The Chiefs have a significant, very obvious issue early in 2021

The Kansas City Chiefs have been one of the best teams from the past few years, but have now found themselves with a losing record.

During the 2017 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs surprised many people with the selection of Patrick Mahomes. Not only did the Cheifs surprise people with the selection of Mahomes because they already had Alex Smith, but they also surprised people by taking Mahomes before Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.

Mahomes wouldn’t do much in his first season in the NFL as he only played one game the entire year. He would eventually take over the starting QB spot from Smith, and boy did he set the league on fire. In his first season as the starter for the Chiefs, he would go on to win the MVP for the Chiefs and would help take the Tom Brady-led Patriots to the brink before losing in OT in the AFC conference championship game.

Occasionally there can be one-hit wonders in the NFL, especially when it comes to high-end seasons as Mahomes had, but in his second full season as a starter, Mahomes proved that his play was here to stay.

The Chiefs’ defense is the clear weak link early in 2021

In 2019, Mahomes had another dominant season where he managed to win his first Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers 31-20. The Chiefs would once again appear in the Super Bowl the following season but would lose this time to the Buccaneers.

Mahomes has proven he is one of the best, if not the best QB in the NFL right now, but it’s not like Mahomes hasn’t had some help along the way. Mahomes has been helped out by the likes of Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and plenty of quality offensive linemen. Having all of this help makes it even more confusing as to why the Chiefs have struggled so much this season.

One thing that has been a problem for the Chiefs since Mahomes took over at the QB spot has been the Chiefs defense. At times the Chiefs defense has been serviceable, but this season the defense has possibly reached a new low.

According to rbsdm.com, the Chiefs have the most EPA allowed per play, the 4th worst dropback EPA, and the worst rushing EPA. The Chiefs’ defense is having such a bad season that they are currently the worst defense that they have had since Mahomes took over as the starting QB.

Looking at the Kansas City roster itself, it’s clear to see some real weaknesses, especially on the defense. Thanks in part to a few injuries that Kansas City has dealt with, the Chiefs have been rotating plenty of players along the defensive line as at least eight players have gotten at least 100 snaps along the defensive line this season. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, none of these players have been good except for Chris Jones, who missed practice Wednesday with a wrist contusion.

The Chiefs will likely be getting back Frank Clark, but Clark hasn’t been the same player he was in his Seahawk days.

To be fair to the Chiefs, they have put some draft resources towards their defense, most notably the linebacker position. Kansas City drafted linebackers in the 2nd round in back-to-back drafts with the selections of Willie Gay and Nick Bolton.

Willie Gay was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft, and during his rookie year, he showed flashes of why Kansas City drafted him with his incredible range and speed. In this past draft, KC selected Nick Bolton in the 2nd round.

In college, Bolton was a brick wall of a linebacker who understood the game worked but lacked the physical traits of a player like Willie Gay. So far, those traits have hindered his NFL career as he has struggled in his first five games. Not only has Bolton struggled, but Willie Gay has missed four of the Chiefs’ first five games.

One position group that Kansas City has struggled with in recent years has been the defensive back position. KC has struggled to find any real quality players at this position, but surprisingly, this may be their best position group on this defensive roster. Mike Hughes has been a quality pick-up for KC coming over in a trade with the Vikings, while Tyran Mathieu has continued to be a quality defensive chess piece. The one player that KC could go without is probably Daniel Sorenson as he has gotten older.

The one thing that has remained consistent for the Chiefs is their offense. Even as the team struggles, KC’s offense continues to dominate as they have the highest EPA per play and the 2nd highest dropback EPA according to rbsdm.com.

After last season’s Super Bowl where Patrick Mahomes was consistently under pressure, Chiefs GM Brett Veach made it clear he wanted to improve the offensive line and boy did he. The Chiefs went out and signed Joe Thuney from the Patriots and traded for Orlando Brown from the Ravens. Then to top it all off, the Chiefs found two quality offensive linemen in the draft in Trey Smith and Creed Humphery.

Outside of the defense, the one thing that has hurt Kansas City this year is who they have played in their first five games. The Chiefs’ first five games have come against the Browns, the Ravens, the Chargers, the Eagles, and the Bills; the combined record of those five teams is an outstanding 17-8.

Looking ahead to their next five games, the Chiefs play the Washington Football Team, the Titans, the Giants, the Packers, and the Raiders; with the combined record of those five teams being 13-11, a much easier next five for Kansas City.

Realistically, the Chiefs’ defensive numbers will improve, especially with who they are playing against right now, but when it comes to the playoffs, that might be a completely different story.

If the Chiefs want to make another Super Bowl run this season, their defense is going to have to figure it out as they will likely not be the number one seed, but will still have to likely, play against a team like the Ravens, the Bills, or the Chargers, if not in the 1st round then the 2nd round.