Could the Kansas City Chiefs really go 16-0?
Realistically, probably not. But they’ve looked every part of the Super Bowl team that took home the Lombardi trophy last year as they continue their season at 4-0 with a win over the New England Patriots.
Granted, it would be hard to call this a fair fight. Patriots starting QB Cam Newton was diagnosed with COVID-19, and thus, had to sit out this game. (Our best wishes are with him and his family.) The Pats also decided to travel on gameday, leaving their team more fatigued than usual for an NFL team playing Monday night.
Regardless, Kansas City took care of business. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had his best game since the opener, and the defense played lights-out. Rookie punter Tommy Townsend also had an excellent game; that’s right, special teamers are people, too.
With all that said, let’s jump into what the Chiefs did right, what they did wrong, and what forced me to make my drink stronger.
What Went Right
The Kansas City secondary picked up right where they left off, despite the injury to starting outside CB L’Jarius Sneed. Yes, this was against the likes of Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham, but the defense still has to make plays when they can. Rashad Fenton, who filled in for Sneed, had possibly the best game of his career, notching an interception and four pass breakups. Juan Thornhill and Tyrann Mathieu also snagged an interception each, with Mathieu returning his for a score. Defenses have to capitalize on opportunities, and the Chiefs were able to do exactly that.
The secondary wasn’t the only defensive unit that shined on Monday night. Despite star DT Chris Jones being inactive with a groin injury, Frank Clark, Taco Charlton, and Mike Pennel all played outstanding football. Clark and Charlton both registered a sack, with Clark’s coming on the final play of the first half. This forced the Patriots back to the locker room without putting points on the board. Pennel totaled 10 tackles to lead the team, showing he’s already in midseason form in his second game back from suspension. This unit, with Chris Jones, will be a formidable one in January.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire also had his best game on the ground since the season opener, rushing for 64 yards on 16 carries. He was kept out of the end zone, but still showed why he was selected in the first round. CEH also added 27 yards through the air on three catches to move the chains. If he can continue to stack his performances, Kansas City could have yet another deadly offensive weapon in the playoffs
Tommy Townsend must’ve read my critique of Harrison Butker last week and decided he didn’t want to face the harsh wrath of some irrelevant writer on a start-up sports website, because he had an amazing game. He punted four times and averaged 60.8 yards per punt (that’s quite good, for everyone who doesn’t pay attention to punters), while also downing one inside the 20-yard line. Townsend’s ability to consistently win the field position battle for Kansas City is showing that their decision to let Dustin Colquitt go is paying off nicely.
What Went Wrong
It’s becoming a recurring theme, but the defense needs to learn how to tackle. Yes, there was a different offseason. Yes, there were no preseason games. But it’s Week 4. There’s only so much the defense can do to keep the ball out of the hands of receivers, and the Kansas City linebackers are atrocious. Rookie second round pick Willie Gay, Jr. is still struggling in all aspects of the game. Gay still hasn’t caught up to the speed of the NFL, and the rest of the unit isn’t faring well either. The Chiefs defense allowed 184 rushing yards without Cam Newton at QB, 100 of those yards coming from Damien Harris in his first game back from IR. A West Coast power-run offensive scheme looks like it could tear this defense apart, giving me concern as the Chiefs head into their Week 5 game against the Raiders this weekend.
The Kansas City passing attack was also off its game Monday night. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill had three catches for 70 yards and four catches for 64 yards and a score, respectively, but there was little production outside of those two. Patrick Mahomes went 19-of-29 for 236 yards and two touchdowns. These aren’t awful numbers, but are definitely a step back from what we’ve seen from the former MVP. Sammy Watkins fumbling in the red zone didn’t help matters, either. The Patriots secondary was the first team to contain the Chiefs passing attack this year, but they also have more talent than others. I don’t expect this to be a major problem moving forward, but Coach Andy Reid will be playing this game tape over and over to ensure the Chiefs will improve in the future.
Mecole Hardman. Everyone in Kansas City wants to love you. SO LET THEM!
Hardman easily had his worst game of the year last night, at least in terms of decision-making. His four catches for 27 yards and a score aren’t awful, but considering he was put in the doghouse after two egregious special teams mistakes, shows that Reid was not happy with him. Hardman almost muffing a punt instead of getting away from the ball is just poor football awareness, as was fair-catching a very easily returnable punt.
It was at this point that Reid decided to put Tyreek Hill at punt returner and drastically reduce Hardman’s workload for the rest of the game. If he had touched that ball, it would have been a massive turnover for the Patriots. Thankfully, he didn’t
Fortunately there isn’t much to write about in this section. The Chiefs secured a win, and now they move their focus to the Las Vegas Raiders next week.
See ya soon, Chiefs Kingdom.
(Featured Image Credit: Kansas City Chiefs)