After Aaron Rodgers was ruled out due to COVID-19, the Green Bay Packers announced that 2019 first-round pick Jordan Love would start in his first game. Fans expected the Kansas City Chiefs to make some significant changes to the playbook, but head coach Andy Reid said otherwise.
“They’re still going to run the offense they did with [Love] in the preseason and it looked like he did a nice job with it,” Reid said in a press conference. “So, if that’s the case, you’re prepping for the offense and then you take those unique qualities that each one has and you work on that. But that’s how you go about it.”
While they did their obligatory homework on the former Utah State, there was a simple method to stopping Love — blitzing consistently.
On 34 attempted throws, Love completed 19 passes. He tossed for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Packers’ other gunslinger would finish the game with a 69.5 passer rating.
He had very few completions that were 20+ yards, a testament to how well defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can distress younger quarterbacks.
Coach Reid and Spagnuolo planned a solid game plan that startled Love drive after drive. While the defense wasn’t flawless, they stuck to the original playbook and made plays when it counted.
While Reid’s mindset kept the team afloat on Sunday evening, some other factors led to the 13-7 win despite the setbacks.
Here are some takeaways from the Chiefs’ victory over the Packers.
Offense had some good play but needs improvements
On defense, the Packers were missing the following players: Eric Stokes, Kenny Clark, Kingsley Keke, Isaac Yiadom, Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith. With other players dealing with lingering injuries, analysts assumed that the Chiefs would carve up this defense nicely.
Those expectations proved to be too high.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had yet another mediocre performance. His performance included 20 completions (out of 37 passing attempts), 166 yards and one touchdown.
Importantly, Mahomes had no interceptions this week, a huge improvement from his recent streak of turnovers. However, his lack of deep passes continues to hinder the offense.
According to Next Gen Stats, he launched five passes for 20+ yards that all were incompletions. There was an uptick of medium throws, though, and seven of his throws went for ten-plus yards.
Running back Darrel Williams carried the ball 19 times for 70 yards, with his longest rush going for 11 yards. The offensive line did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage, as Williams had multiple runs that went for five or more yards.
The Chiefs best receiver was Travis Kelce, who caught five passes for 68 yards. He had the only touchdown for the Chiefs, which came early in the game. Kelce did a great job opening the field for Mahomes, who could not make anything happen for most of the game.
However, a mediocre offense found ways to make big plays. The biggest was a late-game throw from Mahomes to Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill to ice the game.
Mahomes’ wild throw was reminiscent of many plays he made in the past years. While the offense needs to figure out how to get the deep pass going, finding some confidence can put the team back on track.
Melvin Ingram improved an inconsistent defense
Before Sunday evening’s matchup, the Chiefs made a significant move and acquired former Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram.
Before he departed from the Steelers, he posted some solid numbers with limited snaps.
With a 12.9% pressure rate, many believed that he could be the spark plug that would ignite a stagnant defense.
He did just that.
Ingram and defensive end Frank Clark had the opportunity to wreak havoc throughout the entire game. They were the ultimate nightmare for the Packers’ backup quarterback.
Stealing Ingram from the Steelers is the Chiefs most important move of this season. He should continue to be a force inside the trenches for weeks to come.
With an active pass rush, other positions on defense will excel tremendously.
Daniel Sorensen continues to be a problem
Oh, Daniel Sorensen.
It wouldn’t be another week of Chiefs’ football without talking about the vulnerable safety. While he hasn’t seen much time on the field, he continues to be a liability on defense.
Against the Packers, Sorensen played 22 snaps for 35% of all defensive snaps. That is a significant drop compared to week one, where he played 100% of all available snaps.
The Chiefs definitely benefit when he has a low snap percentage.
According to Pro Football Reference, Sorensen has allowed 23 completions for 391 yards. When targeted, quarterbacks average a 158.3 quarterback rating, 82.1% passing completion, and average 14.0 yards per passing attempt.
Pro Football Focus also has the Chiefs’ safety ranked 89th overall out of 91 safeties (Currently has a 36.7 defensive grade).
Besides his statistical decline, he’s also given up some awful plays.
While Sorensen is a veteran for the secondary, his awful season puts the team in jeopardy of building solid chemistry within. While cutting him would be ideal, giving players like safety Armani Watts more snaps would be efficient.
Having Sorensen play only in meaningless snaps would allow him to re-develop his confidence throughout multiple games. Meanwhile, Watts can show off his athletic gifts and make some plays in coverage.
Once Sorensen breaks out of his bad habits, he can receive more snaps down the line.