The Kansas City Chiefs have many problems, but how many can be fixed? – Kansas City Chiefs blog

October 24, 2021


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A lot has gone wrong for the Kansas City Chiefs during this unexpected 2021 NFL season. After a 27-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday dropped them to 3-4, their chances of a fourth straight trip to the AFC Championship Game or a third straight place in the Super Bowl seem remote.

What happened? Here are some of the things that are afflicting the Chiefs:

It’s not the norm for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has at least one turnover in each of the last six games and multiple turnovers in each of the last three. Some of his interceptions have come on passes deflected by a Chiefs receiver, but Mahomes is not without blame. He has tried to force passes into cover and threw interceptions rather than simply trying to avoid a sack. Mahomes said after a game against the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago that he would reassess his decision-making process in light of turnovers. If it has, it has not been shown. Against the Titans on Sunday he posted a 6.1 QBR, by far the lowest of his career. His previous low was 37.4 in Week 7 last season against the Broncos. Is this solvable? Mahomes entered the season with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of nearly 5: 1. He hasn’t been prone to turning the ball over in his career, so he’s able to be more confident on the ball. However, he has to stop forcing pitches, something he might not do given how quickly the Chiefs’ defense gives up points.

The Chiefs have a shortage of defensive talent: Since rebuilding their defense after the 2018 season, the Chiefs have invested primarily in offensive players. His 2020 first-round draft pick was a running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. They traded their 2021 first-round pick for an offensive tackle, Orlando Brown. His big-money free agent signing this year was a point guard, Joe Thuney. In all, between the draft, a trade and free agency, the Chiefs acquired six new offensive linemen and left the defense mostly intact. The Chiefs only have two former first-round picks on defense, neither of which were selected by Kansas City. Those players, cornerbacks Mike Hughes and DeAndre Baker, were ruled out by their former teams for little to no returns. Three recent defensive picks in the first three rounds in defensive linemen Breeland Speaks and Khalen Saunders and linebacker Dorian O’Daniel have not been worth the investment. Is this solvable? Not this year. The Chiefs will have to ride with what they have.

The passing race has been shocking: The Chiefs have invested a lot in a defensive area in recent years and that is the defensive line, where Chris Jones and Frank Clark play. But both have been limited this season by injuries and are not producing when they play. Jones missed two games and hasn’t had a sack since getting two in the season opener. Clark missed three games and has yet to catch. The Chiefs had a sack against the Titans. They had seven entering the game, the fewest in six games since 2011. They were 28 on ESPN’s Pass Rush win rate, beating their blocks in 2.5 seconds just 34% of the time. Is this solvable? With Jones, Clark and other complementary players, the Chiefs should pressure the quarterback much better than they do. But if it hasn’t happened in seven games, it’s unlikely it will happen this season.

Investing in the offensive line hasn’t consistently paid off: Most of the Chiefs have protected Mahomes better than against the Titans. But the Tennessee game was bad. Tennessee hit just once in 44 dropbacks, but was still pressured 18 times. Opponents have bombed Mahomes only 13% of the time this season, but pressured him 35% of his attempts. Brown, who played primarily right tackle before being traded to the Chiefs by the Baltimore Ravens, is trying to establish himself at left tackle. He’s had times where he’s played well, but he’s played poorly against the Titans. Is this solvable? The Chiefs, who start with two rookies and two other linemen who were not with the team last year, should improve as the season progresses.

So can the Chiefs make the postseason? The Chiefs, at 3-4 but with five divisional games remaining, remain part of the AFC West’s career. The problem for them, as it has been all season, is not their record or divisional position, but the way they are playing. They could make the playoffs, but they won’t without making some big improvements in these areas and others.

The Chiefs have had a tough schedule. Five of his seven opponents are strong playoff contenders.

But things don’t get much better in that regard. Three of his next four opponents, the Packers, Raiders and Cowboys, are in first place in their respective divisions.

It is up to the Chiefs to fix the problem. They have shown little in the first seven games to suggest that will happen.


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