The Kansas City Chiefs took one on the chin against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. In their defense it was clear in the first quarter, this team was out of sync. The Chiefs struggled again on offense, and Patrick Mahomes, who was under the weather and siege by the Broncos defensive pressure, never could find a reliable target with the game on the line.
I tend not to overreact about a game like this. The Denver Broncos blasted the Kansas City Chiefs 24-9. It was a loss that saw injuries to linebacker, Willie Gay, (tailbone) and Patrick Mahomes, (hand lacerations on his knuckles) that should be concerning but not alarming. It was also a game that was as poorly coached as any I’ve seen from Andy Reid. He keeps trying junk plays near the goal line when he has a Hall of Fame quarterback and tight end on the roster, just play pitch and catch.
The lack of creativity and adjustments by Reid and Offensive Coordinator, Matt Nagy, were alarming and curious. We saw very few screen passes. They ran so many bunch formations, that the Broncos defense knew where to go based on KC’s motions with their backs. It still seems to me they are calling plays as if this is the preseason. Instead, they wound up Mahomes, pulled the string, and said make something happen out of nothing.
Well, that didn’t work as Mahomes threw a pair of interceptions, key drops by Rashee Rice in the third quarter, the MVS fumble near the end of the first half, and then Skyy Moore whiffs on as easy a touchdown catch midway through the fourth quarter, that ended any chance for the Kansas City comeback.
Even last week’s hero, Mecole Hardman had a critical fumble on a punt return inside their own ten-yard line. For the most part, Travis Kelce was pedestrian, and that’s problematic because he looked tired. He’s getting run over, mauled, held, and triple-teamed because the Chiefs don’t have reliable receivers. Both tackles struggled to finish blocks, but they gave up when Mahomes moved out of the pocket. In fact, left tackle Donovan Smith should get credit for a sack for knocking Mahomes down on an attempted pass in the fourth quarter.
It’s easy to lay blame on Reid, or maybe General Manager, Brett Veach, but this team has flaws it has to correct. They can’t count on Mahomes, with a defense this good, to be the savior. He needs help!
So what’s next? I doubt the Chiefs will be movers or shakers at the trade deadline. In fact, as much as the fans want a new fancy receiver, the price for that piece will be too high for Kansas City. Not only will it cost draft capital, but the Chiefs have just $3.5 million in cap space available.
As fans, we have to come to grips with the fact this offense has the parts and pieces it has for the 2023 season. Listen they are 6-2 on the year, and they remain the top seed in the AFC. However, this team is at a crossroads.
Did the Chiefs just have a bad day or did the Broncos expose Kansas City’s overall talent?
More concerning about the dops and turnovers was the overall performance of Chiefs running backs, Isiah Pacheco, Jerrick McKinnon, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Collectively they weren’t as good as Broncos running back, Javonte Williams. He was a beast and made big plays at crucial times for Denver. This Chiefs offense needs a back like that.
To their overall credit, the Chiefs defense did their best, but this was a game where they couldn’t get off the field. The Broncos basically ran the ball right, left, and up the middle. Russell Wilson dinked and dunked to the flat, but made big plays throwing three touchdown passes in the red zone.
Had that been Mahomes, the Chiefs would have won this game. It wasn’t and Russell was a terrific game manager Sunday. If that trend continues, the Broncos might be able to salvage him for next year and beyond.
However, Denver was vulnerable today, but the Chiefs could never create enough pressure defensively and score enough points to change the inevitable outcome. This reminded me of Super Bowl LV.
It’s clear the team knows they laid an egg Sunday, but what happens next week in Germany against the Miami Dolphins, might determine if the Broncos loss was a blip on the radar screen or the beginning of an even longer losing streak.
Either way, it’s probably a good thing the Chiefs are leaving the country, and hopefully, they go early in the week, instead of on Thursday as they’ve done in the past. I think they need to get as far away from Kansas City as possible, to regroup and self-reflect on what went wrong Sunday in Denver.
The fact that we are all disappointed is not a bad thing, but every top team in the NFL has games like this and has self-corrected.
The Bengals stunk early on, but they are back on track with a big win at San Francisco. The Dolphins rebounded today against division rival, New England. That happened after being manhandled by the Philadelphia Eagles the week before.
Teams have lulls and teams go through periods like this, despite an immense amount of talent. Kansas City is still the AFC favorite, and if the hand injury to Mahomes (non-throwing) can be healed before Germany, then he’ll have two weeks to rest and regroup.
It should be noted Mahomes was ill the last two days, and Saturday night there was some doubt, as to how effective he could be Sunday. It was clear, he didn’t look himself, but he was running for his life, and his offensive line and receivers weren’t doing their part to carry their quarterback. Still, Mahomes will take all the blame because he’s a leader.
If this season is going to have the ending, we all want, Mahomes once again has to lead this offense. It’s too bad the overall scheme isn’t suiting his talents right now, but corrections and creative points can be added to the offense.
In the end, I think the Chiefs loss Sunday was no big deal. They’re going to win the AFC West, and they’ll flex their muscles in Germany to restore order before their Bye Week.
After all, I’m an optimist and I believe in Mahomes.