Tom Childs from Arrowhead Pride answered five questions I asked regarding the upcoming game, and gave some great insight to how some situations might unfold Sunday afternoon. Our Bolts From the Blue community might be happy to know he is more optimistic about the Chargers’ chances against the Chiefs than we are! Many thanks to Tom for this awesome discussion!
1) Kansas City has continued being an offensive juggernaut after trading away one of the most explosive players in the game. Since then, there hasn’t been a clear go-to receiver to compliment Travis Kelce. Is there urgency amongst fans for a new lead receiver to step up, and if so, who is most likely to break out and command that role?
The Chiefs receiver room has been a hot topic in Kansas City for months now. Back in the summer, there was a lot of excitement about this young group of receivers and what they could produce. The feeling was that we had a collection of guys with very different skill sets that would enable the Chiefs to have a guy for any particular situation.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t materialized that way.
Outside of Rashee Rice, the group has been a massive disappointment. Justin Watson had been reliable enough but he is now injured and won’t be returning anytime soon. Preseason favorite, Justyn Ross hasn’t played enough.
But the big issue has been the play of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore. Between them, they have combined for just 34 receptions, 353 yards and 2 touchdowns. A terrible return from the guys tipped to be WR1, 2 and 3.
The Chiefs obviously know there is an issue too. I mean, why else would they bring back Mecole Hardman?
2) Last season the offense was averaging the most points per game at 29.2, but is down to 10th in the league this season with 24.5 points per game. Are these just growing pains with Matt Nagy taking over as offensive coordinator, or does the team feel Eric Bieniemy’s absence?
I think it’s a combination of things.
Growing pains from one coordinator to another should be expected but It would be harsh to put all of the Chiefs’ issues down to that — especially considering how down I was on the play of the receivers in my first answer.
People notice the Chiefs’ offensive decline more because they have been so good on that side of the ball for so long. In fact, they’ve been historically good. But the truth is, it is a league-wide issue.
Offensive production across the NFL is down this year, and to be honest I am pleased about it. For years on end the upturn in offensive production has almost negated defenses as redundant. It’s actually making a nice change to see defenses get theirs for once. It also means that the true offensive geniuses will figure out their issues quicker than others — which isn’t a bad thing when your team has Andy Reid.
3) Leo Chenal was a draft crush for many of us at BFTB. What role does he play in a crowded and talented linebacker room for the Chiefs? Has he lived up to expectations for a second year, day-two selection?
He’s been excellent this year. Actually, all of the Chiefs linebackers have been excellent.
Every single linebacker of the Chiefs offers a little something different: Nick Bolton is the leader — Willie Gay Jr flies from sideline to sideline — Drue Tranquill (you know that guy) reads and reacts as well as anyone we’ve seen play for the Chiefs in years —and Chenal is a guy that the Chiefs can line up on the defensive line in both pass and run situations. Leo’s power and run recognition has made him an invaluable member of the defense. Not bad for a second-year guy.
I think that the Chiefs defensive improvement this year has been down to the rise in performance from the linebackers. Leo Chenal has certainly played his part.
4) Chris Jones has been an incredible core piece to the Chiefs defense, a game-wrecking talent in the front-seven that’s been the constant amidst roster turnover throughout the Mahomes era. After extension talks stalled this season, is there concern this might be his last year with the Chiefs? Where would Jones’ replacement come from if that were the case?
I don’t think you can replace someone like Chris Jones straight up. If he was to leave then I think the Chiefs would have to reevaluate how they plan to get pressure in big spots going forward. Sure they would be able to throw draft capital at the position but there are never guarantees with that. This is why the Chiefs should be doing everything within their power to ensure he is a Chief for life.
Some will have issues with Jones’s age come the end of the season but to me that is just a number until the performances begin to decline. Based on the evidence produced so far this year, Jones looks as good as ever. I would be more than comfortable if the Chiefs went back to the negotiation table and paid him his due.
Time will tell if they actually do it though. If I were to put money on myself, I could see a tag and trade situation happening.
5) Are you surprised to see DraftKings Sportsbook give this game a 5.5-point spread given how close the Chargers and Chiefs normally play each other? How do you see this game shaping up?
I am actually because I think the Chargers will not only cover but win too. The Chargers are due one against Kansas City. For the last couple of seasons, the Chiefs have always been the right side of coin-flip games between these two. I think that will change on Sunday.
There has been a lot of talk about Justin Herbert this week that has probably been a little unfair. He and his teammates will be desperate to prove the doubters wrong and where better to do it than in Kansas City?
For the first time this season, the Chiefs defense will concede more than 21 points — while certainly not for the first time this season, the Chiefs offense will struggle. This wide receiver problem will continue to have a dent in my faith and confidence in the offense.
What a crazy time to be alive!