Before the Las Vegas Raiders take on the Kansas City Chiefs for their Week 14 matchup, Tom Childs of Arrowhead Pride was kind enough to answer my questions about the Chiefs for Raider Nation.
1. The Chiefs have managed to turn their season around and go on a five-game win streak that now has them in control of the AFC West. What has been the biggest difference you’ve noticed in the team since the beginning of the season, and is there any fear that they’ll revert back to the “slump” that they faced at the beginning of the season?
Without stating the obvious too much, I have to say the defense. If we were looking at this current version of the Chiefs through the eyes of someone completely new to the NFL, then we would be forgiven for believing that the Chiefs are currently a defense-first kinda team.
For several weeks now, the Chiefs' defense has genuinely been one of the most impressive units in the league, while their offense has looked rather ordinary — well, apart from a particular night in Nevada last month. Some will say it’s because of the opposition - having faced Daniel Jones, Jordan Love, Teddy Bridgewater, etc — but I tend to think that is a little unfair.
There is always the fear that the Chiefs could revert to a slump on defense to match their offensive slump. If that were to happen, then there is zero chance of the Chiefs making the Super Bowl. Likewise, if the Chiefs offense can retain its’ form from the last 3 years, then the Chiefs would become unbeatable when paired with the current version of the Chiefs defense. I know you guys hate reading this but it’s true.
2. Surprisingly, Patrick Mahomes hasn’t played particularly well during the win streak. What is it that he’s been struggling with recently and how does that compare to his struggles at the start of the season?
It would be unfair to put it all on Mahomes’ shoulders. Yes, he hasn’t played to his ridiculously high standards but he is still been playing at a fairly decent level - certainly well enough to put up more points than the Chiefs have been.
I saw a stat recently that no pass catchers have cost their team more points with drops than Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Again, these two are held to similar standards as Mahomes, so any drop from that will give the illusion that they have been ordinary — when it hasn’t been the case.
The game against Denver was a perfect example of this. Too many times did drops by Mahomes’ receivers cost the Chiefs. It’s certainly a concern of everyone associated with the Chiefs right now. They need to clean that stuff up.
If these three players can find a way to click at the same time, then we might see the Chiefs of old.
3. One thing that’s different about the Chiefs this time around compared to Week 10 is the return of starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. What has CEH added to Kansas City’s offense, and how has the team balanced the workload between him and Darrell Williams?
They’ve certainly prioritized Clyde over Darrell, that is for sure. Whether or not it has much of a positive effect on the offensive output, I am not too sure. I am a big Clyde guy but its’ kinda hard to justify him taking the bulk of the snaps over Williams at the moment. I don’t know what it was about the game in Las Vegas but it seemed to unlock a whole new set of skills in Williams that we haven’t seen before. Since then he has become a genuine receiving threat. After all, it was just last Sunday that he and Edwards-Helaire led the team in receiving yards. — crazy times.
4. The last time these teams squared off was Melvin Ingram’s second game as a Chief. What are your thoughts on Ingram now that he’s played four games with the team, and what does he bring to the defense that it was missing before?
His introduction to the team and what it has done for the defense cannot be overstated. I am sure you’ve all heard by now about how his addition enabled Spagnuolo to unleash Chris Jones back in the interior of the defensive line. Not only that but the Chiefs now have two genuine edge defenders in Ingram and Clark. That’s not to beat up on the guys he has replaced, but Ingram is a clear upgrade.
The last time the Chiefs made an addition like this midseason on the defensive side of the ball was in the Super Bowl-winning year when they signed Terrelle Suggs. While Suggs was effective at times, it was his experience that proved invaluable. In Melvin Ingram, the Chiefs have not only acquired a lot of experience, but the talent to match.
5. I think Kansas City’s improved play in the secondary has been a huge factor in the team’s recent success. What’s been the biggest difference back there during the last five games compared to the previous seven?
The reason for the turnaround seemingly isn’t one particular thing — more so, many things all happening at the same time.
First, there was the benching of every quarterback’s favorite punching bag, Daniel Sorenson — although I was pleased he got some revenge last week. Then, there was the benching of Mike Hughes which allowed Rashard Fenton to come back into the starting mix. And finally, there was a general step up in communication and execution. With Juan Thornhill, Tyrann Mathieu, Rashard Fenton, L’Jarius Sneed and Charvarius Ward now apparently clicking, all five of those guys complement each other perfectly — I would say blown coverages are a thing of the past these days.
The perfect storm for the Chiefs' secondary was of course aided by the renaissance of the defensive line. By getting some pressure, the big guys up front are certainly making life a little easier for the Chiefs' defensive backs.
Thanks for having me. Enjoy the game.