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Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs are the post-modern versions of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Doubt them at your peril.
This was supposed to be the year the Los Angeles Chargers finally challenged the Chiefs for AFC West supremacy, the Las Vegas Raiders made enough investments to be among the conference’s top teams, and the Denver Broncos finally found their quarterback. franchise after seven insatiable years since then. Peyton Manning’s retirement.
Wrong. Wrong. And spectacularly wrong.
Instead, the Chiefs continued their dominant ways by capturing their seventh straight division title, the conference’s No. 1 playoff seed and a first-round bye with Saturday’s dominating 31-13 win over the Raiders. The results meant more than a continuation of the status quo.
Kansas City doesn’t feel like the same team that represented the AFC in the Super Bowl during two of the previous three campaigns. However, the Chiefs are getting better with each passing week.
Mahomes is well on his way to winning another MVP after a record-breaking performance. He did so despite three of his top four receivers leaving the organization after last season, including deep play threat Tyreek Hill, who currently ranks second overall with 1,687 receiving yards.
Hill’s departure, in particular, forced Mahomes to expand his game and become a more complete quarterback than he already was. The 2018 NFL Offensive Player of the Year redefined how everyone views the quarterback position. His ability to create and work outside the structure is now a requirement for those entering the league. Granted, Mahomes is God-level, but the importance of a player behind center is greater than ever.
However, the efficiency with which the 27-year-old signal-caller now operates makes him better because he’s distributing the ball to whoever is open instead of constantly looking for the big play.
“I know when to turn it off,” Mahomes told ESPN’s Louis Riddick after the game when discussing the possibility of taking shots downfield or simply finding the open receiver.
Because of how the quarterback is currently playing, the amount of weapons in Kansas City’s offense is staggering, and more are still emerging. Kadarius Toney is the most recent example.
A first-round disappointment with the New York Giants, Toney is now a chess piece that an offensive mastermind like Reid can use. The 2021 20th overall pick is at his best when asked to create in space and after the catch. He won’t be a dazzling route runner or a traditional wide receiver. He needs to have shows designed specifically for him so he can make something happen. The Chiefs are doing just that.
For example, the wide receiver carried the ball as many times (three) as routes passed during Saturday’s halftime performance, according to Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus. One of those resulted in an 11-yard touchdown on a Jets sweep.
Toney scored on the previous play when Reid dug deep into his bag of tricks and called a play with a spinning pile called “Deer Staff, Arctic Circle, Snow Globe,” fast stretch, fast pass and backhand, though it was called back. due to a custodial sentence.
These plays will drive any opposing defensive coordinator the Chiefs face absolutely crazy because they will have to prepare for every eventuality.
As such, the high-profile Chiefs aren’t just Mahomes and All-Pro Travis Kelce. Now, opponents have to account for guys like Toney, Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. They are all capable of providing back-to-back plays for the game’s best offense.