The Chiefs need to play like Patrick Mahomes is still out

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs need to go back to playing like they don’t have Patrick Mahomes if they’re going to win moving forward.

The Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon—a loss that was very winnable.

Over the past two-plus games, the Chiefs were forced to play without their star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who went down with a knee injury against the Denver Broncos. With Mahomes out, the Chiefs defense played consistently well and allowed an average of 200 passing yards and 95 rushing yards over 3 games. The unit also had 12 sacks and 4 forced fumbles.

The defense was playing lights out, and it looks like the primary reason for it was that the team did not have the mentality of relying on Mahomes.

Mahomes is a superstar. Everybody knows how talented he is. The problem lies with the team’s seeming mentality that says, “it’s okay if we don’t get it here. Mahomes will bail us out!” A team cannot simply rely on one player and expect to win football games, especially when the rest of the team has undeniable holes and/or injuries in play. A lack of discipline, especially in reference to the penalties, is an issue, but people also cannot blame the loss to the Titans on the refs. The Titans should have never been allowed to score like they did on the Chiefs. Once again, the defense’s inabiity to execute felt reliant upon the presence of Mahomes.

Let’s look at the Baltimore Ravens, for example. While Lamar Jackson is not a superstar quarterback, he is doing what he has to do and the Ravens are building around what he is. That entire team understands that they won’t always be able to rely on Jackson, so it allows them to function well as a unit. The Chiefs do not have a cohesive unit. What identity the Chiefs were forming over the last few weeks dissipated on Sunday.

The offense was not the problem for this game. Sure, Mahomes and company had their miscues and dropped balls, but that was not the reason the Chiefs lost this football game. Everyone has to do their job for a team to perform well. The core values of solid teamwork is efficiency, cohesiveness and the ability to make the most out of a variety of skill sets.

What makes this frustrating is how the opposite was evident over the past three weeks. The Chiefs can play defense. They can minimize mistakes. They can execute well against a quality opponent. Then Mahomes is back and it all falls apart.

Heed these words: it’s not the fact that Mahomes cannot do what he has to do. He can be the winning factor in games. However, relying on him to do so is not a winning formula. Yes, he is the most valuable player on the team. It’s fine to set high expectations upon his shoulders. It’s another thing entirely when a team that has already come together, has already corrected course, has already adjusted rightly, turns into its former self when that superstar is back.

The Chiefs were the better team on Sunday, but the Titans had better execution. The entire team knew that it could not rely on Tannehill to win the game on his own, so they functioned as a unit to deliver a win a home. They executed what they could and allowed the other team to sink their own ship.

Somehow the timing of Mahomes’ return coincided with an utter failure to execute on several levels. Perhaps they need to go back to whatever was working before, back when they knew they needed to pull together and minimize mistakes in order to actually win.