Kansas City Chiefs show great potential in loss to Packers

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 27: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers stretches for extra yardage in the third quarter while being tackled by Mike Pennel #64 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 27: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers stretches for extra yardage in the third quarter while being tackled by Mike Pennel #64 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /
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The Kansas City Chiefs lost a heartbreaker to the Green Bay Packers Sunday night but they showed great potential in the process.

The Kansas City Chiefs went toe to toe with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers but fell just short in a 31-24 loss on Sunday night. While some diehard Chiefs fans held out hope that the team might be able to pull something off in this one, almost nobody was picking the Chiefs to win this game with all their injuries.

Going up against Rodgers and the 6-1 Packers at full strength is a real test, but to do it without Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Kendall Fuller, Eric Fisher, and Andrew Wylie is nearly impossible. However, the Chiefs almost made the impossible possible on Sunday night, and that should give Chiefs fans hope for what this team could become later this season.

Chief Concerns

Before I dive deeper into why I came away from this game far more encouraged than I was discouraged, let me acknowledge a few frustrations.

First, the punt late in the game was a huge mistake. Period. When you are playing Aaron Rodgers and his 6-1 team without your starting quarterback and a host of others, you don’t punt the ball on 4th-and-three near midfield with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter. You just don’t. Nobody expected you to win this game, so don’t play it safe. Go try and steal one from them. It’s the perfect time to be aggressive. It was a maddening decision by head coach Andy Reid on a night when he really shined (more on that in a minute).

Speaking of maddening, I’m not sure what to think of the absolute torching of the K.C. linebackers on throws to the Packers running backs. On one hand, it’s frustrating that they didn’t make adjustments and got beat the same way multiple times. On the other hand, the defense had a good night (in my opinion) overall. If you’re going to blitz and be aggressive like the Chiefs were (and many fans wanted them to be), then it means you are gambling with guys in single man coverage. It’s a double edged sword.

While a couple of the long passes to running backs were maddening, a couple of the Packers big plays were simply the result of Rodgers being an absolute freak. We’ve been on the good end of those kinds of plays with Patrick Mahomes the past year and a half, but tonight it was our turn to get beat by it. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

Encouraging Results

So here’s why this game has me encouraged. After the losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans, I wrote that the Chiefs were no longer Super Bowl worthy. While injuries were a factor in those losses, my point was that the offense was all out of rhythm and the defensive effort wasn’t near good enough regardless of injuries. I didn’t feel that way on Sunday night. The offense was creative in both play design and play calling and when the Chiefs got the ball in the hands of their playmakers, they made big plays. While Matt Moore definitely deserves his share of the credit, my offensive game ball would go to Andy Reid for the way he kept Green Bay off balance most of the night.

I really hope this was a wake up call for Reid and the offense. In the two losses to the Colts and Texans, the offense became stagnant. They seemed to have gotten in a rut where they just called a predictable game and hoped the magic of Patrick Mahomes would bail them out. However, if Reid and his offensive staff can get this offense to produce like it did on Sunday with a quarterback who was completely out of the game at the start of the season, then there is no reason they can’t set the NFL on fire again when arguably the most physically gifted quarterback in the league (although Rodgers has certainly made a case for himself these past two games) comes back from injury.

I would never go as far as saying that the injury to Mahomes was a good thing, but I think getting the offensive play calling and design out of the rut it was in could very well be an unforeseen bright side to the situation. In training camp, the preseason, and up through the first half of the Oakland Raiders game this offense looked poised to be the greatest offense the NFL had seen in years (maybe ever?). Then somewhere along the way, between the injuries to Tyreek Hill and Eric Fisher, the ankle injury to Mahomes, and the lack of a run game, the offense lost itself. Andy Reid is too creative and the Chiefs have too many weapons for that to be the case. Thankfully, Sunday night it looked like Reid had rediscovered his creativity to get those weapons going. That is a great sign for when Mahomes comes back.

Now let’s take a second to talk about the defense. The Chiefs gave up 31 points and over 400 yards of offense on the night. So am I really going to sit here and tell you that I feel much better about the defense than I did after they gave up just 19 points to the Colts? Yes, yes I am. The defense we saw against the Colts and Texans had no fire, no energy, no heart, and no toughness. There was just nothing that you could really rally behind. These past two games that hasn’t been the case.

I’m not saying that this game was as impressive as last week when they allowed just 6 points and sacked Joe Flacco nine times, but honestly, I don’t think their performance was that much worse. It’s just that Aaron Rodgers is light years better at playing quarterback than Joe Flacco is. The Chiefs sacked Rodgers five times and I honestly think that might be harder to do than sacking Joe Flacco nine times. Rodgers is great at escaping the pocket, extending plays, and getting the ball out before pressure arrives. That’s why he’d only been sacked 12 times total in his first seven games this season. So the Chiefs getting to him five times without Chris Jones and Frank Clark (and Alex Okafor late in the game) is really impressive. Their 14 combined sacks over the past two weeks is a great sign that Steve Spagnuolo’s defense is finding their identity.

Also, while the passes to the running backs absolutely hurt this defense, the run defense was still much better than it was early in the season. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams combined for 20 carries for 89 yards and a combined 4.5 yards per carry. For a team that was allowing over 180 yards rushing and almost six yards per carry for several games in a row that will work.

The Chiefs certainly aren’t perfect. There are certainly plenty for them to continue to work on as the season moves forward. However, unlike after the losses to the Colts and Texans, I feel better about the all around effort of this team.

If you put a healthy Patrick Mahomes, Eric Fisher, Chris Jones, and Frank Clark on a team with a creative offensive game plan and an attacking defense like we saw Sunday night, I believe they could compete with anyone in the NFL. It took a few magic plays from Aaron Rodgers to beat this team without all those guys and the Packers are a top five team in the NFL right now. That’s encouraging.

I know many of you were mad about the decision to punt at the end of the game (I know I was). I know the long passes to the running backs made you want to break things (I know I did). I know LeSean McCoy‘s fumble made some of you use some colorful language (I know I did), but the Chiefs still almost pulled this game out despite those things and without many of their best players being on the field.

The team I saw Sunday night was not a team that anyone would want to face in the playoffs when they get healthy. That wasn’t the case just a few weeks ago. That has me encouraged.

So what do you think Chiefs fans? Were you as happy with the overall effort on Sunday as I was or was the good overshadowed by the bad for you? Is this a team you can see being dangerous in the playoffs if they get healthy? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

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