Three Biggest Questions Surrounding Chiefs Early On – Sports Illustrated
The Kansas City Chiefs are probably very pleased with a 2-0 start to the season.
While that start leads to satisfying feelings within the team and the fanbase alike, there are still issues that have shown themselves over the first few weeks that need to improve if Kansas City wants to compete for a Super Bowl later this year.
The questions surrounding the Chiefs aren’t new ones; they are questions that were around before the season started. There were possible answers on the roster, however the issue is that those answers have not materialized through two games. Let’s take a look at three of the biggest questions that still need to be resolved.
Will the Chiefs’ offensive tackle play improve?
The Chiefs’ offensive line is strong. There’s no doubt about that statement. At least 25 other teams in the NFL would trade their offensive line for the Chiefs’ offensive line.
There is still an issue, though: the tackle play is subpar.
The Chiefs’ offensive line is built strangely because the fourth and fifth-best offensive linemen are at both tackle spots. This is a counter to all conventional roster-building logic due to how important rushing the quarterback off the edge is in the modern NFL. Almost all of the best pass rushers do it from the edge.
While the Chiefs’ tackles (specifically Orlando Brown Jr.) struggling is understandable due to one game being against Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, the tackle duo is going to see that pair of edge rushers and other elite pairs more often in a stacked AFC. For example, the Bills’ defensive line is also strong behind a youthful-looking Von Miller. Simply put, the Chiefs need their tackles to hold up better than what has transpired so far.
Will a secondary pass-rusher emerge as a legitimate threat?
Chris Jones has been incredible to start the year for the Chiefs in the middle of the defensive line.
Jones’s elite play was a huge reason why the Chiefs’ defense could do well against the Los Angeles Chargers. However, they once again have an issue with another pass rusher not stepping up to truly complement Chris Jones.
This isn’t to say that the Chiefs’ pass rush has not been better than last year, because it has. George Karlaftis does have a fair number of pressures so far this year at nine, but three of those came against Arizona Cardinal backups and Karlaftis has only turned two of those pressures into quarterback hits.
This was the big issue for the Chiefs last year. The defense actually ranked incredibly high in pressure rate last year but was 29th in sacks. While pressures are a great metric to look at because sack rates will eventually follow pressure rates, the Chiefs do need to convert these pressures into sacks eventually. Letting the likes of Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow and such escape the pocket following a pressure is not necessarily a win for the defense.
That means a player like Frank Clark, Karlaftis, Carlos Dunlap or Mike Danna needs to step up and turn pressures into sacks. It does not need to be at the rate Chris Jones has done so, but who else is capable of delivering a timely sack on a third-and-long? This is paramount against the gauntlet of quarterbacks in the AFC.
Will a consistent wide receiver please stand up?
The Chiefs’ offense will probably be fine without one of the new wide receivers being a true No. 1 or “alpha.” A small issue is that the early returns on the new group of wideouts are lukewarm.
There have been snaps where a few of the new wide receivers have made nice plays but the impact of the receivers as a whole has not been substantial. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a player known for his blazing field-stretching speed, has not been utilized down the field much at all. Juju Smith-Schuster has 11 targets through two games and has been solid overall but expectations were higher for the 25-year-old wide receiver. Skyy Moore has barely played in the first two games.
On the first deep ball touchdown to Valdes-Scantling, the first eight-catch game by Smith-Schuster or the first five-touch game for Moore, this doubt will subside but it will still be soothing to see the Chiefs’ investments at wide receiver show off.
Throughout the first two weeks of the season, the Chiefs have questions that need to be answered. These questions are continuations of offseason storylines that drove the team’s offseason. The Chiefs have the players that could turn into answers for these questions, but that has not shown to be the case yet.
A foray against the Colts in Week 3 could be the perfect medium for answers.