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It’s Too Early to Hit the Panic Button on the Chiefs

The 2022 Chiefs signed up for moments and games like they had on Sunday against the Colts.

The Kansas City Chiefs aren't in the business of moral victories. They are, however, in the business of seeing their players and coaches embark on a journey that takes several months to complete. They're in the business of context and processes meaning plenty, in addition to the results they get.

In Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts, neither the process nor the result was favorable. With that said, it's far too early to hit the panic button on this year's Kansas City squad.

For starters, simply think about everything that went wrong for the Chiefs to lose by just a mere three points. Multiple punt and kickoff return mishaps, poor kicking efficiency, a botched fake field goal attempt, lackluster play-calling and execution on offense, a dropped Travis Kelce touchdown pass, a Chris Jones unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a bad case of timeout management late in the game all led to the loss. That's a laundry list of unfavorable events in one single game. 

The odds of that happening again in a game are relatively low. That isn't to say that the Chiefs can't sabotage themselves more down the road, but special teams single-handedly derailing a game and then having it be paired with untimely mistakes on offense, defense and in the coaching staff is a perfect storm. If the Chiefs commit one fewer error or simply have kicker Harrison Butker healthy for the Colts game, they win. From that point of view, there isn't much reason to panic. Bad games happen, and respectable opponents will make even the best teams in the league pay for their mistakes if enough of them are made.

Secondly, remember the 2021 Chiefs? The team that started the season 1-2 and then was 3-4 and coming off an embarrassing blowout loss on October 24? That team took quite some time to figure things out. After losing Tyreek Hill and swapping out countless other pieces for new faces during the offseason, didn't Kansas City sign up for growing pains and rookie mistakes (literally, especially from Skyy Moore and Isiah Pacheco on Sunday) early in this season? A 2-1 start, even with some less-than-stellar play in Weeks 2 and 3, isn't the end of the world. Considering the new-look Chiefs' long-term hopes crushed would be foolish at this juncture. 

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Again, context must be taken into account. If the Chiefs pull off a win against the Colts, the near-consensus is that an ugly win is a win nonetheless. The negatives from the game are largely ignored, just as they were once Patrick Mahomes and company came back to defeat the Chargers. Since they lost, emotions are riding high and very few folks can keep in mind the season-long view the team itself still has front and center. Despite the need for quality processes, the nature of a result-oriented game makes discussing narrow losses and wins fairly a difficult task.

What's the common denominator from the last two weeks, regardless of win or loss? The Chiefs need to be better, and they have plenty of time to get better. Concerns about the receiving corps not jelling together and the club's offensive tackle play are legitimate, as are minor worries about whether or not the Andy Reid-Eric Bieniemy duo is losing some of its edge. It's fine to keep an eye on the special teams unit after such a damning performance. At the end of the day, though, the Chiefs are beating themselves right now. That's a much better spot to be in than simply being an inferior opponent. Don't panic.

Mark Van Sickle of Arrowhead Report joined me on Monday's Roughing the Kicker podcast to discuss everything related to the Chiefs' Week 3 loss against the Colts. For our complete analysis and thoughts on the game, check out the full episode below.

For more Kansas City Chiefs coverage and analysis, be sure to subscribe to the 'Roughing the Kicker' podcast. RTK is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you listen to your favorite programs.