Linebacker Derrick Johnson and punter Dustin Colquitt are the Chiefs’ elder statesmen, players in their 13th seasons who have experienced just about every joy and frustration an NFL season has to offer.
They’re as stunned as anyone over the team’s current slide, which grew to five losses in six games with Sunday’s 16-10 home loss to the Buffalo Bills, but also know the way out of the skid is to first look inward instead of pointing fingers.
That would be easy to do on a day in which the Chiefs mustered a season-low 236 yards of total offense against a team that allowed 135 points in a three-game losing streak it carried into Arrowhead Stadium.
“I’ve been in this league long enough, and I’ve been in worse situations than this honestly,” Johnson said. “You don’t point fingers. You can strike a better blow if you curl up your fingers and get tight.”
Besides, Johnson said, the Chiefs’ defense didn’t come up with enough big plays of its own.
“If we blamed the offense, we can say we didn’t get a turnover,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to get a turnover to create moments of momentum. We played good yardage-wise but didn’t change momentum, and that’s where we dropped the ball.”
The Chiefs appeared to have one, when cornerback Marcus Peters had tracked a Tyrod Taylor lob pass to tight end Charles Clay. The ball was headed directly toward both of them, but Peters whiffed on the pick and Clay turned the play into a 33-yard gain.
The Bills got a field goal on the possession, which occurred right after the Chiefs had scored their lone touchdown to make it 13-10 in the third quarter.
Colquitt also accepted responsibility when he couldn’t punt the Chiefs out of a hole early in the second quarter and the Bills set up at the Chiefs’ 44. That possession turned into a field goal that increased the Buffalo lead to 10-0.
“I attribute a lot of the first half to field position,” Colquitt said. “We’re used to having field position in the positive and I didn’t do that in the first half.”
So, more shouldering than pointing from the Chiefs’ longest tenured veterans. They’ve battled through a 1-5 start in 2015, a season that ended in the playoffs and included their lone postseason victory. This losing run matches that one for the worst six-game stretch of the Andy Reid era in Kansas City.
They were part of a nightmarish 2-14 season in 2012, division championships in 2010 and 2016 and a total of 10 victories during 2007-09. Reid is their fifth head coach. Alex Smith is the fifth regular quarterback.
Johnson knows these are bad times, but he also knows fortunes can change.
“The ball has been rolling downhill, and the more losses you get the harder it is to keep the ball from rolling in the wrong direction,” Johnson said. “We need one win, however we can get it, we need to get it.
“It doesn’t look good right now.”