Red Zone

Ask Terez: Is Giants loss “rock bottom,” can this offense be fixed before 2018 and more

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw a shovel pass in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Chiefs ended up losing 12-9 in overtime.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw a shovel pass in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Chiefs ended up losing 12-9 in overtime. deulitt@kcstar.com

Following the KC Chiefs’ 12-9 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, beat writer Terez A. Paylor answered Twitter questions about whether this loss is rock bottom, whether the offense can be fixed and more.

Yeah, you guys should be annoyed and angry. I’m the guy that picked this team to win by 21 points in my weekly Chiefs Gameplan feature, largely because the Giants were the worst team I’ve studied all year. Their offensive tackles were liabilities in pass protection, they struggled to run the ball, they only had two weapons at the skill position (one of them was Evan Engram, who did nothing, and the other was Sterling Shepard, who didn’t play) and the defense’s best player (cornerback Janoris Jenkins) didn’t seem to be into the game last week, when the Giants lost to the winless San Francisco 49ers. If you’re a Super Bowl team, you’re supposed to destroy this team, especially after a bye. There’s no excuse for it, and I won’t be referring to this group as a Super Bowl contender again until they make some major strides in multiple areas.

Funny stuff. The Chiefs should still finish with a winning record, but there’s no telling what that will be right now. Maybe it’s nine games, maybe it’s 10, maybe it’s 11. But the truth is they hardly have the look of a team that can do any damage in the playoffs. They can’t make teams pay for stacking up against the run, teams have consistently had success running the ball and throwing at the tight end and No. 2 receiver, and the Chiefs are also among the most penalized teams in football, which is hardly ideal. Now, I don’t think you guys should give up on them completely; Andy Reid is STILL a good coach, and many of the key figures of the 5-0 start are still healthy, though some (Chris Conley, Albert Wilson, Dee Ford, Allen Bailey) are missed.

You guys are going to hate this answer, but whatever. The only vehicle for in-season change/improvement on offense is –– wait for it –– continued self-scouting and more reps. That’s it. Many of you are calling for Patrick Mahomes. Okay. The kid is very talented, and he’s going to be a very good player in this league. But if you still believe this team can go to the Super Bowl, you need to stick with Alex Smith. No rookie quarterback has ever won a Super Bowl, and there’s a reason for that. This league is hard, and you’ve got to take some bullets before you can shine on the premier stages. So in the absence of a change at quarterback, you’ve got to keep working, keep improving. Let Alex and Demarcus Robinson continue to build chemistry (two of the Chiefs’ interceptions were intended for him). Continue to let the offensive line work its way back into shape and get back into a rhythm with Kareem Hunt. Start taking advantage of some of the deep shots defenses are giving you (all eyes on you, Alex). In the absence of that? The only vehicle for more help is free agency and the draft. Sorry.

This is a good reminder that the Chiefs’ last draft was not one that offered much immediate help. What if the Chiefs took another corner in the first round instead of trading up for Mahomes? What if they took a more pro-ready defensive or offensive prospect than Tanoh Kpassagnon in the second round? Kareem Hunt has offered immediate help, but fourth-rounder Jehu Chesson, fifth-rounder Ukeme Eligwe and sixth-rounder Leon McQuay were all long-term prospects, too. The Chiefs sure didn’t draft like they were all in on the Super Bowl this season, but I really liked the prospects they took (especially Mahomes, Kpassagnon and Hunt) and I still think those three, in particular, will develop into really good players.

Reid was asked after the game why he started Phillip Gaines as the third corner instead of Kenneth Acker (the starter for the previous two games) or Terrance Mitchell (the starter for the first seven). Here’s what he said.

“He deserved an opportunity to play on the outside,” Reid said. “He’d been playing on the inside at nickel so we gave him an opportunity there.”

Gaines gave up a long throw that led to the game-winning field goal in overtime. That cornerback spot continues to be a problem as teams opt to leave Marcus Peters alone. Don’t be surprised if the Chiefs invest their first pick next spring (a second-rounder) in a corner with ball skills. Someone needs to make teams pay for avoiding Peters.

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