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Patrick Mahomes, first-place Chiefs refused to settle for rebuilding year

Kansas City is no stranger to being the AFC’s top seed, but many didn’t expect them to be here in the offseason.

Kansas City Chiefs v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

10 weeks into a very unique NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs are back where they’ve been for a vast majority of the previous four years — atop the AFC.

The 7-2 Chiefs are alone at the peak of their conference, owning one less loss than five other AFC contenders. In addition, they have a stranglehold on the AFC West — and could solidify a four-game lead in the division standings with a win against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11.

Outside of the loyal fans that make up “Chiefs Kingdom,” this was not the expectation in the offseason — especially after the team traded away wide receiver Tyreek Hill. NFL fans and analysts believed it was a sign that the almighty Chiefs were fine with sacrificing short-term success for a longer-term plan.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid never gave that consideration.

When the Hill trade went through, the expectations for the team remained the same — and Reid never felt the need to remind his players of the unconditionally-high expectations.

“I think the players know how we roll, and you don’t really have to say that,” Reid told reporters during his press conference on Wednesday. “I’m glad [Tyreek Hill is] having a good year, that’s great for the National Football League and it’s great for him and his family. I’m happy for him, and that’s the way we approach it. We also have good players, and Brett does it as well as anybody: finding people that he thinks will fit the offense, defense, or special teams. We have full trust in him as a coaching staff.”

Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins are definitely benefitting from Hill’s presence, using him as effectively as any wide receiver in the league to help build a 7-3 record to this point; they are first place in the AFC East.

Hill is on his way to a record-breaking season, looking like the most impactful receiver in the NFL. Yet, the Chiefs have been able to maintain their high standards for winning this year immediately after sending him away. It’s why quarterback Patrick Mahomes can so easily buy into the foundation that has been laid by the organization.

“Guys just understand the culture that coach Reid has built here over the years,” Mahomes noted to reporters during his press conference on Wednesday. “It’s bigger than one player, it’s bigger than myself... We understand how great Tyreek is, I think people see that now in Miami even more than they saw it here — how special of a player that he is. But in this offense, it’s about everybody.

“We’ve brought new guys in, the older players have gotten bigger roles, and we’ve done whatever we can to win football games. That’s helped us be the number-one team now, but how can we continue that and get better as the season goes along.”

The Chiefs’ pass offense has been as good as ever, and there is still room for development from the various new players that make up the receiving corps; one of them was just acquired a few weeks ago. The group continues to learn about each other, but the lack of continuity was never going to be an excuse for Mahomes.

“Every time I step on that football field, I expect to win,” Mahomes stated. “Coach Reid and Brett Veach are going to put guys around me that are going to go out there and win football games; I think they’ve done that. Even though we have young guys, we knew it was going to take time for them to keep getting more and more grow accustomed to how we do things.”

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

As for his former receiver, Mahomes is far from surprised to see Hill excelling at this level.

“I saw Tyreek at practice every single day, so I knew that he was going to make plays no matter where he was at,” Mahomes reflected. “He got in a great offense with other great players, so it made it easy for him to go out there and show his talent.

“For us, I knew the guys we had in our locker room and like I said at the beginning of the year: coach Reid has had success everywhere, so if I just do what he says, usually good things happen.”

Reid’s credibility as a coach has been somehow even further strengthened with his performance this year, but the situation is also a reminder of why players — current and former — appreciate Big Red for more than just his on-field schemes.

“The guys that we’ve had here, we’ve loved having,” Reid pointed out. ”We want them to make a living doing it, and make as much money as they possibly can doing it, so if they go somewhere else, they go somewhere else.”

It’s an admirable perspective — one that can be summed up into one sentence from Reid’s media availability:

“We’ll get what we need and go roll.”

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