A long halftime bolstered the Chiefs’ ability to make adjustments to a defensive scheme that allowed six explosive plays over the first two quarters Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
They responded by bringing additional pressure, forcing three straight punts to open the second half in an eventual 38-20 loss to the Bills.
But one change they’ve thus far refrained from making, even as the communication issues in their secondary continue?
The Chiefs stuck with safety Daniel Sorensen in the back end of their defense after he found himself well out of position on two plays that resulted for a combined 104 yards and a touchdown. Sorensen played every defensive snap against Buffalo, the third time this season that’s been the case. Safety Juan Thornhill, a 2019 second-round draft choice, is still limited to playing in the Chiefs’ dime defense, a package that’s on the field 44% of the time.
That yearlong decision — Sorensen over Thornhill — is a noteworthy point for a secondary that’s struggled to stick to its assignments, but also for a defense that appears to lack athleticism on the football field.
On Monday, Chiefs coach Andy Reid addressed the potential of lineup changes to alter the course of a defense allowing a league-worst 32.6 points per game.
“We look at all that, I would say, every game, win or lose,” Reid said, not speaking specifically about the safety position, but in general. “You want to try to get the best guys that you’ve got in position to do a job and make you the best you can be as a team. So, yeah, we’ll keep looking at that. If something needs changed, then we’ll change it. We’re pretty real with those things.”
The issues plaguing the Chiefs’ defense extend to every level — the pass rush has yet to get going and the linebackers have not been capable in coverage. But the secondary’s missed assignments appear the defense’s most frustrating and debilitating aspect.
After the loss, safety Tryann Mathieu called the Bills’ wide-open receivers “embarrassing,” and added, “Honestly, I think we’re just beating ourselves.” Twice on Sunday, Mathieu outstretched his arms as the Josh Allen-thrown football was in the air, seeing the Chiefs had left a Buffalo player wide open.
On both occasions, Sorensen was on the coverage. On the second, a 53-yard touchdown to tight end Dalton Knox, Sorensen stuck with a corner route for more than 25 yards before just losing track of Knox.
“(Knox) ran a corner route, then he kind of turned it back up into a swing route,” Reid said. “As the quarterback moved, he dropped him there.
“You can’t do that. (Sorensen) had his eyes in the backfield and lost where the tight end was. You’ve gotta make sure you got your eyes on him and know where he’s at.”