Apparently, the Kansas City Chiefs don’t mind bringing a former enemy into the mix.
Then again, given their well-documented struggles on defense, no one should be shocked by the reigning AFC champions making a move to bolster a unit that’s underwhelmed on a near-weekly basis.
However, even though a longtime foe is joining forces with Patrick Mahomes and Co., the Chiefs could still suffer the ultimate embarrassment. After all, with issues on both sides of the ball and a difficult second-half schedule, Andy Reid’s team faces a tremendous challenge to overcome a disappointing start to the season.
A former foe is coming to Kansas City to bolster one of the NFL’s worst defenses
Coming off a closer-than-it-should-have-been victory against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, the Chiefs executed a deal to add an experienced piece to their oft-criticized defense. And fans of the AFC West franchise shouldn’t need an introduction to what the newest member of the franchise brings to the table.
After all, Melvin Ingram spent nearly a decade terrorizing Kansas City signal-callers as a member of the Los Angeles Chargers.
A three-time Pro Bowler who racked up 8.5 sacks and 18 quarterback hits in 15 games against the Chiefs, he signed a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers over the summer. However, the 6-foot-2, 247-pound outside linebacker went from playing 100% of the defensive snaps in Week 3 to just 26% in a Week 6 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Frustrated with his role and clearly not a great fit with Mike Tomlin’s squad, Ingram secured his freedom from Pittsburgh Tuesday. Kansas City acquired the veteran edge defender for a 2022 sixth-round pick — a reasonable price for a 32-year-old pass rusher with 50 sacks and 114 QBH on his resume.
Ironically, after being a thorn in the Chiefs’ side for years, Ingram can officially call himself a friend instead of a foe.
Trading for Melvin Ingram could help Patrick Mahomes and Co. avoid the ultimate embarrassment
It’s no secret Patrick Mahomes and Co. have experienced some uncharacteristic struggles over the first half of the season. The offense has simply turned the ball over far too often, and the defense remains a major question mark. With issues on both sides of the ball, it’s certainly not a surprise to see Kansas City sitting in third place in the AFC West.
However, no one expected the Chiefs to be in this position prior to Week 1. Widely viewed as the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl for the third straight year, they clearly have fallen short of expectations on multiple levels. Their 4-4 record leaves them on the outside looking in from a playoff perspective — something that seems unfathomable given their sheer amount of star power.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the reality of the situation is that they face the possibility of watching the postseason from home. For a team that generated dynasty talk after one Super Bowl win, it’s certainly not a good look to have a .500 record midway through the season.
The Ingram deal could help Kansas City avoid the ultimate embarrassment. A defense that ranks 25th in points allowed (27.5 per game) and second-to-last in sacks (11 through eight games) desperately needs help on all three levels. Although the Chiefs didn’t acquire the Pro Bowl version of their former foe, they could use all the help they can get on that side of the ball.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can utilize Ingram as a sub-package rusher, which would put the ex-Charger in a position to go quarterback hunting alongside the highly paid duo of Chris Jones and Frank Clark. Any improvement in that area would go a long way toward helping the Chiefs string together multiple wins — a feat they have yet to accomplish this season.
Despite having stars at several positions, the Chiefs face an uphill battle to overcome their obvious roster flaws
Missing the playoffs would represent a major blow to Mahomes’ reputation as the most valuable commodity in the game. Sure, the Chiefs’ unimpressive defense deserves blame for the team’s lackluster record. At the same time, though, it’s impossible to ignore the 10 interceptions and five fumbles he recorded in Weeks 1-8.
Will Mahomes turn things around moving forward?
He has the natural talent to do so, but his supporting cast needs to step up, too.
Can Travis Kelce make more of an impact? Or does the 32-year-old’s career-worst 11.4 yards-per-catch average prove he’s past his prime?
Does Mecole Hardman have more to offer? The 2019 second-round pick hasn’t shown much in the way of big-play ability in his first season as a full-time starter. He has to step up in order for the Chiefs to become more effective on offense.
Will the offensive line improve over the second half of the season? Mahomes faced a ton of pressure and absorbed a number of crushing blows due to protection breakdowns and timing issues. A unit that underwent a complete overhaul during the offseason can’t afford to let defenders take shots at the team’s most important player.
Obviously, the defense needs to step up in just about every way possible. From stopping the run to making plays on the ball to putting quarterbacks on the ground, it’s clear Spagnuolo’s group must make significant strides in the coming weeks.
Ultimately, though, it’s entirely fair to wonder whether the Chiefs have the right roster construction to actually compete for a championship in 2021. Making a move for Melvin Ingram may move the needle slightly, but it’ll take more than the contributions of an aging pass rusher for them to avoid the ultimate embarrassment of watching another team represent the AFC West while they watch the playoffs from home.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.