Yet again this week, I’ve decided to take a closer look at a player on the K.C. Chiefs’ bench that maybe needs to be given more of an opportunity in safety Armani Watts.
Last week linebacker Dorian O’Daniel was the name generating some buzz from fans as a guy who might need some snaps because of the poor play of fellow linebacker Ben Niemann. Safety Daniel Sorensen is another player on the Chiefs’ defense who has taken a lot of the flack this year for the defensive woes, and rightfully so.
To put into perspective how bad Sorensen has been this year, he has been targeted 28 times this year and has allowed 23 completions for 391 yards and 4 TDs as well as a near-perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeted. Sorensen has been graded out at a 36.7 overall performer according to PFF if that’s worth anything to you, and there’s a legitimate case to be made for Sorensen being the worst player in the NFL.
Armani Watts deserves a shot for more playing time on the Chiefs defense.
Now, the campaign for O’Daniel has shifted over to Watts as a player that the coaching staff needs to consider.
It has become evident Sorensen is unplayable. Even with his “reduced role” since defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo opted to go with Juan Thornhill as the starting free safety, teams have still singled out Sorensen every time he’s out on the field.
Sorensen has had his moments in Kansas City and I have always been a defender of the veteran safety, but everyone’s time comes to an end at some point and he appears to be done. He just doesn’t have the athleticism to stay with guys in the open field.
Watts was viewed as an athletic safety with range coming out of Texas A&M, and even though he was considered undersized by many, he was willing to fly around and tackle. Even the late, great Terez Paylor featured Watts on his “All-Juice Team” prior to the Chiefs selecting him in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Watts also surprisingly earned some first and second-team reps in preseason and training camp, so why can he not even get on the field despite the (let’s just be honest) horrible play of Sorensen?
As our friend Patrick Allen said earlier this week, the worst-case scenario for Watts is Sorensen, so why not try? I try not to be too much of an “I know better than the coaches” type of guy, but I do genuinely feel that explanation for giving Watts a chance is better than any explanation the coaches could give you in favor of Sorensen.
I can understand Watts not being considered ready, but I think at this point you’ll take the early lumps of giving him playing time with the eventual hope that he’ll smoothen out to be a decent contributor. Plus, it’s not like Watts is a first-year player. He’s been here for all three years of Steve Spagnuolo’s tenure in Kansas City.
One of the most confusing parts about this coaching staff’s ineptitude to play younger players with more upside is that they’ve done it before in lesser situations. For example, remember when the Chiefs scrapped their starting cornerbacks in 2018 right before the Seahawks game and started 6th round rookie Tremon Smith and UDFA rookie Charvarius Ward against Russell Wilson? That was a bold move that likely helped Charvarius become the player he is today.
I understand that was under Bob Sutton and this is Steve Spagnuolo’s crew, but even with how bad the team has been at certain positions, there’s zero willingness to try something new after repeatedly watching the old veterans fail. Does someone need to step in and take greater control of the personnel decisions?
I feel as if we find ourselves saying things like, “It can’t get any worse” when it comes to making a switch when, in reality, there is a little room for things to get worse, In the case of Sorensen, however, I think we can safely say it can’t get worse with Armani Watts.
We haven’t seen Watts play a whole lot since he’s been here, but he does have some traits that Sorensen simply doesn’t possess, and we’ve seen him show some good instincts and tackling ability on special teams in the past.
The Chiefs have invested in Watts and kept him on the roster for a reason. If the coaches are essentially saying that Watts isn’t good enough to get on the field over Daniel Sorensen, who has been the worst safety in the league this year, then Watts doesn’t deserve to be on this roster.
It’s time for the Chiefs to make a decision on Watts.