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Sunday, December 12, 2021

Patrick Mahomes shoulders blame for Chiefs’ struggles

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Patrick Mahomes isn’t backing away from the trends the tape — and the stats — show. 

In the week leading up to Kansas City’s Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants, Mahomes took responsibility for the string of losses, offensive lapses and costly miscues in front of his teammates during a practice meeting, according to the Kansas City Star.

“You can just watch the tape and know that I need to play better in order to have success,” Mahomes said during his Thursday press conference. “There was plays where guys were open. There was plays where we had matchups downfield that I didn’t hit that I usually would give those guys opportunities to make plays.”

He’s tied with Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson for the NFL lead in interceptions with nine, throwing at least one in his last six games, when he threw just 11 during the previous two seasons combined. His Chiefs are 3-4, dropping two of their last three, tied for the most losses in a single season during his pro career.

Mahomes’ 6.1 quarterback rating against the Tennessee Titans dropped his overall score to 64.1 for the season — on pace for the lowest of his career as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback.

Some of Kansas City’s issues, Mahomes said, stem from tendencies that surface for a few games every year — like when he tries to hang in the pocket too long instead of stepping up and finding a softer spot. When the offense didn’t establish a rhythm in the past, he added, that’s usually the reason why.

Patrick Mahomes makes a throw against the Titans
Patrick Mahomes makes a throw against the Titans
Getty Images

Defensive end Alex Okafor said that seeing their “main leader” shoulder the blame “sets a precedent for us.”

Head coach Andy Reid said that Mahomes is wired to not hide things.

“If you’re willing to attack the issues, you can get it changed around in whatever direction you want,” Reid said. “… So, that’s how Pat operates — he’s not going to hide or shy away from anything. If there’s a problem, he’s going to attack it and work to fix it.”

With their playoff chances spiraling before the season even reaches its midpoint, the Chiefs need those changes and that responsibility to start translating during games — starting in three days against a Giants defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league for yards and points allowed per game.

Kansas City’s offense, which has been without running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire after he left its Oct. 11 loss with an injury, has still managed to average 419.3 yards per game, which ranks third in the NFL, and their 26.9 points-per-game rate ranks ninth. But an overhauled offensive line — built via a trade for Orlando Brown Jr., a signing of Joe Thuney, a second-round draft pick spent on Creed Humphrey — allowed four sacks and nine quarterback hits against the Titans, one of which knocked Mahomes out of the game and into concussion protocol.

Those struggles have heightened the level of panic surrounding Kansas City and the trajectory of its season. And Reid, along with his players, hope that Mahomes, by continuing to explicitly take responsibility, can help flip that trend around.

“A lot of guys will make excuses for whatever the issue might be, and he’s up front about it,” Reid said. “He’s not afraid to talk to the players about it, the coaches about it. That’s part of it, and then he goes and works on it, which is the most important thing. It builds a confidence in you that way.”

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