Kansas City fell to 7-3 on the season in a disappointing Super Bowl rematch on Monday Night Football to the Eagles. It’s ridiculous to hit the panic button, but there are some concerns. The Chiefs failed to score in the second half, numerous offensive players made mistakes, and Patrick Mahomes has gone from being immortal in 2022, to amazing in 2023.
Mahomes is on pace for his fewest passing yards and touchdowns since 2019. The most interceptions of his career. He’s still brilliant enough to will the Chiefs to 7-3, but it garners asking the question is he’s being asked to do too much.
Today in Football Court: Case 23-56192 “Have the Chiefs finally asked too much from Patrick Mahomes?”
We have finally found what may unite Chiefs and Patriots fans, by Mark Schofield
Super Bowl XLVI was over.
And once again, the New York Giants had stunned the New England Patriots, this time by a final score of 21-17.
A critical play in that game occurred early in the fourth quarter. With the Patriots leading 17-15, New England’s offense was on the move. The Patriots faced a 2nd-and-11 in Giants’ territory, when Tom Brady spotted a wide-open Wes Welker. The pass was slightly off-target, but catchable.
Welker could not complete the play.
The Giants went on to win, and in the stadium after the game an elated New York fan crossed paths with Gisele Bündchen, who at the time was married to the Patriots passer. That is when she, in defense of her husband, exclaimed that Brady could not both “[t]hrow and catch the ball.”
Now we turn to the 2023 Kansas City Chiefs, with that as a backdrop.
Patrick Mahomes is, in the minds of many, the most talented quarterback in the NFL today. He has won multiple Super Bowls, multiple Super Bowl MVP awards, and multiple NFL MVP awards. There is not a throw he cannot make, nor a problem he cannot solve with his arm.
But, as noted above, he cannot do everything.
As we saw on Monday night, he cannot catch the ball after he throws it.
In many ways, this mirrors some of what Patriots fans observed during Brady’s run in New England: A situation where their talented quarterback was tasked with making an offense work with some unknown names around him. Sure, the Patriots added Randy Moss via a trade, as with Welker, and developed Julian Edelman into one of the NFL’s premier slot receivers. But there were other seasons when Brady was tasked with generating offense with some unheralded receivers around him.
Now look at what is around Mahomes. Sure he has Travis Kelce, who may ultimately go down as one of the best tight ends in NFL history. But apart from Kelce, there is perhaps more inconsistency than anything else.
If you are a defensive coordinator facing Kansas City, you first want to take away Kelce.
Philadelphia managed to accomplish that task, in large part.
Thanks to some bracket coverages, as well as newly-acquired safety Kevin Byard handling some one-on-one situations well, the Eagles held Kelce to 7 receptions for 44 yards and a score. Philadelphia also forced a critical turnover in the second half, when Bradley Roby perfectly executed a “Peanut Punch,” knocking the ball loose from the tight end when the Chiefs were threatening.
As for the rest of their receiving threats, fellow tight end Justin Watson saw a game-high 11 targets, but only caught 5 of those for 53 yards and a touchdown. There was a critical play in the second half where he was open on a vertical route, but it seemed as if Mahomes expected him to keep his route more towards the boundary, and the two could not connect. Watson also had a pair of passes go through his hands, including on Kansas City’s final offensive play, where Mahomes hit him in the hands for what would have been a critical fourth-down conversion.
Then there was Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who had what might have been a game-winning touchdown slip through his hands, after he got behind the defense.
There is also this fact: The Chiefs have struggled recently in the second half of games. Monday night marked the third-straight game where Kansas City was shutout in the second half.
For years, Patriots fans griped that the team simply demanded too much from Brady, and failed to put the right pieces around him. Again, the organization did make some big additions, but they also had a number of misses via the draft and free agency. That led to seasons like the 2006-2007 campaign, where Brady was targeting players like Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney in the AFC Championship Game, which they lost to the Indianapolis Colts.
Something similar seems to be unfolding in Kansas City right now.
No, they’re not asking him to do too much — because he’s still Patrick Mahomes, by James Dator
I’ll admit there’s cause for a little worry if you’re a Chiefs fan this year, but we went through exactly this scenario in 2022 and Travis Kelce wouldn’t stop reminding us about it when Kansas City won the Super Bowl. This isn’t a team that’s lacking the talent, but floundering in the execution.
History has shown us that Mahomes is capable of making anyone look good. A few plays here or there on Monday night and we’re waking up today feeling very differently about the Chiefs. The most notable mistake is the talking point on Tuesday, Marquez Valdes-Scantling dropping what could have easily been the game-winning touchdown pass.
This is absolutely a play an NFL receiver should make, but in full stride at that speed it’s not a gimme. The fact MVS got this open in the first place is proof positive that the Chiefs have the pieces to win again. Do they need upgrades at wide receiver? Absolutely. Does this team need a better playcaller? Probably … but this is far from a breaking point for Mahomes.
We’ve lost sight of how good Mahomes is because he’s so routinely brilliant. Even with this host of players he’s on pace to finish with 4,452 passing yards, 32 TD and 15 INT. That’s obscene. Five or six years ago those are the kind of numbers it took to win an MVP award.
You can’t hit the emergency button because of a hiccup. This team can, and will get more disciplined and Mahomes will be back to his dominant self sooner, rather than later.
The Ruling, by Judge JP Acosta
First of all, I’d like to thank both parties for their arguments and time today. This is, without a doubt, one of the most important cases on this court’s docket in 2023. The Chiefs are still the favorites in the AFC because Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid will still be on the team, plus the defense is a top ten unit in the NFL. They will be in games. However, the margin between the Chiefs and other teams is a lot smaller than it was entering the season, because of said WR corps. The group is very young, but you can tell that they haven’t established that rapport with Mahomes yet, and in week 11, that’s a bit frustrating. While I understand Counsel Dator’s point that Mahomes is still putting up MVP-level numbers, this isn’t the first time that these drops by the receivers have been a problem. They lead the NFL in drops, and it’s hamstrung the Chiefs’ offense, especially in the second half.
That’s why I’m ruling in favor of Counsel Schofield. The Chiefs might ultimately be fine, but to this point they have stretched the Mahomes magic to its’ absolute limit. While they faced the same problems with teams doubling Kelce last year, the receivers last year, namely Juju Smith-Schuster, were able to mitigate that by finding holes in the zone and let Kelce freelance. If you want to look at football through the traditional lens, Juju was the tight end in that offense and Travis Kelce was the receiver. Without that veteran receiver