NFL teams measure their season’s end by quarters through the season. After a hard-fought victory at Detroit last Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs finished the first quarter the 2019 season with a perfect 4-0 record.
It was obviously their toughest game this year, and even though they played sloppy football, they found a way to win the game. A Super Bowl contender must be able to win those types of games.
With the first quarter over, the coaching staff will evaluate the good areas and the weak points of the team and make necessary changes to improve in anticipation of a playoff run.
The first four games have shown everyone that the Achilles’ heel the past couple of years has been the defense. This year’s defense is improved over last year in a lot of areas but has not been dominant by any stretch of the imagination. The team still struggles against the run, which might be the single most important area in need of improvement if the team plans to get into the playoffs.
The defensive line is deeper and more talented than the previous three years, but the linebackers are still a problem. They are much quicker than in past years but are not consistent in filling the run alleys. The tackling is improved but it is not at a Super Bowl defensive level.
The safety position is also much improved, but the cornerbacks need to step up their level of play, and there is no depth at the position. Cornerback may be the toughest position to play in the NFL.
The special teams have been average at best this year, which presents field position issues throughout any game. Special teams Coach Dave Toub can’t be happy with penalties on punt and kickoff returns. Kicker Harrison Butker has missed an extra-point and missed his first field goal attempt in the Detroit game, which caused the Chiefs to play uphill the entire afternoon.
The special teams will need to improve in the next quarter. The offense is the rage of the NFL and Patrick Mahomes’ level of play is beyond discussion, but in order to improve, the running game must be able to average 150 yards a game.
The offensive line has done a good job up to this point, even with the loss of left tackle Eric Fisher. The Lions, though, were able to put pressure in Mahomes’ face, and it caused him to dance around in the pocket and affected his look down field.
Running back has been one of the highlights of the first quarter of the season, even with the absence of Damien Williams the last two games. LaSean “Shady” McCoy has proven to be a superior pickup by general manager Brett Veach. McCoy is a veteran with plenty left in the tank, and his experience has made a difference the past three weeks.
The real sleeper in the four-man running back scheme is Darrel Williams. He has been versatile as a runner and as a receiver. Look for rookie Darwin Thompson to get more opportunities as the season wears on.
The receiver corps is nails. They have great depth along with overall super speed. The guy who makes it all roll in key situations is tight end Travis Kelce. Mahomes is out of this world, but Kelce makes Mahomes look like Moses.
Kelce does not have great foot speed, but he does have tremendous hands and he uses his big body like a power forward in basketball to get open. He seems to have a second sense with Mahomes when things break down on a play, and he can finish in key situations. Look for those two players to put on a show the rest of the season barring any injuries.
Starting 4-0 is obviously what Reid and his coaching staff had hoped for, but NFL stands for “Not for Long.” The coaching staff knows they must improve their weaknesses and continue to plug in players to replace injured teammates.
Teams are going to try a pressure Mahomes up the middle quickly to prevent early reads and they will also start squeezing down on the run-pass options. You saw that with the fumbles Mahomes and Darrel Williams committed at key times in the Lions game.
The Chiefs need to stay healthy. Injuries are the one factor you cannot coach against. Don’t go away Chiefs fans, the best is yet to come.
• The quote of the week comes from former NFL head coach Bum Phillips, “You work to strengthen your weakest link, not to worry about the strongest one.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.