(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
My, how things change in 48 hours. Tuesday morning, I was looking myself in the mirror after we beat the Giants by 3 at home in Primetime thinking – are the Chiefs good or bad? I didn’t know the answer. After some reflection, spending hours at work not working and thinking about football instead, I came to the conclusion that we haven’t been good at times, but we’re still good. It’s like if good was on vacation – not available at the moment, but will be back. Bad stretches are bad stretches, they’re not a redefinition of something that has time and time again proven to be good. Everything you can think of in this world that is good has had a bad stretch, or bad showing. George Clooney as Batman. The Michael Scott Paper Company. The Apple Pippin. The Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead against the Cavs. Hell, even Tom Brady went 8 years between Super Bowl wins in New England. The point is, even if you’re great, it’s impossible to be great all the time.
The Chiefs have been good at times, bad at times, but definitely not great this season. Especially when you compare this year’s results and performances so far with what we’ve come to expect of the team. Anyone reading this would more than likely be lying if they said they thought the team would be sitting at 4-4 after the first 8 weeks of the season. But there have been some bad breaks, some unlucky bounces, plenty of mistakes, and downright poor play that have attributed to that. But I’m not here to focus on the bad. We all know what has happened and where we are at today. The purpose of this is to shine some light on the good things going on in Chiefs Kingdom so far this season, and to look ahead to what is to come in not only the next 3 weeks, but over the course of the next 3 months.
Next 3 Opponents 3 days ago vs. now
It appears at the football gods are smiling down on the Kansas City Chiefs these past few days. At the very least they’re trying to. Following the Chiefs MNF win over the Giants, the headlines would have read something like “Chiefs gear up for showdown with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers” followed by “Chiefs head to Vegas for a division matchup with the 1st Place Raiders”. But because of a couple of headlines that those two teams have been involved in in the past 2 days, we’re reading about what the Packers are going to do without Aaron Rodgers at Arrowhead, and the Raiders are in a completely different world than I’d ever want to be in. The Ruggs situation is tragic all around and doesn’t require more commentary from this blog. But the window has opened up for the Chiefs to take a couple games in a row here going into a matchup with the Cowboys in week 11, which with the momentum of a 3 game winning streak behind them could find themselves as favorites for that game. Then you have the bye. A 7-4 record going into the bye, sitting in first place or right behind it (depending on what the Chargers do between now and then) would be something no one saw coming when this team was heading home from Nashville.
The Offense Comes Alive – Specifically Patrick Mahomes
This has to happen at some point. As I mentioned from the top – all of the greats get in their funks. And make no mistake about it – Patrick Mahomes is a great quarterback. Players aren’t defined by weekly power rankings, or think pieces by national media pundits. They’re defined by their body of work, and what they accomplish over years of performance. Patrick Mahomes has put forth years of superior QB play. There is no need to list his accomplishments. We all know who he is. Wrap your head around this – most of you would consider this a “bad” year so far for Patrick Mahomes. He’s still third in the league in passing yards (296 yards per game), fourth in TD passes, and is completing 67% of his passes. Are there things to improve? Unfortunately, yes. But also fortunately, yes. When Mahomes begins to unwind mentally in the pocket and gets comfortable behind this new offensive line, the rest of the league is going to be in for a show. This man is simply too good to hold down for long, and the numbers would argue he’s realistically too good to hold down at all.
The Defense Maintains Its Momentum
It may be too early to declare the Chiefs defense “good”, but they’ve made quite a progression this year. They’ve gone from most being bad, to just “playing bad” with good flashes, to the next step now which is “playing good” with some very good flashes. Players like Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr have sparked hope for a youth infusion, and the reemergence and continued healthification of Chris Jones and Frank Clark reminds us that we still have some dogs up front who can press the hell out of opposing QBs. Sprinkle in some Melvin Ingram and you have a recipe for a beyond solid front 4. With Tyrann Mathieu leading the charge in a suddenly sound secondary (minus one), we’re shaping up into a unit that will be solidly in the middle of the pack in the NFL soon, and by the time late December and early January roll around could be a (dare I say it) feared unit.
The key with all of this is going to be on the coaching staff to continue to pull the strings that are working, and to pull more than will benefit the team. Maintain the young linebacking corps who compliment each other so well rather than trying to put a square veteran back into a round hole. This can only benefit the defense by maintaining a violent, athletic, and aggressive second level and letting the units in front of and behind them do what they do best. Rally around and maintain the momentum that our running game proved to be gaining last week behind this bulldog offensive line and the young, hungry running backs we have on this team. That can only benefit the offense by forcing defenses out of 2 deep and setting up the play action. All of these things sprinkled together, you have the recipe for a cocktail of events that will be the spark we needed in this 2021 Revenge Tour. But it all starts on Sunday with the Packers. If the Chiefs miss their opportunity to put another win on the board in that game, the outlook might change. But for now, the bull mentality is the one I’ll adopt. 3 more sleeps, Chiefs Kingdom.