The Chiefs need to make the offensive an annual priority in the offseason.
After a 4-0 start to the season, the Kansas City Chiefs dropped their first game of the season and their first loss in 13 contests in Week 5. During the game against the Las Vegas Raiders, there was one glaring weakness that was exposed: pass protection.
Entering the loss, Patrick Mahomes had been sacked just three times on the year. In this game Mahomes was sacked three times, equaling his season total against the Raiders. It could have been worse. There were multiple times where Mahomes had to evade Las Vegas defenders to extend plays in order to get the right throw.
Although Mahomes was sacked just three times in the first four games, he has dealt with more pressure than the stat sheet shows. According to Pro Football Focus, through Geoff Schwartz’s tweet, Mahomes has 22 total pressures on him, more than any quarterback in 2020 going into Week 6.
According to Pro Football Focus, Mahomes has 10 touchdowns with no interceptions with a clean pocket this season. When under pressure, Mahomes has thrown three touchdown passes and one pick.
In Mahomes’ career, he’s thrown 26 touchdown passes and two interceptions against blitzes. While that is an impressive stat for Mahomes, it isn’t ideal for Mahomes to deal with blitzes on a regular basis. As mentioned earlier, he’s faced more pressures than any quarterback this season.
There are a couple of reasons we can point to as to why Mahomes has dealt with a lot of pressure this year. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out during the offseason. Kelechi Osemele was just placed on injured reserve. Mitchell Schwartz is having a down year. In addition to his struggles, Schwartz is also questionable for Monday’s game with a back injury.
The Chiefs extended Mahomes this past offseason to a record deal of $503 million through 12 seasons. The Chiefs invested a lot in Mahomes from the moment they drafted him. The team traded up 17 spots to acquire him 10th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Now, they’re giving him a big contract and have him locked up for more than a decade.
The Chiefs should always make offensive line a priority every offseason. Unless the Chiefs have a Roaf-Waters-Wiegmann-Shields-Tait type of offensive line, the Chiefs should consistently seek starting quality offensive linemen in free agency and the draft each year to help Mahomes. Not only would this help Mahomes see less pressure, but it can also allow the team to get maximum value from Mahomes during his time in Kansas City.
Yes, Mahomes has Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, who form the best quarterback-tight end-wide receiver trio in the NFL, and that group will soon be joined by running back Le’Veon Bell. But we have seen Mahomes work very well with backup wide receivers Albert Wilson, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson. Mahomes has proved that he can get the job done with any pass catcher. He just needs the right offensive line in place.
At the moment, there aren’t any viable options in free agency for the Chiefs at offensive line. But they grabbed Bell, giving Mahomes another target to work with.
When the time comes, general manger Brett Veach must bolster the offensive line in order for this offense to have a lot of success. Given his track record as a general manager, there’s no doubt he will address those needs to give the team as many chances possible to reach multiple Super Bowls.