There are two sides to every story, and that certainly rang true after the Kansas City Chiefs' six-point loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
On one hand, the Chiefs lost their second-straight game and are now 1-2. They lost a division contest against a potential playoff-caliber opponent. They turned the ball over four times and played sloppy football. Steve Spagnuolo's red zone defense continued to be an issue. Patrick Mahomes had one of his worst games as an NFL quarterback. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, after never fumbling in his career, now has consecutive games in which he's coughed up the football. That's the first side.
On the other hand, Spagnuolo's defense played with intensity and had some very positive moments on Sunday. Mahomes himself admitted that all four turnovers were a bit fluky and were merely bad results stemming from good processes. Edwards-Helaire had one of his better games as a pro despite fumbling (again). That's the other side.
So, where do the Chiefs reside? Mark Van Sickle of Arrowhead Report joined me on today's Roughing the Kicker podcast to discuss that further.
In reality, the Chiefs are probably somewhere in the middle.
Is this the same unstoppable machine that the NFL has seen in the past? Not yet. Is it the below-.500 squad that can't seem to get out its own way? Also, not yet. Three games is too small of a sample size to base your season-long conclusions on. The Chiefs have 14 more games to play. They aren't in trouble yet, but they're getting close.
At the root of the Chiefs' issues on defense, many of the issues present today were present a year ago. Getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks remains a sore spot. The red zone defense is, again, atrocious. Linebacker play has been less than ideal. Andy Reid and Spagnuolo's snap distribution between safeties Daniel Sorensen and Juan Thornhill is still baffling.
Offensively, mistakes have heavily contributed to the Chiefs' last two losses. Mahomes has made some uncharacteristic plays that have resulted in turnovers, Edwards-Helaire is suddenly fumble-prone and even the team's receivers are having a difficult time holding on to the football. Are all of those going to be season-long problems? It's possible, albeit highly unlikely. I'd bet on things improving.
This isn't to say that the Chiefs will definitely fix multiple of the aforementioned things. They almost surely won't be able to fix all of them, but the point remains: A three-game sample size is very small. The Chiefs have had rough stretches of play in the Reid-Mahomes era before. Because they're having one to open the season, though, everyone is more inclined to hit the panic button.
My message? Give it a few more weeks. Unless the Chiefs come out flat and get outclassed by the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday, there isn't much reason to panic yet. Are there legitimate improvements that need to be made? Yes, but give them a bit more time to do so. If any team has earned the benefit of the doubt, it's this one. The Chiefs are on thin ice, but that ice has yet to crack.
Subscribe to Roughing the Kicker on YouTube for exclusive content and previews of each episode before they drop.
Want to get involved in the RTK community? Tweet using #RTKPod with questions and comments.