With one week remaining before the Chiefs’ preseason debut, there are very few weaknesses being shown in camp, but which positions look like they may need more help once the games start to matter?
With two weeks of training camp completed there are some serious standouts at many positions on Kansas City’s roster, namely Trey Smith at offensive guard, but there are also still some question marks regarding certain positions and players who may not be as prepared for the upcoming season.
Last week’s Shawn’s Staturday covered the Chiefs’ three strongest positions on the team based on talent, bench depth, and overall performance during the first week of camp. So with another week down, I figured we could touch on Kansas City’s three weakest positions based on the same aspects…
3. Running back
Kansas City has one of the best passing talents the league has seen in recent history and because of that, the Chiefs are known for being a pass-happy offense that lets it rip with confidence.
In fact, KC ranked 5th in pass play percentage (62.57%) last season, with a completion percentage of 66.5% (11th). But that has created a running back room that is relied on more for their catching ability rather than their typical running strength.
And while last year’s 1st-round pick (#32 overall) Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a strong, and reliable (0 fumbles), running back he is still coming off a hip injury and a high ankle sprain from week 15’s matchup against New Orleans.
The good news? Edwards-Helaire seems to feel “100%” after resting during the offseason (below)
Edwards-Helaire did have 1100 yards from scrimmage and looked like he could manage a hefty workload, but can his backups pick up slack if the need to do so arises?
Darrel Williams (354 total rushing yds) and Darwin Thompson (225 total rushing yards) are both young, short, speedy backs that have been on the team the longest out of all four backs on the depth chart, and neither seem to be RB1-worthy at the moment.
The other running back, former Viking’s (and 49ers’) backup Jerick McKinnon, is also a smaller back but has reliable numbers over his five-year career: 18 starts, 500+ rushing yards in three separate seasons, 18 total TDs, and a catch rate of 73.8% which surely bumps him up in Reid’s book a little.
If any Chiefs running back not named “Clyde” were to have to start or take on a more prominent role in the offense McKinnon would likely be the only one able to do so comfortably.
Kansas City’s running back room is quick and talented but needs a sturdy power back if they want to intimidate the opposing defensive lines this upcoming season. Otherwise, the (somewhat predictable) “pass-first-run-second” playbook will likely be in use again for most of 2021-22.
2. Defensive End
The Chiefs’ pass rush in their most recent Super Bowl was pretty pitiful, only pressuring Tom Brady four times on his 30 dropbacks (13%) compared to Mahomes’ 29 pressures in 56 dropbacks (51%).
Two-time Pro Bowl DE Frank “the Shark” Clark has been known more lately for his off-the-field issues, his hefty paycheck, and his playoff presence (eight sacks in six games) rather than his regular-season numbers (14 sacks in two seasons).
And newly-named starter Alex Okafor has not shown he is the best suitable candidate for the position with his 8 total sacks during his two-year tenure so far. But with the news of Chris Jones playing “quite a bit” more on the edge there could be a change in the depth chart at LDE before the season even begins.
Even then, Clark is still dealing with legal issues and backups Taco Charlton and Mike Danna are coming off injury-ridden seasons.
There are simply too many “what ifs?” within the EDGE position heading into the season although hopefully Clark and Jones can lead the position to better performances than the past few seasons…if not then they could be the Chiefs’ worst part of their defense.
Now even though Tommy Townsend had huge shoes to fill after 15 years of being worn by Dustin Colquitt, he is still the best option at punter for the Chiefs at the moment…which is surprising considering his lackluster Super Bowl performance.
I’ve gone on record before and said that Townsend should not be based on that one performance but over the offseason, it was surprising to see that the Chiefs front office didn’t bring in any sort of competition like they did last offseason with Tyler Newsome.
Townsend averaged just under 45 yds per punt during the regular season, which is likely due to the Chiefs’ offense typically getting to mid-field before calling upon him. But with that being said, when the Chiefs called upon him in the Super Bowl he put up three pitiful punts (and one good one which was called back due to a penalty).
All-in-all he ended up with less than 36 yds/punt and was one of the most talked-about aspects of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl loss.
And while he should use that experience as motivation for the upcoming season it should still be kept in the back of every fan’s mind when Kansas City calls him up in any playoff match or big game.