In the Kansas City Chiefs' 38-20 Week 5 loss to the Buffalo Bills, several things went wrong on both sides of the ball. There's no denying that, and many factors contributed to the team's embarrassing defeat.
Offensively, the Chiefs turned the ball over four times. It doesn't matter how potent of a Patrick Mahomes-led attack the team has when that's the case, especially against quality opponents such as the Bills. Defensively, Steve Spagnuolo's unit struggled to contain the dynamic threat that is quarterback Josh Allen. The Bills' best player was lethal on Sunday night, rushing for 59 yards and a touchdown while adding another 315 yards and three scores through the air. He was fantastic.
Much like in other losses this season, the Chiefs' defense wasn't communicating well. It seemed overmatched for entire stretches during the game. While the group came out of the locker room after a halftime break and a lightning delay and played better, it still wasn't good enough. The damage had already been mostly done and according to safety Tyrann Mathieu, he and his peers can't get out of their own way.
“To be honest with you, I think we are beating ourselves," Mathieu said. "If you look back on it, go back to the Ravens game, it was missed communication, blown coverages. In the Chargers game, it was kind of the same thing. Tonight, I think most of their explosive pass plays were guys running wide open down the field. Obviously, we don’t practice that. Our coaches don’t teach that. You’ve got to find a way to dig deep, man. Every team we play wants to beat us. They want to beat us bad. I think we have to understand that coming into these kinds of games.”
Mathieu is right. The Chiefs have been the top dog in the AFC for a couple of years now, making it to consecutive Super Bowls and winning one in 2020. They are the standard for the rest of the teams to reach — or, at least, they have been until this season. Opponents will give the Chiefs their best shot and against quality teams, if the Chiefs aren't or near their best as well, they won't win. Mathieu knows there's time to right the ship, though.
“You try your best to set a good example," Mathieu said. "I feel like I can make more plays. Teams aren’t going to let me make certain plays but you have to take the bull by the horns sometimes. For me, it is all about continuing to lead these guys the right way. I think my emotion, my spirit, it can go left or right. For me, it is important for me to push these guys in a positive direction. I know we still have a good football team. We are struggling right now but, like I mentioned earlier, it’s a long season and I think we will be able to get it right.”
An injection of talent across the board isn't arriving any time soon. Getting players like Chris Jones and Charvarius Ward back should certainly help, but most or all of the Chiefs' improvement on defense will have to be internal. Whether that takes the form of coaching adjustments, snap count changes the players simply executing better or a combination of it all remains to be seen. Something has to give, and leaders like Mathieu know it. Time will tell if improvement follows.