What an awful game for the Chiefs. It's easy to say that this team...this offense...suddenly stinks. We can point at lots of things with players that need work. We fans seem to do that every year, anytime stuff doesn't go as well as we'd like. Sometimes, we're even right.
But this year, we seem to be giving a free ride to one big change to our offense that maybe we ought to examine: the new/old OC and the play calling schemes he's using. If it seems like we're not utilizing the unbeatable talents of Patrick Mahomes, perhaps that's because we aren't.
This year, we finally seem to have completed the transition from freewheeling Patrick Mahomes to pocket-passing checkdown king. Even Chris Collinsworth, announcing last night's game, managed to call out that Mahomes and the Chiefs offense make almost no downfield attempts anymore and have, instead, gone to the quick passing, heavier running style of offense.
Y'all remember that style of offense, right? Back when we were hanging trash on Alex Smith for being Captain Checkdown? Who was the OC for those last couple of years, when even with a good offensive line and one of Alex Smith's best seasons, we still got nuked in the playoffs? Hi Matt Nagy.
If there's one thing I've notice about this year's offense is that Mahomes is doing a really good job at staying in the pocket...but he's nervous there, hesitant, and even when he has time, he's not really able to create the way he's known to do. How creative can you be in the pocket when, as we saw last night, the defensive linemen can simply pop off their blocks to fall on the contained QB? Perhaps being a pocket passer is adding years to Mahomes' career or is helping him avoid injury, but it's also put him, and his creativity, in the box. On the three early sacks of Mahomes, he had plenty of time to throw, but when time ran out, he was completely surrounded and his chances of escaping to extend the play and break down the defense were nil.
I know that this process of making Mahomes more of a pocket passer began while Eric Bienemy was still OC, but at least while EB was here, we would have plays designed to move Mahomes around and not nail him down to be a sitting duck in the pocket. This year, the play calling coming in from Nagy is boring, reminiscent of Schottenheimer. Mahomes is expected to hand it off or dump it quick. And if we don't have receivers who can get open quick...or don't have plays called that help make that happen, then we're going to start looking very much like Alex Smith in his Captain Checkdown days...or Marty's teams, where we could move the ball like crazy, but couldn't quite figure out how to finish.
I'll admit I'm no football expert, so I'll concede that I could be full of s*** here. Maybe Mahomes really needs to be a fulltime pocket passer and it's better for the team in the long run for him to succeed only that way. And maybe not having stud receivers or a younger Kelce was such a sudden change that we're simply falling apart. But in a season where we've had a lot of change, we shouldn't forget the biggest change to our offense and maybe start asking the question if the OC can really see Mahomes clearly enough to call plays that exploit his talent.