If this is as bad as it gets for the Chiefs, winning by 12 points on a day when the offensive line was a sieve, throw a parade. Phenom quarterback Patrick Mahomes was sacked five times, knocked around all day, and the Cards had five more tackles for loss. This will be a long week for left tackle Eric Fisher, who was abused by Arizona’s Chandler Jones, and it may have started during the game. The coaching staff, tight end Travis Kelce implied, lit into the offense during the 26-14 win. “From what the coaches were expressing out there,” Kelce told me, “the way we played was just unacceptable. We say that because we’ve been able to roll on just about everyone we’ve played.”
As a team, the Chiefs should be happy that the Cardinals gambled by sending extra rushers, and got home pretty consistently. Instead of playing max coverage, Arizona pressured Mahomes … and it worked some, and Mahomes burned the Cards some. After the game, I sat in coach Andy Reid’s office, and he preferred to look at the glass half-full. “Today, Patrick learned a ton off a few of the different looks that he got,” Reid said. “The one neat thing about him is that you might fool him once, but you normally don’t fool him twice.”
My takeaway from watching this team over the last two months was reinforced on the first drive of the day. Seventy-five yards, three plays, 56 seconds … Chiefs 7, Cards 0. It looked like it’d be 52-10. A football field is 53.5 yards wide, and the Chiefs use about 53 of those yards. On this first touchdown, it was a great illustration of stretching the defense from boundary to boundary. Then, for Mahomes, he picks the defensive poison.
On this play, Kareem Hunt motioned out of the backfield wide to the right boundary. Wideout Chris Conley was inside Hunt about six yards closer to the formation, and Tyreek Hill snug to the formation in the right slot. Tight end Demetrius Harris was flanked left, and wideout Demarcus Robinson split wide left, near the boundary. Five receivers, probably 48 yards apart. The Cards countered with a two-deep-safety look, but think how difficult it is. The safety on the offensive right, Tre Boston, had to figure out among three routes—a deep corner by Hunt, a medium in-cut by Conley, or a deep post by Hill, one of the fastest men in football—whom to cover. Once Hill got past his coverman, corner Brandon Williams, Mahomes lofted the ball up the middle of the field, and Williams, with the ball in the air, was already motioning to the safety, like, Where are you! And the safety had to be countering, You try to account for three guys at once—with two of them being sub-4.4 guys! The 37-yard touchdown looked too easy. Mahomes has had a lot of those this year.