Penalties, turnovers, and mishaps have been the story of the 2021 Kansas City Chiefs. With little time to spare, things must change now or heads will roll.
The Chiefs entered the season with big dreams of going to a third consecutive Super Bowl and have now found themselves in a rut. Or rather, a gaping hole that it is unclear how they will climb out of. It is unclear at this moment whether the Chiefs will be able to correct their mistakes. At this moment, there are more questions than answers.
From defense to turnovers, to poor coaching decisions; There are a number of issues that can and must be addressed if they hope to even find the playoffs this season. Here are the main issues that must be addressed.
1. The Kansas City Defense
This has been no secret. The Chiefs have not only given up the most points, they are also ranked 31st in yards allowed this season. With the exception of Tyrann Mathieu, there has been very little to be excited about. Chris Jones has been silent on the field at the defensive end position. Nick Bolton has made a few plays here and there and been wildly inconsistent in coverage. Speaking of coverage, Daniel Sorensen has whiffed on tackles almost as much as he has been beaten in coverage.
All around the Chiefs defense has been more than terrible. They have been awful. If there was one thing that needed the most work in order for the Chiefs to right the ship, it would be to climb to the middle of the road. The problem is, there is no real excuse for the Chiefs to be this much worse than last season. If the Chiefs would turn it around just a little bit, they would be back at the top of the NFL.
2. Boneheaded and unlucky turnovers
This year has been a bit more out of character for Patrick Mahomes as he has thrown six interceptions already this season. The problem is, for the most part, these have been unlucky. Whether the ball has bounced off of defensive linemen or off of receivers’ hands, Mahomes has thrown unlucky picks that likely don’t happen the majority of the time.
Worse than unlucky picks, the Chiefs have fumbled and lost the ball a league-leading five times this season. Whether it be Clyde Edwards-Helaire turning the ball over at the worst possible time against the Ravens, or Byron Pringle losing the ball on a kickoff return, the Chiefs have fumbled away far too many of their games.
It seems unlikley that the Chiefs will continue to turn the ball over at such a high rate all season long.
3. Coaching and Playcalling
To put it mildly, the Chiefs have not been prepared for their games this season. Offensively and defensively the gameplan has left a lot to be desired. Offensively, I would like to see more specific gameplanning. Teams have decided to take away the deep game and the Chiefs have done very little in terms of using that to their advantage. While Mahomes can make a lot of crazy plays, at some point, the offensive gameplan needs to coincide with the defensive strategy.
Defensively, the gameplan has been lacking all season. While the Chiefs are more productive when they blitz, their has not been an effort to utilize the blitz more often. Additionally and more glaring, the Chiefs have been out of position on multiple occasions. Teams will often use a quick count against them and beat them down the field due to their defensive alignment. Players are also given the wrong task according to their skillset. Daniel Sorensen has found himself in man coverage on Stefon Diggs and Marquise Brown. This should never happen and the Chiefs should use a timeout if they cannot find the correct matchups pre-snap.
4. Discipline on the field
Penalties have been a consistent problem for the Chiefs ever since Andy Reid came to town. Most years, the play on the field makes up for some stupid penalties. This year, they are beginning to snowball with the other problems that they have faced.
When it comes to pivotal moments in which the Chiefs need a stop or need to gain a couple yards, they cannot get caught committing these penalties. With all of the struggles that they have had, penalties need to stop immediately.
5. The Pressure placed on Patrick Mahomes
This is something that is often glossed over in Chiefs Kingdom. Perhaps it is due to the amazing talent and stature of Mahomes who seems to come up big in critical moments, but the fact of the matter is, the Chiefs place too much pressure on Mahomes to turn games around. While they should expect great things from him, they should not rely on them every game.
The defense must play better to bail out Mahomes from time to time. Mahomes cannot always be the person bailing out his teammates.