After the bludgeoning the Chiefs took at the hands of the Buffalo Bills, who are the players who are living up to or living down to expectations?
3. Trending Up: Juan Thornhill
With the problems in the secondary becoming more and more apparent, Thornhill is not the salve for this wound, but he’s an upgrade over the safeties who have been playing this season. Thornhill has not been fantastic, but when he’s on the field he has been making better at playing his spot. He makes the secondary more complete with his play and is not a liability in coverage and the run game.
This is more of a no-duh type of thing because the other guy is higher up, but he needs to play more for me to make the full assessment on how much he is trending up.
3. Trending Down: Anthony Hitchens
Hitchens was always a great situational linebacker, not the best coverage linebacker but he could make a couple of big plays in the running game when he needs to. But this season it is very clear he’s the odd man in the middle linebacker rotation.
He was absolutely abysmal against the Bills on Sunday night, he got lost in coverage and was washed by the blockers the entire game. It was noticeable when Willie Gay came into the game and Nick Bolton was able to make plays in the run game. I think Hitchens is trending down because we haven’t seen the defense with Willie Gay back fully healthy and Nick Bolton has been able to make bigger plays.
2. Trending Up: Willie Gay
Willie Gay Jr has not been in the lineup for most of this season and the defense has missed him, in his absence they haven’t had the edge in defending the run. Gay did play some in the game vs the Bills and he was an immediate contributor to the defense. If he could stay healthy the rest of the way the defense could get much better.
Gay getting fully healthy and ready to play these next stretch of games will be super important for the Chiefs as they are going to take every team’s best shot going forward. He needs to play for them to get the defense back up to a reasonable clip. It cannot be understated how important Gay will be as they try to get back into the playoff hunt.
2. Trending Down: Byron Pringle
This hurts for me to write because Pringle was my darkhorse to win the second wide receiver spot, but he has been incredibly inconsistent this entire season, especially in the return game. He keeps taking kicks out of the end zone when the coverage says to stay and take the touchback. It caused a fumble this week which came at a crucial time.
Pringle is going to have to play better in the return game for starters, but he had problems with dropping passes recently. Pringle is also trending down because Josh Gordon will probably start to take more snaps away from Pringle as he learns the playbook better. Gordon was able to get a catch on a crucial third-down early and he’ll more than likely be on the field more going forward. Pringle isn’t a bad player but he’s had a tough season so far as he and Mecole Hardman are trying to replace Sammy Watkins as the WR2.
1. Trending Up: Creed Humphrey
CAN YOU TAKE ME HIGHER????
Creed Humphrey has been unbelievable so for this season, like already in discussion for All-Pro and Pro Bowl good. He and Trey Smith have been incredible draft picks for the Kansas City Chiefs this season and it has shown in the yards per carry when they run behind Creed. When they run behind Creed they get almost 4.4 yards per carry whereas they don’t get to four yards per carry anywhere else on the offensive line.
Creed was able to keep the pressure up the middle to a minimum in his five starts but he’s been trending up and up as we continue through the season because he is just so good at his job. There aren’t many rookie centers in the league that can make an impact in the middle of an offensive line that has two really valuable veterans on the left side.
Creed will continue to trend up if they can continue to run behind him as they go through the season.
1. Trending Down: Daniel Sorenson
Dirty Dan should be shelved.
He’s having one of the worst seasons by a safety in recent memory, he cannot cover anybody and he’s been continually picked on by opposing quarterbacks all year long. It’s not like Daniel Sorenson isn’t a talented player, it’s that the person behind him in the rotation plays a lot better than he does and isn’t as big of a liability as Sorenson.
There have been multiple plays this season where Daniel Sorenson has just missed his man in coverage or has not covered the right person and it comes back to bite the Chiefs. This past week, Josh Allen made sure to target him by throwing to Dalton Knox anytime he was covered one-on-one. The play which exemplified it was the play where he just STOPPED covering Knox and it led to a deep pass which put the Bills back in scoring position.
Sorenson needs his playing time reduced as the season moves on, he has been a liability all season and has not been making consistent enough plays for him to keep starting for the Kansas City Chiefs.