The Chiefs hosted and injury-riddled 2-5 New York Giants team at Arrowhead Stadium for a nationally televised game. Quite surprisingly this was Patrick Mahomes first home game on Monday Night Football. In a game where they should have completely dominated a supposedly inferior team, the Chiefs did not look good. Did they win? Yes. Are there issues with this team? Yes, yes there are.
Winning is supposed to be the best deodorant, but this team still has a way to go. Again, the defense looked confused at times and Daniel Sorensen was allowed to play. The offense goes through Patrick Mahomes and again PM15 was not to form throughout this contest. A jump pass for an interception, at least two other passes that should have been picked, and a fumble on a sack. Mahomes continues to struggle, as does this team. Two turnovers and twelve penalties for 103 yards are not the stat line of a playoff team.
The second half did not play out much better. When this defense outplays this offense, something is broken. Travis Kelce, I’m not sure what to say about his situation as of late. Sideline camera shots of Kelce, he just looks like a beaten man. The physical play on him at the line of scrimmage has taken him out of the last two games and his fumble at the end of the 3rd quarter was brutal.
The defense continued to look confused, capped off by the Giants touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. Chris Jones was clueless on the defensive call and basically was eliminated from the play. The Chiefs might as well have had 10 men on the field. But a win is a win, the Chiefs won and there was much rejoicing among the Kingdom.
Although the defense had a stronger outing than previous weeks this season, they played a seriously depleted Giants offense. With the majority of the Giants playmakers out due to injury, there has to be a concern when this defense meets a team at full strength.
Essentially, they should have held the Giants to 17-points or less. Penalties were an issue, as were moments of clear confusion on assignments. Chris Jones had two penalties on three plays and that touchdown play where he was left flat-footed. However, the Kingdom and the defense can hang their hat on the final series where some players finally earned those hefty paychecks. That would be Chris Jones redeeming himself with a sack, followed two plays later by Frank Clark’s sack which ended the game.
Still, this defense has some issues to address, so let’s not get too comfortable. Too many plays with the 2nd tackler standing around and no nose for going after the ball. Too much complacency and not enough energy. Why is Daniel Sorensen on the field? Hasn’t he proven that he is a liability? Dirty Dan was a mess again on Monday, not only giving up a 35-yard play, but instead of knocking the ball down, got the penalty and gave up the catch. If you are getting the interference call, don’t let the receiver make the catch.
Sorensen followed that up by a bad angle for a touchdown. Also, is Jarran Reed really on this team? One thing that cannot be questioned, Willie Gay Jr. is the linebacker this team needed. Remaining questions: Does the end of this game signal turning a corner? Can this defense compete against three teams in first place in their respective divisions for the next three weeks? These questions will inevitably be answered starting when a stronger opponent in the Green Bay Packers arrive on Sunday on a few extra days’ rest.
The Chiefs offense, with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill struggled. Not only did they struggle, again, they struggled against the game plan of 2nd-year defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham. Andy Reid showed some ability to adjust his game plan as PM15 showed some progress towards maturity on Monday. Clearly, Mahomes remains frustrated, but his willingness to take the check down and throw underneath is the first step in the right direction.
Still, Reid had to call a cute play on the first drive where Travis Kelce took the snap and flipped it to Mahomes. This is the kind of play calling that is frustrating when the team is struggling to compete. The Chiefs need to put the cute stuff away, lineup, and play football. Mahomes would end up with the jump pass pick in the end zone on that first drive. At the end of the day, the offensive took a step in the right direction, even with the turnovers.
On the list of Reid finally adapting to what defenses have been allowing is the run game. The Chiefs committed to the run game early and the Kingdom gets to ponder the future of the running back position with Derrick Gore emerging from the practice squad. Gore was finding lanes and showing off the skill he displayed in the pre-season.
Ending the game with 11 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown, Gore looked solid. The only question is why Reid didn’t keep feeding him in the 2nd half. Does Gore’s performance change the running back depth chart? McKinnon has never really got going in his role after CEH went down, Gore has looked better against the Giants than McKinnon has looked all season. Running back controversy on the horizon?
A win is win
One thing is clear, this team needs to build their confidence and they started by overcoming the penalties and fumbles to win on Monday. They built some confidence when the defense finished this game by not letting the Giants drive down to the red zone, by finishing them before even getting one first down. They built some confidence by winning a game behind a strong run game and Mahomes not pressing, well not much at least. The Chiefs are back to .500 that is the important part.
Did the Chiefs win in a dominating fashion at home against an inferior team missing a host of starters? No. However, they took a step on Monday, let’s not get ahead of ourselves this was a baby step. Next up, the Chiefs need to take another step, which comes on Sunday against the Packers, a team destined for the playoffs.
A win against the Packers would be a big step to getting some swagger back, but penalties from undisciplined play and turnovers are not going to do it against a more competent opponent. It is time for this team to block out the distractions and focus on Green Bay. Three weeks to the bye, three teams in first place in their division, three weeks for this team to show who they really are and where they will be in January.