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Back to the Drawing Board for the Chiefs

In the aftermath of their fourth loss at Arrowhead this season, the Kansas City Chiefs offense has hit the panic button. On Monday, Patrick Mahomes showed the flaws in his game are real, and his lack of confidence in the cast around him has made him ordinary. That’s not to say he can’t summon a six-game winning streak and win his third Super Bowl, but it’s probably unrealistic to believe.

At no point since 2018, when Patrick Mahomes became the starter in Kansas City, did I think these words would come out of my brain and onto my fingertips: he’s lost.

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Over the last several weeks, the Chiefs have gone from 6-1 Super Bowl favorites to 9-5 and likely first-round playoff losers. The team lost their fourth game at Arrowhead and saw their offense disintegrate into a chaotic mess with no rhythm or flow. At issue, the leader under center needs to try harder to fix the roster flaws he inherited from Head Coach Andy Reid and General Manager Brett Veach.

Reid’s offense is stale, outdated, and relatively easy to predict in front of my Television screen at home. If I can dissect where the ball will go based on formations and player groupings, the rest of the NFL can also. That’s exactly what the Raiders did on Monday.

The offense is a mess because Reid and Offensive Coordinator Matt Nagy need the personnel to run their high-powered offense. Instead of building upon the plan that saw them win a Super Bowl last season, they can’t decide what to do now.

They are lost in the past, and as someone pointed out on social media this morning, the Nagy offense looks much like it did in Chicago. If that’s the case, Kansas City will undoubtedly be one-and-done in the playoffs.

Mahomes must trust the play calling on the sidelines and the personnel around him on the field to succeed. Further, he’s yet to show that Tom Brady fire on the field. If he doesn’t like a play called, based on the defensive read, he needs to audible. If his coaches try to remove a level of his game that makes him unique, he must say no and run his plays.

It hasn’t helped that Travis Kelce has taken two steps back on offense. He looks slow, he’s dropping passes, and honestly, the beating he’s taken to reach 34 years old in the NFL has begun to show. The fact he’s only scored a single touchdown during the team’s recent offensive funk might be the critical reason Mahomes is forced to look elsewhere for completions and touchdowns.

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Further, the offensive line continues to slide, and it’s not just the tackles; the interior of their highly regarded line has been terrible for nearly half the season. That falls on Offensive Line Coach Andy Heck, who continues to keep his job year after year despite some Pro Bowl talent available. His departure should be among the first dominos to fall in the offseason.

Listen, I want to give hope and present answers for the Chief’s failures this season. I want to believe they can win a Super Bowl with this team, but I just can’t. Because it’s not the players’ fault, but this offensive coaching staff can’t get out of its way.

Players don’t know where to line up on offense, the play calling is vanilla, and how many times do we need to see Mahomes yell at the sideline to call the next play this season?  If that continues, Mahomes should play a two-minute offense on every possession to speed up the game and get his team into a rhythm.

I love Big Red for what he’s done for the Chiefs and the stability he’s brought to the organization. However, in his 11th season in Kansas City, he’s at a crossroads. He alone can’t solve the problems of this offense. Despite having a world-class defense and Mahomes, Reid has squandered this season of possibility, mainly because he’s not adjusted to new league trends.

For the first time in a decade, NFL Defenses are playing at a level we’ve not seen. The teams that have made offensive adjustments are doing well; the Chiefs are not one of them.

With two games remaining in the regular season at home against the Cincinnati Bengals and on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers, I’m confident the Chiefs will win one to clinch their eighth consecutive AFC West Title. Beyond that, as much as it pains me to say, a first-round loss in the playoffs might not be the worst thing to happen to this franchise.

Regardless of their playoff exit, this team needs an overhaul on the coaching side and a good chunk of its roster replaced. Big decisions are looming, but it’s clear that Kansas City will not retain Chris Jones and is unlikely to pay L’Jarius Snead top corner money. They will undoubtedly blow up the receiving core and be forced to spend big on free agency.

Regardless, the next three weeks will decide the fate of the Chief’s future. As we sit now, we can all agree that 2023 has been a significant disappointment destined for a miserable ending.

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