What's wrong with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs?

Asia's Tech News Daily

Patrick Mahomes thrives in chaos. He has ever since NFL cyborgs started chasing him. He’s beaten them with his brain, his legs and his otherworldly arm. He’s dissected and sidestepped blitzes. He’s deflated defenses with off-balance bombs. It’s why he won an MVP, then a Super Bowl. It’s why he reached a second, and entered the 2021 season favored to win again.

Seven weeks into that season, though, his Chiefs are reeling. They’re 3-4, more likely to miss than make the playoffs. And their offense has regressed, in part because opponents have adopted a counterintuitive strategy to make Mahomes mortal.

They’ve increasingly opted against chaos.

They have, almost entirely in recent weeks, stopped blitzing.

The Titans terrorized Kansas City on Sunday, 27-3, by only once sending more than four pass-rushers. Two weeks earlier, the Bills slowed Mahomes without a single blitz. “This was unusual,” Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said of his gameplan, “but for this opponent, it was the right thing to do.” And his peers around the league are catching on. Through seven weeks, Mahomes is the least-blitzed quarterback in football. Defenses are dropping seven-plus men into coverage — as the Bucs so often did in last season’s Super Bowl — on roughly 87% of plays against the Chiefs. That’s up from around 77% a year ago. It’s well above league average. And it has become something of a blueprint.

“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put out film [in the Super Bowl]: Rush them with four,” says Orlando Scandrick, a 12-year NFL defensive back who played for the Chiefs in 2018. “No point in chasing him all around.”

Frazier added: “The more we studied Kansas City and their offense, and just watching Mahomes and how he operated versus pressure, man, it just created a lot of problems for defenses because of his ability to … make you pay sometimes for bringing pressure.”

So, defenses have simply stopped giving Mahomes that chance.

What’s wrong with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs?
© Provided by Yahoo! Sports (NFL Game Pass/Yahoo Sports illustration)

How the NFL caught onto Mahomes

Of course, replicating the Titans masterclass is not simple. Nor is explaining why this strategy has worked. It isn’t that Mahomes is better under pressure than in the absence of it. He’s excellent on the run, of course, more prolific outside the pocket than any other QB in the league last year; but he’s still better stationary with time to throw.

Mahomes, however, has been better against five-plus pass rushers than against four or fewer — from 2018 through last year’s AFC playoffs, against the blitz, he compiled a passer rating over 116, with 25 touchdowns and just one interception — largely because more chaos up front means more space down the field.

Blitzes leave Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce or Kansas City’s other weapons 1-on-1. Mahomes’ ability to escape blitzers gives those weapons time to separate for big plays. Dropping seven into coverage, on the other hand, allows a defense to play two high safeties, or double Hill and Kelce, and take away those big plays.

What’s wrong with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs?
© Provided by Yahoo! Sports (NFL Game Pass/Yahoo Sports illustration)

Plus, “you can kind of manipulate the quarterback to a degree, by showing him some different looks, because you’ve got more people in coverage,” Frazier said. “Sometimes he might think you’re playing a single-high defense when you’re actually playing a split-safety defense, or vice versa.”

In other words, he might see a single safety and think half the field is open, only for the defense to rotate a second safety back in coverage to close it up.

“When you’re bringing pressure,” Frazier continued, “sometimes, against a really really good quarterback like Patrick, they identify, they know exactly where to go with the ball in pre-snap, then you’re kinda imperiled if you don’t have great matchups. So having more guys in coverage, and having the ability to rush with four, can allow you to manipulate the coverage a little bit.”

This approach has gained traction around the league. Last year, Bill Belichick’s Patriots spent nearly half of their Week 4 game against Kansas City dropping not seven but eight defenders. This year, in Week 2, the Ravens blitzed on just 12.9% of pass plays, their lowest percentage ever under defensive coordinator Don Martindale. They quit the blitz entirely after Mahomes beat it for a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, and only gave up seven points thereafter.

