Chiefs

Chiefs Blitz: A look at the good, the bad and the ugly from Sunday’s loss to the Steelers

Chiefs defensive back Kurt Coleman (27) and inside linebacker Josh Mauga (90) talked Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26).
Chiefs defensive back Kurt Coleman (27) and inside linebacker Josh Mauga (90) talked Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26). The Kansas City Star

Do tell the truth

1. How big of a problem is Alex Smith’s arm strength?

The impetus for this question is Smith’s inexcusable overthrow of a wide-open Albert Wilson on a post route in the first half. This marks the second week in a row Wilson could have scored a touchdown with a better throw on that route. However, the Chiefs knew what Smith was when they signed him to an extension before the season. He’s a caretaker who makes good decisions and needs ample talent around him to maximize that strength. The belief here about Smith still hasn’t changed — they can win with him — but throws like that, and other wobbly downfield passes Sunday, have to shake his believers’ confidence.

2. Why didn’t Jamaal Charles get the ball more?

Charles finished the game with 14 touches for 77 yards, which isn’t quite enough for a star player in a gotta-have-it game. But the answer to this is simple: He’s hurt. Charles could be seen limping slightly on the sideline on at least one occasion Sunday, and he’s been listed on the injury report with knee and ankle injuries all week long.

3. Should the Chiefs have gone for it on fourth down late in the second quarter?

You could make a compelling case either way. It’s fourth and 1 at the Steelers’ 12, and you’re trailing 10-6. If you take the points, you’re still trailing going into halftime. If you get a first down, you have the chance to score a momentum-turning touchdown. In the end, I was OK with the decision to go for it. But I wasn’t crazy about the play call, a handoff to Charles behind a left side of the line that struggled in the first half. I personally prefer quicker-hitting stuff in gotta-have-it situations.

4. Speaking of the O-line, I thought you said Eric Fisher was getting better?

I did say that, and I stand by it. Look, there’s no dressing up what happened Sunday — he allowed at least one sack and played a key role in their fourth-and-1 stuff late in the second quarter. But the eye tests say he certainly has looked better this season, and stats provided by Pro Football Focus back that up. He is still a young player who needs to get stronger.

5. What about the defense? How did it fare Sunday?

Well, it didn’t get much help from the offense, which came up short in the red zone on multiple occasions. The defense deserves credit for containing Le’Veon Bell. But the Chiefs predictably struggled to handle the cat-quick Antonio Brown, and tight end Heath Miller also gashed them. A turnover or two would have been nice. But at the end of the day, you can pin this one largely on an offense that didn’t get the job done.

The number

337 Passes the Chiefs have thrown without a wide-receiver touchdown.

| Terez A. Paylor, tpaylor@kcstar.com.

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