Heading into the rest of Week 6, the Kansas City Chiefs sit atop their division and the conference at 5-1. They're winners of five straight and heading into two consecutive matchups with sub-.500 AFC West opponents (the Chargers next week and a rematch with Denver on October 29th at Empower Field). It's tough to write a better script for the first six weeks of the NFL season, but there's something still amiss with this football team. It's the second time this young season that they've failed to post 20 points offensively.
On Thursday night, the Chiefs' offense may have turned in the worst outing of its 2023 campaign. To put that into perspective, Kansas City was 1-for-5 in red zone situations, and 4-of-13 on third-down. Travis Kelce, Isiah Pacheco and Rashee Rice accounted for 294 yards from scrimmage and the offense could still only manage one touchdownssbfd on the night. Kansas City did turn the ball over once, but it's tough to compute how the team got that level of production in terms of yardage, but that didn't translate into touchdowns.
The much-maligned wide receiver corps did little to assuage concerns that they may limit the trajectory of this team in 2023. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore and Justin Watson combined for 31 receiving yards. In the case of MVS, it's his fourth game this year with one or fewer catches. Toney — the man general manager Brett Veach heaped praise upon in the offseason — averaged three yards per reception in the Thursday nighter. It's tough to imagine an NFL team getting less from the receiver group than Kansas City is presently getting from this bunch.
Receivers have taken the brunt of the criticism to this stage of the season, but they're not alone in the offensive failures. Right now, Patrick Mahomes isn't playing well. He threw his fifth interception of the season and appears to have a supreme distrust of the offensive skill-position players not named Travis Kelce. On Thursday, he missed open receivers, took ill-advised sacks, and generally wasn't the field general we've come to expect. It's unfair to criticize the wide receivers and give Patrick Mahomes a pass for subpar performances. As a two-time MVP, he's sure to rebound, but at the moment, he's part of what's ailing this offense.
Not to be outdone, head coach Andy Reid certainly isn't helping this offense. They're mired in mediocrity and his decisionmaking is adding insult to injury. Third-and-short situations have been particularly troublesome for Reid in 2023. On one comical 3rd-and-1 play in the third quarter, Kadarius Toney took a direct snap on an option play that failed. Toney lost two yards on the play and the Chiefs had to punt despite getting into Broncos' territory. Reid made this choice despite Isiah Pacheco averaging 4.8 yards per carry at one point in this contest.
Kansas City has been fortunate to have a stretch of bad teams in the early part of the season. The competition will soon grow stiffer. To start the month of November, the Chiefs will face the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles in back-to-back games. The offense, as presently constructed, isn't going to cut it against teams of that caliber. There's time still to sort these issues out, but you have to wonder when that might actually happen for Kansas City.
Reid still doesn't trust Justyn Ross to play significant snaps. The coaching staff has kept a lid on Jerrick McKinnon in the passing game. Valdes-Scantling has all but disappeared from this offense. The two players expected to take a step forward in Year Two (Moore and Toney) don't inspire confidence. It's tough to know where the offensive spark is going to come from. Travis Kelce is still Travis Kelce, but apart from rookie Rashee Rice, there's not much to hang your hat on.
The good news is that the Chiefs have been utterly dominant in the division and they have the Chargers and Broncos (again) over their next two games. Records aside, AFC West opponents always play Kansas City tough, but the Chiefs appear to have everyone's number. We're now a third of the way into the season, it's time for this team to get some things figured out offensively. The hope is that they can start to do that versus some of their most-hated rivals the next two weeks.