Saturday, January 29, 2022
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Takeaways from the Chiefs statement win over the Las Vegas Raiders

Before the Kansas City Chiefs’ 41-14 win against the Las Vegas Raiders, I wrote an article on Patrick Mahomes’ recent decline. 

After gathering as much information as possible, I concluded that his poor play looked similar to his weaknesses in college. I wasn’t alone in my thoughts, as throughout social media many started to lose optimism in the quarterback.

I still had faith in the former MVP, though. Many great quarterbacks have had setbacks during their careers, like Peyton Manning and John Elway. 

However, I said that a comeback would require significant changes from Mahomes, head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Additionally, I thought patience from fans like myself would be needed to see the young gunslinger rise from the dead.

Well, guess what — Mahomes is back.

Mahomes was certainly the catalyst of this enormous Chiefs’ win, but some of the other players helped seal the deal against their division rivals. Here are some takeaways from last Sunday night’s game.

Mahomes is back to his usual groove

The Chiefs superstar made some significant improvements since his last couple of games. Instead of seeking the big plays, he embraced the dink-and-dunk style. It worked. 

Mahomes made almost 80% of his throws inside 10 yards. He also threw timely deep shots when it counted, zipping the ball for 20+ yards three times. Two of those three passes resulted in touchdowns. 

In total, Mahomes completed 35 passes for 406 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. This stat line is reminiscent of his marvelous 2018 season, but it wasn’t the only impressive part of this performance. 

Watching him stay put and be patient with the football was a new development. Mahomes was smart with the football, making those essential “quarterback” throws. 

However, he still made some plays that were daring and whimsical. 

Fans wanted to see development from the superstar quarterback and they got it. As the offensive leader, Mahomes must carry his momentum against the Dallas Cowboys this upcoming Monday. The Chiefs will expect a shootout.

CEH will thrive in this new-look offense

While most of the starters played against the Raiders, one key player was missing — running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. 

An MCL sprain sidelined Edwards-Helaire in week five against the Buffalo Bills. Before his injury, he attempted 65 rushes for 304 yards with no touchdowns and two fumbles. On average, he carried the football 4.7 yards per attempt. On eight catches, he has amassed 61 yards and two touchdowns. 

His stats aren’t impressive, but he could find a significant spike in all of those categories. 

Running back Darrel Williams, who usually is the backup, has done a solid job carrying the football. In five games, he’s rushed for 244 yards on 69 carries (3.5 yards per attempt). His receiving yards are impressive, with 226 yards on 24 catches (9.4 yards per catch). 

Williams’ role in this offense is essential. He has been a catalyst of the Chiefs’ recent rhythm, getting vital first downs on the ground and making plays on passing downs. Once Edwards-Helaire returns to the field, the playcalling should stay the same. 

Edwards-Helaire will excel as a critical component of this rising offense. His ability to find open gaps and gash defenses will complement the offensive lines’ aggressive style. The former LSU product was a menace in the passing game, succeeding on screen passes in college. Add Mahomes recent rise and more advanced chemistry, and this offense will return to its superior form. 

Defense takes another huge step

Weeks ago, there was doubt that the Chiefs’ defense would stay horrible for the rest of the year. With a non-existent pass rush and a weak linebacker core, the defense continued to reach new lows as each week passed. However, they’ve found new life against teams like the Giants, Packers, and Raiders. 

Seeing defensive tackle Chris Jones return to his natural position made me drastically happy. Jones is always a threat inside the trenches and allows for the defensive ends to crash the pocket. 

Acquiring Melvin Ingram also gives the Chiefs defense some speed on the outside. Frank Clark has found his rhythm, using his arsenal of moves to beat any offensive tackle. 

The linebacking duo of Willie Gay and Nick Bolton reignites some youth to the front seven. Bolton continues to show physicality and intelligence to close in on gaps. Gay flashes athleticism that adds versatility to his respective position. While Anthony Hitchens lacks the ability that his teammates have, he still provides some veteran leadership. 

Finally, the secondary benefited from the rise of pass-rushing production. L’Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton continue to shut down opposing receivers. Safety Tyrann Mathieu’s ability to play “hybrid” gives defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo an expanded playbook. 

Seeing the Chiefs’ growth on defense is promising for the organization. If they can prove themselves against the Dallas Cowboys’ unlimited offense, then the team will be a Super Bowl contender once again. 

camtkb@umsystem.edu

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