The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Dallas Cowboys 17-16 on Sunday in what would best be described as a sloppy and uneven game offensively. While the first instinct for most Kansas City fans would be to simply say, "We won," there have been far too many troubling signs for this team to be crowing going into Thursday night's game at Philadelphia.
Lack of commitment to the run game
In Week 1 vs. Jacksonville it was understandable that the Chiefs were reluctant to commit to the ground game in the second half because of an injury to Jamaal Charles. Against the Cowboys, it made little sense.
Jamaal Charles had eight total carries prior to the Chiefs' final drive in the fourth quarter. Eight. By any standard this would be very few, but it seems worse when your running back is Jamaal Charles.
The Chiefs are going to have to commit more to letting their running backs run the football in their Thursday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles and give their defense time to rest, or the defense may be too tired to slow down the Eagles uptempo attack. Alex Smith cannot be the Chiefs' leading rusher two games in a row if Kansas City expects to win.
Protection and blocking errors on special teams
For the second week in a row the Chiefs had a punt or kick blocked when Ryan Succop's 57-yard attempt was blocked in the first half. The Chiefs struggled with this in the preseason as well.
While a 57-yard field goal typically has a lower trajectory in an effort to increase distance, this field-goal attempt wasn't blocked up the middle due to low trajectory; it was blocked from the outside rush. Given how poorly the offense has performed, the special teams unit cannot afford these kinds of lapses. If the Chiefs have a shot at points, they absolutely must convert them.
Lack of points production from the offense
While the Chiefs offense looks productive on paper, the offense once again didn't carry its own weight. The defense handed the offense two turnovers to work with in Dallas territory, and the offense only scraped together three total points from them.
Kansas City's offensive drives often started with good field position and simply stalled around midfield. The Chiefs defense has shown itself to be one of the top units in the league, but in order to stay competitive, Kansas City is going to have to start scoring more points.
The Chiefs offense was a staggeringly bad 4-13 on third-down conversions against the Cowboys after being an embarrassing 5-19 in their Week 1 win over the Jaguars. Converting on only nine of 32 chances isn't going to cut it long-term for an offense predicated on moving the ball down the field in short chunks.
Kansas City has put itself in high-percentage third-down situations that keep defenses off-balance. Lack of commitment to the run game has given opposing defenses license to pin their ears back on second down, leaving the Chiefs in very obvious 3rd-and-8 situations.
This is not high-percentage football, and it's something the Chiefs really need to improve on if they plan on capitalizing on this two-win start to the season.
Are the Kansas City Chiefs a playoff-caliber team?
There are things to like about this Chiefs team—and even the game against the Cowboys—aside from the result. This team is building, and it appears to be headed in the right direction, but there is certainly room to improve.
The Chiefs will get their first real road test of the season at Philadelphia on Thursday night against an Eagles team that loves to put points on the board—and quickly. How well they adjust will be very telling in how far this Chiefs team can go this season.