3 Takeaways from Chiefs' Week 7 Loss
The Kansas City Chiefs fell to 3-4 on Sunday with a blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans. While the 27-3 defeat doesn't mean that Kansas City can't be a title contender in 2021, it does highlight serious issues with this team.
The Titans led 14-0 after one quarter and 27-0 at the half. The Chiefs were forced to play from behind all game, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes was constantly under pressure. Eventually, Mahomes was pulled from the game after taking a hard hit to the head from Tennessee defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. He cleared concussion protocol but finished the game on the sideline.
Kansas City is tied for last place in the AFC West, and the team we saw Sunday could well miss the postseason. Here's what else we learned during the Chiefs' Week 7 loss.
This Defense Is Not Good Enough to Win a Super Bowl
The Chiefs defense has been a problem all season long. However, it got flat-out bullied by the Titans on Sunday. Tennessee did little in the second half, and it didn't have to. The damage was done with 277 yards and 27 points in the first half.
Unsurprisingly, Titans running back Derrick Henry had a solid day. He rushed for 86 yards, caught two passes and threw a touchdown pass to tight end MyCole Pruitt. The Titans didn't lean on Henry as they often do, though, because they were able to execute a balanced offensive game plan.
Tennessee finished with 266 passing yards, 103 rushing yards and 24 first downs.
That Kansas City couldn't make things competitive was a major red flag. The Chiefs cannot expect to win shootouts against quality opponents regularly. But with a defense ranked 28th overall and 27th in points allowed, that's their only recipe for success right now.
As we saw Sunday, if the offense stumbles at all, this defense will quickly doom the Chiefs.
A 'Bad' Version of Patrick Mahomes Does Exist
We have become so used to seeing Mahomes make magic on the field that it's easy to forget that he was widely considered a boom-or-bust prospect coming out of Texas Tech.
"Mahomes' ability to improvise and extend plays can lead to big plays for his offense, but he will have to prove he can operate with better anticipation and be willing to take what the defense gives him in order to win from the pocket," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote of Mahomes before the 2017 draft.
On Sunday, Mahomes struggled to remain patient, as Tennessee worked to take away the deep ball. He finished 20-of-35 for 206 yards with an interception and a passer rating of just 62.3.
"I have to be better in order for this offense to score points," Mahomes said, per ESPN's Adam Teicher.
This isn't the first time that Mahomes has struggled in 2021. He is tied for the league lead with nine interceptions, and he has failed to consistently put the Kansas City offense on his back. This doesn't mean Mahomes is broken or that defenses have figured out the blueprint for beating him, but it does show that the boom-or-bust potential still lies within Mahomes.
Kansas City Needs a Running Back
With Clyde Edwards-Helaire on injured reserve with a knee injury, the Chiefs' running game is a significant problem. Kansas City didn't have the confidence to stick with the ground game against Tennessee, and Darrel Williams finished with only five carries and 20 rushing yards.
This put additional pressure on Mahomes, who led the team with six attempts and 35 rushing yards.
Running has been a sporadic struggle this season, as Kansas City has rushed for fewer than 110 yards in four out of its seven contests. When the offensive imbalance is obvious, as it was against Tennessee, defenses have the opportunity to focus solely on stopping Mahomes and the passing game.
It's time for Kansas City to bolster its backfield, ideally before the November 2 trade deadline.
According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Chiefs have looked into adding Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack. It would behoove the Chiefs to make that move or a similar one sooner rather than later.
This defense is bad, Mahomes is pressing and Kansas City looks more like an also-ran than a contender.