The first fact is the Chiefs won a football game Sunday, and winning on the road in the NFL ain’t easy.
We get it.
But they sure aren’t making it any easier on themselves.
The Chiefs are 3-3 after a 31-13 victory in Washington, their most lopsided win of the season actually, but it isn’t a win that leaves a free-and-easy feeling.
Let us explain. Without further delay, let’s get into the five observations from immediately after the game:s
1. Those turnovers, man.
Win, lose, whatever, this is the headline.
The Chiefs have developed the worst trend in football, and while they’ve been on the wrong end of some fluky bounces, this has moved far past some bad luck.
I mean, did you see the second Patrick Mahomes interception? Where do you even start? A busted play, and Mahomes flicked the ball in the air rather than swallowing the negative snap, all the makings of a quarterback playing with desperation. Take your cues from that.
For the second straight week, wide receiver Tyreek Hill had a pass go straight through his arms and fall into a defender’s lap for an interception. Add in a Week 2 fumble, and Hill is responsible for three giveaways this season.
The Chiefs turned the ball over three times in the first half, and at that point, they’d relinquished the ball 14 times in 16 quarters. When you’re turning it over at that kind of pace, you’re going to need to play nearly perfect otherwise to win consistently. And this team is far from perfect.
2. Yes, far from perfect
The 2020 team that went 14-2 wasn’t perfect.
Th 2019 group that won the Super Bowl wasn’t, either.
But the length of time in which the Chiefs have been stuck in this rut — so often at their own accord — is alarming. It’s unusual, too.
A year ago, the Chiefs had the ability to snap out of a couple of bad drives — on either side of the football — and turn a game around. They ultimately did that in the second half, but is it enough to mask all that went wrong in the first half?
The Chiefs look a far cry from the two teams that reached the Super Bowl. This isn’t a situation in which the Chiefs can fix fill in blank here and then sit back, kick their feet up and watch the win streak begin. They’re still missing assignments on defense, still turning it over like never before in the Andy Reid era. Heck, even the quarterback made the worst decision of his career Sunday.
3. The defense was miles better. But…
Overall, the defense just played its best game of the season in Washington. By a large margin.
To think, it could’ve been even better.
Washington converted 3rd-and-16 with a screen, and then safety Tyrann Mathieu spent considerable time demonstratively yelling back toward the Chiefs sideline. Washington would score a touchdown on the drive — only after the Chiefs flat-out failed to cover tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, who caught a 39-yard touchdown down the seam. The score arrived as the result of a clear missed assignment.
During the ensuing break, Mathieu again showed his anger on the sideline, yelling as he walked off the field.
Still, the Chiefs allowed just 276 yards, their best outing in 2021. There’s more to build on here than weeks’ past.
4. An aggressive call. More, please
The Chiefs covered 95 yards on 10 plays in their opening drive of the game.
They were almost stopped early. Actually, Washington probably thought it had a stop.
Instead, the Chiefs elected to go for it on fourth down on their own half of the field, and they converted with a Darrel Williams run up the gut — a spot they’ve returned often on these short-yardage plays. The aggressive call directly led to 7 points, and given the way his defense has played, Andy Reid might need to make more like them. Reid finished as one of the five most aggressive decision-makers in football last year — often sealing games with fourth-down calls.
5. A long-awaited lineup change
Call it necessary. Call it expected. Call it … overdue?
The Chiefs finally made a change to their defensive secondary, benching safety Daniel Sorensen in favor of Juan Thornhill. They added speed and athleticism to a defensive group in desperate need of both. Sorensen had a rough game, to put it mildly, against Buffalo, responsible for the coverage on two deep touchdowns.
Sorensen still played as part of the team’s dime package, per usual, but Thornhill served as the deep-lying safety there, as well as base packages. It’s probably unfair to credit one substitution for a defensive turnaround, but it was a fine place to start.