The positives and negatives of the Chiefs win over the Chargers

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 16: Running back Kareem Hunt
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 16: Running back Kareem Hunt /

Let’an look at the positives, of which there are many, and the rare negatives from the Chiefs dominating win over the Chargers on Saturday.

The Kansas City Chiefs all but sowed up the AFC West division title by beating the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday. The Chiefs won 30-13 and dominated the game, especially in the first and fourth quarters. There are a couple negatives in this game, but it’s almost all positive, so let’s get to it.


We are going to start with the negatives because there weren’t very many. The most negative thing has to be that today was the official end of Derrick Johnson‘s career. He has been playing well below his usual game all season, but Saturday was not good. He had multiple plays where he was in the sort of position that a younger Johnson would have stuffed early. He got cut and barely got an arm on Melvin Gordon’s touchdown run. Johnson two years ago would have been around the block and laying a shoulder into his chest.

The play that was the final nail in the coffin, though, was the Antonio Gates touchdown. Gates ran by him and continued to pull away from him like he was Tyreek Hill. When you have lost so much speed that Gates looks young and fast against you, it’s time to call it a career. I’m not saying retire tomorrow, but his play counts should be limited, and he needs to hang up the cleats at the end of the season. He should be getting less than 10% of the snaps at ILB for the rest of the season. We all love Johnson and it sucks to see this, but the facts are what they are.

I could only find one other negative in this game and that was the playcalling at the end of the first half. The team made great plays and worked their way to the 35 yard line with 35 seconds left and two timeouts to work with. Then for a reason nobody will ever understand they called a running play that got two yards and a pass play that even if completed would have only got one yard. And no that pass play wasn’t a “check down against a good defense” type of play. Alex Smith stared down Charcandrick West from the second the ball was snapped. He stared him down so hard that I had time to look at the defense before the throw, because I was scared of a defender jumping the route for an easy pick six.

Reid seemed content to settle for a 52 yard field goal with two timeouts and 35 seconds left. That kind of play-not-to-lose playcalling is what has always been the Chiefs Achilles heel in the playoffs. Thankfully the playcalling and gameplan the rest of the game appeared to be that of a team playing to win. In the playoffs that is the mentality they have to have from the coin toss to the final buzzer. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, any moments of weakness like the Chiefs showed at the end of the first half will cost them.


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Enough with the negativity, the Chiefs dominated this game and it’s all about the positives. I have to start with the most controversial player in Kansas City, Marcus Peters. I have been a Peters defender all season and I feel very vindicated tonight. Peters not only shut down his side of the field like he does almost every week, but he was a part of three turnovers and made the game-clinching tackle.

Yes he made a solid, one on one, hard tackle to keep the Chargers short of a first down when they where driving to possibly tie or go ahead. The idea that Peters can’t tackle is just an ignorant statement. That is harsh I know, but there is no nice way to say it. Does Peters light up every tackle chance like Charles Woodson? No, he doesn’t, but he also doesn’t look or play like him. Peters is a great corner who knows his strengths and plays to them. When he needs to make a tackle, he can make a tackle as good as anyone else on the team. When he has help, he prefers to go for the strip and try to make a big play.

The play I heard people complain about on Twitter tonight was when Gordon jumped and Peters just kind of whiffed. He whiffed because he knew he had Johnson sitting right behind him ready to make the tackle so he was going for the strip. Hard to strip a guy in mid air so he whiffed. He made the exact same play later in the game when he knew he had Reggie Ragland right behind him so he went for the strip which he and Ragland got. The reward of the strip is worth the risk of giving up an extra couple yards when he knows he has help right there. Add two interceptions and Peters was the defensive MVP of the game.

If it wasn’t for Peters great game, the defensive MVP for tonight would have been Bob Sutton. Sutton has had a bad year and deserved all the criticism he’s gotten. Tonight he put together a great game plan including some good in game adjustments. The Chiefs came out hot with new blitzes and press coverage from all the corners. It was the first time all year I can honestly say the Chiefs defense was on the attack.

There was a small lull in the second and third quarter where the Chargers appeared to adjust to Sutton’s scheme. But the Chiefs kept the pressure on and did adjust back to the Chargers in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. Sutton did his job and he put his players in position to make plays. Tonight his players made those plays when they needed too. I hope he saves this defense in his mind because this is a defense I’m ready to go to war with. A defense that attacks and puts it all on the field and forces the offense to make great plays. If they make great plays, you tip your cap and say “good play,” but you will have to earn every point you get.

Moving to the offensive side of the ball, it all starts with the offensive line. They played a nearly perfect game tonight. They only gave up one sack against Joey Bosa and Marvin Ingram. They opened massive holes for Kareem Hunt to rush for over 150 yards. They had one bad penalty when they false started in the red zone, but that was the only bad penalty. I think their names where mentioned more during the intros then they did during the game and that is what you want from an offensive line.

The Chargers didn’t have any real pressure all night. Smith had time to make deep throws, and they gave him running lanes when he needed it. Reid clearly trusted them tonight and they didn’t let him down. Hopefully this confidence level sticks with Reid and they keep the offensive game plan going forward.

The player who benefited the most from the solid OL play was Kareem Hunt. He was able to find good holes and when he did he flew through them. Hunt proved that if you trust him and just give him the ball he’ll make good things happen. He was breaking at least one tackle on every carry and wore the defense down. The fourth quarter belonged to him and, just like week three in Los Angeles, he closed the game out. His five yard gains in the first quarter turned into 15 yard gains in the fourth quarter.

For the first time in nearly two months, the entire offense seems to have run through Hunt. He had 24 carries and led the team in targets with nine. He totaled 206 yards and two touchdowns and proved what many of us have been saying for months: Hunt is the key to this offense. When the offense runs through him good things happen. I hope Matt Nagy and Reid take this to heart and put the season on his shoulders.