The Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 24-10 on Sunday at StubHub Center. Here, KC Star beat writer Terez A. Paylor answers Twitter questions about tight end Travis Kelce’s quiet day, the sustainability of Kareem Hunt’s workload and why the Chiefs have been penalized so much.
We had an amusing conversation about this on our postgame podcast –– please check it out if you get a chance –– but after taking a quick glance at the coaches’ tape, I think the Chargers did some things to take Kelce away. For instance: Many times, when Kelce was attached to the line of scrimmage with his hand in the dirt, they placed outside linebacker Melvin Ingram head-up on him to beat him up a bit. There were also times when the Chargers’ underneath defenders ducked under Kelce’s routes and sagged toward him to discourage throws. NFL teams can take away anyone if they truly put their mind to it. Now, could Andy Reid have dialed up some things to get Kelce the ball, regardless? Sure. He could have called more screens, or used the Kelce “wildcat” package, or called more plays where Kelce would have been the first option. But it’s hard to look at the tape and come away with any sort of justification for Kelce’s lack of targets, other than the Chargers did some things to take him away, and the Chiefs decided to go to other players.
Glad you asked. Reid said Monday that the Chiefs will keep giving Hunt the ball as long as he can hold up. That said, Hunt isn’t a big guy –– 5 feet 10 and 208 pounds –– and I think he’s been having some shoulder issues based on the way he’s carried himself after certain hits during games. Hunt is a tough guy, and he’ll fight through it, but the Chiefs would be wise to let Charcandrick West and some of the receivers with running back skills –– such as Tyreek Hill and De’Anthony Thomas –– shoulder a little bit more of the load. I wouldn’t be surprised if another back not currently on the roster logs some carries at some point this season.
Despite their 3-0 record, the Chiefs have been whistled for the most penalties (33) and penalty yards (301) in the NFL. No one really cares, because the Chiefs are undefeated, but it’s definitely OK to be concerned about this. Only three of those penalties have been “swagger” penalties –– unsportsmanlike-conduct or taunting penalties –– which means the overwhelming majority of the flags have come for undisciplined play. Reid knows it’s an issue, and something that needs to be corrected. But the aggressiveness with which they play shouldn’t be tamped down, either. It’s a fine line the Chiefs will be walking from this point out.
The Chiefs rank 18th in the league in run defense, allowing 111.7 yards per game. That’s a tad better than their 26th-place finish in 2016, when they surrendered 121.1 yards per game. I do think they’ve been a little bit better than that, just based on the eye test, and defenders seem to be doing a better job shedding blockers in the box. But this will continue to be an area of focus going forward, one that needs to see improvement for the Chiefs to get where they ultimately want to go.
I talked to Parker last week, and he said he felt as good as he did before his season-ending injury last year. But one thing to keep in mind is this, folks: Football players, by nature, are very tough individuals. That’s doubly true for linemen, who are bred to never miss snaps, let alone games. I’m sure Parker does feel like he can play. But there could be difference, at least right now, in how good he feels and how good he actually plays in practice. Reid hinted that was the case yesterday, when he said he thought Ehinger was a “little ways away” based off practice last week. But you never know in the NFL; the guy could be back out there sooner than later. If he was really banged up and not on a good track, he’d be on injured reserve to start the season.