Some things in life are certain. Death, taxes and the Kansas City Chiefs' struggles in short yardage situations. But don’t worry, I have a solution: one simple, play that the Chiefs can use immediately that will work wonders on 3rd-and short.
Third or fourth down and not far to go is a scenario that has perennially stymied Kansas City and one of the most dynamic, potent offenses in NFL history. We saw it happen last season and we saw it happen again against Detroit in Week 1.
It is a problem that is as bemusing as it is frustrating. Wow is it that a team with a legendary quarterback and Hall of Fame head coach, that can so easily and creatively break off big chunk plays, struggles so insistently to gain two measly yards? It’s baffling.
Last Thursday night against the Lions, we saw evidence that the Chiefs haven’t found a solution over the offseason. Four times in the second half the Chiefs faced third down and less than five to go and on all four occasions they failed to reach the line to gain, with a play that had Blake Bell under a center—a formation that comes as no surprise to anyone in the NFL anymore—the most maddening of the lot.
But I am not here to simply gripe about a problem we all know the Chiefs have, I am here to provide an answer.
There is one simple play that the Chiefs can adopt immediately that will solve their problems – the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback sneak. It's an idea that is not as outlandish as it first might seem. The Chiefs would just need to make one small tweak and it would literally become the perfect play to run time and time again.
Last year, the entire National Football League saw just how effectively the Eagles were able to use that play. Jalen Hurts would take the ball under center and drive forward, with teammates pushing him forward across the line to gain. Simply put, It was a play that was practically unstoppable. It was so effective that over the offseason there were calls to ban it altogether because some thought it gave the Eagles an unfair advantage. But the NFL decided against a ban, so now the Chiefs should use it to their full advantage.
There is, however, one key obstacle this play faces: what to do with Patrick Mahomes? The Chiefs have shown that they simply refuse to let Patrick Mahomes sneak the ball. And fair enough too, from my point of view. Why risk the chance of the most important player on the team getting hurt? Why take a chance on Mahomes suffering a similar injury like he did in Denver, regardless of how unlikely it is? The good news is they don’t.
This is where the twist comes in: rather than having Mahomes sneak the ball, the Chiefs can just have Bell take the snap and do it instead.
First, Kansas City should line up in the exact same formation that the Eagles use. Next, have Mahomes off the field altogether and on the sidelines and have Bell under center instead. Lastly, snap the ball and have those behind Bell push him forward. It is as easy as that.
Of course, you lose the element of surprise with this play; other teams would know exactly what is coming as soon as Mahomes is left off the field. But that does not matter in the slightest. The Chiefs have used the misdirection to Bell under center ruse enough times now that every team knows what is coming the moment it happens anyway. But with this play, thta won't matter.
Last year, the entire league knew what Philadelphia was going to do every time it had a yard or two to gain, and no team was able to find a way to stop it consistently. Philly's sneak succeeded on the biggest stage of them all too. The sneak play worked six times against the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII – the Chiefs knew exactly what was coming and yet they still couldn’t find a way to stop it.
So why can’t Kansas City do something similar? Just put Bell under center from the get go, put guys in behind him and sneak the ball forward. It’s a play that is unbelievably simple, almost impossible to stop and comes with zero risk of any injury to Mahomes. It’s a play that the Chiefs should add to their playbook immediately.