The Kansas City Chiefs held off the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football. While the offense stalled often, the defense earned their checks. It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. The report cards are in. Who’s stock is either rising or falling entering the bye week? Let’s find out with this week’s version of three up and three down.
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Frank Clark had his best performance as a Chief. This was the exact player that Brett Veach and company envisioned when they traded for him back in April. He enjoyed an advantageous matchup against a pitiful Chargers offensive line. More importantly, he pressured Philip Rivers all game long and was stuck in his head.
His pressures led to a sack, three quarterback hits and a pass defensed. Clark created lame duck throws by Rivers, in which he threw four interceptions on the night. For example, on one of his pass rushes, Clark hit Rivers’ arm and the ball wound up in the waiting arms of Derrick Nnadi. He forced a holding penalty in crunch time. Additionally, he made a massive stop for a loss on a 3rd and 2 run attempt by the Chargers late in the game. Clark has been playing hurt. But, this was the quickest and most instinctive he had looked all season. The Chiefs hope Clark can keep this performance up after the bye.
Tyreek Hill got hurt early. Furthermore, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson were not getting consistent touches. In a slow night for the offense, Travis Kelce unleashed for a big night. He makes it look so simple to find the soft spot in zone coverage. This provides easy, quick throws for Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes did not have his best night. However, Kelce was reliable when he needed him. He kept the chains moving and tired out the LA defense. Overall, Kelce finished with seven catches for 92 yards, including a touchdown catch for 31 yards.
The Kansas City secondary has had strong play against the pass for a while now. Cornerback seemed to be the weakest part of the roster entering the season. However, players like Charvarius Ward, Bashaud Breeland and Rashad Fenton have come a long way. Ward is playing like a lockdown corner as of late, attacking the football. Fenton exudes confidence, while filling in for the role of Kendall Fuller. Breeland has cut down on the penalties, and continues to be a sure tackler.
Meanwhile, the safeties are even coming up big. Tyrann Mathieu‘s attitude can be felt throughout the defense. He flew around and had one of the four interceptions. How about Daniel Sorensen? He can be out of place in this scheme. But, he made crucial plays in the red zone. Most of all, his interception in the end zone sealed the game for the Kansas City Chiefs.
While the pass defense against opposing receivers has been positive, the coverage against running backs has been detrimental. Austin Ekeler was gashing the Chiefs all night long on dump off passes. Ben Niemann has made a few good plays. But, most of those stronger results came last year and not this year. He must have some kind of dirt on the coaching staff or something. It is questionable how big of a role he has. On the other hand, Dorian O’Daniel who can cover, has not hardly played any defensive snaps. It is time to test out a new body at coverage linebacker in the immediate future.
We mentioned how important Kelce was to the offense’s minimal success. The receivers looked to get out of dodge though, and get out of Mexico City as quick as they could. Hill only played six snaps before injuring his hamstring.
In his absence, Watkins, Hardman and Robinson were no where to be found. This cover 3 matchup favored Sammy heavily. Instead, he was hardly noticed or mentioned by the announcers. To boot, Hardman and Robinson were hardly ever used to try and beat the man coverage with their blazing speed. As a whole, these three receivers finished with just four catches for 39 yards. Kansas City will hope to see a spark from this group down the stretch.
It was another week where Andy Reid put the Chiefs in difficult situations. As often as the Chargers gave the game away, the Chiefs could not ice it. The players are the ones who are supposed to execute. However, the play calling was constantly infuriating in crunch time. Screen passes were having little to no success, yet Reid kept calling for it. Consequently, a questionable rollout on third down led to Mahomes going down for a loss. It is important for the Chiefs, their offense and Andy Reid to keep the gas pedal down against opponents. Keep being aggressive and don’t let the opposing defense breathe.
That concludes this week’s version of three up and three down. Be on the lookout for more Chiefs content throughout this week. Stay tuned to Full Press Coverage, for more great sports and NFL content.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.