Play-calling has been the Achilles heal for the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs fell victim to themselves again in the playoffs.
It’s easy for fans and media alike to sit at home and pick apart the Kansas City Chiefs week in and week out. Apparently the Chiefs coaching staff never watches film. Time after time , week after week, questionable calls at crucial times doomed the Chiefs and kept them from success. The home playoff loss to the Titans was a Polaroid picture of what was wrong with the Chiefs this season.
Finger pointing will be abundant for months to come, but quite simply, it all comes down play-calling. Absolutely, losing Travis Kelce hurt the offense. The missed field goal hurt too, but likely wouldn’t have been enough. The dropped passes did the Chiefs no favors either. Nothing bigger than the play-calling sent the Chiefs home, with a record sixth straight home playoff loss.
The only smart analysis going into this game was that the only way the Chiefs lose against the Titans is if they beat themselves. Checkmate.
One has to only focus on two stats to understand why the Chiefs are no longer playing football. Third downs on both sides of the ball and attempts by NFL rushing leader Kareem Hunt.
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3rd down and out
Against the Titans the Chiefs were only able to convert on 4 of 11 tries on third down. The Chiefs allowed 8 of 13 on defense.
In the fourth quarter the Chiefs failed on both 3rd and 1 and 3rd and 2. Neither play went to Kareem Hunt. It didn’t matter what 3rd and yardage it was for the Titans, as the Chiefs failed to make any crucial stops, including a 3rd and 10 late that would have given the Chiefs the ball down by one.
In six of the Chiefs seven total losses, they were unable to collect more than four 3rd down conversions. You simply cannot win football games that way.
Few runs for the NFL leader
Kareem Hunt had only 11 rush attempts in a game that the Chiefs had the lead for three quarters. In a game where the defense couldn’t stop the merely average running back Derrick Henry. Somehow he still didn’t get the ball, not even to control the clock. 11 attempts for 42 yards. He even scored a touchdown and averaged 3.8 yards a carry.
Five out of the Chiefs seven losses had Hunt carry the ball 11 times or less per game this season. In games he rushed 20 times or more, the Chiefs were undefeated. Note to the Chiefs staff in 2018, give him the ball.
Imbalance in the force
Too many games, such as the Titans loss, came down to lack of balance in the play-calling. Kareem Hunt should have had a pretty heavy workload during the second half, he did not, and that’s an understatement. Smith’s production as well as the passing game in general fell flat when Travis Kelce went down with his concussion.
That didn’t stop the Chiefs from continuing to try.
On top of Hunt not getting a chance to help win this game, the Chiefs constantly saw their third down plays get blown apart. Most of those plays that gone blown to bits, were from friendly fire. On 3rd down and 9 yards to go we saw a negative pass play. On 3rd and forever, we saw a pass play that didn’t even come close to gaining yards.
There was no matriculating the ball down the field on this day, especially after the first half. Consistently imperfect, the Chiefs started fast and furious, almost looking unstoppable. All for nothing as they have only had a two gallon fuel tank to drive with.
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Things will never be the same in Kansas City come next season, and that’s a good thing. Andy Reid needs to fix this team, and do it quickly, or his seasons here will be numbered.