AP Photo/John Locher
Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs are the postmodern versions of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Doubt them at your own peril.
This would be the year the Los Angeles Chargers finally challenged the Chiefs for AFC West supremacy, the Las Vegas Raiders made enough investments to be ranked among the conference’s top rosters, and the Denver Broncos after seven listless years Peyton Manning’s retirement finally found their franchise quarterback.
Not correct. Not correct. And spectacularly wrong.
Instead, the Chiefs continued their dominant manner by clinching their seventh straight division title, No. 1 overall in the conference playoffs and a first-round bye with Saturday’s dominant 31-13 win over the Raiders. The results meant more than a continuation of the status quo.
Kansas City doesn’t quite feel like the same roster that has represented the AFC in two of the previous three Super Bowl campaigns. Still, the Chiefs are getting better every week.
Mahomes is on track to win another MVP after a record-breaking performance. He did so despite three of his top four wide receivers leaving the organization after last season, including Tyreek Hill, the game’s biggest deep threat, who currently sits second overall with 1,687 receiving yards.
Hill’s departure, in particular, forced Mahomes to expand his game and become a more complete quarterback than he already was. The 2018 NFL Offensive Player of the Year redefined how everyone views quarterback position. His ability to create and work outside of structures is now a requirement for those entering the League. Granted, Mahomes is GOD animal, but the importance of a playmaker behind center is greater than ever.
However, the efficiency with which the 27-year-old signal-caller now acts makes him better, as he distributes the ball to those open rather than consistently looking for the big game.
“I know when to turn it off,” Mahomes told ESPN’s Louis Riddick after the game when discussing the possibility of shooting into the field or just finding the open receiver.
Because of how the quarterback is currently playing, the number of guns on Kansas City’s offense is overwhelming, and more are still appearing. Kadarius Toney is the most recent example.
After a first-round disappointment with the New York Giants, Toney is now a pawn for an offensive mastermind like Reid. The 20th overall pick 2021 is at its best when asked to create in space and after the catch. He won’t be a flamboyant routerunner or traditional wide receiver. He must have plays designed specifically for him in order for him to make a difference. The Chiefs are doing just that.
For example, the wide receiver carried the ball as many times (three) as the stretches ran during Saturday’s first-half performance, according to Pro Football Focus. Nathan Janke. One of them led to one 11-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep.
Toney scored on the previous game when Reid dug deep into his bag of tricks and called an a play rotating tangle called “Reindeer Personnel, Arctic Circle, snow globe‘, quick alignment, quick snap and throwback quarterback pass despite being recalled for a holding penalty.
These games will drive absolutely insane every opposing defensive coordinator the Chiefs face because they have to prepare for every single event.
So the senior Chiefs aren’t just Mahomes and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce. Now opponents have to make up for guys like Toney, Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. They are all capable of delivering game-changing plays for the game’s best offense.