After a sloppy offensive performance in week two against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Kansas City Chiefs come back to GEHA Field at Arrowhead to take on the Chicago Bears. For this tilt, I expect a much better showing by the offense, and I believe this team is beginning to understand the sum of the pieces are ultimately going to work together to heal some of their self-inflicted wounds and bring home their second win on the young season.
As last week’s game progressed, the offense began to get into a rhythm. We saw Isaiah Pacheco rip off a 31-yard carry and Skyy Moore pull in a 54-yard toss from a scrambling Patrick Mahomes to seal the win. Just these two plays tell me the run game is still a vibrant option for this offense and the young receivers have a better grasp on what to do when Mahomes leaves the pocket.
Depending on who you ask, the tackle play was troubling. Jawaan Taylor had four penalties on the day but still was graded the top tackle of the week, despite being benched for a couple of snaps. The Lions were frustrated that he wasn’t getting called for false starts and illegal formation in week one and I think the officiating was a bit hard-core on the Chiefs tackle. Taylor simply needs to adjust his stance and timing to avoid being a constant focus for the officials.
Donovan Smith did a decent job on the blindside, but he can get better, as well. Again, both are new, and blocking for Mahomes requires extra focus, and I suspect they will come around. You can’t play with an All-World interior group and not elevate your play to match their effort. Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, and Trey Smith are elite, and I marvel at the effort and results these guys bring to the offense.
It was great to see Travis Kelce back in action, but he needs game more game action to knock a little bit of rust off. The nearly 34-year-old is going to be playing beat the clock for the next few years but if Patrick Mahomes is pulling the trigger, Kelce will be there as the go-to target.
Defensively, Chris Jones was a one-man wrecking crew. What Jones brings to the table is intangibles, and his new moniker should be disruptor-in-chief. After his one-game holdout, he recorded 1.5 sacks, a big-time pass deflection, and two quarterback hits on Trevor Lawrence. Playing half the snaps, he lined up inside and outside and applied constant pressure in the backfield. Against the Bears, I Expect an even better performance.
After just two games, the Chicago Bears have the 31st-ranked defense while the Chiefs (shockingly) sit third in the league, if you subscribe to the PFF model. As far as the Chiefs offense, they (also shockingly) check-in 22nd just one spot ahead of the Bears who sit 23rd. Now does this mean anything?
It looks like the offensive efforts of both teams are similar. The difference beyond the talent at quarterback, boils down to KC’s top-five defense. Still, they can’t take the Bears lightly. I believe their effort will continue throughout the season, and what a gift they can maintain all season long.
If the Chiefs sustain this level of consistent defensive play, we’ll see you in Las Vegas on February 11, 2024, which so happens to be my birthday.
As far as the Chiefs offense is concerned, I am not worried. The line play, notwithstanding, will get better. As the season unfolds, and much like last year, with a new crop of receivers, this offense needs time to gel.
Now considering the banged-up skill players, Isaiah Pacheco who is likely to play Sunday despite a bruised quad, but Kadarius Toney with his sprained toe, likely will sit this game out.
The Bears, on the other hand, are struggling mightily. QB Justin Fields stated in a recent interview that he feels like a robot on the field. He also threw some of the blame on his coaches, and though that might have been a bit overblown, I’ve said it before, coaches plan the game and players execute the plan.
Justin Fields completion rate is a respectable 60.6% and he has completed 40 of 66 passing attempts. Behind the numbers, he does have two touchdown passes but has thrown three interceptions. He’s averaging 213.5 yards but he’s not using his legs like he did a year ago. In the young season, Field has rushed 13 times for 62 yards with one score and three first downs.
If those numbers and results weren’t concerning for Fields, the fact, the team lost starting left tackle, Braxton Jones with a neck injury that will keep him out of the lineup for several games. Without him on the field, Chris Jones could have a huge game.
On the other hand, Patrick Mahomes is 50-80 passing with a 62.5% completion rate. He’s thrown for 531 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He’s averaging 265.5 yards per game with an 88.1 rating. Mahomes has rushed 13 times for 75 yards with no scores, but he’s run for six first downs.
The story of the quarterbacks isn’t going to be the story of this game. I think the story is going to be more about coaching than anything else.
Andy Reid has been the constant teacher and leader for the evolution of this offense. Reid’s system revolves around the pass and the quarterback and receivers are still out of sync. With the emergence of Isaiah Pacheco as the number one back, the run game must be emphasized. Granted Pacheco is a little dinged up, Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire need to step up when their number is called.
Don’t forget, the Chiefs still have some depth on the practice squad with La’Mical Perine and Deneric Prince. Both of those guys could be elevated to see what they can produce, if necessary.
Bears head coach Matt Eberflus is a defensive coach, and he’s in a whirlwind right now because of the departure of Defensive Coordinator, Alan Williams sudden resignation. His emphasis on the defensive side of the ball is considered his forte, but it’s clear his unit is underachieving. Will this matter as the season progresses?
As far as Sunday’s outcome, the Chiefs will have the hometown crowd at their side, and this will be the first home game for both Travis Kelce and Chris Jones. That combination with a better showing from Mahomes, will have the Chiefs Kingdom smiling all week.
Kansas City Chiefs 35
Chicago Bears 10