Welp, I guess Miracle Max knew what he was doing after all.
The Chiefs entered Sunday Night against the Raiders in desperate need to feel like themselves again. The division, hell the conference, is coming back to the Chiefs, and a Get Right effort is what they’ve needed for multiple weeks now. And because I’m notoriously very optimistic, this Victory Monday has got me fired up that the Chiefs did Get Right.
Week-to-week performances in the NFL are not predictive. The object each week is to win the game in front of you. NFL games are far too reliant on matchups, health, schemes, preparation, quarterback play, and in-game adjustments to make sweeping conclusions about how a performance does or does not stack up against the rest of league at a given time in the season.
But a 41-point output, and a 27-point margin of victory against a division opponent should leave Chiefs fans excited that the team’s swagger is back.
No other team in the NFL is judged with such a slant as the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes is the only quarterback – EVER – to have multiple 400 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 0 interception games. Yet after he accomplished it again last night, too much of the analysis centered around the Raiders playing too much Cover-3 when the Chiefs have struggled against Cover-2 this season, and the lack of efficiency in the downfield passing game.
Mahomes, en route to 41 points and 400 yards, is still compared to the best quarterback play of all-time instead of what happens on the field in the NFL week-to-week.
You can only play against the team across from you. If that team plays Cover-3, you adjust. If that team plays Cover-2, you adjust. Throwing pause at an offense after it scores 41-points is simply trying too hard.
Don’t underestimate what a performance like this does for the team’s confidence. Irrespective of the defensive scheme they went up against, the Chiefs dominated on offense. The struggles they’ve had this year have always been more about them than their opponents. You’d have to assume a win like this gets them back to feeling like themselves again, which was always more predictive in their performances than the type of defense their opponents were playing.
No matter how optimistic you are after last night’s victory, or how pessimistic you’re forcing yourself to be to stand out in a crowd, the Chiefs took advantage of the door the AFC left open for them, and that’s your takeaway.
The NFL’s best quarterback leading the back-to-back defending AFC champions has yet to play his best ball this season and yet now stands alone atop his division, with the rest of the conference experiencing horrible losses each week.
Pat back. Defense back. Andy back. Seven games left.
Okay let’s ride.
Let’s Take A Minute To Talk About The Offensive Line
Much was made in the offensive about the resources the Chiefs were using to address issues with the o-line personnel. Too much. The Smart Football Guys™ who believe football is only played by skill positions and zero punters, overlooked one very important variable to the offseason needs the Chiefs had upfront on offense: they had no other choice.
Resources were going to be spent on the offensive line whether the Chiefs used draft picks or free agency because there was no reason to assume Eric Fisher would be healthy, no reason to assume Mitchell Schwartz would be healthy, and no reason to assume Kelechi Osemele would be healthy. Three of the five opening game starters last season were all less than 50-50 to be ready this season.
The two remaining spots were held by a center that couldn’t hold the point of attack and was expensive, and a guard who this season is the third string right tackle.
The Chiefs were entering the off-season with, at best the prospects of the remaining healthy linemen available to them a weak center, a swing guard/tackle that just got worked in the Super Bowl, a third-year 7th-round pick G/C, and a right tackle that sat out an entire season. They were going to be replacing at least 4 spots no matter what.
Enter the NFL’s top-rated center (second-round pick Creed Humphrey), the NFL’s ninth-rated guard (sixth-round pick Trey Smith), the NFL’s 14th-rated guard (free agent Joe Thuney), and the NFL’s 21st-rated tackle (trade acquisition Orlando Brown).
Even if Austin Reiter returned to play center the Chiefs were still going to be replacing four starters. They upgraded significantly in the interior, at worst replaced like-for-like at LT, and even though the downgrade at right tackle compared to Schwartz was going to be drastic, that’s not the best way to evaluate that position because Schwartz wasn’t coming back anyway.
The offensive line is now a strength and has the possibility of being together for a long time, and, as a group, being inexpensive for a long time. That’s one helluva job by the front office.
Good offensive line play is fun. Even more fun is reading tweets and watching gifs of good offensive line play.
They’re back. A win like this can reinvigorate and re-engage even the most complacent of teams. Strap in. We look forward to the challenge of the final eight weeks.