The approach, though, is not a silver bullet. The Eagles tried it in Week 4 and failed miserably. The Titans succeeded despite rarely blitzing because they still pressured Mahomes 18 times, on more than 40% of his dropbacks. They got the best of both worlds — backfield chaos and coverage downfield — in part because Kansas City’s offensive line crumbled just as it did last February.

What’s wrong with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs?
© Provided by Yahoo! Sports (NFL Game Pass/Yahoo Sports illustration)

Shoring up the weak link comes at a cost for Chiefs

Not long after Mahomes got pummeled in Super Bowl LV — the Buccaneers, per Pro Football Focus, pressured him on 27 of 56 dropbacks (48%) — the Chiefs set in motion a plan to better protect him. Tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, who missed the Super Bowl with injuries, were released. A week later, the team signed $16-million-per-year guard Joe Thuney away from the Patriots and coaxed Kyle Long out of retirement.

In April, they swung a trade with the Ravens for Orlando Brown, who was unhappy with his contract and wanted to move from right tackle to the left side. The Chiefs had the money, the draft picks and the opportunity. A week later in the draft, they took center Creed Humphrey in Round 2 and guard Trey Smith, a top-50 talent with medical concerns, in Round 6.

In a matter of weeks, a unit that was the Achilles heel of the Super Bowl now looked stacked on paper.

“We’ve got a handful of guys, plus some — maybe two handfuls — that we feel are pretty good players,” head coach Andy Reid boasted in August.

Early on, it appeared that the offensive line commitment was paying off. The two rookies (Humphrey and Smith) earned starting spots and have, more often than not, fared well. Thuney has been his typically sturdy self in pass protection, despite battling a hand injury.

The problem has been on the outside. Right tackle Lucas Niang has been the weakest pass-blocking link, eventually giving way to Mike Remmers in Week 6. Brown has had his moments, but was undressed by the Titans in Sunday’s loss — the first game this season that looked frighteningly similar to the Super Bowl meltdown.

And the consequences of their struggles seep into other parts of the roster. The costs associated with assembling the offensive line prevented the Chiefs from buttressing a defense that might have overachieved in 2020. Seven weeks into 2021, a relatively unchanged unit ranks 31st of 32 teams in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

Its porousness demands brilliance from Mahomes. And for the first time in his young career, Mahomes hasn’t been equal to the task.

Taking away the Chiefs bread and butter

In his mere 53 regular-season starts, Mahomes has established himself as the ultimate Houdini quarterback. He’s masked defensive flaws. He’s engineered improbable comebacks. In his first four pro seasons, he did just about anything Kansas City needed from him en route to a 38-8 record.

This season, however, hasn’t always followed that script. The Chiefs came back from down 12 in the second half to beat Cleveland in Week 1, and cranked it up late in wins over the Eagles and the Washington Football Team. But Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumbled late in the Week 2 loss to the Ravens and again the next week against the Chargers. With that game against Los Angeles tied, the Chiefs took over with two-plus minutes left. But right as it looked like Mahomes would pull off his latest Houdini act, he threw a pick — and gave Justin Herbert the chance to lead a game-winning drive of his own.

On the surface, the Chiefs’ offense remains stout. It ranks third in total yards, fourth in passing yards, second in first downs and eighth in points. But one big thing has been missing: explosive plays. The Chiefs ranked top-10 in explosive pass rate in each of Mahomes’ first three seasons as a starter. This year, they rank 22nd. In losses to the Chargers, Bills and Titans, they had only six passes of 20 yards or more — and none longer than 28. With defenses committing to two high safeties, the opportunities downfield have dried up.

“People are learning not to play them all man to man [and pressure],” Scandrick says. “You can go zone, kind of [use a] ‘slow until you know’ [approach]. Try to make them take the long, hard route.”

