From penalties to an inability to take advantage of turnovers, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid had plenty to digest on what went wrong in Sunday’s 31-24 loss to the Houston Texans.
One area, though, jumped out from the box score. And Reid felt compelled to address it after seeing the Texans emerge victorious with a head-turning 39:48-20:12 edge in time of possession.
“Our time of possession is way out of whack,” coach Andy Reid said. “So, when given opportunities to stay on the field, we’ve got to make sure we do that offensively and get off the field defensively.”
Reid pointed to the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss as a “great example” of the Chiefs’ inability to sustain drives and get off the field.
The Chiefs had two possessions in the fourth quarter, both resulting in punts, while their defense endured lining up against the Texans’ 21 offensive snaps — included their game-winning 12-play, 93-yard drive, capped by Deshaun Watson’s 1-yard touchdown run.
That drive consumed 8 minutes, 32 seconds off the clock, marking the second straight week that the Chiefs allowed a double digit-play drive in the fourth quarter of a close game.
Outside of saying he could do a better job of calling plays, Reid pointed out some of the things that the Chiefs could improve upon, and thus aid in their quest for more time of possession: not dropping passes and gaining more yards in the run game.
But there’s a problem with the latter area, as the Chiefs haven’t shown a commitment to the running game in two straight losses.
In their first four games of the season, all wins, the Chiefs rushed more than 20 times on average, topping the 100-yard rushing mark as a team in three of four matchups. Kansas City also won the time of possession battle in its first two games of the season.
The Chiefs haven’t replicated that success since, a span of four games.
In Weeks 5 and 6, the Chiefs ran ball a total of 25 times for 89 yards, an average of 44.5 yards per game, despite being in close games: both defeats ended in one-possession scores. And it’s not like the Chiefs faced some of the elite run defenses in the league in the past two games, as the Colts entered Week 5 ranked 25th against the run (the Texans ranked a more respectable 12th).
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, a former NFL running back, absorbed some of the responsibility.
“I guess I’ve become a sellout now; I’m the biggest offender,” Bieniemy said Monday. “But, yeah, we do need to run the ball.”
The Chiefs have three capable running backs, in LeSean McCoy, Damien Williams and Darrel Williams. The 31-year-old McCoy, in particular, is a two-time All-Pro selection and six-time Pro Bowler in his accomplished 11-year career.
After averaging 101.8 yards rushing through the first four games of the regular season, the Chiefs now average 84.7 yards per game to rank 24th in the league.
One factor in play when it comes to the Chiefs deciding whether to stick with their running game out is having the athletic Patrick Mahomes under center with a run-pass option.
“We give our quarterback an opportunity to make the best read for us because we don’t want to second-guess exactly what he’s doing,” Bieniemy said. “If they’re not going to cover us on the perimeter, we want to make sure we’re taking advantage of what they’re not doing.
“But at the end of the day, we’re calling the runs. We just got to make sure that we’re executing the run scheme that we’re calling.”
The Chiefs’ issues on both sides of the football run deeper than just the absence of a consistent running game, but evening out their time of possession disparity wouldn’t hurt.
Ultimately, it boils down to attention to detail from all 11 players.
“Offensively, we’re just not clicking,” Bieniemy said. “We’re not getting it done, so when I talk about us as a group, I’m talking all of us. We need to make sure we’re executing and performing at a high level.”