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Reviewing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ quiet offensive day in Denver

Patrick Mahomes and Clyde Edwards-Helaire just missed a touchdown pass.

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs scored in every facet of the game on Sunday against the divisional rival Denver Broncos. It feels like a broken record, but the game did not go as how we’re accustomed to seeing on the offensive side of the ball this week.

The ceiling of the offensive group is an unstoppable force. When the game script is prime cut and the group executes, nobody can stop them. We haven’t seen too many complete offensive performances to date. This isn’t a reason to be alarmed but rather an acknowledgement that this group has to do more in some of their bigger remaining matchups and in the playoffs. I’m more than confident they’ll be better as the season progresses and in games against teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Patrick Mahomes had a fine performance and was let down a few times both in protection and catching the ball. The rhythm of the offense was also disrupted for a stretch where defense and special teams scores kept the unit off the field. There was plenty to take away from Mahomes’ Week 7 performance.

Here are some plays of note:

Something good

An excellent design and an explosive play early in the game:

Mecole Hardman was active the first six minutes of the game — a conscious effort to get him involved in the offense this week. The first play of the game was a reverse to him. Hardman’s first catch of the game came on a sprint out smash concept with him running a quick developing corner route.

The Chiefs played to the second-year receiver’s strengths on both those play calls as well as this one — another sprint out. Mahomes is running a little play action roll out and this play is a deep, long developing high-low with Hardman working across the field on a deep over, with Hill short underneath. Mahomes is patient to let the play develop but also gets clear of any defender on the edge before he delivers the ball. It’s well placed and a big gain. Great design and great execution across the board.

Something bad

This sack probably doesn’t happen a few weeks from now.

The Chiefs are in a five-man protection with the running back free releasing (sometimes you’ll hear it called “Gone” — the back is gone) out of the backfield. It’s a full slide to the right and the Broncos show six rushers. Left tackle Eric Fisher must take the most immediate threat — leaving a free rusher. Mahomes and the running back have to beat a free rushing EDGE.

Mahomes wants to dump the ball off to Le’Veon Bell (and is ready to) but the new addition doesn’t get his head turned quite quick enough. Mahomes elects to not try to throw it (he could be worried about trying to float it with a closing defender) and holds the ball for a sack. I bet a few weeks from now, Bell has the timing is figured out, and should this situation arise again, they’ll execute properly.

Something smart

Mahomes is so good at working the ball back into the field on a scramble, and it seems like a very conscious effort the more we see of him.

He challenges getting the ball back inside the numbers and knows the potential those plays can have with the over-pursuit of the defense. His eyes seem more active trying to work the ball — and his receivers are adjusting accordingly. You see tight end Nick Keizer trying to sit around the numbers expecting a throw. He’s throttling down to let the defense clear, knowing it’s very possible he’ll see a target.

The play winds up being a big one, as Mahomes throws once a defensive lineman clears Keizer. Football can become such routine in some situations. Players’ instincts are to flow to the sideline as a quarterback is losing space. Mahomes is able to operate differently than most others against it.

Something special

Mahomes fits a ball into his rookie running back on what should’ve been his second touchdown of the day. Everything is fast in the red zone — decisions have to be quick which makes what Mahomes is able to down there out of structure so special.

He’s decisive and fearless — trusting his outstanding vision and believing he has the athletic traits to get the ball placed appropriately. This play was a prime example. The Chiefs motion Clyde Edwards-Helaire into the boundary on this red zone play. Mahomes steps up against front-side pressure and rolls to his right — looking to extend the play and find somewhere to find the ball.

Quarterback and running back are on the same page here — as Edwards-Helaire starts working to the front pylon of the end zone. He clears the linebacker, who has his back turned to Mahomes and wants to pop it behind him. The ball is perfectly placed before a defensive back can close on it — but Edwards-Helaire doesn’t hold his end of the bargain and drops a beautiful pass — a missed opportunity to get a second touchdown.

Something you might have missed

Le’Veon Bell’s best two runs of the game came on the same play call.

Bell collected a pair of 16-yard runs on outside zone out of a bunch formation. As you can see, the Chiefs arrived at the bunch formation differently — the first time with a little window dressing with Kelce motions into the bunch. The Chiefs are going to run outside zone into the bunch. Tyreek Hill runs a ghost action — faking an end-around the other direction.

Bell displays great vision on both instances and sound decision making. On the first play, he hits inside off a great block from Demarcus Robinson — bursting through the hole and making a guy miss at the second level. On the second play, he reads it to bend back inside — again showing great burst through the hole. Two strong runs to build off of — on the same concept.

This is how you build plays for a guy that has had limited time learning the offense — it was the same play but just different ways of getting into it.