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Nothing’s easy in this league

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: that was a tough loss. Well every loss is tough, but that one felt especially grueling. The offence seemed out of sync for the majority, aside from the occasional sprinkle of Mahomes magic, and the defence could barely catch a break.

So is this only a minor speed bump on what is otherwise a very long and straight road for the Chiefs or has it revealed deeper problems that need urgent attention?

I’m going to break down the issues we faced, one by one, and just how much of a problem it will be later on down the line.

Protecting Patrick

The Colts front seven, led by former Chiefs DE Justin Houston, seemed to have set up a permanent residency in Kansas City’s backfield. Houston alone finished with 4 tackles, 2 TFL, a sack and the AFC defensive player of the week award.

It makes me wonder how ugly this game would have been if we didn’t have Mahomes as our quarterback. There are very few people in the league who can extend plays or make something out of nothing like him. Take his touchdown pass for example because, unless you’re called Patrick Mahomes, Russel Wilson or possibly Aaron Rodgers, there’s no way this play is coming together.

So why was the offensive line particularly shaky this week? Health was certainly an issue for us as three linemen were ruled out before the game even started (Fisher, Senat and Allegretti). As if this wasn’t crippling enough, Andrew Wylie also sustained a foot injury at the top of the fourth quarter and didn’t return. Meanwhile his replacement, Ryan Hunter, finished the day with a 0.0 pass protection score.

It’s almost impossible to establish an offensive identity with a line this troubled. Mahomes looked off balance or on the run on every pass he attempted and yet still finished with 329 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. However, there’s only so much the MVP can accomplish with a fragile supporting cast around him; that was proven against Indianapolis.

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But it seems like the front office has noticed the holes in the ship and have already made an attempt to fix them. Ryan Hunter was waived by the team and eight year veteran guard Stefen Wisniewski has been brought in to replace him. However Wylie and Fisher both missed practise yesterday which still brings up concerns about who the team will trot out this week against Houston.

One thing is for sure, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and if these problems continue the Chiefs could struggle down the line against strong front sevens and well-coached teams.

Missing Ground Game:

The Chiefs combined for 36 yards against the Colts and 17 of them came from Mahomes. Despite what you may think about the new era of offensive football, no team can control a game with that lacklustre of a run game.

Damien Williams, who came back from injury this week, only totalled 23 yards off of nine carries which is roughly 2.5 yards/attempt. Meanwhile the other two backs, Lesean McCoy and Darrel Williams only played in 22% of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps.

Kansas City’s run game also failed to execute in difficult situations which cost us dearly. With just over 5 minutes left on the clock the Chiefs were stuck in a 4th & 1, down by six, and simply failed to convert. Poor run blocking allowed Houston to burst into our backfield untouched and bring down Williams before he made it over the line.

It’s obvious that the offensive line affected both our pass and run games this week. We seemed crippled offensively and just couldn’t produce against that Colts’ D. Hopefully some new additions and players returning from injury will allow the offence to regain its identity heading into week 6. Anyone got Jeff Allen’s email address? I’m… asking for a friend.

Team Health:

It wasn’t just the offensive line that was beat-up Sunday night, as we also suffered injuries elsewhere on the team. Tyreek Hill didn’t see the field for the fourth straight week and Sammy Watkins went out with a hamstring injury early. Mahomes talents weren’t enough to account for the losses at receiver and their absences were definitely felt.

This was never more true than on the huge 3rd & 28 before the failed fourth down conversion.

Despite slipping a tackle and turning up field, Pringle was unable to get across the line before being brought down by George Odum. Could Hill or Watkins have made a play here? I’ll leave you to answer that one.

Defensively we faced some losses too as Xavier Williams, Chris Jones and Anthony Hitchens all fell during the course of the game and didn’t return. As if the Chiefs’ run defence wasn’t already weak, losing two defensive linemen and a linebacker is sure to add fuel to the fire. Indianapolis were able to take advantage of the holes and ran the ball right up our throats. 

Colts’ Game Plan:

Frank Reich knows how to gameplan and he showed on Sunday night that the Colts can be a tough team to beat even without Andrew Luck. Their scheme came down to three major ideas:

  1. Keep the offence on the field
  2. Run the ball effectively
  3. Don’t give Mahomes time to throw the ball

And they pulled off all three extremely well as the Colts offence controlled the game through Marlon Mack (who totalled 132 yards on 29 carries which is an average of 4.5 yards/attempt). The run game tired our already withered defence and took all of our offence’s momentum away. Mahomes was suffocated all game long too which stopped us from getting anything done when we did have the ball in our hands.

With half of the positions on the field suffering injuries it’s hard to execute against a well-coached team and that seemed to be our major downfall on Sunday night. Hopefully the team gets back to full health in order to stop a devastating loss like this occurring when it matters most; in January and February.

Don’t lose hope just yet Chiefs Kingdom because, once this team is healthy, it can wreak havoc on opposing teams.

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