Chiefs Stunned at Arrowhead

Can the Chief’s win back-to-back Superbowls?  Not if they repeat tonight’s abysmal performance.  Several issues are glaring.  First, the pass protection is inconsistent at best.  Once the Lions defensive coordinator figured out that Aiden Hutchinson could pressure Patrick Mahomes up the middle, pass protection began to break down in key moments.  Second, the receivers can’t catch.  There were too many drops across the board.  Lastly, the defense missed Chris Jones.  Multiple times the defense was gashed up the middle for gains including a touchdown run.  The Chiefs need all their superstars on the field for them to have a shot at a repeat championship.  Patrick Mahomes can deliver the ball, but the receivers must catch it.  Patrick Mahomes can scramble, but not every play.  The defense may be able to cover and rush the passer, but if they can’t stop the run up the middle, they will continue to be exploited.

There are two bright spots in this game.  First, on the whole, the defense played inspired football.  Despite Chris Jones’s absence, the defense played with inspired tenacity, consistently pressuring Jared Goff throughout the game.  Second, Patrick Mahomes is in midseason form.  Except for a few throws, he delivered on time and on target.  If only his receivers could catch.  Mahomes made good decisions all night.  He was the leading rusher for the team as he pulled the ball down six times to run for a total of 45 yards and several first downs.

The Chiefs missed Travis Kelce tonight.  He is Mr. Reliable.  He is Patrick Mahomes’s security blanket.  The trouble is, the Chiefs need the rest of the receivers to step up.  The Chiefs cannot afford another performance like this from the rest of the squad even if Travis Kelce is on the field.  What the rest of the league learned is that if you double and triple cover Kelce, the rest of the receiving corps will be inconsistent at best.  Kadarious Toney caught one out of five targets.  One!  Every single pass he dropped would have been a first down.  Sky Moore dropped all three of his would be receptions.  While eleven players caught receptions, twelve were targeted.  Every receiver except Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Isiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Justyn Ross had at least one drop. While the Chiefs missed Kelce, the rest of the team must step up or the offense is going to have a long season.

The Chiefs missed Chris Jones tonight.  The Lions rushed for 118 yards.  Much of the Lions key yardage, including their rushing touchdown, came up the middle where Chris Jones usually occupies multiple blockers.  When blockers are allowed to get the next level, it’s a long day for the linebacking corps.  Tonight’s game was a perfect example.

The turning point in this game occurred with eleven minutes left to play in the third quarter.  The Chiefs defense held the Lions second half opening drive to a punt.  Patrick Mahomes and company were driving.  The first down pass was dropped by Kadarius Toney.  The third down pass bounced off Toney’s hands into Brian Branch’s hands who promptly ran the ball 50 yards for a touchdown.  The score was now tied.  Looking back on the whole game, the defense did their job.  They held the Detroit offense to 14 points.  Kadarious Toney gave the Lions another seven.

Coach Reid gets his fair share of the blame as well.  The offensive genius was a bit too smart for his own good this evening.  With 5:51 left to go in the game, the Chiefs were in a third and one situation.  Instead of a bootleg, quarterback sneak or even a traditional run play up the middle, Coach Reid calls a wide receiver sweep which is blown up three yards behind the line of scrimmage.  This was the third time in the game Coach Reid called a play like this.  All three plays were blown up behind the line of scrimmage.  At some point you just must let your players man up and play smash mouth football.

Dan Campbell took several enormous risks and for the most part they paid off.  Given his personality and background, those risks were predictable.  Coach Campbell has his team believing.  The question is, will that be enough to sustain them thru the season.

You must earn the right to win.  The Chiefs failed to do that.  Their defense played good enough.  However, surprisingly, the Chiefs offense was uninspired.  Toney has been out most of camp due to injury and that may account for his abysmal play.  He won’t have that excuse next week.  The Chiefs have ten days to figure this out.

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