Chiefs’ defense was main culprit in Sunday’s loss
The Chiefs suffered an ugly loss at home Sunday to the Buccaneers. The offense was by no means impressive, but the defense fell short this time.
Normally, I’m pretty quick to jump on the Chiefs offense and Alex Smith for being an average NFL quarterback. But Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay was a different story.
The offense, while stagnant at times Sunday, wasn’t the only responsible party for the embarrassing 19-17 loss to the Buccanneers at Arrowhead Stadium. Smith was 24 for 31 with 261 passing yards and two total touchdowns.
Although Smith only threw seven incomplete passes, he did account for red zone mishaps. Late in the game on a questionable play call by Andy Reid, Smith threw a ball into double coverage in the end zone that resulted in a Tampa Bay interception.
This is where the Chiefs failed on Sunday: third down defense. The Buccanneers imposed their will on third down against Kansas City, converting 69 percent of the time. Reid offered no real explanation as to what went wrong with the Chiefs on third down.
“Well, they [Tampa Bay] did a nice job of protecting, and they did a nice job of completing the ball on the outside,” Reid said. “That’s what it was. It’s not a secret. I’m not stating anything that isn’t obvious.”
The absence of Marcus Peters was definitely felt in the Chiefs secondary. “It’s hard to say that you’re just counting on just one guy,” said Reid after the game in regards to Peters’ absence. “It’s a team sport. He’s made some great plays for us, but listen, everybody else needs to step up, including myself and the rest of the coaches.”
The Chiefs only stopped Tampa Bay five times on third down and only forced two punts. Even when they did stop them, the Buccanneers were still able to get points (12) from field goals.
Obviously, the Chiefs missed Peters. But where was Eric Berry? Phillip Gaines? Dee Ford? Tamba Hali?
Berry had three tackles. Gaines was targeted all day in the secondary. He had five tackles, but zero pass deflections. Steven Nelson had a decent day in the secondary with seven solo tackles and one pass deflection.
Albeit the Chiefs defense had six tackles for a loss, they failed to register a single sack. We’ve learned by now that if the Chiefs defense can’t make plays and get pressure to the quarterback, then they are much more likely to struggle in the game’s outcome.
Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star had this to say postgame about the Chiefs defense:
Defensively, all you need to know is that the Chiefs forced an offense that has one dangerous receiver (Mike Evans) and a Pro Bowl running back who is still returning to form (Martin) to punt one time in the first 59 minutes of the game.
For the last few weeks, the defense has saved the day for the Chiefs. The offense is struggling, and by no means do I want to minimize the importance of their downfalls in recent weeks.
At the end of the day, the Chiefs still control their own destiny moving forward in 2016. Super Bowl hopes have weakened in Chiefs Kingdom, but they’re still alive. Everyone on the field needs to be better: the offense, Smith, defense and coaching staff.