Kansas City Chiefs' winning ways should be enough for Chiefs Kingdom

Despite winning their games in the 2023 season, the Kansas City Chiefs are not escaping criticism from fans. This article investigates the cause of the dissatisfaction, exploring weaknesses in the offense and highlighting the potential for growth.
Kansas City Chiefs v Minnesota Vikings
Kansas City Chiefs v Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

I grew up the oldest of three brothers. Growing up in the 1990s was a unique time. Sure, there were video games to be played, but the gaming craze had not gripped the world like it has today. So what does that mean? It means we spent a lot of time outside competing in football, basketball, baseball, tennis, four square—basically anything that involved a ball and the outdoors.

As the oldest brother, I had my fair share of dominating performances playing sports in the driveway (and inside the home).

However, there were certainly times when I fell victim to letting my guard down. I became too confident in my abilities to hold my brothers back with one arm and maintain my throne as King of the Block. Whether that meant losing in a 2-on-1 basketball showdown in the driveway or a handicap pro-wrestling-inspired tag-team match inside of our childhood home, I definitely got dropped on a couple of occasions. My brother mentioned one famous victory for the two younger Robinsons in his best man speech at my wedding, humbling me again in front of hundreds of family and friends in the process.

Despite winning their games in the 2023 season, the Kansas City Chiefs are not escaping criticism from fans.

The "Big Brother" complex is something that we may in fact be witnessing in front of our very eyes in 2023 with the Kansas City Chiefs. Over the last six seasons, we've grown accustomed to the Kansas City Chiefs' high-flying offense and a defense that gets after opposing quarterbacks and manages to come up with timely stops over and over again. They win and win and win some more.

Somewhere along the way, especially to start the 2023 campaign, the wins have begun to concern Chiefs Kingdom because of the lack of spectacle that we've seen on the offensive side of the ball. The Chiefs pulled out a win against the Vikings that felt much too close, one that in certain second-half moments felt like they were about to blow it open. After a first half when K.C. had to settle for a tie game heading into the break, the Chiefs came out and immediately built a 14-point lead with consecutive, 11-play, clock-draining drives that culminated in touchdowns for Rashee Rice and Travis Kelce. The drives were both independently beautiful, and seemed easy for the Chiefs.

Again on Thursday night, the Chiefs essentially dominated the Denver Broncos for four quarters, stifling the Broncos' offense at every turn until a roughing the passer flag thrown for a 205-pound safety throwing all of his weight onto a 215-pound quarterback extended a drive that ended in Denver's only score of the game. The Chiefs ended up covering the 10.5-point spread that Vegas laid down heading into the matchup, but it took a Herculean effort from Harrison Butker to get there.

The problem with the Chiefs' offense in 2023 has been that the relative ease with which they've normally operated in the past has been sporadic at best. The defense has been mostly spectacular in how they've stifled opposing offenses, only really struggling to generate pressure against the Jets for 2 quarters and the Vikings. The offense, however, has been a work in progress that still has yet to peak.

So what exactly is the problem? Why is it that the Chiefs—outside of the beatdown of the Chicago Bears—are allowing teams to hang around in games and make them far more uncomfortable than they should be? The offense obviously has problems, from the receiving corps all the way down to the offensive tackles. The play calling has been inconsistent at best, with Isiah Pacheco looking like a combination of Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson at times, then Clyde Edwards-Helaire inexplicably getting carries that look more like the little brothers I mentioned above from the mid-to-late 1990s. (No offense, Sam and Max, but also I'd like for Matt Nagy to know that we do take offense to the lackluster (at times) offense we've seen so far.)

So we see these things and we overreact. We dive deep into what the problems might be, what changes the front office might need to make, or whether or not certain franchise pillars' injuries should be a concern. We ponder, we opine, and we ultimately end up unsettled by the results we've seen so far—in some circles of the internet anyway.

Maybe, just maybe, what we're seeing is a lot of new faces on the offensive side of the ball gelling before our eyes. Are the Chiefs at their final performance destination for the 2023 season? Not even close. Will guys like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, Jawaan Taylor, and Donovan Smith have their struggles for the rest of the year? Absolutely. Have any of them peaked yet? Absolutely not.

Here's a more important question: since when has winning not been enough? Before the current regime, a winning season and the hope of a wild card berth were the ceiling when it came to expectations most years. Now we're complaining because the team is not winning by enough points? When you think about it, that's a pretty nice predicament to be in.

I feel like I need to remind everyone of something. As we sit here today, the Kansas City Chiefs are 5-1 and guaranteed another week of sitting atop the AFC standings heading into a Sunday matinee showdown against the division rival Chargers next week at Arrowhead. Patrick Mahomes may not be leading the MVP race at the moment. Travis Kelce may not be pacing for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. The offense is not scoring at a historic clip. But the Chiefs are 5-1, and could easily be 6-0 if they had two of their three best players on the field in Week 1 against Detroit (who is also sporting only a single loss).

Chiefs fans have to look at themselves in the mirror, take a deep breath, and remind themselves that winning is, in fact, enough. The Chiefs seem to have stumbled onto a winning problem in 2023. Not that wins aren't coming, but that they're not coming easy enough. This is a symptom that will certainly be prevalent as long as the team has an extraterrestrial playing quarterback and one of the greatest offensive minds in the game coaching the team. But the sentiment that an ugly win is better than a pretty loss has to prevail when evaluating the early season.

The Chiefs have the Chargers, Broncos, and Dolphins to deal with before heading to the bye with matchups with the Bills and Bengals looming large in the near futurue in the second half of the season. The team needs to make progress on the field if they want to reach their ultimate end goal of another Super Bowl championship, but there is plenty of time for them to get there. With Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid driving the car, the odds of reaching the goal tend to be better than the odds of falling short.