After seeing his team jump out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense appeared stuck in neutral for most of the remainder of the game as the Jets' defense clamped down.
This week's opponent — the Minnesota Vikings — appears less threatening on defense. The Vikings pass defense is allowing a 76.6% completion rate, currently 31st in the NFL. They also top the league with a 57% blitz rate on defense, which could play into the strengths of Mahomes.
Vikings play Chiefs in Week 5.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) September 29, 2023
Minnesota is blitzing like absolute crazy right now cos they have no defense.
You do NOT blitz Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes might hang 50 on them.
Even still, the Chiefs expect the Vikings' defense — with former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores as its coordinator — to be a formidable challenge.
"Brian Flores — we've gone against several times," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid recalled speaking before practice on Wednesday. "He's very creative, brings people from everywhere, also plays regular zone and man [coverage], but he does have quite a blitz package."
Mahomes echoed his coach's sentiments when he spoke on Wednesday.
"It's going to be a well-coached defense," the reigning league MVP predicted. "Coach Flores, I've played a couple times; him as a head coach, him as coordinator, and all different positions. They're very well coached; they know the scheme and being in the right spots. They do a good mix of pressure and dropping out of pressure and trying to make it look the same. This will be a great challenge for us, and we'll have to execute at a high level in order to have success this weekend."
On Tuesday, Arrowhead Pride's Nate Christensen identified man coverage as a struggle for Kansas City's wide receivers. Reid believes the problem will improve in time but expects to see the Vikings attempt to replicate the Jets' defensive game plan.
"You got to win versus man," the coach declared, "that's what you've got to do. We did a decent job of that against the Jets, so I think — with the young guys — they'll just keep getting better at that as we go. The Jets did a nice job of blending things, and so does Brian. He's going to give you a variety of looks, and you just have to be smart with how you handle the looks."
The coverage has also led to Mahomes scrambling at a higher rate. Through four weeks, Mahomes is averaging 38.5 rushing yards per game. While Chiefs fans unanimously hold their breath each time the face of the league takes off, he will continue to take the opportunities should extra defenders continue to drop into coverage.
"I'd probably just say more coverage," Mahomes said of why he is running so much more early on. "I haven't had a lot of pressure yet. I'll obviously probably get some more this week. They're playing a lot more coverage and dropping deep into coverages, and so it's opened lanes for me to scramble. That's something that I've always done.
"It just usually happens later in the season more than early, so [I'm] just trying to do whatever to go out there and win."