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Eric Bieniemy says Chiefs are ‘putting our hand in the dirt’ against Chargers

Fresh off a big win, Kansas City faces a tough opponent on a short week.

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Aside from the Arizona Cardinals and their fans, few have complaints about how the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense went about its business during Sunday’s big 44-21 victory in State Farm Stadium.

That included some moments outside of the normal NFL business model. During a performance in which he registered a passer rating of 144.2, television cameras caught Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes holding up four fingers after his fourth touchdown pass of the game — an apparent reference to preseason punditry suggesting that other quarterbacks would top the league in 2022.

Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy — who famously complimented his quarterback by identifying him as a “competitive prick” — wasn’t surprised.

“There’s always that behind-the-scenes deal,” Bieniemy told reporters on Monday, “where he’s going to create a moment that’s going to keep him fired up and energized about each and every opportunity that there is to put something great on tape.

“Regardless of what that is, I’m glad that he’s on our side. The kid is a tremendous football player. I love the energy and the excitement that he brings. He’s the ultimate competitor.”

Kansas City Chiefs v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Still, when running back Isiah Pacheco scored his first NFL touchdown midway through Sunday’s fourth quarter, it was Mahomes who went out of his way to make sure that the rookie got the ball for a keepsake. Even though that kind of behavior might not generally be associated with an uber-competitive professional athlete like Mahomes, that incident didn’t surprise Bieniemy, either.

“Patrick is always looking out for everybody,” noted the coordinator. “He’s the ultimate team player. So for Pat to [think], ‘Hey, you know what? I’ve got to get this ball for this kid — this is his first touchdown,’ just shows you where his head is: he’s always thinking about others.”

Pacheco had been busy demonstrating a skill that the team had hoped to feature during Sunday’s game.

“We have to prove to everyone that we can run the football,” declared Bieniemy. “I thought our guys did a heck of a job of doing that — and it’s not necessarily just the backs. The O-line did a hell of job up front. I thought our tight ends did a hell of a job as well — and our receivers did a great job on the perimeter — in blocking downfield.”

The coordinator said that the offense’s Sunday performance even went beyond the Xs and Os.

“I thought our entire offense came out firing on all cylinders,” Bieniemy observed. “They came out fast. They came out with some energy — some excitement. They just created a presence — that [said], ‘Hey, we’re going to stay on the attack.’ I loved what we were bringing to the table.”

He was also pleased with how his unit responded when it faced behavior that coaches had expected to see from the Cardinals’ defense: blitzing against the Kansas City passing game.

“I thought our guys did a heck of a job of handling the situation,” said Bieniemy. “Our guys remained poised under pressure. Pat did a great job of just managing and processing the information. Our guys just played. They did a great job of handling it; they went out and executed.”

But now it’s a short week of preparation as the team prepares to face its Week 2 opponent — the Los Angeles Chargers — at home on Thursday night. Bieniemy said that on one level, it’s a game for which the team has been preparing for quite a while.

NFL: SEP 26 Chargers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“Obviously, we’ve had the entire offseason to think about this,” he said. “We’ve had all of training camp — and then we had those additional practices between training camp after that last preseason game and leading up to the first game. We’ve been watching them; we’ve been preparing for them.”

Still, the old-school running back — who played for nine NFL seasons from 1991 through 1999 — thinks that there’s something about this situation that appeals to him on a different level.

“It’s going to be a fun game,” he smiled. “I’m excited about this game — because first of all, it’s a short week. So there’s really not a lot of stuff that we can create to say, ‘Here, we’re going to go and do this.’

“[Instead], we just say, ‘We’re going to be exceptional at it.’ This is one of those games where you’ve got to ball up your knuckles. We’re going out there and putting our hand in the dirt — and may the best team win.”

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