Kansas City Chiefs need to clean up penalties in 2018

The Kansas City Chiefs were among the NFL’s least disciplined in 2017, at least in terms of penalties when they rated the fourth worst out of 32.

It’s not an impressive list to be a part of. Even just a cursory glance at the teams shows that something is really wrong considering that the majority of them were on the outside looking in when it comes to playing in the postseason.

The Kansas City Chiefs ended the 2017 regular season among the least disciplined teams in the NFL. Andy Reid’s team was penalized 118 times—an average of nearly 7.5 times per game—for a mammoth total of 1,044 total yards. That number is more than Travis Kelce’s yards from scrimmage last season and shows just how much of a difference thoughtless mistakes can make.

The other teams making that many mistakes, or at least in the same vicinity, show that Kansas City was lucky to even make the postseason. The eight most penalized teams in the NFL included the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers. Only the Seahawks had a winning record (9-7) and overall those teams were 42-70.

In other words, while there are some exceptions, by and large the most penalized teams in the NFL are not very good teams in the NFL.

What’s surprising about this list is how different is compares to the Chiefs just one year prior, when they were No. 24 overall in the NFL with 848 penalty yards. In fact, Andy Reid’s teams are normally quite disciplined compared to the rest of the league, as shown by a No. 22 position in 2015 (878), No. 29 in 2014 (681) and No. 23 in 2013 (774).

For some reason, in 2017, the Chiefs jumped from their typical place among the league’s best to the fourth worst overall, and they were penalized nearly 200 total yards more than their highest total in five years under Reid. What happened?

Perhaps some of this can explain why the Chiefs have overhauled several positions. Marcus Peters was the most penalized Chiefs player in 2017 with 9 penalties for 122 yards himself. Bryan Witzmann also was credited with 9, but for nearly half of Peters’ total yardage with 65 yards. The next two on the list, Terrance Mitchell and Eric Murray, were also part of an injury ravaged secondary that spent the majority of the season trying to find the right fit.

It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs improve, if they can, moving forward, and how many of these mistakes were due to putting players in compromising positions. Dan Sorensen had 5 penalties for 62 yards, but was that due to him trying to compensate for Berry’s loss in any way? Phillip Gaines and Kenneth Acker also had 4 in the secondary, so will the reinvention there make a big difference?

Some back-ups might need replacing altogether. Travis Kelce had 5 penalties total as a starter, while Demetrius Harris had only 1 less despite playing in far less snaps. Cam Erving played very little during the year, but had 3 penalties himself, just one less than Mitchell Schwartz who never missed a single snap.

What do you make of the Chiefs penalties in 2017? An anomaly for a young and oft-injured team? It certainly looks that way, but we’d love to hear your thoughts.