The Chiefs are coming off a 26-10 victory over the Raiders, which in the NFL is a very decisive margin of victory. Despite that, we are still searching for answers. There is a certain level of frustration that comes with not knowing after a convincing win whether or not your team is any good. We can find good things and bad things and things we simply don’t understand about the Chiefs so far.
Here’s what we like: We like that we saw the Chiefs get back to running the football. Spencer Ware didn’t turn the ball over and had the best game of his career amassing 131 yards and a touchdown. Jamaal Charles with 11 touches was also impressive, showing a level of fearlessness you like to see from an older player coming off of ACL surgery for the second time in his career. We also like that we saw big plays in the passing game. Albert Wilson and Jeremy Maclin didn’t have enormously productive days, but the catches they did have were big plays, vertical, down the sideline and Alex Smith put them on the money. We like that the defense got a couple of turnovers. Marcus Peters continues amaze. He’s always in the right spot and almost always comes down with the ball. He’s clearly the next elite super star corner in the league and we’re watching him become it every Sunday without many setbacks en route. Dee Ford also created a sack fumble when the Chiefs were trying to put the game away, which is frustrating in its own right given many are ready to write him off as a bust. But you can’t complain about seeing someone create big plays for you on defense. And after his second sack, he looked up into the heavens as the rain poured down like Andy Dufresne at the end of Shawshank Redemption after climbing through his own metaphorical river of shit to get there.
Here’s what we didn’t like: We didn’t like that the Chiefs are still throwing the ball behind the line of scrimmage all the damn time and it not working. There has to be some level of misdirection and big play set up. But this isn’t what that is. Andy Reid, particularly in the redzone has a terrible habit of calling passes behind the line of scrimmage, that often times turn into laterals and most of the time don’t work. Throw the ball into the endzone. In the middle of the field this happens a lot too, especially on roll outs. Alex Smith will always check down. Always. With receivers in his line of sight open downfield, he will still check down to Anthony Sherman or [insert tight end not named Travis Kelce here] and they will get tackled out of bounds two yards behind the line of scrimmage. It’s a problem with the play calling, the quarterback, and the play design, which puts a target in that spot to begin with. We didn’t like the slow start and the defense needing a turnover to get their blood flowing. This was an important game and it didn’t appear once again the Chiefs understood that at the open of the game. We didn’t like the injuries to Marcus Peters and Phillip Gaines. The Chiefs could be without their two best corners next week. After seeing the Chiefs struggle with Amari Cooper in the first half and understanding how important Marcus Peters is, that’s very concerning. We’ll know more about this Wednesday.
Here’s what we don’t understand: We don’t understand whether the Chiefs are good because they beat the Raiders, or if they’re bad because the Raiders didn’t really look or play like the Raiders. The Chiefs had a great day running the football. But they also left a lot of points on the board and aside from a few big plays in the passing game were inconsistent in moving the chains and punishing a bad Raiders defense through the air. We don’t understand if Dontari Poe scoring a touchdown was a great play because it was an awesome touchdown to a fat guy at the goal line or if was a terrible call that turned out okay because it was a combination of everything we hate about the Chiefs redzone offense. It was a pass that wasn’t a pass, but instead a lateral, behind the line of scrimmage, to a defensive player who never catches passes, that could have easily been a fumble if he doesn’t catch it. Andy Reid must have spent the bye week drawing up gadget plays. He got too cute too often and it mostly didn’t work in the redzone. Maclin play was a bust, most of the throws behind the line of scrimmage were a bust. Generally speaking, we just don’t understand why they can’t throw the ball into the damn endzone once in awhile.
We also don’t understand this: Why Andy Reid can’t manage the clock at the end of halfs continues to befuddle us all. We don’t need to go through the long and well-documented history of this… AGAIN, but let’s acknowledge that seeing the Chiefs play for and then miss a field goal a the end of the half only to have the Raiders come back down the field in a matter of second and kick a field goal to turn what should have been a 17-7 margin into a 13-10 margin was one of those moments you remember because the NFL is a harsh mistress that will make you pay dearly for those kinds of mistakes. It didn’t cost the Chiefs this time. But do that in the playoffs against the Patriots, you will lose that game.
All in all, the Chiefs are 3-2 and you should feel very good about that. But this team clearly has a lot of things to improve upon from top to bottom before we start discussing flight plans for the Super Bowl.
Return to: TJ Carpenter Blog