs returned home to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium to hang their Super Bowl LVII championship banner. But what was supposed to be a night of celebration quickly turned into a series of unfortunate events, as the Chiefs made just enough mistakes to earn a 21-20 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Here are five things we learned from Thursday’s game.

1. Kadarius Toney had no business playing

Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

At some point, you kind of started to feel bad for Toney. He hadn’t played a snap since hurting himself in practice at the beginning of training camp.

Early on, it was clear that he was rusty and not ready to return to action. After a pass bounced off his hands become a pick-six for Lions’ rookie safety Brian Branch, head coach Andy Reid should have pulled Toney from the game for his own good. Everything that transpired afterward only served to lower Toney’s confidence. This was again evident late in the fourth quarter — when the Chiefs desperately needed somebody to make a play — and another crucial pass bounced off Toney’s hands.

For a guy whose toughness has been called into question by previous coaches, Reid should have shielded Toney from himself, giving him more time to knock the rust off.

Still... Toney is also a pro. He’s paid to make plays no matter what. But once it was clear that he was not going to be that guy, there was no reason to keep him in the game. This one is as much on the coaching staff as it is on Toney.

2. Travis Kelce is more important to this team than Chris Jones

Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Leading up to the game, all of the attention was centered on the defensive tackle’s contract situation. But while Jones was sitting in a suite looking like he was being held captive by two John Gotti impersonators, Kansas City’s defensive line played surprisingly well.

Young edge rushers George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah looked like an electric tandem that Kansas City can build around. Nose tackle Derrick Nnadi played better than he has in a couple of years. We also need to talk about Mike Danna, who is once again proving that the contract year is undefeated.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ receivers dropped every other pass thrown their way. Thursday night’s game proved the team can win without Jones — but without Kelce, it is going to struggle.

3. Skyy Moore is still not living up to the hype

Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

I’ll be fair to Moore: the pass thrown to him on the Chiefs' last offensive play was a tough catch. A fourth-and-25 where defenders and offensive teammates are the area is a play you wouldn’t expect an average player to make. But it is a play you would expect That Dude to make.

The problem is that even though Moore has been hyped up as a guy who is ready to be That Dude, we still haven’t seen it. He was a non-factor on Thursday night — and that’s the problem: when they needed a play the most, the Chiefs went to him. He didn’t make it.

It’s not fair to expect the extraordinary from someone who’s just not that guy.

4. The secondary needs to be more aggressive

Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Detroit has one of the league’s slowest receiving corps. Amon-Ra St. Brown ran a 4.67 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Marvin Jones Jr. runs like your uncle after he’s had a few — and Josh Reynolds has never been more than a roster-filler for his entire career.

But for periods on Thursday night, the Lions were able to pass the ball at will against the Kansas City secondary.

Without Chris Jones in the lineup, we knew that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo would call a lot of blitzes. The problem was that Chiefs’ defensive backs were also giving the Detroit receivers seven yards of cushion.

The strength of the Kansas City secondary is the size and length of its players. Spagnuolo should have had Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams pressing Detroit’s receivers at the line of scrimmage — while Trent McDuffie was in the slot on Kalif Raymond. It was also clear for much of the game that L’Jarius Sneed needed more time in practice before trying to cover a receiver.

Nevertheless, the defense played well enough to win the game. It was the offense that let the team down.

5. Rashee Rice still needs to stop dropping the ball

Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

OK... maybe this one is a little mean. Sure... Rice had another drop on Thursday night — but so did every other player on the Chiefs’ roster. More importantly, Rice followed his drop by catching a touchdown pass. As long as Rice can score a touchdown for every pass he drops, I’m okay with it.

That being said, in the second half it looked like the Lions were keying in on Rice. They seemed to be two steps ahead any time he touched the ball. If Rice is going to be a playmaker on this team, Reid needs to disguise his manufactured touches a little bit better.

Play-calling in general was an issue in this game — especially on third-and-short. Once again, Reid overthought the situations and tried to get cute with them. For once, can the Chiefs just line up behind the big uglies and run the ball?

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