The Chiefs may have had a rough week, but should we be worried?
Kind of, this was hard to evaluate what we should be worried about. I think the problems the Chiefs have been facing are the same ones they’ve had all season and it was amplified this week.
Well, this was a fascinating week for the Kansas City Chiefs, they played an extremely talented team in the Cincinnati Bengals and blew an 11 point lead in the second half. It was the strangest game the Chiefs have lost this season, there wasn’t a big turnover or a missed play at the end by the offense, it was mainly due to defensive penalties and mistakes.
The Chief’s defense had a bad day, they weren’t able to have the performance they wanted to have and it turn the tide of the game. The Chiefs’ defense had been extraordinarily good since week seven, only giving up about 17 points per game and didn’t allow a rushing touchdown during the winning streak. They had a couple of games where they hadn’t looked as solid and had only played one top 10 quarterback over the entire win streak, but this is the big leagues, and good defense matters.
The Chiefs defense we all knew and loved showed up in the first half except for a couple of big plays, including an incredible 69-yard touchdown by Ja’Marr Chase. But the Bengals offense was incredibly explosive and some of those plays were to be expected, and the Chiefs’ defensive line dominated throughout most of the game. If you watched the first half of the game you would have thought the Chiefs were going to win this game by a couple of scores and it would be easy, it wasn’t.
This is where I’m worried, the Chiefs didn’t adjust, but the Bengals did.
The second-half adjustments on both sides of the ball for Kansas City were dreadful they couldn’t find the right plays or call the right adjustments. This has been an issue with the Chiefs sometimes, they don’t make the basic changes that would make their lives easier. The Bengals defense was able to make the necessary changes to their scheme to try to slow down Mahomes and they only gave up three points in the second half. The Chiefs chose to keep passing the ball when they were dropping seven into coverage or were sending blitzes when the Chiefs ran empty sets, it would have been a simple adjustment to get into power football and run the ball, but it didn’t happen.
On defense, the zone blitzes were getting Joe Burrow to rush and miss throws, and the Bengals adjusted by going four wide and throwing quick stuff all afternoon, it was not good that Coach Spagnuolo didn’t adjust. The biggest adjustment he needed to do was to put L’Jarius Sneed on Ja’Marr Chase the entire game, but only had it happen a couple of times, it seemed like this was to disguise coverages but Ja’Marr feasted on the secondary of Kansas City. Also, the press coverage of the Chiefs caused a lot of pass interference penalties, even if they weren’t all warranted penalties.
The last drive was an encapsulation of all of this, the defense had three penalties on the final drive, all on third or fourth down. The Chiefs had been pretty handsy all afternoon and the referees made them pay for being aggressive in their coverage. It really bit them when the Chiefs gave up a third and 27 play to Ja’Marr Chase using an all-out blitz instead of playing a safe coverage to hold them to a field goal and it’s what helped the Bengals win the game.
I’m more worried about how the Chiefs defense plays these high-caliber offensive teams, but Spagnuolo always has something up his sleeve in the playoffs. The Chiefs’ defense is the only thing I’m worried about right now, and that’s only because they looked really good up until this game against the red-hot and AFC North Champion Bengals.