It would have been expected if the Chiefs took a step back this season after winning the AFC West. After all, they traded the consistent Alex Smith and inserted Patrick Mahomes under center. Mahomes, a first-round pick in 2017, was considered a work in progress coming out of college and started just one game last season, which was a meaningless Week 17 game where the Chiefs had nothing to play for. Instead, the Chiefs offense has averaged 40 points per game in their first two games, leading the Chiefs to two big road wins over the Chargers and Steelers. The Chiefs are having success right now, but certain red flags will hold them back from being contenders this season.
Let’s start by acknowledging Mahomes. He has 10 touchdowns in just the first two games of the season, an NFL record, and has an amazing QB rating of 141.15. Obviously, he won’t be able to keep this up, but Mahomes looks the part of a future star. He has all the traits of a superstar quarterback. He has an extremely calm demeanor and was not fazed at all playing in the ruthless environment that is known as Heinz Field. He also has all the physical tools, with natural athleticism that allows him to leave the pocket with ease and break away from sacks. He also is a natural at throwing on the run, as his accuracy is on point when he does, in fact, has to leave the pocket. The most flashy tool for Mahomes is his cannon of an arm that is arguably the best in the NFL. He uses his arm strength for his own good, only making throws down the field when necessary, showing the understanding of an efficient quarterback. That arm strength may have more of an impact on his accuracy on mid-range passes, as he’s able to fit throws into extremely tight windows. That tool is an extreme asset in the Red Zone, as Mahomes constantly was able to fit throws in tight windows against Pittsburgh, which is ultimately why he ended up with six touchdowns in that game. Mahomes has Aaron Rodgers potential, and he has the chance to be one of the faces of football.
From the title, you’ve noticed that there is a caveat in all of this. Mahomes and the offense is legitimate, but one has to question how long they can play at such a high level. We’ve seen this before from head coach Andy Reid. He spends the offseason scheming new plays that work for the first half of the season, but aren’t nearly as effective when defenses pick up on it. That leads them to an ultimate collapse, which has been a common theme for the Chiefs. Just last year, their offense was extremely explosive and they started 5-0 with Alex Smith. Then, they went on a 1-6 stretch and ultimately finished just 10-6 and as the #4 seed in the AFC as their offense regressed throughout the season. They ultimately got bounced in the first round by the Titans, which led to Smith being traded. Kansas City has a two-game stretch during Weeks 5 and 6 against the Jaguars and Patriots, which could bring them back down to earth real fast.
The Chiefs need their offense to continue to produce at this level because their defense is just that bad. The Chiefs have given up 32.5 points per game and have given the most yards in the NFL. After trading their best player on defense in cornerback Marcus Peters, the defense looks like an absolute mess. They have the second most penalties (18) in the NFL and have fielded the worst pass defense in the NFL. They already have gotten exposed by two explosive offenses in the Chargers (28 points) and Steelers (37 points), but have gotten bailed out by the defense. Once the offense slows down and isn’t able to score 40 points per game, the Chiefs won’t be able to compete with the top teams in the AFC with such a subpar defense.
The Chiefs currently have everyone drooling. How could they not? They have the most explosive offense led by a quarterback that could be the face of football. However, it’s impossible to trust Andy Reid when his teams have a resume of starting out strong and collapsing mid-season. Also with such an awful defense, Kansas City desperately needs their offense to score 40 points per game just to have a chance of winning, which is not sustainable. Patrick Mahomes is the real deal, but he won’t have a chance of leading the Chiefs to a Super Bowl until they fix their defensive woes.