Chiefs vs. Chargers: What we learned in Week 2

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INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on against the Los Angeles Chargers during the third quarter at SoFi Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Here are a few lessons we learned about the Chiefs in Week 2.

The Chiefs put on an ugly, frustrating, ultimately exhilarating performance on Sunday and narrowly defeated the Los Angeles Chargers by a final score of 23-20.

Harrison Butker nailed a 58-yard field goal to clinch an overtime Chiefs victory. There’s a lot to take away from this game, as the Chiefs were as inept as they were glorious, maddening as they were thrilling. Here are some lessons from the Chiefs victory in Week 2.

 

Slow Starts are the Norm

The Chiefs have picked up a bad habit, or at least it seems like one. The offense failed to start sharp today, and in fact, failed to start at all. Mahomes was under nearly incessant duress, but even when able to get off a clean throw, he struggled to maneuver the offense downfield. Name a problem, and the Chiefs offense likely showed it. We saw miscommunications, shoddy line play, penalties, and an overall lack of energy, which all combined into a lethargic, uncomfortable offensive performance.

But these cold starts are nothing new. The Chiefs took until the second quarter to score in Week 1, struggled to get going for much of the Super Bowl, fell behind 10-0 in the 2019 AFC championship game, and fell behind 24-0 in the AFC Divisional Game last January.

The first way to explain the slow starts is the obvious route: diagnose the problem. Today, one could point to the play of the offensive line. Tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz struggled to fend off pressure from the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. And the play of the offensive line, specifically in pass protection, is a valid concern for fans to have.

And yet, the Chiefs won each of the contests mentioned above, including this week’s thriller. Periods of slow, unproductive play are starting to feel like a component of the Chiefs’ offensive brilliance. What could draw an analogy to a rhythm shooter in basketball. The rhythm shooter may struggle to find his shot for a quarter, but may come back the next and sink 5 three-pointers. I think of the Chiefs’ offense as a kind of rhythm shooter on steroids. They may not give you four steady quarters of production, but when they find “it” they unleash a torch of momentum that can bury an opposition in a single half.

I think both these takeaways—the Chiefs’ offense has legitimate issues and the slow starting is part of their offense—are true. The onslaught of pressure early made it hard for the offense to find its footing. But just the same, this streakiness seems to be an ingredient of the offense’s identity.

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