It’s Thursday, and I’m still basking in the Fitzmagic the Kansas City Chiefs were blessed to experience this past Sunday. Since giving away a game against the Tennessee Titans, the Chiefs have rattled off six straight wins and have built week after week on their performances — especially on defense.
I’m not looking too much into Week 17’s offensive performance as a means to measure the unit going into January. I don’t believe it was an A-plus call sheet from Andy Reid — some things certainly were held out for the playoffs. The good news for all Chiefs fans is that Reid won’t have to put anything on tape this week and will have more bullets in the chamber for whomever they play next and beyond.
The Chiefs had three explosive pass plays on offense this week, all to different receivers. Mecole Hardman (30 yards), Demarcus Robinson (24-yard touchdown pass) and Tyreek Hill (47 yards) all connected with Patrick Mahomes. These plays, along with Damien Williams’ 84-yard run were much needed in between an unproductive performance.
On a largely dull day offensively, the Chiefs used a two-play sequence to get their first touchdown of the day.
The big play the Chiefs needed to kick start the offense. Curl from Hill influences Derwin James who was likely anticipating the deep over. Mahomes pops a big one behind him to Hardman. Great pocket management to slide right and then step up to drive the ball 35 yards on a rope. pic.twitter.com/ipTH7WZjH2— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 31, 2019
An important third-and-7 for a struggling Chiefs offense and the rookie Hardman sparked the passing game. Hill runs a curl from the inside spot of the three-receiver side. The Chargers’ Derwin James is playing the boundary safety and is likely anticipating a deep over from Hill. When he runs a curl, James drives on it.
The middle-field safety gains depth, and Hardman crosses the face and flattens into the boundary. Mahomes does a great job navigating the pocket and drives a ball to Hardman with the safety closing. In his post-game press conference, Mahomes mentioned it was an adjustment he and Hardman made on the fly. It was a massive play that set up a touchdown the next snap.
The lone touchdown pass for the Chiefs this week. I learned it as a PCP (post-corner-post...real original, I know).— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 31, 2019
Typically see these routes with a 7 (like this play) or 8 man protection. Run Kelce and Hill into the boundary to widen the window for Robinson. A+ anticipation. pic.twitter.com/GccmsGwJXD
Immediately following the big catch from Hardman, the Chiefs come back with a play-action shot. The Chiefs are going to hit Robinson on a triple move — what I call a PCP route (sell post, then corner, then back to a post).
When you’re dialing up a longer-developing route like this, you’ll typically see a seven or eight-man protection. In this instance, the Chiefs are going to use a seven-man protection with backs Damien Williams and Anthony Sherman staying in to protect. Hill is going to work across the field to draw the middle-field safety across the formation to help create a window for Mahomes to get this ball into Robinson.
He actually holds the ball a beat waiting for Robinson to get out of his break back to the post. Mahomes throws with great anticipation on the final move and places the ball well for a touchdown. The protection held up well, and the Chiefs got their first touchdown of the game late in the second quarter to regain the lead.
The longest pass play of the day came when Mahomes connected to Hill in the second half.
The Chargers are in a Tampa 2 with Drue Tranquill opening to the strength of the formation and carrying vertically with Tyreek Hill. He outruns the LB and Mahomes drops a ball at the top of his drop over safeties and Tranquill. pic.twitter.com/qJxbuAgd5O— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) January 1, 2020
The Chargers are in a Tampa 2 defense with rookie linebacker Drue Tranquill running the deep middle all the way with Hill. It’s a quick identification by Mahomes, who is ready to throw a ball over the split safeties at the top of his drop. The ball is out on time, and the safeties aren’t able to help, as Hill has already run past them. The ball is a little underthrown but still goes for a gain of 47 yards. This was another important play that set up a touchdown later in the drive.
The bottom line
The less-than-ideal news is that those three plays (101 yards) accounted for 58% of Mahomes’ passing output for the game. That’s a significant of production for just three plays. It’s good that you saw three different players involved, especially considering two of them haven’t seen much volume all year. The Chiefs will need the likes of Hardman and Robinson to make another play or two in what fans hope is three more games this season.
However, the plays in between the explosive plays need to be more consistent. The ceiling for the passing game is high, but it will need to be realized if the Chiefs want to win a Super Bowl.