As the ball hit Washington safety Bobby McCain’s hands at the end of the first half, it seemed as if the Kansas City Chiefs had hit rock bottom. Well, as bad as it could get, right? While 20-point blowouts and victories in bunches have become the expectation since Patrick Mahomes took over the offensive reins from Alex Smith in 2018, the NFL landscape has become spoiled by the herculean success of the Chiefs. While it’s often difficult to deny fact when it comes to the league’s most heralded, young stars, 15 interceptions in the last 15 games are numbers that draw all the wrong attention to a gun-slinger fresh off a half-billion-dollar contract extension.
This was as ugly as quarterbacking gets on Sunday. While we’ve often asked why many of Mahomes’ throws are attempted in the first place, only to visualize a 45-yard sandlot touchdown come to fruition in front of our eyes, this was just not Mahomes-like, and at the time, was a play he should have put in his back pocket. It’s been a case early this fall of the 2018 MVP trying to play a hefty amount of hero ball instead of taking what’s given in the shallow areas of the defense. With Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce highlighting his weaponry, his coupling of working the intermediate areas before popping the ceiling off defenses is what’s made him so darn successful in his first handful of seasons.
During the Chiefs’ run to consecutive Super Bowls, Andy Reid’s formula for success was not one of mystery. It’s to score points (in bunches) while deploying a “bend but don’t break” defense capable of creating turnovers and limiting opposing offenses to 25 points or less. It’s been a simple but effective formula that has resulted in loads of success for Reid’s group, but as we approach the halfway point of the campaign, the Chiefs look to have hit a lull they’ve yet to experience with No. 15 under center.
Mahomes’ entry to the league caught football by storm. Similar to Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, and even back to the immediate success of Robert Griffin III, his talent as a thrower of the football ushered in a dynamic skill set matched by few, if any, under center. His knack for the spectacular has become the way of life for the three-time Pro Bowler, and while it’s worked and will continue to thrive as long as his cast of stars and his rapport with Reid and offensive mastermind Eric Bieniemy remain, his mistakes have begun to mask his success and his consistency more than his ability to throw 50-yard off-platform darts. Quickly fixing this problem will be the key to his continued development as one of the league’s elite.
At 3-3, Kansas City’s record is nothing to scoff at. And while the division around them has improved, expectedly, the alignment in which Kansas City has hung their hat through the first six weeks requires alterations as they prepare for a strenuous next month on their schedule. Less hero ball and an increased friendship with the game clock should introduce more opportunities for the offense to get back to where they’re most dominant; in rhythm and on schedule. And while no one will question their ability to light up the scoreboard on a weekly basis—Kansas City amassed nearly 500 yards of total offense against Washington on Sunday and have scored 30 or more points in four of their six games thus far—more breathers for a defense that currently finds itself in the cellar of the league in every major defensive category should be a welcomed sign for Reid.
Despite an 18-point win Sunday, the Chiefs have loads of room to improve. Getting back to what has worked and replicating a formula that’s been dominant for seasons on end should once again see the Chiefs atop the AFC totem pole come the new year.