The Kansas City Chiefs' new-look team is off to a 2-0 start, but things are far from perfect for head coach Andy Reid's squad.
In the club's opening week win over the Arizona Cardinals, just about everything was going right for Kansas City. Offensively, quarterback Patrick Mahomes tossed five touchdowns and was spreading the love to just about every pass-catcher he could find. On the other side of the ball, Steve Spagnuolo's unit allowed just seven points heading into the fourth quarter. It was a thorough domination by the Chiefs.
Last Thursday, however, things took a bit of a different turn. The Chiefs' high-powered offense came out flat against the Los Angeles Chargers, failing to string together plays in succession and extend drives. On third downs, specifically, Kansas City went 4-for-12 in those situations. Short-yardage miscues by either play-caller, running back, quarterback or some combination of that assortment plagued Reid's offense. On Monday, he dove into those struggles.
“Yeah, you try to see what went wrong first of all, whether it’s the call, whether I sent in the wrong thing at the wrong time or whether there’s a mistake somewhere," Reid said. "We had a couple of mistakes in there and then one of them where we did have a mistake, the defense still had a pretty good leverage on it. Although, we’ve had a lot of success with the one play so got to tighten that part up. We’ve got to tighten up the mental errors on it. Every once in a while, the defense is going to have an overload somewhere that you didn’t think they would. You’ve got to sort that out and make better with it, but you know a couple of those we just didn’t handle it right and that’s normally not the case. We can do better in that area.”
With new pieces working their way in at running back and wide receiver, this year's Chiefs team wasn't expected to get off to a blazing start. Plenty of games like the Chargers outing were — and possibly still are — expected. A two-game sample size is difficult to draw major conclusions from, so pointing to the Chiefs' league rankings as concrete declarations about this year would be premature. With that said, even with such a slow start against Los Angeles, Kansas City's offense ranks third in Football Outsiders' Offensive DVOA statistic, has accumulated the fifth-most yards per game in the NFL and is 10th in overall third-down efficiency.
The 2021 campaign, one that saw the Chiefs face a great deal of adversity, could best be summed up in one word: respond. As the Chiefs attempted to continue torching opposing defenses with their three-headed monster of Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, coordinators throughout the league responded by demanding that Kansas City dial things back and "dink-and-dunk" its way to points against two-high coverage shells. The Chiefs caught fire near the end of the season but then promptly flamed out in the AFC Championship Game against the Cincinnati Bengals. When asked about the 2022 Chiefs' next steps on offense and how both the team and the opposition will respond, Reid said there's room for growth.
“Yeah so, it’s doing okay," Reid said. "Always room to improve, but I think Pat’s done a nice job with what he’s been given. We ran the ball a little bit more early than what we did the week before for various reasons and kind of moved the pocket around a little bit more for various reasons. So, I think we’re doing okay. Listen, as long as you have more points than they have, it’s a good thing. Like I said, there’s a lot of parity in this baby right now. And for whatever reason, which is great for the fans, this rivalry thing we got going with the Chargers, is always close. You almost come to expect that it’s going to come right down to the wire and it’s very exciting. I wish there was a bigger difference there, but both teams are good football teams.”
Much was made leading up to the season of the Chiefs' brutal 2022 schedule, and tests against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills over the next four weeks will be legitimate. On the other hand, Kansas City has already passed its first test by taking down a 2021 playoff team in the NFC and its own division rival in consecutive weeks. In fact, the Chiefs accomplished that in a matter of just five days. Given things to work on and time to put in the effort, Reid and his team are looking straight ahead.
"Yeah listen, it’s one of those things that the league gives you," Reid said. "It’s a little bit of a scramble drill getting everything together, but we try to work with it before we get to that point and have somewhat of a plan of what direction we’re going to go unless that team that you’re playing on Thursday night completely changed in the first game from what you’ve anticipated.
"But it’s workable, it’s nice to have the couple days off for our players to get a little of the soreness out from the beginning of the season, training camp, all (of) that, so I think that’s a plus. The mini-bye – I guess (that’s what) we’re calling them now – it’s good to have a mini-bye and get ourselves back on the road. We don’t have another Thursday game, so it’s behind us now and you move forward with what we’ve got.”