Six KC Chiefs in need of a bounce back performance

Which players on the KC Chiefs could use a bounce back performance against the Las Vegas Raiders?

Nov 20, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney (19)
Nov 20, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney (19) / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs got back into the win column with a victory over the Patriots in Foxborough. Although there were a lot of positives from the game, some players had less-than-stellar performances.

Even though many players on the team are having excellent seasons, including Isiah Pacheco, Trent McDuffie, Drue Tranquill, and more, a handful of others are not having their best or are in the midst of a rough patch over the last few games.

Heading into a Christmas Day showdown against the Las Vegas Raiders, which players on the Chiefs are most in need of a "get right" game?

Jawaan Taylor, Right Tackle

Other than anyone who plays wide receiver, no player on the Chiefs has been more frustrating than Jawaan Taylor.

The main issue that Taylor has been dealing with has been penalties. Through 15 weeks, he's been the most penalized player in the NFL. He's been called for a bunch of false starts and more than his fair share of holdings. He's been flagged in 10 of 14 games so far this season, including one in each of the past five games.

Although he's been serviceable in pass protection, the amount of penalties he takes does not override the quality of play. In addition, his run blocking is one of the worst among all NFL offensives tackles.

There's nothing that Jawaan Taylor needs more than a nice and clean game. No penalties, no sacks allowed, and few pressures surrendered, if any.

Kadarius Toney, Wide Receiver

A significant caveat here will be if Kadarius Toney even gets an opportunity to redeem himself. In three different games this season, Toney has either taken a dumb penalty or had a horrendous drop that led to an interception. Despite the raw talent and potential being obvious, he has yet to separate himself as a difference maker in this offense.

Andy Reid loves to design easy plays for young players going through a rough patch, but has he had enough of Toney's miscues? If not and Toney sees a lot of action versus Las Vegas, he needs to have a strong game. 100 yards and two touchdowns aren't necessary, but a season-high in receiving yards (current season best is 35) and no drops or penalties would go a long way to regaining trust with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid.

George Karlaftis, Defensive End

A lot of people may be surprised to see George Karlaftis' name here but Furious George could use a strong performance against the Raiders.

At first glance, his raw stats appear to be very good, 58 total pressures plus nine sacks across 405 pass-rush snaps, according to Pro Football Focus ($), but the quality of play doesn't exactly line up with the box score.

A fair amount of Karlaftis' production this season has come on plays with a lower degree of difficulty. For example, plays where the opposing quarterback holds the ball for an extended period of time as well as him going unblocked. To his credit, his motor is amongst the best in the NFL which does matter, but he's lacked the true pass rush wins where he just straight-up beats the opposing linemen and pressures the quarterback immediately, like Chris Jones has done for years.

I'm not saying that George Karlaftis is a bad player or should be benched, not at all, but I am saying that a truly elite performance has eluded him for his short time in the NFL. A true breakout performance and establishing himself as a high-level pass-rusher would go a long way toward the Chiefs' hopes of another Super Bowl victory.

Travis Kelce, Tight End

When it comes to Travis Kelce, he just needs to bounce back from a single game. Kelce had probably his worst game in the last several years against the Patriots. His 0.76 yards per route run was his third lowest of the past two seasons and he also dropped a touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes.

A lot of the talk of Travis Kelce being "washed" or "past his prime" has been overblown. Yeah, it's probably true that he's not as great as he once was, but he's on pace for well over 1,100 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games. That's not the stat line of a player who isn't elite anymore.

Kelce is currently in the midst of a four-game touchdown drought and hasn't cracked the 100-yard mark in seven games, the longest such single-season streak of his since 2019. If Travis Kelce can play like Travis Kelce against the Raiders, the Chiefs should in a blowout fashion on Christmas.

Justin Reid, Safety

One of the more disappointing players on an elite Chiefs defense has been safety Justin Reid. Over the last two months, Reid hasn't played his best football, and without Bryan Cook for the next couple of weeks, at least, that needs to change.

The performance of Justin Reid against the Las Vegas Raiders isn't critical, but it will be important when the playoffs roll around. He was awful against the Packers and just okay versus the Bills and Patriots. He needs a strong game against the Raiders to help jumpstart his season. If he can have a "get right" against an arch-rival, the newfound confidence may very well pay dividends come playoff time.

Chris Jones, Defensive Tackle

Chris Jones doesn't need to bounce back from a poor game or a cold streak, though he did have a forgettable stretch between Weeks 8 and 11. Although he's been very good this season, that just won't cut it. For a player who requested $30M/year from the Chiefs, being "good enough" isn't good enough.

Though he did play very well against the Patriots, it's been a while since he's taken over and wrecked a game for an opposing offense. Such a performance against the Raiders could be what he needs to get ramped for another playoff run.