From 2018-2020 pretty much everything the Kansas City Chiefs touched turned to gold.
The franchise played in two Super Bowls (winning one), three AFC Championship Games (winning two) and won the AFC West all three seasons. Patrick Mahomes and company were one offsides penalty from representing the AFC in three consecutive Super Bowls. Mahomes won an MVP and Super Bowl MVP, establishing himself as a top-three signal caller in the league.
While head coach Andy Reid further solidified his standing as one of the best offensive minds the game has ever known, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has been a candidate for multiple head coaching jobs because of his innovative play-calling. They accomplished all of this despite being weakened by a below average defense.
The Party’s Over
2021 has been a bit different for the Chiefs and at one time they stood at 3-4. Prognosticators and talking heads across the globe offered explanations for Mahomes’ demise. Some said his “poor fundamentals” were catching up to him.
Patrick Mahomes needs to stop trying so hard to be flashy and just stick to the fundamentals.
— Malume we Cressida 🌈 💰 (@LethuTheLegend) October 26, 2021
“Teams have caught on to what [the Chiefs] do because just about everybody in the NFL has put in Kansas City plays and runs them themselves,” CBS studio host Phil Simms said, “so they know how to better defend it. It’s not coming as easy to them as it did before.”
Simms was right. Things weren’t coming as easy as it had the previous three seasons. Teams adjusted their defense to take away the Chiefs’ main weapons, “The Big Play. “
What a difference a three-game winning streak and another 400-yard, five-TD gem by Mahomes makes. In an eye blink, the Chiefs have worked their way back atop the AFC West.
KC Comes Out The Gate Slow
The Chiefs opened the 2021 season with a come-from-behind win over the Cleveland Browns. From there the wheels came off a bit with losses the next two weeks. They then alternated wins and losses the next four weeks to reach 3-4. For many teams around the league that record would be an improvement, but not when you’re the Chiefs.
With Patrick Mahomes at the helm, the Chiefs hadn’t lost a game in September, going 11-0. In those games he tossed 32 touchdowns and zero interceptions. This season they lost two games in September, and while his stats were still very impressive (nine TDs versus three interceptions), the eye test told you differently.
Patrick Mahomes was undefeated in September. 😳
This was the first loss of his CAREER in the month. pic.twitter.com/QvH24F4lpH
— NBC Sports EDGE Betting (@NBCSportsBet) September 20, 2021
That, coupled with a very porous defense, played a huge role in Mahomes pressing a bit to make plays, which resulted in surprising mistakes.
Blowout Losses At Versus Buffalo And Tennessee Send Alarming Signals
K.C. hadn’t suffered a loss by more than seven points since 2018, but that changed this season in losses to the Bills (38-20) and Titans (27-3). Following the loss to the Titans, fans began to lash out at players online for their lethargic play, and players responded. That’s a sure sign of a team who’s use to winning being in a bit of disarray. The team just seemed off and disinterested most weeks.
Ugly Wins Against Giants And Packers May Have Been Turning Point
Sometimes a team needs to win a game they have no business winning to jump-start their season turnaround. That was the case when the heavily-favored Chiefs barely beat the New York Giants to begin this winning streak.
— FOX4 News Kansas City (@fox4kc) November 2, 2021
An ugly win over an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team followed. Then came Sunday night’s huge win over the archrival Raiders in Las Vegas. It was the first game all season in which the Chiefs looked like a potential Super Bowl-winning team, scoring 41 points. Mahomes resembled the guy we’ve called the league’s best over the past three seasons.
He went 35-50 (70 percent) for 406 yards and five touchdowns. The gunslinger completed passes to nine different Chiefs receivers and seemed to be in rhythm all night.
NO ONE in NFL history has more games with 400 Pass Yards and 5 Pass TD than Patrick Mahomes.
Please note: Patrick Mahomes is 26 years old. pic.twitter.com/2luca9aoe9
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) November 15, 2021
It was also Mahomes’ 30th career 300-yard passing game through five seasons. Putting him ahead of Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner.
Andy Reid Happy To See Mahomes Show Patience
Mahomes stressed in his postgame presser that he’s not competing with the past. Remaining consistent in the NFL is about adjusting to the adjustments, and this new version of the Chiefs is showing that it can put up points.
From his college days at Texas Tech to his NFL days with the Chiefs, it’s always been sort of backyard football. Now it’s more about playing under control and with less risk until teams are willing to play you another way.
That was so refreshing to watch. Kelce was constantly involved. Tyreek had a deep shot and a couple designed plays for him. A couple PA shots. A couple screens. Andy was in his bag. Mahomes was under control. That's what it should look like.
— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) November 15, 2021
Head coach Andy Reid had this to say after the game about his QB playing with patience.
“Zone teams, you’ve got to be able to check the ball down. That’s how it goes, especially when they work at not giving you the deep throw. So, your short-intermediate game becomes very important and how we call plays to stretch the field becomes important, horizontally, and vertically to create some space to throw.”
“All that’s important, but for him to be able to use his checkdown I think is big.”
A high-stakes game against Dallas on Sunday should tell us know more about Kansas City’s resurgence. Arrowhead Stadium will be rocking, and Chiefs Kingdom will be chanting.