Relax. Take deep breaths. Take the long view when making decisions.
Practice, patience, patience.
This is what Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs heard from critics over the first 10 weeks of the season.
- "They are pressing."
- "They are broken."
- "This isn't a good football team anymore."
- "They've been figured out."
Week after week, head coach Andy Reid stood in front of the media preaching that his team would stay the course and that it was going to all come together. Reid preached patience — patience to the fans who were frustrated, patience to critics who fired off their hot takes for clicks and views, patience to the players to continue to grind and work hard. He asked for patience to not lose faith — to not give up on the season.
There are multiple Google searches on the topic of patience, but here are the most common ones:
Be in the present moment
Entering Sunday, the Chiefs were in the basement of the AFC West. They finished the day as its leader. After all that had happened so far in the season, the best the Chiefs could be was 6-4. If the Chiefs didn't handle their own business and get a win, it didn't matter how other contenders performed earlier in the day. To get out of "in the hunt" and into "division leaders," the Chiefs needed a win. And they did.
Other teams in the AFC West had the opportunity to distance themselves while the Chiefs were going through a rough patch, but they failed to do so, losing to sub-.500 teams in the past weeks. They allowed the Chiefs to hang around.
Those efforts started before kickoff.
The captains for the game were Patrick Mahomes, Tyrann Mathieu and Harrison Butker — the leaders of their respective units. The Chiefs brought out their white-on-white uniform combination, which had been in hibernation since the classic Monday Night Football game in 2018. The Chiefs understood this was a big game and treated it as such.
White on white, the captains selection. The Chiefs know how important this game is.— Carrington Harrison (@cdotharrison) November 15, 2021
Let's go back and look at the Raiders' opening drive of the second half. The Raiders were building momentum at the time.
Kicker Harrison Butker missed his first attempt inside of 50 yards all season, and Derek Carr orchestrated the most effective drive of the night, scoring a touchdown on a 37-yard pass to wide receiver Bryan Edwards.
How did the Chiefs respond? They did not panic nor press. They put together a 13-play, 82-yard drive that took nearly five minutes off the clock. It was a calculated response resulting in a fourth-down touchdown pass to rookie tight end Noah Gray, pushing the lead back to a two-score deficit. They endured the Raiders' early drive, responded with their own score and then the defense forced two straight turnovers to put the game out of reach.
Accept your current circumstances.
The Chiefs were in back-to-back Super Bowls, and everyone was gunning for them. AFC teams worked to figure out how to slow down the Chiefs and their high-powered offense this offseason. The target was on their back, and they were getting everyone's best shot. After a disappointing loss to the Buffalo Bills, Mahomes welcomed that challenge.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” he said at the time. “I want to be as prepared as possible to play in the playoffs to try to make it to the Super Bowl. If that means we’re going to get the best shot from every single team, then I’m ready for the challenge.”
Let it feel broken
After ugly wins over the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers, Reid voiced that "everything is not beautiful right now." Even after wins, the Chiefs felt uncomfortable. Many fans stated that we needed to see more improvement in the coming weeks to believe in this team again. But they didn't need that.
I thought offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said it best last Thursday.
“Because the Chiefs right now are kicking the Chiefs’ ass. Let’s go out and play against the opponent, give ourselves an opportunity, and then let’s see what happens.”
Critics came hunting for flaws on this Chiefs team. Morning shows were excited to shoot their takes out there about the Chiefs having difficulties through the first half of the season. This clip came from after the win over the Green Bay Packers.
.@Realrclark25 sounds off on Patrick Mahomes this season— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) November 8, 2021
“Patrick Mahomes is broken! … He’s the same as he’s always been, but that’s no longer good enough.” pic.twitter.com/z22VBInfEF
Mahomes admitted that he'd had issues with pocket depth throughout each season he's been the starter. He said he needed to be better. To assume that he couldn't figure it out and rebound was just a bad take. Sometimes, things need to break so that they can become stronger. The Chiefs offense looked like it had taken a page from the 2017 playbook with more crossers and screens in the game plan, which opened up the deep shots that we've grown accustomed to.
Patrick Mahomes generated +23.8 pass EPA in the #Chiefs 41-14 victory over the Raiders, the 3rd-most by a QB in a game this season.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 15, 2021
Mahomes threw 4 TD passes using play action, tied for the most in a game since 2016.#KCvsLV | #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/UyBaNsxBAS
Mahomes hit every throw.
Checkdowns to the flat. Screens to negate the Raiders quick pressure. Crossers to get playmakers in space. Travis Kelce on crucial third downs. Touchdown throws in the pocket and designed rollouts. And then the magic of Mahomes when he picked his spot to scramble out of structure and hit a streaking Darrel Williams on a broken play.
Be playful. Actively try to take yourself less seriously.
Being a fan of Chiefs football has been easy in recent years. They have had three straight deep playoff runs after being bad in the playoffs for a lifetime.
This season hasn't been easy. They've had some bad losses and some wins taken away because of untimely turnovers. But Sunday night was fun. And the Chiefs felt it too. Williams going up and making the play of the night on Raiders safety Jonathan Abrams was what was missing this season.
Go up and get it, Darrel! (via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/kVlZA7x9EO— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) November 15, 2021
The Chiefs are dangerous when they are having fun because that's who they are.
We all remember the clip of Mahomes screaming on the sideline, "Be You." On that play, Mahomes was Mahomes. It was third down, and he stepped up and was looking to scramble to the yard to gain. Instead, he identified the safety was flat-footed and let Williams make a play.
It wasn't a check-down; it wasn't taking what the defense gave him. It was having fun and being true to himself. The Chiefs may have indeed regained their swagger.
I love this from @tkelce! pic.twitter.com/FwBhKI8X7C— Cody Tapp (@codybtapp) November 15, 2021
Practice being a good listener.
This is what we all probably should have done.
We needed to be patient with this team and listen to them when they said they could right the ship. They've earned it after the success they have achieved. They earned the benefit of the doubt that they would correct some of their mistakes throughout the season.
The Chiefs never wavered on who they were in the locker room.
"Our guys battled," Reid declared. "They didn't give up on each other. They kept working through what could've been a time when you just throw your hands up and go things are working the way they're supposed to work. Guys didn't do that, so we'll build on that. Let's keep going."
But let's not overthink this either — the Chiefs were listening to the critics. Despite what they may say, many check social media and watch the morning sports talk shows. They heard what was being said. And if they indeed have turned the corner and become the juggernaut of a team they've been in recent seasons, that should scare the rest of the league.. This team is petty and cocky and plays their best when they are out to prove a point.
With a tough test against a legit NFC contender in the Dallas Cowboys on the horizon, the Chiefs must continue to build on the success of their win on Sunday night. They've been patient through the marathon that is the NFL season, and they've put themselves in a position to build a contender in the AFC.
What I would say is regardless of what happens, relax. Take deep breaths. Take the long view when making decisions. This NFL season is up for grabs for any team.
Mathieu said it best on Sunday after the win: "They don't crown champions in November."
Patience. January is still a month and a half away.