This isn’t a completely novel approach. Defenses started adjusting prior to last year’s Super Bowl. And the impact of those adjustments shows up in numbers. In Mahomes’ first 44 starts, including playoffs, he averaged 8.55 adjusted net yards per pass, and threw 110 touchdowns to just 29 interceptions. He led the Chiefs to 24 wins by eight or more points and only one loss by more than eight points. But in his 17 starts since, dating back to last season, his adjusted net yards have fallen to 7.21 per attempt. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is a far less impressive 39-16.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs won only three of those 17 games by more than eight points, and lost three by eight or more. They’ve covered point spreads just three times in their last 15 regular-season games.

So is all of this fixable? Mahomes hasn’t had a true slump in his career. The offensive line, in theory, should jell and develop as the season wears on. The offense could right its ship.

But the defense might be what it’s been, leaving the Chiefs to rely on Mahomes’ wizardry, which once was reliable but this year has been much less so. Opponents have adapted. “A lot of the things Patrick has done well,” Scandrick says, “it’s not working.”

On one hand, the solutions aren’t secret. The Chiefs know the formula. “You have to play complementary football,” Scandrick says. “When they won the Super Bowl, they had a run game. They ran back kicks. They’re missing those.”

On the other hand, recapturing them isn’t easy.

“I don’t know, man,” Scandrick says. “The Chiefs are kind of limited in what they can do.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Judge sentences contractor in Paterson kickback scheme case to six months in prison

PATERSON — A fence contractor who engaged in a kickback scheme with Erik Lowe, the disgraced former chairman of the now-defunct Paterson Municipal Utilities Authority, was sentenced to six months ... Read more »

Sex, sin and sacrilege: Inside the making of the lesbian nun thriller 'Benedetta'

In Paul Verhoeven’s latest film, Virginie Efira and Daphné Patakia play 17th century nuns who become entangled in a forbidden love affair. Read more »

Formula One: Retiring Raikkonen 'wouldn't change a thing' after 20 years

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA (AFP) – While all eyes in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, will be on the headline drama of the title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen ... Read more »

Rio Ferdinand say Mohamed Salah is 'out of order' after Liverpool win at AC Milan

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has joked that the goalscoring form of Mohamed Salah is “out of order.” The Liverpool forward continued his excellent season on Tuesday in the ... Read more »

Basket – NBA – Saison régulière : Brooklyn renverse Dallas, les Lakers se reprennent contre Boston

© Panoramic kevin durant dallas mavericks brooklyn nets 07122021 Dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi, dans le cadre de la saison régulière de NBA, les Brooklyn Nets ont renversé ... Read more »

Rory Burns' first-ball dismissal may trump Steve Harmison wide, says Pat Cummins

Australia captain Pat Cummins expects Rory Burns’ first-ball dismissal to go down in Ashes legend after England’s decision to bat first backfired horribly on day one of the first Test. ... Read more »

Germany's parliament has elected Olaf Scholz as chancellor to replace Angela Merkel after her 16-year tenure

BERLIN — Germany’s parliament has elected Olaf Scholz as chancellor to replace Angela Merkel after her 16-year tenure. Read more »

Changes made to Abu Dhabi circuit ahead of F1 season finale

Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit has undergone a series of changes in a bid to make the Formula One season finale even more exciting for drivers and fans. Lewis Hamilton ... Read more »

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz elected as German chancellor

German parliament Bundestag elects new chancellor, in Berlin By Michael Nienaber BERLIN (Reuters) –German lawmakers elected Social Democrat Olaf Scholz as new chancellor on Wednesday, ending 16 years of conservative ... Read more »

Zenit vs Chelsea FC: Prediction, kick off time, TV, live stream, team news, h2h results - preview

© ES Composite CLZenitChelsea21.jpg Chelsea will hope to seal top spot in Champions League Group H when they travel to face Zenit this evening. The Blues sit level on points ... Read more »

Man United vs Young Boys: Prediction, kick off time, TV, live stream, team news, h2h results - preview

© ES Composite CLManUtdYoungBoys21v1.jpg Ralf Rangnick will take charge of Manchester United in the Champions League for the first time tonight as Swiss side Young Boys visit Old Trafford. United ... Read more »

