Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy ended Sunday’s first half with an obvious argument.
The Kansas City Chiefs had a very rough Week 3 performance against the Indianapolis Colts, earning their first loss of the 2022 season. The disappointing performance was a team-wide effort, including the Chiefs’ offense.
As the game’s first half came to a close, the Chiefs held a narrow 14-10 lead with possession of the ball near mid-field. The Chiefs had time for multiple plays from their own 42-yard line but puzzlingly ran out the clock. The move may have perplexed Chiefs fans and drew anger from quarterback Patrick Mahomes, which he directed at offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Mahomes had several reasons to be upset about the offense’s first-half performance. The Chiefs only recorded 102 yards of total offense, with three punts and short scoring drives. The Chiefs had a low-risk, high-reward scoring opportunity at the first half’s end, yet chose to forgo it. One big play could have put Kansas City into field goal range, or closer to a touchdown strike. Mahomes has the ultimate competitive edge, and not going for a score obviously frustrated him.
The encounter, diffused by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, lasted only a moment but drew several questions during halftime. Fans spent the last offseason speculating about Bieniemy’s standing in the Chiefs organization after the AFC Championship loss and another lackluster round of head coaching interviews. While the Chiefs have fielded a fearsome offensive attack under Bieniemy, fans have wondered if he has been an architect of the offense or simply a benefactor of Reid’s scheme. The Chiefs need to keep their franchise quarterback happy too, and arguing is hardly a sign of happiness.
Reid and Mahomes both clarified the encounter post-game, downplaying the moment.
"“I mean, at the end of the day, I wanted to go try to score. That’s just who I am,” Mahomes said. “We were in a tough situation. It was like second- or third-and-20, something like that. Probably the smart decision was just — we got the ball at half — let’s just go to halftime. But I’m always gonna be wanting to score.”"
Mahomes provided further detail to his approach, describing how he advocated for a scoring chance.
"“I tried to go deep the first two times (that set of downs), and obviously, they were in a deep coverage,” Mahomes said. “All I said was, ‘I’m not going to turn it over. I’ll get it out, try to get to the sideline, get us a chance to kick a field goal,’ but, I mean, it’s a tough situation.”"
Reid, who ended the conversation between Mahomes and Bieniemy, said it “wasn’t a confrontation at all. That’s not what it was.”
"“He wanted to go for it. Not a Hail Mary. Something else we have. But I thought it was best not to do it,” Reid said about Mahomes. “So he was just … he’s a competitive kid. He wants to take advantage of every opportunity. I thought it was best just to let that ride there.”"
In his post-game press conference, Reid quickly moved on from the situation. Bieniemy did not have an opportunity to talk, but would likely offer a similar response to Mahomes’ and Reid’s.
If the Chiefs had won against the Colts, this moment would not even be on the radar, but any missed opportunity in Sunday’s loss will be a focal point. The Chiefs took two deep shots before halftime, with ample time for another.
"“I pretty much just said, ‘Let me have a chance at it.’ And then [Bieniemy] was just like, ‘Let’s get back in our locker room, and we’ll get some going for the next half,’” Mahomes said. “I don’t know if that’s an altercation, but that was the end of the conversation.”"
As days pass, fans and the media will forget about this passing moment. But, if questions arise about Bieniemy’s long-term position in Kansas City, this will be the moment brought to the forefront.