In the Kansas City Chiefs' 36-35 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, the team's defense was poor all across the board. Safety Tyrann Mathieu was a bright spot, though.
After sitting out of the team's season opener against the Cleveland Browns due to having just recently been activated from the COVID-19/Reserve list, Mathieu made his 2021 season debut in Baltimore. In the first quarter of the ballgame, the All-Pro safety recorded a pair of interceptions and scored a touchdown. On the night, he broke up three passes and registered six tackles. He was far from the problem, but he knows there's room to get better.
As a whole, the Chiefs' defense got gashed on the ground. The Ravens' rushing attack combined for 251 total yards and three touchdowns on 41 carries, consistently stringing together chunk plays and getting tough yards. Matching the speed of Lamar Jackson turned out to be much easier said than done, as the 2019 MVP winner rushed 16 times for 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Mathieu spoke about the Chiefs' struggles after the game.
"This is assignment football," Mathieu said. "Any time you miss a line or blow an assignment against a good team, they'll make you pay for it. Just wasn't our best effort defensively."
Mathieu is right. Time and time again, there were Chiefs missing their assignments on Sunday. This consisted of hitting the wrong gaps, not remaining disciplined on the edge, missing tackles and more. It was a sloppy performance from Steve Spagnuolo's unit, making it two uninspiring outings in a row. Mathieu hopes that the team took their medicine in Week 2 and will use it as fuel moving forward.
"Every now and again, you need an ass whooping... and our team responds best when we get punched in the mouth," Mathieu said. "I can’t wait to get back to work. I’m looking forward to it.”
The standard the Chiefs have set on defense is higher than the one they've played to through two games. Everyone knows it, and Mathieu is no exception. As the unquestioned leader of the defense, he played quite well on Sunday but it wasn't enough for the team to secure a win in the end. If he has anything to say or do about it, things will improve as the season continues. Luckily for the Chiefs, they have plenty of time to figure things out on that side of the ball.