Chiefs HC Andy Reid sees big changes in NFL landscape on fourth-down attempts

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Opponents have attempted to test the Kansas City Chiefs defense on fourth downs in recent weeks.

Amid defensive struggles in every facet of their performances, the Chiefs have conceded six of eight attempts for a fresh set of downs through four games. Though it could be argued that the lackluster plays on the first three downs are the bigger issue, teams are keying in on ways to beat Kansas City in any way possible, and seem to have found an edge they can give themselves by going for it on the final down.

While their opposition has been judicious on their make-or-break calls against the Chiefs, the defense’s bottom-tier reputation could give coaches and coordinators second thoughts about trotting out the punt unit in the coming weeks. Nobody is certain that they can afford to turn the ball over to Patrick Mahomes, but by that same token, most are hesitant to leave points on the board to a defense that is likely to concede a touchdown if they manage to make it into the red zone.

Kansas City’s head coach Andy Reid only knows if teams are trying this newfangled fourth-down strategy against his team now, they’re likely to keep trying later. In comments to the media on Monday after his 100th win in a Chiefs uniform against Philadelphia, Reid told reporters that the trend is part of a wider movement in the NFL, and described it as a function of the offensive-centric mentality most teams bring to the table.

“It’s happening all through the league. It’s crazy,” Reid said. “Teams are more willing to go for fourth downs now than ever before. And we’ve always been a willing team to do it depending on situations, but you’re seeing it on the plus-side of the field and the minus-side of the field. So, it’s football today, it’s kind of crazy. But they wanted it to be an offensive game and it’s leaning that way where people are taking more chances.”

It might not be ideal to take chances and potentially play with fire against a team like the Chiefs, but in order to win most teams will be content to take any edge presented to them, even if the stakes are high. With plenty of time left for the opposition to test the Chiefs’ strengths and weaknesses defensively, it is a safe bet that teams on their schedule will take notice of the high success rates on fourth downs. They should also attempt to capitalize on every bit of advantage they can gain from a bold strategy against Kansas City.

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