Consider this checklist of blunders for one Chiefs game: 15 penalties, the second most by the team in franchise history, and 139 penalty yards, their fourth-most all-time.
Turnover battle, lost. Special teams? Sloppy, said the Chiefs’ position-group coach.
Oh, and post those negatives against the defending Super Bowl champion and this year’s favorite in a charged away stadium in the season opener.
What part of that sounds like a 15-point victory for the visitors?
Yet the Chiefs overcame those entries on the stats sheet at New England last Thursday, and from a coaching perspective, that puts them in a good place entering Sunday’s home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Chiefs coaches have plenty of frightening film-room material — cornerback Terrance Mitchell’s three penalties in coverage and poor blocking on De’Anthony Thomas kick returns, to name a couple of examples.
This week, they’ve been warning that a similar performance could cost them a victory against the Eagles.
“We did a lot of great things,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said. “We also did a lot of things we can correct.”
Starting with the penalty flags. The Chiefs have been penalized more often in a game only once: 17 times in a 1998 loss at Seattle.
“If you want to be a championship-caliber team, then, as you evolve, you have to get rid of those,” coach Andy Reid said. “You have to eliminate some of these dumb things.”
The Chiefs actually were penalized 18 times at New England; three of those flags were declined. And there was a variety of offenses.
Outside linebacker Dee Ford was called offside on consecutive snaps. Safety Daniel Sorsensen was a 12th man on the field. Thomas was flagged for interference on a fair catch. Tight end Travis Kelce got dinged for taunting.
“We had a lot of self-inflicted mistakes, penalties being a part of that,” quarterback Alex Smith said.
Special teams coach Dave Toub liked little about his group’s effort, which didn’t produce much in the way of returns, although the kick coverage was solid.
“We were sloppy on special teams,” Toub said. “We coached them hard this week because we were so sloppy … we had missed blocks. We almost gave up two punt blocks. We were not ourselves. We have to fix that up this week, especially this week because we’re going up against a good group.”
Correct. The Eagles take immense pride in their special teams, ranking, along with Chiefs, among the NFL’s best.
“The Eagles are excellent,” Toub said. “That’s where we want to be.”
As for losing the turnover battle against the Patriots — another unusual occurrence for a team that tied for first in takeaway ratio last season — that didn’t turn out badly.
Running back Kareem Hunt lost a fumble on the Chiefs’ first snap (and his first pro rushing attempt). But the Patriots failed to convert on a fourth-and-1 from the 10, and the Chiefs embarked on a 90-yard touchdown drive, with Hunt getting the first carry of that drive, too.
That was prevailing storyline throughout the game. There were enough terrific plays — Smith’s touchdown bombs to Tyreek Hill and Hunt, Hunt’s overall performance, a pair of fourth-down stops, Justin Houston’s two sacks — to overcome the mistakes.
But the Chiefs don’t want to make a habit of having to overcome errors.