Wolff kitart amellett, hogy a Hornerrel való csatája nem megjátszott

© Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG és a Red Bull között a 2021-es F1-es bajnoki címért folytatott rivalizálás a pályán kívüli kapcsolatokra ... Read more »

Bayern Munich vs FC Barcelona: Prediction, kick off time, TV, live stream, team news, h2h results - preview

© Getty Images bayernbarcelona08122021A.jpg Barcelona face a crucial Champions League tie tonight as they travel to face Bayern Munich in Group E. Should Benfica beat Dynamo Kyiv, who are without ... Read more »

2 players who could leave QPR next month

© Provided by Football League World League One – Oxford United v Burton Albion The 2021/22 campaign has the makings of a fantastic season for QPR, who are fifth in ... Read more »

Jake Paul tells Gervonta Davis he produced a "clown performance" in latest win

Jake Paul believes Gervonta Davis lost his most recent fight with Isaac Cruz in what he called a “clown performance”. Davis was taken the distance for just the second time ... Read more »

98x possession lost: Howe must brutally axe NUFC's "manager's dream", he's a passenger - opinion

© Provided by Football FanCast newcastle-almiron-premier-league-howe Newcastle have endured a nightmare season to date and currently sit 19th in the Premier League table after 15 matches played. They have 10 ... Read more »

Chelsea form a blip - or something more?

Chelsea slipped from first to third in the Premier League in a matter of hours at the weekend after they twice surrendered a lead to lose 3-2 at West Ham. ... Read more »

We simulated Man United vs Young Boys to get a Champions League score prediction

Ralf Rangnick takes charge of his first Champions League game as Manchester United manager on Wednesday, following the German’s winning start at the weekend. The Reds host Swiss side Young ... Read more »

Cricket-England on back foot after horror Ashes start at Gabba

SYDNEY (Reuters) – An insipid batting display lasting two sessions left England with a lot of catching up to do after a horror start to their Ashes campaign against Australia ... Read more »

Jake Paul 'p***** off' at Tommy Fury and launches incredible attack on John Fury

Jake Paul has admitted he is ‘p***** off’ at Love Island star Tommy Fury after he pulled out of their highly-anticipated bout – and launched a scathing attack on his ... Read more »

George Russell shares cryptic Toto Wolff message which may be dig at Christian Horner

Williams driver George Russell has shared a cryptic message from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff which could be a dig at Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner. Wolff and Horner have been ... Read more »

“They don't let this club down” – Nathan Jones addresses criticism Luton Town pair have recently received

© Provided by Football League World Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu Luton Town returned to winning ways at Blackpool on Saturday, with the Hatters running out as convincing 3-0 winners at Bloomfield Road.  ... Read more »

'Suited us' - Fleetwood Town boss Stephen Crainey's claim after Bolton Wanderers victory

Fleetwood Town interim boss Stephen Crainey believed the second half of their clash against Bolton Wanderers would suit them even more than the first period of their 3-0 victory as ... Read more »

Arsenal man ‘frustrated' with Mikel Arteta decision, set to join key stars by leaving

© PA Images Nicolas Pepe celebrates with Gabriel Martinelli after Arsenal score against Sheff Utd at home An Arsenal star is considering leaving the Emirates as he has become ‘frustrated’ ... Read more »

Caf dismisses speculation that Afcon will be moved due to Omicron

© Provided by Independent Online (IOL) Johannesburg – The Confederation of African Football (Caf) on Tuesday dismissed speculation that next month’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Cameroon could be ... Read more »

Everton news: All five Everton teams victorious, forward linked

© Photo by Emma Simpson/Everton FC via Getty Images Your daily dose of Everton news and rumours What a successful weekend for the entire Everton brand, with all five teams ... Read more »

Sessanta ragazzi con disabilità faranno sport gratuitamente

E’ stato avviato l’altroieri il progetto “Qui ed Ora”, proposto dalla Società Sportiva dilettantisti Sportfly che vuole promuovere gratuitamente l’inclusione sociale e la salute dei ragazzi fanesi con disabilità. Unico ... Read more »

