The Kansas City Chiefs got a big win, this time 21-14 over the Miami Dolphins in Week 9, but it was not pretty. It also came in the way they’ve done it more often this season than in years past: with the defense coming up with a critical stop to preserve the lead for an inconsistent offense. While the victory counts the same, some are not letting the Chiefs off the hook.
“The Chiefs have a problem on offense,” ESPN’s Marcus Spears said on “Get Up” on November 5. “And it’s a real problem. Last year, we saw them struggle early on. But you could see the remnants, you could see that they would get going. I still walked away from this game … saying those missed opportunities that the Chiefs are having right now have been a reoccurring theme throughout the first weeks of the season. And it doesn’t look like it’s getting fixed.”
Spears pointed to Mahomes’ presence and Andy Reid’s history as reasons for optimism. But he also noted the quarterback’s scrambling as one tell-tale sign that all is not well with the Chiefs’ offensive attack.
Chiefs Have ‘Real Problem’ on Offense, ESPN Analyst Says
“Even Pat is frustrated with how these games are playing out from the wide receiver position. He’s doing this [running] more now than we’ve seen him early in seasons. You usually don’t get to this until the playoffs of late in the season.”
The Chiefs are generating 2.14 points per drive this season, per Pro Football Reference, down from the 2.71 points per drive they produced last season. What was the NFL’s top-ranked offense in points and yards last season ranks 12th and seventh this season, respectively. Mahomes’ passing yards per game are at a career low while his rushing yards per game are at a career high.
“They’ve turned Patrick Mahomes into a dink-and-dunk quarterback,” fellow show panelist Ryan Clark responded.
“You have Travis Kelce who is your No. 1 who is no longer the explosive threat that he used to be. He’s a No. 1, he’s a security blanket, he’s a guy that can catch you in volumes. He no longer scares you down the field.”
Kelce is averaging 74.6 receiving yards per game this season, still above his career average.
Travis Kelce now has the most career scrimmage yards in franchise history (10,955), passing Tony Gonzalez (10,954).
— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) November 6, 2023
His 79.2% catch rate is also the highest mark of his illustrious career. But his yards per target and reception are both down. In other words, he is receiving the ball closer to the line of scrimmage and doing less with it in his hands. His 4.9 yards after catch are the second-fewest of his career.
Kelce is also averaging a career-worst 28.5 receptions per broken tackle.
“Now that you don’t have that from him, and in that position, who else is going to bring it,” Clark said. “Right now, they cannot find that explosivity with a quarterback who is ultimately talented.”
Host Mike Greenberg aptly pointed out, however, that the Chiefs are still winning games. At 7-2, the Dolphins by far their most challenging opponent. But they came away victorious thanks to the stellar play of their defense.
Patrick Mahomes Praises Chiefs’ Defense
“The fact that they’re so good at all three levels,” Mahomes said via KMBC 6. “They’re deep, guys rotate in, they can play. It’s hard to get everybody snaps, that’s how good they are. It’s got to be the top defense in the NFL.”
The unit ranks second in points allowed and fourth in total yards through Sunday’s games. They sacked Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa three times and returned a Tyreek Hill fumble for a score.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!!?! pic.twitter.com/DnfmGOunnL
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 5, 2023
The game essentially ended on the final sack when Tagovailoa scrambled to corral a bad snap.
“That’s a great offense,” Mahomes said. “To hold them to 14 points where I fumbled in our own area for seven of those points, that’s a tremendous job. I think they’re going to continue to get better because they’re young and they love it.”
Mahomes finished the game with 185 passing yards and two scores on 66.7% completion. He was sacked twice and had the aforementioned fumble. The passing yards are not what we have come to expect from Mahomes, even in this season. They are his fewest of the campaign, both highlighting Spears and Clark’s point but also how well the defense played.
Chiefs Face Undaunting Schedule
It would be fair to wonder how the Cheifs would hold up against the top teams if they weren’t firing on all cylinders. After beating the Dolphins, who entered with an identical 6-2 record, a few tests remain.
They face the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11 after the bye week.
The Chiefs will also host the Buffalo Bills in Week 14 and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17, and then visit the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 18. If they pass all of that relatively unscathed, and while overlooking any opponent is dangerous, it will be hard to see any team challenging them before the Super Bowl.
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