With four games remaining in the regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs are a raging tire fire. Now losers of two straight, they've put themselves behind the eight ball in their quest for the AFC's top seed. The team entered the bye week at 7-2 and has been in sharp decline ever since — dropping three of their last four. Kansas City has a slim one-game lead over the Denver Broncos and there appear to be no answers for what's ailing this football team.
On Sunday, in the game's waning moments, Patrick Mahomes connected with Travis Kelce over the middle on a 2nd-and-10 play. Kelce would run for 10 yards before executing a gorgeous lateral to receiver Kadarius Toney. He took the ball to paydirt, but the play was ultimately waved off as Toney was penalized for lining up in the neutral zone. The Chiefs eventually turned the ball over on downs and Mahomes blew a gasket and had to be restrained from a sideline official. His frustrations would continue to spill over during an on-field exchange with Bills' quarterback Josh Allen and on the podium in the post-game press conference.
Mahomes had this to say in the presser, "I've played seven years and never had offensive offside called. That's elementary school stuff we're talking about. There was no warning throughout the entire game. Then you wait until there's a minute left in the game to make a call like that? It's tough."
Chiefs' head coach Andy Reid would echo that sentiment citing the penalty as an embarrassing moment for the NFL. That for me is an unfortunate turn for the team's leadership. It's a microcosm of the team's direction over the past five weeks. To lay blame on the officiating given the ghastly brand of football Kansas City has put on the field for weeks now is despicable. It's nasty work from a team that won the Super Bowl 10 months ago.
I submit to you that it's emblematic of what's wrong with this football team. Last week, Marquez Valdes-Scantling sidestepped a question from Kansas City's Fox 4 reporter PJ Green. The sixth-year man even took to social media to condemn Green for a perceived lack of journalistic integrity. “You’re better than this PJ. Fishing for whatever answer you were chasing is not the best form of journalism. I’m disappointed in your lack of understanding, and the lack of research and effort that you put into your questions with me today. So my demeanor was directed at you.” MVS was asked about his mental focus in light of recent struggles in the receiver room (namely, Valdes-Scantling's critical drop late in their Week 11 contest with the Philadelphia Eagles). In retrospect, I understand the lack of ownership on MVS' part. His head coach put on similar displays Sunday evening shifting blame onto officials. Attitude reflects leadership, captain.
I'm sure I'll be in the minority, but this is just not how champions conduct themselves. The truth is that the frustrations run deeper than the concerns the team has with officiating and the media. This team is boiling over because the mistakes, the unforced errors, and the general lack of disciplined play have reached critical mass. The Chiefs are floundering and they don't know how to stop the bleeding. What we're seeing now is a projection and a displacement of anger onto everyone but the men in the locker room at One Arrowhead Drive.
There's still technically time for this football team to turn things around, but the team's post-game exploits give me little hope that will happen. The first step to recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem. What we've seen this week is several players and coaches taking the focus off themselves and directing it elsewhere. Change can't happen that way. The way forward demands a hard look in the mirror at the team's tendency to self-sabotage. I hope for their sake, they can find the courage to confront their own demons. Their willingness or unwillingness to do so has implications on how far this team can go in the postseason.