It’s halftime of the Chiefs’ fourth game of 2017, and the Chiefs trail Washington 10-7 at Arrowhead Stadium. Here is Terez A. Paylor’s quick analysis.
1. Larry will be missed
It’s unclear how serious right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s injury is –– his knee buckled when a teammate landed on it while going to the ground –– but it’s never a good sign when the team declares him out for the rest of the game as quickly as the Chiefs did (within 10 minutes). Jordan Devey stepped in, and while he may prove to do a good job –– he did log some regular-season snaps a year ago –– Duvernay-Tardif will be missed for however long he’s out. He might be the nastiest of the Chiefs’ lineman, and while he’s still refining his awareness, he was on the path toward developing into a really good player.
2. The O-line needs to step it up
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The Chiefs’ pocket is collapsing quickly. Washington is generating plenty of pressure, often times with a four-man rush. The injury to Duvernay-Tardif hurts, as does the absence of Mitch Morse. Throw in the fact Eric Fisher is playing through a back injury, and Washington’s trench dominance makes sense. But if the Chiefs’ o-line doesn’t give quarterback Alex Smith more time to throw, they won’t be able to take advantage of some of the downfield matchups they have with Ty Hill and Travis Kelce. They started doing a better job later in the second quarter, when they finally mounted a scoring drive that was capped by a Kelce touchdown. They need to keep it up in the second half, which might allow for a few more Kareem Hunt touches.
3. So does the run defense
The Chiefs are also losing the trench battle on defense, as Washington has vexed the Chiefs with a number of power running plays and other inside concepts. Washington’s offensive line is generating movement at the point of attack, and the men up front for the Chiefs need to be a touch more physical and disciplined in their gaps.
4. Washington is laying the wood
Washington has notched the three or four hardest hits of the game, and the Chiefs have yet to match their physicality, despite being at home. It would also help if the Chiefs’ targets would start holding on to the ball –– they Chiefs have recorded at least three drops in the first half after not having any all season, according to Football Outsiders. A disappointing effort thus far for the league’s lone undefeated team.
5. Keep an eye on Marcus Peters and Harrison Butker
Peters was beaten for a touchdown on Washington’s first drive on what appeared to be a pushoff by Terrelle Pryor, Sr. It will be interesting to see if that empowers Washington to go at him again in the second half. If they do, don’t be surprised if Peters gets a pick. I’ve seen him respond with an interception in so many similar situations since he was drafted by the Chiefs. Just sayin’.
Butker, by the way, missed his first career field goal, from 46 yards out in the second quarter. This is a tight, competitive game so he will likely be needed again in the second half. He need to stay mentally tough here.