A little consistency could go a long way







BY JOSE FAUS


No amount of sugar can alter the bad taste after the Chiefs loss to the Bills this past Sunday on prime time. It’s even hard to justify any of the positive things that happened in the game because it sounds like wishful thinking. Sure, the defense forced the Bills to punt more than once, four times to be precise.


That is a key for success when you consider the more Bills possessions that net no points, becomes a plus for the Chiefs’ high-octane offense. Of course, the Chiefs forgot to put the octane in the tank. The offense ground to a halt. Then the Chiefs decided to play complimentary football. “We stop you four times and force you to punt, well let us balance that out and give you four turnovers.” That’s twice the Chiefs have given up the ball four times. You can’t win that way. The defense should be lauded for forcing four punts and limiting the number of plays the Bills had to 54 compared to 79 for the Chiefs.


Statistics are a funny thing though. The more possessions the Chiefs have the better the chances to score in the high 30’s. The large number of plays indicated the Chiefs were rolling. This weekend it meant the opposite. The Chiefs have been forced to a short game approach playing in front of the safeties instead of cruising past them., the result is longer drives more plays. It was the Bills who provided the fireworks. Bills quarterback Josh Allen played as if he were the better general on the field. Think about this – Allen completed just seven passes in the first half yet had 219 yards. That kind of efficiency used to be the Chiefs’ and Mahomes’ calling card. Allen averaged 31.3 yards per completion in the half, and overall had receptions of 35, 41, 53, and 61 yards.


Two more wrinkles to throw in the equation. The Chiefs leading rusher was Mahomes and the leading receiver was Mecole Hardman. In a normal year that might be evidence of the brilliance of the Chiefs attack, that night it was indicative of the futility that has been the Chiefs attack when Tyreek Hill is neutralized. Hill exploded on the Philadelphia Eagles. That night he had a few uncharacteristic drops and moves that left Mahomes wondering where his touch has gone. Josh Gordon is a big guy. Might there be something in that tank that can add the kind of wrinkle that the offense needs?


The following is not a surprise. It is difficult to maintain the kind of offensive efficiency that terrorized defenses the last two years. One wants to believe the defense will step up occasionally to help balance the equation. They did that to a point, but they gave up too many big plays to make the effort notable. The worst part is how the Chiefs are constantly reacting on defense. I’m not sure I’ve seen so many frantic defensive realignments before the snap of the ball. They look confused.


The Chris Jones experiment at the edge should be shelved, and the team return to the formula that worked at key points last year. That is not to say that Jones on the interior is the answer to the team’s woes, but there were times last year that his efforts were emotion lifters for a defense that needed emotional uplifts. Another thing that is killing this team is the turnover ratio. Thy have given up the ball 11 times and forced two turnovers. That’s not going to fly. Some of those turnovers occurred as the team was closing in on the goal line.


The optimist in me believes as many fans want to believe, these are correctable things, and the team will balance out as the year progresses. Well, the truth is in the pudding. If this team is as good as they think they are and fans believe they are, then the next three games should see the Chiefs with a 5-3 record. But let’s be real. Even though they are playing some weak opponents that means nothing if the games are close.


I’m not throwing in the towel on this team. That is not the kind of fan I am – I’ll still be there rooting for them if they are down 40 points in a fourth quarter with ten minutes left, and their only chance to make the playoffs on the line. Till the whistle blows it isn’t over. Remember the Heidi game? I do. Not the same thing of course. 40 points is too much even for me. I still think this team has a lot to prove, and they are capable of it, but at the same time, I am not going to be surprised if they falter. That is what the level of inconsistency has led me to.


And as much as it pains me to say this, you must feel sorry for the Las Vegas Raiders. Actually, no you don’t. Sow what you reap my man. I’m not gloating over the dismissal/retirement of Jon Gruden as head coach of Raiders Nation, which occurred Monday night. This follows revelations of emails that Gruden wrote while a sports announcer, which indicated a high level of invective against some individuals and insensitivity to racial and gender issues. It seemed like this was the year that the Raiders were finally turning things around. I still think that they are a good team without Gruden, and they are a Western division opponent the Chiefs need to beat if they are to win the West again.


All that aside I still feel a bit of compassion for all the things Raiders fans have gone through over the years. One wonders how much different the franchise would be if they had maintained the Oakland presence? Stability is a good thing and that’s one thing Chiefs fans have going for them. I do have a thimble of sympathy for Raiders nation, but the thimble is so small if I’m not careful I might spill all that sympathy on my shirt.