Takeaways From the Chiefs’ 20-17 Loss to the Colts

Kansas City walked head-first into a trap game in Indianapolis. Everything seemed to go wrong in one of the most frustrating losses in recent Chiefs’ history. Here are the takeaways from Sunday’s loss to the Colts.

A loss to a team you should beat is always tough to swallow, especially when there were multiple chances for you to win. A lot of self-inflicted wounds led to the Chiefs’ loss in Indianapolis, it happened in all three phases of the game. Here are the takeaways from the loss.

The Special Teams Unit Needs Some Work

The Special Teams unit has been abysmal this season, ranking first in penalties, missed field goals, and extra points, and they are dead last in average kick return. Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub has been criticized for the past three seasons for the lack of consistency with his unit and they have been fair, but this season it’s worse than it’s ever been.

For some reason, Skyy Moore is returning punts, even though he never did this in high school or college, and he has been not so great at it. He has let balls bounce which he should pick up, he’s nearly run into coverage without a fair catch, or has caught the ball in traffic. Moore had two horrible mistakes on Sunday and the Chiefs effectively benched him on offense for it. 

There’s also the kick return problem, every time the Chiefs got the ball kicked to them, they took it out of the end zone. Pacheco even did it when they only had 27 seconds to score and tie the game, wasting over seven seconds in the process. That’s a failure in coaching if I’ve ever seen it.

Everything with the special teams isn’t directly Toub’s fault, the Chiefs lost Harrison Butker after the first game of the season with an injury and have had a bad situation with their kicker ever since.  Against Indianapolis, they lost seven points because the kicker missed a field goal, an extra point, and had the worst fake field goal in the history of fake field goals. Some of this isn’t on the coordinator, but Toub has routinely been considered one of the best special teams coaches in the league and it’s time to seriously consider moving on from him if they don’t improve.

It’s Time for the Chiefs to get Watson and Moore Involved in the Passing Game

The Chiefs’ offense has hit a wall in the past couple of weeks, only scoring two touchdowns in both contests against the Chargers and Colts. Patrick Mahomes seems to be holding onto the ball a lot more than usual and it’s hurting the offense to score effectively against good defenses. One problem seems to be the lack of trust between Mahomes and some of his receivers, Mahomes only has two pass catchers who returned to this team and it seems to be slowing him up on some plays.

Justin Watson and Patrick Mahomes have had a unique connection over the offseason and it seems like they really were able to gel together in the preseason. Watson also came in against the Chargers and scored a desperately needed touchdown to help win that game, so there’s some chemistry there. But it seems like Kansas City is limiting his and rookie Skyy Moore’s snaps in favor of more Mecole Hardman snaps. 

Mecole hasn’t been healthy since the first game and he seems to be struggling in his routes, which caused Mahomes to pause on timing routes and leading to pressures or sacks.  I don’t mean to disparage Hardman, but he seems to be hurt and the Chiefs need to rotate in Skyy Moore or Watson to take those snaps away so the offense can move better. 

It seems like the Chiefs don’t want to push Skyy too much early in his career in Kansas City, but it might be time to see what he can do going forward. He and Watson deserve some more snaps and it’ll be interesting to see if the Chiefs make the adjustments to get the rookie and free agent on the field more.

The Chiefs’ Defense can be elite

I wanted to end on a positive note here, the Chiefs’ defense has been sensational over the past three weeks. Chris Jones and Frank Clark look like they did two years ago and George Karlaftis and Carlos Dunlap are making huge plays every game. The Chiefs’ defense was stout, especially against the rung same, holding Jonathan Taylor under 90 yards on the ground.

Not to mention the ascension of Nick Bolton in the middle of the field, who looked like prime Derrick Johnson against Indy. The Chiefs’ defensive unit had five sacks and 15 total pressures on Sunday against a fairly decent Colts’ offensive line, but they had some minor mistakes which are fixable.

It’s evident they are an old-school zone blitz-style defense when they want to be, and I think they should do more of it with the personnel they have. Jaylen Watson and L’Jarius Sneed have been playing some lights-out ball recently and it should be fun to see how much this defense can improve once they get Willie Gay, Mike Danna, and Trent McDuffie back.

The Chiefs’ defense has been a standout this season even though they are allowing some bigger point totals to start this season. It’s not totally on them though, the Chiefs’ offense has been lagging behind the defense this season and it’ll only be a matter of time for the offense to get going and find some cohesion. 

For more Chiefs coverage and news please follow Arrowhead Live on Twitter or go to our website.