Are the Chiefs Relying Too Much on Pat Mahomes’ Arm?
Every adjective has been exhausted when it comes to Patrick Mahomes. An NFL cheat code come to life, it’s not a stretch to say the Chiefs would struggle to be a .500 team without the greatest passer in modern football. Every player has a breaking point, no matter how incredible they might be — and we saw that in the Thursday night season opener against the Lions.
In a game that showcased Mahomes’ rare struggles, we cannot solely blame the quarterback for his lackluster performance. Instead, Mahomes was consistently let down by a lack of reliability from his receiving corps. Kadarius Toney’s four drops and a costly interception turned the seemingly routine into a pick-six for the Lions.
Without top targets Travis Kelce and Chris Jones, the Chiefs faced a daunting challenge in the season opener. Their performance exposed the team’s lack of offensive firepower, making even Patrick Mahomes look mortal. While credit is due to the Lions, the Chiefs’ self-inflicted debacle cannot be ignored.
Heading into the 2022 season, the Chiefs were already facing questions regarding their lack of weapons. Trading Tyreek Hill, though a necessary move for future cap solvency, deprived them of one of football’s most electrifying receivers to pair with their sensational quarterback. Hill and Mahomes were a formidable duo, exploiting opposing defenses with their improvisational skills and playmaking abilities.
Kansas City had faced early season setbacks in 2022 but managed to rely on the ever-reliable Travis Kelce and a capable supporting cast to secure victories. However, in their recent encounter, with Kelce sidelined and a lack of consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback due to Chris Jones’ holdout, the Chiefs crumbled. Despite it being a one-point defeat that could have gone either way, questions arose: Have the Chiefs placed too much responsibility on Mahomes’ shoulders?
The departure of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman coupled with the team’s “next man up” philosophy, including signing Marquez Valdes-Scantling, drafting Skyy Moore, and promoting Toney to a full-time starter, raises concerns about the offensive downgrade. While coach Andy Reid remains unworried, stating the poor performance was an exception rather than the rule, there is potential blame to be placed on the front office for putting Mahomes in this situation. As seen with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, consistently downgrading the supporting cast under the belief that the QB can elevate everyone may eventually lead to a bottoming out.
This analysis is not intended to fuel doubt or serve as bulletin board material for the Chiefs. The reality is that with Kelce’s return, the team is expected to bounce back offensively. However, Thursday night’s offensive struggles raise legitimate concerns. The Chiefs now face a challenging four-game stretch against the Jaguars, Bears, Jets, and Vikings, with only the Bears as a seemingly easier opponent. If these issues persist with Kelce back in the lineup, it may be time for the team to swiftly consider trading for a receiver to bolster their offensive arsenal.
One game may not be a sufficient sample size to draw definitive conclusions, but the Thursday night display was undeniably concerning. The Chiefs must address their offensive shortcomings promptly to maximize their chances of success, as what was witnessed against the Lions was simply not good enough.
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