In the aftermath of the Kansas City Chiefs 24-9 beatdown by division rival Denver, Patrick Mahomes was at the focal point of the teams loss. Yes, he had the flu, and yes, the coaching was horrific, but it’s becoming a trend that Head Coach, Andy Reid is relying on his generational quarterback to fix their woes on offense.
The Denver Broncos finally broke their 16-game losing streak against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was something I predicted when the season started, and I’m one of the few, despite how bad this team played offensively Sunday, who are not upset with the loss to a division foe on the road.
At some point in sports, all streaks come to an end. For the Chiefs, the fact their streak ended was predictable. What isn’t sitting well with me this morning is the reliance on Quarterback, Patrick Mahomes to fix the shortcomings of the offense.
Head Coach Andy Reid has so many great traits. He’s a two-time winning Super Bowl Champion, his offenses are innovative, creative, and at times brilliant. Thus far in 2023, outside of the rings on his fingers, none of the other adjectives are accurate.
It’s clear the Chiefs have problems at wide receiver. Outside of Justin Watson and Rashee Rice, nobody else has stepped up. Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, and Mecole Hardman have talent, but they aren’t the answer.
Reid needs to regroup, re-define, and get out the whiteboard this week, to recalibrate the offense. Mahomes who was under the weather Sunday, could only do so much with Travis Kelce basically a no-show against Denver. The Broncos bracketed him with three defenders, and bated Mahomes to lean on his wide receivers. Outside of Watson and Rice, their defensive brilliance was the reason Kansas City lost this game.
Mahomes was greedy in certain situations, but it’s clear he doesn’t trust his receivers to play improv football. The Chiefs offense works because Mahomes is a magician in and out of the pocket, but with this receiver group, he says he has confidence in them, but his decision-making throwing the ball on the field says otherwise.
Reid is part of the problem. He continues to run gimmick plays near the goal line that haven’t worked all season. Teams are aware of the shovel pass, and they know it’s coming based simply on the formations. The Broncos were well-schooled and ready. Reid says he takes full responsibility for the teams loss, and he should.
With a defense that sacked Russell Wilson six times, and gave the ball back to the offense enough for them to win the game, Reid can’t ask Mahomes to fix the offensive deficiencies. It’s his job.
Mahomes must make split-second decisions, he’s also fighting through the frustration of forcing the ball into tight windows when the shutters are up. What we are seeing on the field is frustration and a lack of confidence in the players surrounding Mahomes.
Both tackles betrayed Mahomes yesterday. Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor aren’t playing good football. They’ve yet to grasp they can’t just make one block in pass protection; they need to look for the next one when Mahomes is improvising. Too often, they were standing around as Mahomes moved out of the pocket and didn’t have his back, which blew up the play.
The running game is nonexistent, and I’m sorry but let’s be very honest, Isiah Pacheco is far too inconsistent to be a three-down back. He’s best when they get him outside of containment but trying to make him a between-the-tackle runner, just isn’t working. Beyond him, they are very limited in running the ball with Jerrick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
So, what’s next?
The Chiefs travel to Germany this week to face the Miami Dolphins. It’s the game of the year to date in the NFL and based on the ups and downs of both teams, I have no idea who has the edge for the Sunday morning AFC contest.
What we do know is that the NFL Trade deadline expires Tuesday afternoon, and it’s unclear if Chiefs General Manager, Brett Veach will attempt to land a wide receiver like DeAndre Hopkins or K.J. Osborn. They would be wise to add another running back to help the offense. The cost might be too high, but other teams like the Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and Baltimore Ravens keep making deals to better themselves.
At some point, with a plethora of cap space available in 2024, Veach must decide if the now outweighs the future. I know how badly he wants to win back-to-back Super Bowls, but I can’t see this happening with this set of receivers.
Perhaps, the group will rebound, but when the game’s best player, can’t pull any more rabbits out of his hat, it’s on Veach to give him better weapons. It’s also on Reid to get the ball into the hands of the guys he can count on during the game. That means this offense should be Kelce first, and Rice second. They must become a triangle with Mahomes that is unstoppable. As their safety valve, Justin Watson is the final piece of the play when everything else breaks down.
Reid can’t wait for Moore or Toney any longer. He can’t force-feed them the ball or use them as decoys, it’s not working. MVS has so much talent but his effort at route running and improvisation are hurting this offense. His fumble in Broncos territory was huge in the game and set the tone for the day offensively.
Mahomes was downright emphatic after the loss that the offensive woes on display Sunday in Denver will not linger nor become a trend. He knows it can be fixed, and if he has anything to do about it, he’ll find a way. However, he needs help. That help must come from Reid and Veach.
It’s time to go all in on the 2023 season!