Ajax op Rapport: Antony troeft Haller af in groepsfase

© ProShots Ajax op Rapport: Antony troeft Haller af in groepsfase Antony is in de VI-overzichten de best beoordeelde Ajacied in de groepsfase van de Champions League. De 21-jarige Braziliaan ... Read more »

Begrip voor wissel tijdens Ajax - Sporting Portugal: ‘Dat was achteraf goed'

© Aangeboden door Voetbalzone Perr Schuurs kan er wel begrip voor opbrengen dat hij gewisseld werd tijdens de wedstrijd tussen Ajax en Sporting Portugal (4-2). De centrumverdediger werd na een ... Read more »

Abdou Diallo après PSG-Club de Bruges : "C'est bon de gagner largement"

Sans forcer, le Paris Saint-Germain a pris la mesure du Club de Bruges (4-1), ce mardi, lors de la dernière journée de la phase de groupe de la Ligue des ... Read more »

Philippe Clement explique pourquoi il a laissé Cisse Sandra débuter contre le PSG

Philippe Clement a réservé une surprise dans son onze de départ contre le PSG. Le jeune Cisse Sandra, 17 ans, a été autorisé à débuter. © photonews Sandra Cisse Philippe ... Read more »

Kahofer startet mit Niederlage in Dreiband-WM

© Bereitgestellt von APA Billardspieler Arnim Kahofer ist am Dienstag mit einer Niederlage in die Dreiband-Weltmeisterschaft in Sharm el Sheik gestartet. Der Wiener unterlag im Auftaktmatch dem Niederländer Ludo Kools ... Read more »

Tyson Fury set for Principality Stadium showdown with Dillian Whyte as he defends world heavyweight title in Wales

Tyson Fury is set to fight at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium early in the new year. The world heavyweight champion has been ordered to defend his title against Dillian Whyte, with ... Read more »

De NOS breidt F1-pakket uit: 'Budget te rechtvaardigen'

© Aangeboden door GPblog NL Naast de belangrijkste rechtenhouder Viaplay heeft de NOS een uitgebreid pakket met sublicenties weten te bemachtigen. Meest in het oog springend is het rechtstreeks uitzenden ... Read more »

Djokovic nella lista partecipanti all'Australian Open

Novak Djokovic parteciperà agli Open di Australia di tennis che si terranno dal prossimo 17 gennaio a Melbourne. Il nome del giocatore numero uno al mondo è nella lista ufficiale ... Read more »

I cinghiali entrano nei cortili delle scuole. E i bimbi si chiudono nelle aule

RIVAROLO. Tempi duri per i cinghiali che scorrazzano tra le case. Dopo l’episodio di Chivasso (con un cinghiale che si è rifugiato nella sede della Croce rossa), altre due segnalazioni ... Read more »

‘Championship at best' – Pundit slams Liverpool defender

© PA Images Nat-Phillips-Liverpool Gabriel Agbonlahor claims Liverpool’s Nat Phillips is “not a Premier League centre-half” after the Reds beat AC Milan 2-1 in the Champions League. The win in ... Read more »

F1, Ecclestone difende a spada tratta Verstappen

© Fornito da Sportal.it L’ex direttore della FOM accusa il britannico della Mercedes Come sempre, Ecclestone usa parole taglienti per giudicare quanto accaduto tra Hamilton e Verstappen in Arabia Saudita: ... Read more »

PSG v Club Brugge player ratings: Mbappe 9, Messi 9; Mignolet 4, Hendry 4

© FRANCK FIFE Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (C) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (R) celebrate their team’s goal during the UEFA Champions League first round day ... Read more »

Serena Williams set to miss Australian Open but Novak Djokovic included on entry list

© Adam Davy Serena Williams during her most recent match in the first round of Wimbledon on June 29. PA Serena Williams looks set to miss next month’s Australian Open ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic