Hey, everyone, it’s been a while.
I wouldn’t say I like talking about myself for too long, so I won’t. I just took a break for a while. I didn’t really want to write this season much, and I wanted a season just to watch the games and enjoy it.
But I’ll admit this; during the 4th quarter of this game, I couldn’t hold it anymore. Talking to myself wasn’t going to be an option this time. Tweeting through it wouldn’t help. So, after nine months (which felt like years, tbh), I’m back. I don’t know how often it’ll be. Maybe 1-2 times a month. But after that abomination of a football game, I couldn’t sit silently again. So, let’s talk about what I enjoy most in life; the Kansas City Chiefs. And believe me…I have plenty of thoughts. Here we go with 10 Observations!
#1: The Big Three Of Mahomes, Hill, And Kelce Are Still The Best
Anyone that knows me knows I’m not the most positive person ever. That’s not my personality. If you want the guy that believes everything is amazing and you shouldn’t criticize the team/players, I wouldn’t recommend reading me. If you have that attitude, you’re not a bad person. But I’m not going to do that.
Still, it would be unfair of me just to come on this site after all this time off and only spew negativity. Through the first two games, the season’s story has been the sheer dominance of the Chiefs’ Big Three. Everyone knows how dominant this trio has been since 2018, but this might be the best I’ve ever seen. I may write about Mahomes individually at some point, but he’s been almost flawless this season. Yes, I know he threw the dumb pick yesterday, but he was so good on Sunday. His pocket presence is notably improved this season, and he’s way better in the quick game. He’s still making ridiculous plays. Anyone that thinks they have a QB as good as Mahomes is wrong, he’s the best in the NFL, and it’s not close.
Same goes for Kelce and Tyreek. Tyreek was the story of week 1, and Kelce week 2. I was able to go watch the Cleveland game live, and it’s still startling watching Tyreek’s speed live. Kelce looks as good as ever. I’ve never seen a route runner as good as Kelce, and he still is so athletic for a tight end. His feel for space is the best ever. There’s been so much written about Trav that I don’t even know what I could contribute to the conversation anymore, but he’s the best tight end ever.
So yeah, those three guys are still outstanding. They’re in perfect sync with each other and have perfect complementary skillsets. Don’t take these guys for granted, Kansas City. We have three all-timers on the team at the same time, in their physical primes. They’ll never cease to amaze me.
#2: This Offensive Line Looks Significantly Improved
If there’s one thing that was changed and looks great, it’s been this offensive line. They had to be better after all the resources we put into the position, but those guys have been as advertised for the most part, particularly the rookies. I will definitely write a review about Creed at some point, but he’s been almost flawless at center. His athleticism as a center is startling. Trey Smith’s been superb to start the season, already looking like a seasoned vet. Lucas Niang has been the most inconsistent of the group, but his run blocking looks fantastic. Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney haven’t been amazing so far, but nothing about them concerns me either. This group is getting way more push this season, and the pass protection inside has been so good. Kansas City put a ton of assets into it, so it was always going to be better, but the group has been encouraging through two weeks. Mahomes won’t be getting hit much.
#3: What Was Worse? The Tackling Or The Gap Discipline?
Trick question, they’re both horrendous! It’s tough to make big claims about this without All-22, but Kansas City can’t fit the run right now. Nobody has won a one-on-one block through two games outside Turk Wharton, especially our linebackers. Nick Bolton is the only guy who’s at least stacked a block so far. Whether it’s running towards the edge or inside, Kansas City can’t do anything vs. the run. This is the worst run defense I’ve ever seen. Granted, I’m biased about this, but how many positive plays have we had vs. two predominantly running teams? One?
That doesn’t even mention the tackling! Our defensive backs, particularly our safeties, can’t tackle. Tyrann Mathieu made multiple business decisions vs. Baltimore, and this has been Sorensen’s worst tackling season. When your safeties can’t come down and fit the run in any way, it turns seven-yard runs into 12-14 yard runs. That’s not to say our front seven is tackling well, but those two guys have especially been bad there.
So yeah, there’s no honest answer to this. Both have been dreadful.
#4: Brett Veach Can’t Evaluate Linebacker
I’ve had a back-and-forth relationship with Brett Veach. I think he has evident strengths and weaknesses. I largely disagree with the mindset that he’s a top GM in the NFL, but he’s not a bad GM. To name some strengths, I think he’s good with the cap, he’s good at evaluating defensive backs, and his offensive line evaluations have been mainly great. But he’s also got some severe weaknesses, and none are more significant than his inability to evaluate linebackers.
Through the first two games of the season, Kansas City has been downright HORRIBLE at linebacker. What makes it even worse is how much we’ve invested at linebacker. This current group has three top 100 picks and a 10-million dollar linebacker on the roster. And they still absolutely suck. Yes, Willie Gay has been out to start the season, but that still leaves two top-100 picks and the expensive linebacker. There are no excuses.
To talk about guys a little more individually, Nick Bolton and Ben Niemann have been abysmal. Niemann’s not surprising, so I won’t spend time talking about him. What I really wanted to talk about was Bolton. Kansas City media has been propping Bolton up for his two performances as a rookie, and that’s driving me insane. It’s like we’re watching two separate games. Yes, he’s had some really impressive plays at the line of scrimmage. He’s got pop in the hands. But he’s not an NFL-caliber athlete at linebacker. Watching him try to move in space is painful. Bolton cannot change directions in any way. Who did I just describe? Reggie Ragland. Damien Wilson. Those guys were average to below-average starters for the Chiefs. That was fine for us because we didn’t pay a ton for those players. But Bolton was a top-60 pick, brought in to fix linebacker. I was not fond of the prospect at all, and I’ve been disappointed about him in the NFL.
Anthony Hitchens has been poor. Willie Gay can’t stay healthy. Brett Veach has put an absurd amount of money and draft picks into a linebacker, and this unit is most likely still the worst linebacker unit in the NFL. No GM should get fired for their linebacker management, but Veach would’ve been long gone by now if they did. Kansas City is giving up well over 200 yards per game as run defense, and a large part of that is because of our horrendous linebackers. This is an organizational failure to fix what’s been our biggest issue (outside of QB before Pat) in the Reid era.
#5: How Is This Defensive Line Still Underperforming?
How is it possible we have two 20-million dollar defensive linemen, multiple Day 2 draft picks, and a 7 million dollar defensive tackle, and we still underperform in the trenches? Steve Spagnuolo is known for having dominant defensive lines, but ours looks bad again. That’s frustrating to any fan on the outside because this team has spent so much on our defensive line.
I don’t even want to talk about Frank Clark today. I’m so beyond arguing about him. He was bad. Chris Jones might’ve been worse. Alex Okafor looked lost entirely on the field. Nnadi and Jarran Reed were getting blown off the ball every single play. This entire unit sucked. This group looked like they were going to be one of the strengths of this team in the preseason, but they stink once more. This is an indictment of the Spags-Veach era. They’ve spent so much on this defensive line and have gotten nothing but poor results outside of Jones. I don’t even know what to say about it besides that.
#6: The Juan-Sorensen Thing Is Really Weird
So one of the weirdest stories from last season was how Dan Sorensen never left the field ever and Juan Thornhill’s inconsistent snap counts. The staff wanted to believe some of it was a confidence thing after Thornhill’s injury, and he clearly wasn’t fully healthy. Even though I would still rather have 70% Juan over any Sorensen, I get the logic. Juan recovered in a very short amount of time from a major injury, so you don’t want to strain him.
The problem? It’s been the same story this season! It was especially prevalent in week 2, where Juan barely played. He was their 6th defensive back on 3rd downs, which was hardly ever given our run defense issues. Sorensen played every single snap this week, playing as the 2nd safety for this Chiefs defense.
I don’t even have an explanation for why this is the case. It makes zero sense to me. Kansas City will tell you it’s run defense, but Sorensen has been one of the worst run defending safeties I’ve ever seen this season. His tackling has been putrid, and he looks a step slower coming downhill. Sorensen’s always been a crappy run defender, but this season is different. Yeah, Juan’s also a lousy run defender, but what he provides with range, ball skills, and versatility is so much more valuable than Sorensen’s “tackling.” Kansas City seems to have lost trust in Thornhill, and I feel genuinely bad for him. He was so good in the Cleveland game, and this staff won’t give him a chance. And it actively costs this defense.
#7: I’m Over Chris Jones At Defensive End
One of the storylines of the offseason was Chris Jones’s move to defensive end. Jones has pleaded to play defensive end for years now, but the staff wasn’t willing to let him commit to it. But with concerns about the depth and Frank Clark’s offseason, the team finally gave him a shot to play out there. This seemed to motivate Chris this offseason more than any other because he came into camp in ridiculously good shape. He leaned out his body even more and added more flexibility to his frame with pilates and training.
