Kansas City Chiefs have a lot of problems, but how many are fixable?

NASHVILLE (Tenn.) -- Many things have gone wrong for the Kansas City Chiefs in this 2021 NFL season. Their chances of reaching the AFC Championship Game for the fourth time or making the Super Bowl are slim after Sunday's 27-3 defeat to the Tennessee Titans.
What has happened? These are the chiefs' problems:

Patrick Mahomes is not doing business as usual. Mahomes has had at least one turnover in six of his last games, and more than three in the past three. Although some of his interceptions were due to passes that Mahomes was unable to catch, he is not without fault. Mahomes has tried to force passes into coverage, and has thrown interceptions rather than trying to avoid a tackle. Mahomes stated that after the game against the Buffalo Bills two week ago, he would reevaluate how he made decisions in light of the numerous turnovers. It's not clear if he has. He posted a 6.1 QBR against the Titans, his lowest score in his entire career. His previous lowest was a 37.4 against the Broncos in Week 7. This is fixable? Mahomes entered the season with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of almost 5-to-1. Mahomes has not been prone to turnovers in his entire career so he can be more confident with the ball. He must stop forcing throws. This is something that he may not be able to do considering how quickly the Chiefs defense surrenders points.

Chiefs' problems include Patrick Mahomes forcing throws and underachieving pass rush, as well as the inability to assemble their offensive line. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Chiefs lack talent on defense. Chiefs invested heavily in offensive players after rebuilding their defense after the 2018 season. Clyde Edwards Helaire was their 2020 first round draft pick. Their 2021 first-round draft pick was traded for Orlando Brown, an offensive tackle. Joe Thuney, a guard was their big-money signing as a free agent. The Chiefs have acquired six offensive linemen through the trade, draft and free agency. This leaves the defense mostly intact. Only two of the Chiefs' former first-round draft picks are defense players. Neither one was drafted by Kansas City. DeAndre Baker and Mike Hughes, cornerbacks, were traded by their former teams. The investment in defensive linemen Breeland and Khalen Speaks, and Dorian O'Daniel (linebacker) have not been worthwhile. This is fixable. This year, not. The Chiefs will need to take what they have.

Their pass rush is pathetic: In recent years, the Chiefs have made significant investments in defense, specifically on the defensive line. Chris Jones and Frank Clark are there. Both have been limited by injuries this season and don't produce when they do play. Jones has missed two games, and hasn’t had a bag since the season opener when he got two. Clark has yet to have a bag after missing three games. The Chiefs only had one bag against the Titans. They had seven players entering the game, which was their lowest number of sacks in six games since 2011. They finished 28th in ESPN Pass Rush Win Rate. They beat their blocks in 2.5 seconds, just 34% of time. This is fixable? The Chiefs need to pressure the quarterback more than they currently do with Jones, Clark, and other complementary players like Clark. It's highly unlikely that it will happen this season, if it hasn’t been done in seven games.

All season long, follow the NFL

Full schedule | Standings

Each team should have depth charts


Football Power Index rankings

Additional NFL coverage

The Chiefs have generally protected Mahomes better against the Titans, but this is not a consistent result of their offensive line investment. The Tennessee game was however a poor one. Tennessee was blitzed only once in 44 dropbacks. However, he was still under pressure 18 times. While Mahomes was blitzed only 13% of the season, opponents pressured him on 35%. Brown, who was primarily a right tackle until he was traded to the Chiefs by Baltimore Ravens, is now trying to become a left tackle. While he has had his moments of success, he was not as good against the Titans. Can this be fixed? The Chiefs have two rookies and two linemen who were not with the team last season. They should improve as the season progresses.

Can the Chiefs reach the postseason? With five remaining divisional games, the Chiefs are still in the AFC West race at 3-4. Their record and divisional standing are not the problem, but their play. They might make it to the playoffs, but they will not without major improvements in these and other areas.

The Chiefs have had a tough schedule. Five of their seven rivals are strong playoff contenders.

However, things aren't getting any better. The Cowboys, Raiders, and Packers are their closest rivals. They're in first place in each division.

The Chiefs have to solve the problem. The Chiefs have not shown much in seven of their first seven games that suggests they will make any significant changes.