Following the KC Chiefs’ 16-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, beat writer Terez A. Paylor answered Twitter questions about Alex Smith’s struggles, whether Patrick Mahomes needs to play and what it would take for a move to happen.
From the get-go, here’s what coach Andy Reid said when asked if he was considering making a change at quarterback:
“No, I didn’t. That’s not where I’m at right now. There’s a couple other things I’ve got to take care of.”
Now, here’s where I’m at. The quarterback play was subpar Sunday, and it has been over the last three games. The last two losses –– to the Giants and Bills –– are particularly embarrassing. These guys just can’t get anything going offensively, particularly in the passing game. Smith is missing open guys, and he’s not keeping his eyes up under fire. It’s a stark difference between his play over the last month or so and the way he started the season. Unless he’s playing hurt and he’s not saying –– which happens with more players than you know –– we’re rapidly approaching the point where a discussion about a change at the quarterback position should at least be had. Mahomes does not know the offense like Smith, but he brings an innate playmaking knack and could potentially provide a spark. Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy even praised Mahomes’ performance on the practice squad before the bye week. As for the latter question … while I think Smith will again start Sunday against the Jets, I do think –– if a change is being considered –– it would make sense for Mahomes to get some playing time prior to the Chiefs’ home showdown against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 10.
Reid is being defensive immediately after the game because he has to be. He’s been a head coach in this league for 19 years. He understands it makes no sense to publicly rip his quarterback. By doing so, he’d only give fans more ammunition to call for Mahomes. He’ll also destroy whatever trust he has with Smith and, more importantly, back himself into a corner regarding a switch to Mahomes before he watches the all-22 film. That makes no sense. But I do think Alex has been a major issue for the offensive struggles –– guys are running free at times –– in addition to a few other factors we’ll get to with the next question.
While the quarterback play should be No. 1 on that list, let’s make something else clear ––the play calling hasn’t been up to snuff, either. Where is the creativity? None of this stuff is working. Zone defenses have given the Chiefs a ton of trouble over the last month, and that shouldn’t be the case this consistently. Some of that falls on coaching. Also, the offensive line hasn’t been up to par for the last four games, either. They aren’t getting nearly enough traction in the running game, which is allowing teams to bottle up Kareem Hunt. They had a built in excuse when Mitch Morse and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif were injured. Both have been back for at least three games apiece and they’re still losing. Not good enough.
Again, the offensive line could be better. There are times when guys break free in pass rush and understandably make Smith skittish. However, there are also times where Smith abandons the pockets or ducks his head in the face of the oncoming rush instead of evading the rushers, keeping his eyes up and delivering strikes –– which he used to do over the season’s first month. Unless he’s hurt or something, there’s no excuse for that kind of backsliding.
Teams are attacking hard downhill, especially on the Chiefs’ zone-run plays. Linebackers fire downhill HARD and the defensive linemen often defeat blocks. Remember, when it comes to offensive-line play, it only takes one missed block up front to blow up a run play. Far too often, the Chiefs have had a breakdown by at least one guy on a play-by-play basis that fouls everything up. Either guys are hurt or they just aren’t good enough. Add that up to teams’ increased focus on Hunt, and you get a subpar running game that only makes life tougher on a struggling quarterback.
First off, Philadelphia is more talented than the Chiefs. For one, their offensive line is better –– let’s start there. The Eagles feature two All-Pro caliber tackles in Jason Peters and Lane Johnson, an All-Pro center in Jason Kelce and two very good guards in Brandon Brooks and Stefen Wisniewski. Having a dominant line like this opens up EVERYTHING for an offense. The Eagles’ front seven –– and particularly their defensive line –– is elite. These guys rotate players in that would start elsewhere. So I’d hesitate to correlate Pederson’s success against Reid’s recent struggles. But this recent skid is not characteristic of a Reid team. He needs to fix it, pronto.
I’d be really surprised if they lose out the rest of the way. The schedule is still too soft. But what is in danger is their chances of winning the AFC West. The Chargers are only one game behind the Chiefs now, and they still have a game left against each other. It could be a challenge to get to nine wins this season. Who would have guessed that after the 5-0 start?
He won’t. Reid is a proven winner, and Hunt cares about fielding a consistent winner. The firing of general manager John Dorsey was a surprise to many, but one Hunt likely made because he re-signed Reid and could keep a large measure of continuity, which he values greatly. Reid is going to be the coach here as long as he wants, barring something unforeseen.
I’d expect him to. Reggie Ragland has been terrific for two games ina row, leading the Chiefs in tackles in each. He’s been one of the few bright spots during this miserable stretch. He’s diagnosing quicker and packing a punch as a run defender. He’s been a revelation.
Considering Revis’ stature as one of the all-time greats, as well as the timing of his signing –– one week before he faces his old team –– and Reid’s outright statement that he expects Revis to start, I think that’s probably a safe bet. However, I’d be a tad surprised Steven Nelson was knocked out of the starting lineup. Terrance Mitchell, who found himself back in the lineup in nickel packages Sunday, would appear to be the odd man out if Revis starts … even though Mitchell seemed to play well on Sunday, at least to the naked eye.