And those things have shown up as a pass rusher. Jones had two sacks from defensive end in his 1st game, including a nasty inside swim where he showed his improved flexibility to cross-face and collapse the pocket. His improved explosiveness allowed him easier access around the corner for his 2nd sack. Jones was used as a dime DE last year and looked competent there, but his week one performance rushing the passer from DE looked as advertised.
But I’m so done with the Jones defensive end experiment.
And I know it’s incredibly early to say that. It’s Jones’s second game ever at defensive end. With more time and repetitions, the thought should be that he gets better at playing defensive end. And to a certain extent, that’s true. But he doesn’t look natural at defensive end in any way. I get Jones has ridiculous length and power in his hands, but he’s been abysmal as a run defender so far off the edge. Baltimore and Cleveland continually ran outside zone or Counter at his side, and Jones has no counters to it. He’s slow to read anything outside and slow to get his body out and set an edge. He’s been getting sealed off the edge so easily, and teams are going to attack him in space so easily. He’s a liability as a run defender off the edge.
I know Chris wants to play defensive end more. If he wants to rush the passer from there on 3rd downs, fine. Give him a few extra reps there for his DPOY case. But Chris can’t be a full-time defensive end anymore. It’s taking away from his insane production inside. I’ve seen enough of it.
#8: Spags, Veach, or Reid?
I probably could go off on another 2000 words about this topic alone, but it’s a combination of all three. To keep it short, I blame Spags for his consistent trust/development of poor linebackers, Veach’s inability to scout the front 7, and Reid’s tendency to have soft teams. Spags hasn’t developed a single linebacker since coming to Kansas City, and he’s been given plenty of resources to do it. Veach hasn’t hit on a single draft pick or signing on the front seven yet outside of Emmanuel Ogbah, who left after one year. Reid has always had softer teams, but this one may be the softest I’ve seen yet. I guess everyone on this roster must be allergic to taking on blocks because no one does it. The tackling has been even worse. That’s some of the give-and-take you have with Reid teams, but this team reminds me of the 2018 Chiefs in that way.
So yeah, all three of them having their own glaring holes has led to the current mess. That’s all I got for today.
#9: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Look, I’m going to try and be nice to Clyde. I loved Clyde predraft and have liked him since coming to Kansas City. His jersey hangs in my closet.
But at a certain point, we have to say it; he’s a bust.
Bust is a word I hate using. For example, I hated calling Sammy Watkins a bust. Yes, Watkins didn’t live up to his draft value, but he was still a legitimately good WR on successful passing offenses. He still brought a ton of value to the field, so how could you be a bust there.
But there’s no dancing around it; Clyde is a bust. He’s not the worst football player on the planet, but when you draft a running back at pick 32, he has to be better than what Clyde has done. There are no more excuses for Clyde. He’s playing with the best QB, WR, and TE on the planet. He has a Hall of Fame play-caller. This offensive line was fixed. It’s all on him. He’s had 26 carries so far, only for 89 yards. That’s 3.4 yards per carry. He’s added nothing to this offense as a receiver. He cost us a game this week. Clyde’s a bust and a bad look on Brett’s resume.
#10: Are Kansas City Still The Favorites If The Defense Doesn’t Get Better?
I didn’t know how to phrase this last question. The answer is pretty obvious. If Kansas City plays like the worst defense of all time, they’re not going back to the Super Bowl. Mahomes covers plenty of holes, but your roster has to have some balance on it to get where we want to go.
So, the question should be more about can the Chiefs’ defense improve? I mean, it almost has to, right? There’s no way they’re this bad the entire year with the talent we have on defense. We’re going to get Willie Gay back soon, and this defensive line should get clicking soon. Chris Jones is due for a hot streak soon. But is that enough?
Guys, I’m not sure. This offense is amazing and may end up being the best in the Mahomes era, but I don’t have a lot of faith in this defense. The lack of speed and physicality is really evident. Having a defense that can’t cover at the 2nd level while also being the worst run defense of all time is generally a bad combination, but that’s where we’re at. Spags will make adjustments that can help, but does anybody trust this defense to stop any good offense? At this point, I’m not sure how you could. And until I see more from there, I have serious doubts about Kansas City getting back and winning another Super Bowl, frankly.
Typical me. Writing over 2500 words about the Chiefs on a late Sunday night. I tried being short, guys. Anyways, I missed talking to people in the comment section. So I’m glad to be doing that again. You can yell at me if you want. I’ll take your rage. Go Chiefs.