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What does the Chiefs loss in Los Angeles mean?

Jessica Begley, Sports Editor

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With four seconds left on the clock, down by one, the Los Angeles Chargers decided to go for 2 instead of going for a PAT which would tie the game. This aggressiveness is exactly what helped the Chargers beat the Chiefs and reach an 11-3 record.

This leads to the question of who is to blame for the Chiefs’ loss? Obviously, the Chargers just played a better game, and were able to come in clutch. The Chiefs pulled a Chiefs and blew a game. And most fingers are pointed at defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, rightfully so.

While, the offense could have performed better, the bottom line is the Patrick Mahomes and crew put up 28 points and gave the defense a 14-point lead to defend with only seven minutes remaining in the game.

The Chiefs defense has been really, really, really bad this year, but this wasn’t always the case. From 2012-2016, the Chiefs defense was absolutely loaded with stars such as Eric Berry, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Sean Smith, Dontari Poe, Marcus Peters, and many more. For those years, the Chiefs had an elite defense that carried Alex Smith and the Chiefs’ offense.

Only two of the players previously mentioned are still on the Chiefs, and the defense has been struggling to adapt. While it is easy to get distracted by the Chiefs amazing offense, the Chiefs cannot win a championship with this defense. No matter if Mahomes can throw bombs with his right and left hands, if the Chiefs defense continues to give up an average of 409 yards and 27 points per game, they will not make it far in the playoffs.

While the defense has fallen because of the quality of players, the biggest reason is Sutton. Sutton likes to do what he wants and doesn’t cater to the strengths and weaknesses of his roster. The Chiefs secondary is just not good. With Berry only returning this week, it has been depleted. With a weak secondary, Sutton shouldn’t be consistently deploying nickel and dime packages. In fact, the Chiefs are in the top three in that category.

The Chiefs do still have talent on defense, Chris Jones, Justin Houston, and Dee Ford to name a few. Sutton should place more focus on the strengths of the defense, and there would be more success. He cannot force his schemes without adapting to his personnel.

Kansas City cannot afford to repeat history. The Chiefs are not good in big games. The Chiefs shutout against Houston in the wildcard in 2016 was their first home playoff win in more than 20 years. Other than that, they have not been successful. Look no further than the 28-point lead blown against the Colts in 2014, the second biggest lead blown in NFL playoff history. Or in 2017, when the Chiefs had a first-round bye, but lost to the Steelers in the divisional round, even though they did not score a single touchdown. And of course, last year, when the Chiefs blew another lead to the Titans, and literally let Marcus Mariota throw a touchdown pass to… himself.

While those losses also came at the hands of Smith not being able to rally up the offense in the second half, it is crucial to look at the past and try not to repeat it.

Although the Chiefs still hold the first seed in the AFC, it is important to acknowledge this loss, and evaluate what it can mean for the Chiefs come playoff time. The Chiefs will not make it far into the playoffs if changes are not made to the defense.

 

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