After the game, Kansas City Chiefs Tight End, Travis Kelce was upset with the way his team played on offense. His All-World Quarterback, Patrick Mahomes said the same thing in his post-game press conference after his arm failed him. So, what gives?
The Chiefs escaped from New York with a 23-20 win, on a night when Taylor Swift brought a few of her friends to the game to cheer on her boyfriend, Travis Kelce. On the field, her beau was upset about the way his offensive mates played. Had it not been for the legs of Patrick Mahomes, a key defensive penalty taking away Mahomes’ third interception of the game, Kansas City could be 2-2 this morning.
Instead, the Chiefs are 3-1 on the season, and because of their win over the Jets, despite the fact the Bills, Dolphins, and Ravens are also 3-1 on the young season, they sit atop the AFC and currently hold the #1 seed. Too early to talk about the top seed?
It might be but winning AFC games is vital for the Chiefs. The only blemish on their record was against the NFC’s Lions so that was an acceptable loss. Still, if Kansas City wants to be the top seed at the end of the season, they must fix two glaring holes in their game, the tackle woes, and the lack of production by the wide receivers.
For the third straight game, free agent right tackle Jawaan Taylor led the way with penalties and poor pass protection. He wasn’t alone Sunday Night; Left Tackle Donovan Smith, Trey Smith, and Creed Humphries were flagged for numerous holding calls. Despite the fact the Chiefs line didn’t pass protect very well, Kansas City still ran for 204 yards, led by 115 yards from Isiah Pacheco and another 51 yards from Mahomes.
So, it wasn’t all bad, right?
Still, this is an unsatisfactory win for the Chiefs. After a 17-0 lead, a bogus facemask penalty in the end zone, and another bogus horse collar tackle, that was flagged against Kansas City, those flags completely changed the trajectory of the blowout. Suddenly the Jets had life, and they were fueled by those penalties, not to mention the one not called when Mike Danna had his helmet ripped off on Zach Wilson’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Tight End, CJ Uzomah.
Penalties are a way of life in the NFL, and last night’s crew loves to litter the field with yellow hankies, but that’s not why the Chiefs won, or the Jets lost. This was a close game because Mahomes struggled to score points after posting the game’s first seventeen points. The Chiefs won this game because of the defense. The Jets lost this game because of their offense.
Zach Wilson played the best game of his career, and so did Jalen Hurts in Super Bowl LVII, but both quarterbacks lost by three points to Mahomes because he used his legs, when his arm was betraying him in the second half. He made the plays that decided the game.
Again, Wilson played to the level of his skillset for a chunk of the game. But after the second-half opening drive, he went punt, punt, and fumble in the final trio of offensive drives Sunday Night. That happened because the Chief’s defense adjusted, and they applied maximum pressure on Wilson, who was unable to alter his game to complete the comeback.
For the Chiefs offense, they didn’t make any adjustments either, because the Jets were primarily rushing four down linemen using stunts, and it was effective. The rest of the defense was smothering the Chiefs pass catchers. They limited Travis Kelce to mere mortal status and held the Chiefs receivers to 65 yards on just seven receptions. That must change!
General Manager, Brett Veach has very few options in fixing the unit via trade. Though he made a deal for Kadarius Toney last October that paid huge dividends, the wide receiver trade market is thin, unless teams out of the playoff start unloading talent, I’m not sure what he can do.
So, the fix relies on Head Coach Andy Reid, and Offensive Coordinator, Matt Nagy to settle the unit. Mahomes can help as well because his decision-making hasn’t been great for much of the 2023 season. Granted he has a pair of new tackles, who are having a hard time adjusting to his style of game, and a group of young wide receivers that aren’t maturing fast enough on the field.
Last year the Chiefs had less wide receiver talent, but they sorely miss JuJu Smith-Schuster, who by the way is lamenting on the Patriots bench despite getting a 3-year, $36M contract from New England, to be the steady slot guy he was a year ago.
Rashee Rice has the chance to take over that role, but his drop in the second quarter eliminated a first down, and Kansas City had to settle for a field goal. If Kansas City added the four points the drop likely cost on that drive when the offense found a rhythm again, this isn’t a close game in the final quarter. These are little things that become big things as the season heads toward winter.
Still, an ugly win is a good win, and you take it every week in the NFL. The fact the Chiefs won this game in New York, a place they historically never play well, should be a bonus for all Kansas City fans this morning who have a pit in their stomachs that they didn’t blow out the Jets after taking a 17-0 lead.
They’ll have a week to fix their woes offensively as they prepare for another road game at Minnesota to face the 1-3 Vikings. However, playing in Minnesota has been another house of horrors for Kansas City so they play better than they did in New York.
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