In April 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs shocked the NFL by trading All-Pro Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. Eleven months later, the Chiefs won their second Super Bowl in four years, this time without their best player. Fast forward to December of this year, and the Chiefs offense is flat, broken, and missing that one key ingredient – Tyreek Hill!
For the record, I was all for trading Tyreek Hill if it made sense for the franchise. In gaining five draft picks and with his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, demanding a quarterback’s ransom for Hill, General Manager Brett Veach had little choice but to trade his best player, not named Mahomes.
Thus, the Kansas City Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill for Cornerback Trent McDuffie, Wide Receiver Skyy Moore and Rashee Rice, Guard Darian Kinnard, Defensive Tackle Keondre Coburn, and a fifth-round pick in 2025.
For me, this trade comes down to Hill for McDuffie and Rice; the rest of the pieces have been major disappointments for Kansas City. Among the worst has been Skyy Moore, who was placed on injured reserve after a bumpy sophomore season. Coburn has not cracked the active roster, and Kinnard remains on the practice squad.
So, did the Chiefs win the trade?
Logically, you would have to say yes because they won Super Bowl LVII without Hill. Yet, what if he were still with the team today? They would still have defeated the Philadelphia Eagles because of Mahomes.
This year, it’s clear they aren’t likely to win back-to-back Super Bowls because the offense doesn’t have a single explosive player that strikes fear into NFL Defenses. Mahomes struggles to stay patient with his receivers, who lack the speed and discipline to sit on routes in open spaces.
Mahomes panics in the pocket back, often moving backward versus stepping up, and continues making bad decisions when throwing the football. Travis Kelce has been generally ineffective the last eight games, and the offensive line play this year has been poor.
If Hill was still on the roster, the Chiefs would likely be the top seed in the AFC, and we would not be questioning the play-calling of Head Coach Andy Reid. The fact that this offense is flat and that they decided to overhaul much of what worked last season without Hill remains a mystery.
This offense is the same from a personnel standpoint as last year, and the swap of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Rashee Rice favors the Chiefs in the short and long term. However, Kadarius Toney, Moore, MVS, Justin Watson, and whomever else Reid throws on the field have generally been a disappointment. We can criticize each player, but at this stage, this is the cast around Mahomes that must make plays if they want to win a single playoff game.
For the first time in his career, Mahomes has lost confidence. He’s overthinking every snap and not working his progressions down the field. Recently, when he does have time to throw the ball, his first instinct has generally been the wrong one. He has receivers open, but his footwork in the pocket and his desire to bail out of the circle of trust he should have with his offensive line has created an offensive nightmare.
Part of that remains his shaky confidence with his receivers, and he can say he believes in them, but the tape doesn’t lie. Mahomes is not used to losing in the NFL. This current stretch is alarming, considering some believe Mahomes has peaked, and without Hill, he can’t be as successful.
Of course, they didn’t say last year when he won two playoff games and a Super Bowl on one leg, but now the tables have turned. For the first time in his career, he’s facing adversaries from all fronts.
What Mahomes can do over the final two regular season games is to be determined. I’m sure Kansas City will win their eighth consecutive AFC West Title, but what happens in the playoffs?
Without that over-the-top threat and the emergence of defensive dominance we are seeing league-wide, Mahomes would have to be nearly perfect to create a postseason miracle in January for the Chiefs.
I’ve learned never to doubt Mahomes, but he’s also never been this bad in his career. We are at a point where we can’t continue to blame the loss of Hill, the coaching, or the receivers because Mahomes is not making good decisions with the football.
Until Mahomes corrects that singular flaw, expect a short stay in the playoffs and many changes to the roster and coaching staff in the offseason.
Bengals Chiefs Preview:
The Chiefs will win this game, and honestly, they should. The Bengals without Joe Burrow have been up and down since his roster departure, so it’s hard to see which Cincinnati team will show up Sunday at Arrowhead.
On paper, the Chiefs should be able to handle Quarterback Jake Browning, who was woeful in his last game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, the kid can throw the rock, and with KC’s offense in a state of chaos, if he finds a groove, it could be a long day for the Arrowhead faithful.
Still, the Chiefs’ defense is playing at its best in the Reid era, but how long can they sustain their great play? If this team is going to win the AFC West and advance beyond the first round of the playoffs, then they must lead the way.
I have little confidence in the offense, but if they don’t turn the ball over, they should be able to do enough to win this game. However, it won’t be easy!
Chiefs 23- Bengals 17