- This isn't just a rough patch for Kansas City anymore—after falling to the Jets, their sixth loss in seven weeks, this is a full-on nightmare.
The Chiefs accelerated from lengthy rough patch to free-fall on Sunday in spectacular fashion following a 38-31 loss to the Jets—and this game had a little bit of everything. There was star cornerback Marcus Peters hurling a penalty flag into the stands. There was Jets quarterback Josh McCown, racking up 331 yards and three touchdowns. There was two Jets receivers—Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse—racking up 100 yards.
For a time, it seemed head coach Andy Reid would simply have to worry about stiff-arming rumors of a quarterback controversy between starter Alex Smith and rookie Patrick Mahomes. Now, he has to take stock of his entire roster—a team good enough to start 5–0 and stun the Patriots at home in the NFL season opener.
In the NFL collapses are fairly commonplace—enough so that one can spot warning signs and noticeable traits. Here are three indicators that the Chiefs are a sinking ship in desperate need of repair:
1. There are tangible consequences for every loss
Both the Raiders and Chargers won on Sunday, bringing their records to 6–6, and Kansas City is now in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West. In losing to the Jets, the Chiefs went from sure-fire division winners to losers of six of their last seven games. The Patriots, for example, could lose all of their remaining games and while it would be considered a “skid” there likely wouldn’t be much concern that the Buffalo Bills would win out and catch them. Meanwhile, this slide has reshaped the entire bottom third of the AFC playoff picture. A Chargers win against Washington next week, along with an Oakland win at Arrowhead would put the previously 0–4 Bolts in the No. 4 seed, and the Chiefs would be out altogether.
2. They’ve stopped running the football
The Chiefs averaged 156.2 yards per game on the ground over their first five games—all of which were wins. Since Oct. 15, they have logged more than 100 cumulative rushing yards just once—in an overtime loss to the punch-less New York Giants. They reached 112 on Sunday, though 70 of them came on one play by Smith, while rookie RB Kareem Hunt rushed nine times for just 40 yards. Reid has had eight teams finish in the top 10 in rushing over his 19-year coaching career, most of which coincided with his most prolific scoring offenses over the same period of time. In Kansas City with Smith, a downhill running game is especially important to draw defenses in and give Smith the chance to be a vertical passer with smaller targets.
3. They’ve stopped throwing deep and defending the deep pass
Anderson has assembled a Pro Bowl-worthy campaign, so Kansas City hasn’t been his only victim. However, according to Pro Football Reference, he gained more than three yards per route run. Jermaine Kearse gained more than four. Kansas City’s hired gun Darrelle Revis looked out of it during his debut Sunday and missed a pair of tackles. Pro Football Focus also noted that in relief, Steven Nelson allowed nearly 150 passing yards to targets he was guarding. Remaining on Kansas City's schedule are dates with the Rams and the Raiders—two teams that can cause problems with the deep ball when totally healthy.