Despite their 3-1 record, you could argue that the Kansas City Chiefs have been underwhelming during the beginning of the 2023 season — largely because of stretches where the team’s offense has been lackluster, which is uncharacteristic for a team led by Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
While the reigning league MVP would be the first to admit he needs to play better, Kansas City’s offensive coordinator Matt Nagy believes his quarterback could easily return to his elite form by grinding the film to figure out the reasons behind his mistakes.
“He’s going to be harder on himself then anybody,” Nagy said of Mahomes during his Tuesday press conference. “Now it’s like, ‘OK, get by that point.’ Now let’s get into the plays — and why we made the decisions or throws we made. And then, how do we not do that moving forward, but still keep that aggressive attacking mentality that he’s always had?”
Although it is still early in the season, Mahomes is underperforming compared to 2022, averaging 251.5 passing yards per game with a completion percentage of 64.3%. Both are significantly lower than last season’s averages of 308.8 yards and 67.1%. While he’s thrown eight touchdowns thus far, he has also thrown four interceptions. That’s tied for the league’s sixth-most.
Mahomes’ struggles were most evident last Sunday during the team’s Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets. After taking a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, the Kansas City offense stalled, scoring just two field goals in the final three quarters.
Although the New York defense played a hand in the offensive downturn, the Chiefs did themselves no favors, either. Penalties — and two costly interceptions on passes that Mahomes underthrew — kept the offense from establishing a rhythm.
“Well, you rely on Patrick just being a savvy vet — and knowing where he made the mistake,” said Nagy. “There’s been a lot of unbelievable quarterbacks that have made some throws [where] you wonder how they made [them] or why they made [them]. He’s allowed to have a couple of those every now and then.
“That happened to be a game where he had two throws where right away, he knew. He said, ‘That’s all me — like I pulled the string and the ball just kind of floated.’
“[On] the second one, the linebacker got underneath the second and third level underneath the deep crossing [route] — and the kid made a good play.”
All of this made it more difficult for the Kansas City offense to get back on track.
“We weren’t getting into a rhythm,” Nagy said. “So sometimes, naturally, you want to get back into that rhythm by downfield stuff — but sometimes they’re not going to give that to you.
“And so whether it’s us as coaches — or Patrick as a decision-maker with the football in his hand every play — how do we slowly get back to doing what we do? And that’s sometimes by not being greedy and by taking what the defense gives you. And then when they come up, then we go over the top.”
While it’s Mahomes who is getting most of the criticism, Nagy acknowledges that everyone can do better as the Chiefs try to get things going against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 5.
“There’s a little bit of a balance,” he said. “It’s a little bit of the game flow — and I think we’re all a part of that.”