Grading the Chiefs Five Keys to Victory

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The Chiefs extended their the stretch of dominance over the AFC West to twelve consecutive victories on Sunday with their 24-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. No 3-0, the Chiefs have 25 of their last 29 regular season games and seven in a row over the now-LA Chargers, who dropped to 0-3. Before the game, I posted Five Keys to Chiefs Victory. While they did win, not all the keys were met. Let’s take a look at where they starred, struggled, and how they might fare better (or worse) against the Redskins next Monday Night.

Key #1: Alex Smith

Result: Despite the absence of corner Jason Verrett, the Chiefs passing game was terrible for three quarters of Sunday’s bout. Thanks to three Philip Rivers interceptions, they jumped out to a 17-7 lead. The defense (and Kareem Hunt) ensured they wouldn’t relinquish it, but it was still hard to watch. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 155 yards with two first-half touchdowns, but the second half was spent running for his life, getting sacked, and taking check downs to help Dustin Colquitt in the field position battle. Next week may be harder (or easier) depending on who you ask. The Redskins boast one of the league’s best corners in Josh Norman, but little else besides. Fortunately, he’s not one of the league’s traveling corners, so Tyreek Hill won’t be locked up all game. After two stellar games, I need to see this happen again before I say the Chiefs offense is returning to the Andy Reid norm.

Key #2: Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz

Result: The Chiefs didn’t sign Schwartz away from Cleveland to perform as awfully as he did against Melvin Ingram. He surrounded two or three sacks and looked overwhelmed all game. Fisher didn’t struggle as badly despite going against an equally dominant pass rusher in Joey Bosa and it was his best games of the season, as he allowed zero pressures. Considering the Redskins just made the Raiders all-star offensive line look like turnstiles, the Chiefs need Schwartz to step up.

Key #3: Whoever is on Keenan Allen

Result: He caught just five passes for 61 yards. A few went for first downs, but the Chiefs held him in check. Even though the Chargers remained within reach until Kareem Hunt’s 69-yard jaunt, the Chargers offense couldn’t get into a rhythm. The Chiefs secondary will take on Terelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, and Josh Doctson next week.

Key #4: Chris Jones, Bennie Logan, and Allen Bailey

Result: While the numbers weren’t as eye-popping for Jones, the Week 2 Defensive Player of the Week, this week, he had another massive impact on this game. Rivers first two interceptions were in part caused by his quick pressure. Melvin Gordon and Branden Oliver also combined for just 95 yards on 23 rushes. The run defense has made dramatic improvements over the last two seasons, and they’re quietly fueling the Chiefs undefeated start.

Key #5: Second-half Andy Reid

Result: First-half Andy Reid wasn’t too good either. Honestly, after the first quarter, the Chiefs offense went into a shell. It was 2016 all over again, getting a decent lead and then playing not-to-lose while the defense snuffs out drive after drive. Kareem Hunt’s game-clinching run made it a little fun, but otherwise there was nothing. It might’ve had to do with the protection, however, and then it makes sense. Smith was getting killed, and it would’ve been pointless trying to draw up vertical passing plays when the line couldn’t hold. Hopefully they play better against the Redskins, and the offense we saw against the Patriots and Eagles can resurface.

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