The defense earns solid grades in the Chiefs win over the Atlanta Falcons.
So, it’s official: “no normal games” is the Kansas City Chiefs mantra for 2020. The Chiefs squeaked out a 17-14 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in a game marred by offensive miscues and solid defense. The Falcons did what they do best and cracked under pressure as Younghoe Koo missed a short field goal after being so solid all season.
With this win, the Chiefs sealed the crucial bye in the playoffs which means the toughest decision will be will the starters sit or play in week 17. I know a lot of fans are worried about the lack of dominating wins recently, but the Chiefs are still the best team in the NFL and their record proves it. Now, let’s hand out some player grades and name our Week 16 MVP.
Travis Kelce – B+
I won’t talk too much here as Kelce consistently makes it on the list, but he just keeps this historic season rolling as he brought in 7 of 13 targets for 98 yards and a touchdown. He is the engine that keeps the chains moving when other guys are struggling—Patrick Mahomes included. He always seems to be the guy who will wiggle free and get open to pick up the first down when it matters most.
Kelce had some great plays in this game, including getting open when there was a free play that picked up a nice chunk of yards. Kelce seemingly thrives on chaos and is always able to get free when Mahomes is able to extend plays.
Willie Gay Jr. – A-
Finally! He gets the chance to start and he leads the team in tackles including one for a loss and a couple of hit sticks. I understand that a lot goes into the decisions behind which players are named starters and how playing time is determined and all that, but it was a head-scratcher that he seemingly couldn’t get on the field when the other linebackers were struggling so much. He clearly looks like the most talented linebacker on this Chiefs roster.
I am hoping this sticks and we seem him take a starter’s role and keep it as his athleticism was on full display against the Falcons. It was a nice sight seeing finished tackles which kept guys from getting the extra few yards. We knew he had the talent and that it would be a matter of understanding the playbook, but his talent is undeniable.
Dan Sorensen – D+
I feel like I like Dan Sorensen more than most, but only in certain roles. He is a solid third safety but he is playing too much for my liking and he is seemingly getting exposed in coverage more than the rest of the secondary. When he is blitzing or able to get up on the line of scrimmage, he is good at making plays, but when dropping back one-on-one in coverage, he really struggles.
That long pass to Calvin Ridley early was on him being in the wrong spot. He then missed the tackle before showing good hustle to bring him down along with Tershawn Wharton. (How the heck did Wharton catch up to Ridley?) Sorensen got burned another time by Ridley later in the game, which is not all on him as he shouldn’t be expected to keep up there, but still, that’s not good. Tight end Hayden Hurst got him a couple times as well. I will say the PI should not have been called on him as he was literally dragged down and it should have been OPI. At least he still made 7 tackles.
L’Jarius Sneed – A
He just makes plays. Sneed is a playmaker without some of the gambles other corners make. With 2 QB hits and a sack again in this game, he is becoming a stud at blitzing the quarterback. He had 7 tackles in this one, including some great one-on-one tackles in the open field that most corners miss.
Sneed is not afraid of contact and his knack for knowing tracking the football is impressive. He was a great draft pick by Brett Veach late in the fourth round, and he is growing and improving right before our eyes. Corner is probably the hardest position to play in the NFL, the hardest to be consistently good week in and week out, and he is doing it as a rookie. Extremely promising for a long-term solution at corner.
MVP – Defensive Line
This is what we like to see! Frank Clark and Chris Jones leading the way and blowing up the offensive line of the Falcons while guys like Alex Okafor clean up, too. Jones was a wrecking ball, collecting a sack and hitting Matt Ryan four times while constantly getting in his face.
Clark had maybe his best game of the season getting a sack and hitting Ryan three times as well. With 10 QB hits and 3 sacks from the defensive line, this was undoubtedly one of their best performances of the season. This is what we were expecting with all of the money that is tied up in this unit.
Tershawn Wharton also showed off his speed by somehow catching up to Calvin Ridley about 50 yards downfield, showing intense determination. Overall, this is what we should expect from this group going forward. They have too much talent—especially top end talent—to not put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Here’s to 14-1 and a 1st round bye!