Patience is not so much a virtue for Patrick Mahomes when he fails to read big-play opportunities.
The Kansas City quarterback admits he has overlooked some chances at big chunks of yardage as opponents use Cover-2 schemes and force the Chiefs (3-4) to settle for shorter gains.
Mahomes and the Chiefs will try to regroup on Monday, when they face the New York Giants (2-5) in Kansas City, Missouri.
“When you have some big-play opportunities down the field, you’ve got to go for it,” Mahomes said, noting that back-end coverage has prompted him to mistakenly “eliminate something before even seeing it.”
Kansas City’s defensive shortcomings have led to Mahomes pressing sometimes to make plays. The Chiefs rank last in the NFL in yards allowed per play (6.6) and find it difficult to get off the field.
They blanked opponents in the second half of their last two games, rallying past Washington before falling 27-3 in a mismatch last week at Tennessee.
Rookie Nick Bolton recorded 15 tackles in the loss to the Titans and is emerging as a run-stopper, though veterans Frank Clark, Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu have rarely flexed their playmaking capability.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid insists the locker room is strong and capable of correcting fundamental flaws. Yet time is fading fast if Kansas City is to position itself as the AFC contender most predicted it to be.
“We just need to do it,” Reid said. “I’ve done a lot of talking. We just need the results. There’s not a lot I can say that hasn’t been said. … We’ve been giving away some things free and we’ve got to take care of that.”
As an example, the Chiefs have already committed 17 turnovers, a mark that ranks last in the NFL and exceeds their total (16) in 2020. Their minus-10 turnover differential is tied for last in the league.
Mahomes, who took a crunching hit to the head during the fourth quarter of the Titans game but passed concussion protocol, has been especially careless, throwing a league-high nine interceptions against 18 touchdowns. He still ranks fourth in passing yards (2,093) and sixth in quarterback rating.
Uncustomary drops, inexplicable fumbles and blown protections have contributed to Mahomes’ problems, though he is quick to accept blame and owned up to his mistakes while meeting with his teammates this week.
“To see our main leader take responsibility and not point the finger, it sets a precedent for us,” said Alex Okafor.
It could be that a blueprint for defending the Chiefs’ explosive offense has been established, though Giants coach Joe Judge called that a “foolish narrative” to accept.
“How did the league catch up to ‘em,” Judge asked. “Is everyone as fast at Tyreek Hill, (Mecole) Hardman? Can everybody cover the ball as deep as (Mahomes) can throw that thing? This is a damn good team. They’re very explosive, very dangerous.”
The Giants enter Monday’s game off a 25-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week 7, their best defensive performance of the season. New York held Carolina to 173 total yards (2.8 per play) and recorded six sacks, including 2.5 by rookie Azeez Ojulari.
On offense, improvement in the red zone will be necessary if the Giants want to establish control. Their 45% conversion rate for touchdowns ranks dead last in the league. Getting some offensive playmakers back off injury would be extremely beneficial in testing the Chiefs’ shaky defense.
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