Through the previous three entering Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Kansas City Chiefs’ season had been characterized by one simple fact: the offense will have to be incredibly effective – and if it doesn’t, the Chiefs could give up too many points and lose.
Sunday’s game didn’t really do much to change that – although it was an obvious step in the right direction to secure the 42-30 victory. The issues we saw in the Chiefs’ defense – lack of communication, missed tackles and the quarterback’s general lack of pressure – persisted, but the difference on Sunday was that the Chiefs didn’t return the ball four times. That gave the Chiefs an eight-point halftime lead.
The lead would have been bigger if defensive lineman Chris Jones had stumbled across a loose ball as the second quarter clock went down to zero – but he clearly wanted six points on the play. Maybe it’s about time for the Chiefs to consider moving Jones to his original defensive tackle position; I think that could be a topic of discussion this week. But if you make that move, I just don’t know what you’re doing on the edge – considering Frank Clark can’t stay on the pitch and Mike Danna is playing as the only reasonable option.
It’s rare to see Patrick Mahomes go wrong, so seeing him throw some questionable interceptions in 2021 is a bit odd. The choice against the Baltimore Ravens and the second against the Los Angeles Chargers were killers – and he would probably say his interception on Sunday was the result of forcing another bullet. That was the chefs ‘only turnover for the day – and there was a real beauty in Mahomes’ response.
Mahomes responded with an 11-game touchdown after the pick – along with 24 completed passes on 34 attempts for 278 yards and four touchdowns (a 131.0 passer rating) that day. I often think about it NFL Movies extract of super bowl LIV, in which Andy Reid tells Mahomes to keep shooting despite an interception; Mahomes seems completely unaffected when he makes a rare mistake, and there’s a reason Reid now has 100 wins with two franchises.
The trend of Mahomes’ mistakes does not appear to be continuing. Two trends that to do appear as they may continue are the wrestling problems and the overall defensive miscommunication.
Chris Jones was lined up at DT for this play, then asked for a replacement. Joshua Kaindoh, an DE, ran onto the field, leaving the Chiefs with three DEs (Kaindoh, Okafor, Danna) on the field. The Eagles, in turn, sneak into third / short. Kaindoh, aligned with DT, is overthrown. First down.
– Sam McDowell (@ SamMcDowell11) October 3, 2021
The Eagles took advantage of this early on by working quickly up the line to catch up with the Chiefs. That’s why they were in the game in the first half. On one occasion, Jones was seen to desperately call a time out in what appeared to be utter defensive confusion.
There was a play in the first quarter where the Eagles rushed to the line because running back Kenneth Gainwell appeared to have fumbled. The replay showed he did. Without challenge, the game led Philadelphia to seven points. It didn’t cost the Chiefs on Sunday – but against a better team it can’t happen. Maybe that swing would have ended the Eagles’ day long before the fourth quarter.
The only bright spot for the Chiefs’ defense was better success in the red zone (3 saves in 6 tries), but I also thought Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni made two critical mistakes – one in the first quarter and one to the second. Going into the game, the opposing infractions were 5 of 6 in fourth base conversions against the Chiefs. It might be daring, but I would have gone over the Kansas City 7 yards at the end of the second quarter. Sirianni chose to kick. The most egregious decision did not go for the game’s first possession at Kansas City 3. The Eagles had initially lined up to go, but needed a time-out as playing time was running out. When they returned to the field, it was the field goal unit.
Later in the game, the Eagles tried their luck in fourth at Kansas City 3, and it resulted in a touchdown before it was considered a pick (a break for the Chiefs), but it somehow proves so my point of view. You have to go for the points against the Chiefs, who finished with 42 on the day.
A quick note on the Eagles offense: rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith and rookie running back Gainwell are woefully talented. Smith vs. Mike Hughes (or anyone) isn’t a game the Chiefs should like.
The Eagles’ defensive game plan matched the one we saw against the Chiefs in the first few weeks. Find a way to shut down Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce with special attention (they did a good job with Kelce – only one target in the first half), take away the deep chances and get the Chiefs to run extra plays – and maybe they will cough the balloon up.
With that opposite strategy, the Chiefs’ running game has to be solid – and Sunday, I thought. The Chiefs took a committee approach to the field on Sunday – Clyde Edwards-Helaire had 14 carries for 102 yards and two catches for 12 yards and one touchdown, and Darrel Williams had 10 carries for 42 yards and one touchdown and two catches for 16 yards. In the offensive line, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith are star rookies.
Hill’s ball tracking remains ridiculous. He embarrassed his old friend Steven Nelson on a 36-yard touchdown. With Kelce busy for part of the day, Hill became Mahomes’ go-to guy in Philadelphia – and Hill finished as the most focused boss, with 11 catches for 186 yards and three well-earned touchdowns that day. No other receiver had more than 23 yards, which is why Kansas City would rather look forward to Josh Gordon’s call.
It was a solid victory for the Chiefs that lasted four quarters. But there is still work to be done for the Chiefs to return to the championship-level ball.