The Kansas City Chiefs have a 4,000-yard quarterback, a 1,000-yard tight end, a 1,000-yard wide receiver, and a 1,000-yard running back. The process to winning the AFC West was a long and strenuous battle with a plethora of tragic moments; they forged their own chains of misery from free-will. However, at the end of a long season, the hope of Christmas granted the Chiefs a chance to learn from their mistakes and forge chains of success. With a 29-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins, Matt Nagy was better than his word in revitalizing an offense, the defense did their part in crafting takeaways, and Jay Cutler had no refuge or resources to convert more than field goals. The week 16 Kansas City Chiefs takeaways have ups and downs, but at the end of 16 weeks, the Chiefs are AFC West champions back to back for the first time in franchise history.
Week 16 Kansas City Chiefs Takeaways
1) Creating Offensive Opportunity
The Chiefs came out aggressive and forced a fumble. For the third straight week, the Chiefs defense started by creating chaos. The last two weeks have been sacks, this week’s momentum setting play came at the hands of Derrick Johnson knocking wide receiver Jarvis Landry around while causing a fumble.
Immediately after the defense handed the ball to the offense, the Chiefs started utilizing Albert Wilson on swing passes – a play format which would be prevalent throughout the day. However, the Chiefs stalled in the red zone and netted a mere field goal. No matter, that field goal was the beginning to an overwhelmingly efficient offensive display.
On consecutive drives, Kareem Hunt would run in multiple lanes of the field, providing potency from any trajectory. Whether the option or power run set was called, Hunt was able to slowly create opportunities for the offense while wasting away the Dolphins defense on 29 carries.
Alex Smith’s precision was also note worthy throughout the day, finishing 25 of 39 for 304 yards. He was only sacked once, which allowed for deep timing plays across multiple zones of the field. The Dolphins pro-bowl safety Reshad Jones was going to be a massive test for passing lanes to Travis Kelce. The Chiefs dynamic duo proved their play style was more resilient after connecting four times, including a physical 13-yard touchdown pass right over Jones.
If Kelce maintains his efficiency, Tyreek Hill will also maintain supreme in his respective role. Hill was electric on the day, catching six of seven targets for 109 yards. Whether used as an isolated, exterior receiver, or catching the modus operandi swing pass, Hill epitomized speed and the goal of confusing the Dolphins core.
2) Missed Tackles
Juxtaposed to the overwhelming offensive showing of efficiency, the defense was passively and tragically frustrating. Missed tackles ought to highlight the prominent defensive takeaway due to how important the implications of those plays were.
The Dolphins being held to 13 points was more emblematic of floundering mistakes than the Chiefs imposing any sort of will. Once the down fell to three, the Dolphins play calling was unimaginative, allowing Reggie Ragland and Derrick Johnson to clean up on core tackles. The result was an egregious 6.4 yards per play, but an awful zero of eight on third down conversions.
Cutler often opted for under routes to his wide receivers or swing passes to a running back. Without Julius Thomas at tight end, the offense was missing a center piece. Fortunately for him, Kenyan Drake and Jakeem Grant were able to force missed tackles on their way to explosive plays. Ron Parker had a specifically egregious day of tackling errors.
No scheme, no magic coaching, no twist, stunt, or blitz package will fix the Chiefs defense when their central failure is a lack of efficiency in finishing. A defense which cannot finish plays, will finish their season prematurely.
3) Retrospective on the AFC West Championship
Yet, the Chiefs defense has been poignantly forcing turnovers and sacks the past several weeks. Although Cutler was not sacked on the day, he was pressured when it mattered, and that is a start (albeit a very late trend in December).
Meanwhile, the Chiefs forced three fumbles on the day, recovering two. Johnson set the tone with the first force and recover; Marcus Peters closed the afternoon by ripping the ball away from Kenny Stills.
Those turnovers represent the best of the Chiefs defense championship aura. No scheme may save the lack of tackling, but turning up the intensity and creating chaos is a central plan to winning. Although the Chiefs defense has been an embarrassment throughout the season, their ability to force key turnovers is the pattern to winning the west.
In fact, the entire retrospective of the Chiefs winning the AFC West for the first time in back-to-back years has the central tone of their ability to impose will on other teams. From the defensive turnovers, to the offense launching deep passes while running at will, the west was won by creating chaos. And if the Chiefs want to win in the playoffs, they must take that theme up another notch by creating chaos without self-destructing themselves.