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Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs preaching ball security ahead of hopeful postseason run

This year’s Kansas City team can match the success of previous seasons, but the way it does so may look different.

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Ric Tapia/Getty Images

There is no hiding from reality. The Kansas City Chiefs have embraced that as they enter the 2023 postseason, with the opening match set for this Saturday against the Miami Dolphins.

This year’s Chiefs are not built around the high-powered offense that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in previous seasons. It is a defense-first team. So rather than fighting that thought — as perhaps we saw the team do early in the campaign — it is now actively committing to that notion.

Asked about his conviction in his team ahead of the playoffs on Tuesday, quarterback Patrick Mahomes provided a blunt-but-telling answer.

“I’m extremely confident — not only in our offense, but [also] in our football team,” said Mahomes. “You see how the defense is playing. Offensively, I feel like we’re going to play our best football at the right time. I think if we can just score — we don’t even have to score too many points. If we can just score enough points, our defense will shut the door, and we can find a way to get the win.”

The numbers back Mahomes’ thought process. At this writing, the Chiefs offer the No. 15 scoring offense in the league, whereas the Chiefs’ defense comes in at No. 2.

Kansas City’s losses on the season show somewhat of a pattern. Of the six games the Chiefs have dropped, four included multiple turnovers. So while the club is looking to continue to find ways to score points, the key — according to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy — is not providing the opposition with a short field.

“That’s stating the obvious, but I think that’s what [Mahomes is] getting to: a bad turnover is not going to help our really good defense,” said Nagy on Wednesday. “Punting the ball is field positon, so if something’s not there, we don’t force it and throw an interception. We don’t force a play-call, whatever that is. We’re smart. We play the field position and understand that our defense has done a great job all year long. It’s time-tested. It’s not something that’s been a three-game stretch.”

The Chiefs’ 2023 identity of defense-first football won’t drastically change things, but the simplification of the offense — with an emphasis on taking care of the football — stands to continue now that everything on the line.

“We still want to be aggressive; we still want to attack the way we’ve always attacked, and that’s not going to change,” added Nagy. “That’s [coach Andy Reid’s] DNA. That’s who he is. That’s who we are. That’s not going to change with Patrick.

“With that, though, there’s evidence of teams over the years having this type of mentality. I’m not just saying here, but the ability to stay aggressive but be smart. Now that we’re in the playoffs, it’s one-and-done, understanding that’s in complementary football at its greatest.”

Regardless of offensive performance (or lack thereof), defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo just wants his unit to stay the course.

“Nothing really changes for you defensively in this league,” said Spagnuolo. “It doesn’t matter whether your offense is scoring 40 or 10. The goal is to keep points off the board. We’re proud of what we’ve done, but it’s like I said to the staff [and] some of the guys: ‘All that’s going to be forgotten if we don’t rise up when it matters most.’”

In other words, Spagnuolo is preaching to his team that an early playoff exit could easily make their 17-game masterpiece irrelevant.

“All we’ve really built is confidence, some chemistry, a foundation to go in and hopefully win what is really, now, the most important game,” said Sapgnuolo. “It’s nice that Patrick has confidence in us. I think our guys feel good about that.

“We just want to make sure we can live up to that.”

It's Game Time.

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