Following the KC Chiefs’ 38-31 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, beat writer Terez A. Paylor answered Twitter questions about the defensive issues, Alex Smith’s last stand (?) plus the actual impact of the Chiefs’ play-calling switch and much more in an extended postgame mailbag.
Defense, defense, defense. They were awful. The Jets’ offense really isn’t that talented. Their skill players don’t exactly strike fear in you, aside from Robby Anderson, but Jermaine Kearse lit them up for nine catches and 157 yards while the Jets also converted 13 of 20 third downs. I’m sorry, but that’s embarrassing. Josh McCown shouldn’t be lighting these guys up that way.
Both. Do I think defensive coordinator Bob Sutton could stand to be more creative? Sure. But at this point, I think many players are putting blame on themselves, as they should. Remember how devastating the Chiefs’ pass rush looked in Week 2 against the Eagles? Everybody was getting after Carson Wentz, and that was against one of the best offensive lines in football. Where has that front seven gone? A better pass rush would sure go a long way to preventing opponents from ripping the secondary apart the way it did today. Even though they totaled five quarterback hits, you have to actually get home sometimes. Also, why can’t the defensive backs make plays on the ball anymore? Where are the turnovers? Players have to make plays, though Sutton is the one in charge of making it all work. He takes his share of blame for this, too.
Guys, I know you want to see The Kid. I get it. He’s got a rocket arm, he’s a gunslinger and he’s gonna be fun as heck to watch. But come on. Alex Smith just completed 19 of 33 passes for 366 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 70 yards. He’ll start against the Raiders next Sunday because he had a strong game with his back against the wall. By the way, you want to start the quarterback who gives you the best chance to win that game, which could help decide the AFC West hunt. Remember, three of the Chiefs’ last four games are against AFC West rivals. If they win out, they can essentially punch their ticket to a home playoff game, which means additional revenue for chairman Clark Hunt. Yes, I do believe they’ll take that. So yes, Smith — the 12-year veteran — should get the nod instead of a player who has never thrown an NFL pass.
I’d caution you guys against reading too much into that. Yes, offensive coordinator Matt Nagy took a greater role in calling plays. But as I reported, Reid still installed the plays during the week — which is a big deal — and they managed to score two touchdowns early off the scripted play sheet, which Reid had a hand in putting together. So yes, Sunday’s improved performance was a collaborative effort … just like it has been all season. Nagy just had more say in when the plays they liked this week were called, which is not unlike what Reid did in 2015 with Doug Pederson. Players have also talked a lot about Nagy’s influence in the offense — always in positive terms — so it’s not like he hasn’t already had plenty of input. Reid likes him and sees him as a potential head coach one day, so it makes sense he’d continue to incorporate him into the process.
Fans are always quick to yell “THIS TEAM HAS NO LEADERS” when a team starts losing, but at this point, it’s fair to question where the strong voices are in this locker room. Good teams with true alpha dog leaders who regularly hold teammates accountable don’t lose six of seven, especially with losses to the likes of the Giants and Jets. I think Travis Kelce is trying, and so is Ron Parker. I know teammates listen to Justin Houston, and they all respect Alex Smith’s toughness and intelligence. But if this season ends up going completely off the rails, the Chiefs absolutely need to make a priority to bring in more men with strong football character.
I’m not sure this can be said enough times — Eric Berry is the heart and soul of this team, and while I’m told he’s been around, you can’t lead the same way when you’re not on the field. They miss his guts, his toughness and knack for making plays. They miss his ability to reach players in multiple corners of the locker room. His return, even if he isn’t the same physically, will provide an enormous boost, both on and off the field. This team went 5-1 in the games after he got injured, but they’ve been unable to stem the tide now that adversity has hit. You need players who can hold things together, demand more of each other and keep everyone focused on the same goal. Berry fits the mold, but the Chiefs need to add a few more players like that to the mix this offseason.
Reid has never — not once — crushed Peters in the media, and there’s a reason for that. I personally don’t believe that anything —– anything — good would come of that. It’s already been a tumultuous season for Peters, with the anthem stuff and the criticism he’s taken from his own fans. All criticizing him would do is give Peters’ critics more ammo and validate their issues, which would only alienate one of the league’s best young corners. I also believe there’s a chance doing that would also decrease Reid’s standing with some players in the locker room, who would see it as Reid going against his “team, team, team” mantra of sticking together. That’s a quick way to lose a locker room full of grown men, my friend.
I don’t think so — I generally think they played pretty hard today. They didn’t lay down, and you can count the number of games in which they’ve quit on Reid on one hand during his five-year tenure. I see their struggles as more of a talent and scheme issue, but we’re at the point where everything needs to start being discussed.
Yes, I’m blaming the defense. And the personal-foul penalty that extended the drive was BRUTAL. Thing is, I’m not sure Bennie Logan — who was whistled for hitting a defensiveless player — could have done anything different. He rushed the backside “A” gap, as he’d done all game, and was whistled for the penalty this time. The timing of it was horrible. Another bad break for the unlucky Chiefs.
Woof. Given Andy Reid’s history against the AFC West — 13 wins in the last 14 games — and three of the last four games against AFC West opponents, I suppose I have to say they will. But I don’t feel good about it, and I certainly don’t feel good about their ability to even win the home playoff game that would ensue in the wild-card round.