Those who have been watching Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, and the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs from a distance this season likely will be the first to say the Chiefs are back. However, those who have watched the Chiefs up close during their last few games are likely to have noticed that Patrick Mahomes' arm hasn't been the Chiefs' engine in recent weeks.
Here's a look at whether or not Mahomes has a smaller part in the offense and what the reasoning could be behind the subtle shift.
Is Patrick Mahomes holding Andy Reid back?
Early in the game against the Cowboys, the Chiefs decided to directly snap the ball to tight end Travis Kelce in the red zone. Earlier in the season, Mahomes was guilty of turning the ball over in the opponents' territory. Are the two events connected?
During the Chiefs' win over the Raiders, Mahomes also had one of the most telling stats about the offense. Mahomes may have had five touchdowns and no interceptions, but he nearly set a season-high for the NFL with his receivers for yards after the catch. Checkdown plays that get massive yardage after the catch are designed plays.
Andy Reid drew up those plays. Therefore, by making Mahomes repeatedly checkdown, he is essentially taking Mahomes' arm out of the game. Chad Henne could have thrown the designed checkdown throws that went for big yardage.
Is the change in philosophy a hint at Reid's feelings about Mahomes? Is this purely a scheme matchup issue, or is Reid attempting to minimize turnovers by hiding his quarterback? In three of the last four wins, the Chiefs failed to put up 21 points. In the game they did, it was a result of yards after the catch. Are these the new-look Chiefs?
This paints a picture of a more humble team than in years past. Gone are the deep shots connecting seemingly every possession. Put simply, the Chiefs' offense has to play the full game and use the entire playbook to get yards. Of course, the Chiefs still have the NFL's second-ranked offense in terms of yardage. However, in terms of points, the Chiefs have fallen to become the 12th-best offense in the NFL.
Andy Reid is aware of his team's mortality and appears willing to take fewer chances deep. Whether it is because of less of a belief in Patrick Mahomes or a loss of belief in the offense as a whole, one thing is certain: everything is not the same in Kansas City.
The Chiefs' defense has been more impressive in recent weeks than the offense. They haven't allowed more than 17 points to an offense in more than a month. To keep the winning streak alive, the Chiefs' defense will need to continue to remain hot. If not, the Chiefs could be in trouble. The Chiefs are in uncharted waters, and Andy Reid knows that he needs to be careful in navigating the waters.
If the defense starts to give up points like it did earlier in the season, the Chiefs could go right back to losing.
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