It has only been three weeks, and I’m already sick of talking about the Kansas City Chiefs losing football games. It’s time to get back onto the winning track.
Has Kansas City all of a sudden become a scrub of a team? Was 9-0 an illusion? Is it time to start panicking? Is the sky falling?
Calm down chicken little, because the answer to all of the above questions above is a resounding no. Let’s break it down a bit further to figure out how the Chiefs can get back into the winner’s column.
What Went Wrong?
Last week I wrote about how Chiefs fans did have some reason to be concerned, and I still do stand by that sentiment 100 percent. Denver and San Diego have exposed some flaws on this team —mainly the inability to cover the deep ball on defense, and turnovers and dropped balls on offense.
Last night against the Broncos, dropped passes really hurt the Chiefs’ offensive momentum. Surprisingly though, apart from some mistakes, the offensive rhythm was something that looked really good for the most part. This Alex Smith-led offense is really starting to click, and that’s especially true when the Chiefs open it up through the air.
Consequently, when defenses have to throw safeties back deeper to defend the pass, that opens up more room for Jamaal Charles and the run game, and that’s a win-win situation for this team.
When receivers drop balls though, the rhythm is ruined.
The same could be said for turnovers, and the Chiefs have given up the ball quite a bit during this losing streak (four in the past three games). For as much credit as Smith deserves for the emergence of offensive tempo, he’s also thrown some of it away, literally.
Defensively, the safety play has been horrible. Eric Berry has been good against the run, but over the top, both safety spots have struggled to play the deep ball. It doesn’t help that the corners aren’t getting good jams at the line of scrimmage and Marcus Cooper takes one step forward and then 12 drastic steps back. Brandon Flowers has played horrible as well and Sean Smith isn’t blameless either.
In all, the Chiefs have given up 1,453 total yards of offense in the past three losses. 1,113 of those yards come through the air.
That’s horrible, and it’s something has to be addressed immediately.
There’s Still Hope
With all the above sad, there is one small detail to remember here: KANSAS CITY IS STILL 9-3.
At least according to records, there are only five other teams in the NFL that can claim to be equal or better. The Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots share the Chiefs’ record, New Orleans is 9-2 and will face the 10-1 Seattle Seahawks tonight, and the Broncos are 10-2.
In regard to the playoff picture, Kansas City is currently holding the No. 5 Wildcard seed in AFC with games against Washington, Oakland, Indianapolis and San Diego still left to go.
Are wins guaranteed in the NFL? No.
With that said, if they clean some things up, do I give this Chiefs team a chance to win out the rest of their games? I’d be dumb not to. The fact is, despite the rough few weeks, Kansas City is still a darn good team with a lot to play for.
Good teams fight and find ways to overcome. Good teams get back to the drawing board and figure out just exactly how to get back on the winning track.
I’m tired of talking about losing. Let’s start talking about how the Chiefs can start winning ballgames.
How To Help The Offense
First thing’s first, use the pass to set up the run. It’s amazing what the Chiefs’ offense looks like when it’s moving the ball through the air. When Smith and his receivers get into a rhythm, things just seem to click. In turn, as I explained above, that really opens up running lanes for Charles.
Dwayne Bowe has stepped up and has played some big-time football since getting arrested, and a healthy Anthony Fasano is an extremely efficient receiver at the NFL level.
The offense really starts gelling when guys like Donnie Avery and especially Junior Hemingway get involved though. If Kansas City can even develop a hint of a true No. 3 receiver, the offense should have no problem opening up. Not only does that open up the field for Bowe, Dexter McCluster and Fasano, but that will make it a bit easier for Charles to get some good matchups as a receiver as well.
How To Help The Defense
Defensively, the Chiefs have to get better at stopping the run, but it’s really the deep ball that scares me the most. This is a defense that’s equipped to win low-scoring match ups and bruisers, but it doesn’t do as well in a shootout situation.
The true strength of the defense is playing hard-nosed, nitty-gritty football—not pressure—so being concerned about jamming receivers at the line and taking away hot-routes shouldn’t be as big as a focus from here on out.
The corners have struggled in tight coverage and the safeties keep getting sucked down into the box—whether it be on purpose or because of play-action. A guy like Berry is suited to play in the box and I love what he can do behind the line of scrimmage, but it becomes an issue when corners are getting beat deep and there’s only one safety to help over top.
If Kansas City wants to get back on the winning track, loosening up coverage could actually help.
Give the corners some cushion to work with and be less worried about pressure—its not getting there anyhow. Be more concerned with preventing big plays, and pressuring teams into forcing it over top to get the big play. That’s when mistakes will be made, and opportunistic players can capitalize. Meanwhile, slowing down the game will also help out the Chiefs’ offense, which is not equipped for shootouts either.
Again, it’s a win-win.
The Big Takeaway
Kansas City has the building blocks of a great team, but it just has to remember how to put it all together again. Sometimes that means shifting things around, trying new combinations and not being afraid to re-evaluate.
Losing three in a row hurts, but another winning streak could be just a few adjustments away.
Tags: Alex Smith Andy Reid Anthony Fasano Brandon Flowers Dexter McCluster Donnie Avery Dwayne Bowe Eric Berry Jamaal Charles Junior Hemingway Justin Houston Kansas City Chiefs Marcus Cooper Sean Smith