Twenty-three years later, Reid is Kansas City’s head coach, and it’s his challenge again as the entire NFL will tune in Monday night to watch the Chiefs face the Giants with the same question in mind: What’s wrong with Mahomes?
The Post asked that question to three quarterbacks-turned-analysts.
Patrick Mahomes makes a throw against the Titans
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“Teams have caught on to what [the Chiefs] do because just about everybody in the NFL has put in Kansas City plays and runs them themselves,” CBS studio host Phil Simms said, “so they know how to better defend it. It’s not coming as easy to them as it did before.”
Mahomes is the least-blitzed (10.7 percent of snaps) quarterback, and the Chiefs see the most two-deep safety coverage, designed to eliminate big passing plays to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. But Cover 2 is a decades-old standard NFL defense — not some unsolved new twist.
So why is it suddenly so effective? Often compared to Favre, Mahomes was intercepted on 1.4 percent of his passes over his first three seasons as a starter compared to 3.2 percent this year.
“The difference is in the offensive line, and they are struggling to run the ball consistently,” said Brian Griese, an ESPN “Monday Night Football” analyst. “Because of that, teams are able to play two safeties high and not allow Mahomes and Hill to throw the ball deep down the field. They are getting pressure with four [rushers], so Mahomes doesn’t have that easy man-to-man throw. His fundamentals are suffering.”times in a five-game span, causing Packers head coach Mike Holmgren to barge into quarterbacks coach Andy Reid’s meeting with a tape of all the picks.
“It was so hard to watch,” Matt Hasselbeck said. “There was awkward silence as he’s throwing left-handed, across his body, late down the middle, just chucking it up. One was from two knees. After watching that tape, you were like, ‘This guy can’t play. He’s a disaster.’
“Andy Reid says, ‘Hold on. I’ve got another tape to show you.’ It was the touchdown reel, and it’s ‘This is the greatest player in the world.’ The common theme in both tapes was taking chances. How do you coach to get rid of the bad stuff and somehow keep all the amazing stuff?”The NFL co-leaders in most passes intercepted are an overwhelmed rookie and a former MVP on a Hall of Fame track.
It is jarring to see the Jets’ Zach Wilson and the slumping Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes tied with nine picks apiece — to everyone except maybe Brett Favre’s former teammates. More specifically, to the three quarterbacks who backed up Favre in 1998, when the three-time MVP was intercepted 14 times in a five-game span, causing Packers head coach Mike Holmgren to barge into quarterbacks coach AndyHasselbeck, who appears each week on ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” said five of Mahomes’ nine interceptions came on plays he extended that should’ve been dead. In other words, the same off-script throws that sometimes create remarkable touchdowns.
Patrick Mahomes throws a pass for Texas Tech; New York Giants decision-makers Marc Ross, Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo (left to right)
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“He’s a victim of his own standard that he has set,” Hasselbeck said. “The only danger I would say is if you don’t recognize that your play is a problem, then you are not going to get it fixed. There is that fine line of, how do I fix this?”
The Raiders gave the NFL a blueprint for beating the Chiefs on Oct. 11, 2020, when they used a three-man defensive front, a spy and dropped seven into coverage. It took too long for most teams to catch on that blitzing Mahomes with the idea of forcing him into a quick throw does not eliminate a big play, but rather presents him one-on-one matchups in which speed favors the Chiefs.
“He has to be happier with 5- and 6-yard completions instead of always looking for the 30- and 40-yard completions,” Simms said. “That’s an overstatement, but teams basically say, ‘We’re daring you to run the football and throw it short.’ Until you do that on a consistent basis, nobody is going to come up and be aggressive. Then maybe we’ll get back to what we are used to, that tremendous air show.”
The Chiefs actually average 5.0 yards per carry, but it long has been the story of Reid’s play-calling career that he is too quick to abandon the run. Top back Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s knee injury is another impediment. Dan Orlovsky, another former NFL quarterback, suggested on ESPN’s “NFL Live” that the reliance on run-pass option plays has messed up Mahomes’ footwork in the pocket.