Analysis Front Page

How Do The Chiefs Stop Beating Themselves Early?

Despite the win last week, the Chiefs were behind early against the Raiders and had to once again dig themselves out of the hole. How do they fix their early struggles?

The Kansas City Chiefs overcame a 17-point deficit to beat the Las Vegas Raiders this week. It was a great win, but why do the Chiefs get behind so often? We all love watching Patrick Mahomes be the greatest come-from-behind quarterback in NFL history. He has a 12-9 record when trailing by ten points or more. That’s an over 50% winning percentage with the next closest being less than 38%. No lead is safe for an opposing team — just ask the Raiders or the Houston Texans.

However, watching the Chiefs start slow and get down by multiple scores is frustrating. It doesn’t happen weekly, but it happens far more often than Chiefs Kingdom would like. It’s happened twice this season out of the first five games. They went down ten points to the Los Angeles Chargers and 17 against the Raiders. The issue is a simple one — head coach Andy Reid’s first 15 scripted plays. For those living under a rock for the last 20 years or so, let me explain. Andy likes to script the first 15 plays of every game. Meaning they run those 15 plays as planned with little to no deviation.

The Chiefs Early-Game Scripts Have Failed At Times

Overall the plan has worked well for Andy throughout his career and the proof is in the results. Andy is a savant on offense and game planning, nobody can deny this factual statement. But his first 15 depend on his opposition doing what he expects them to do based on his staff’s research.

When the opposing team does what Andy expects, his first 15 are a thing of beauty. Look no further than the game this season against the Arizona Cardinals. The first 15 led the Chiefs to a 14-0 lead on their way to a 44 to 21 blowout. Once this offense gets in the flow nobody can stop them. It’s like watching a Michael Jordan game when he made his first two shots.

The offense starting hot like that is a big help to the defense as well, because it puts the opposition on their heels. They start panicking and getting away from their own game plan. The Chiefs turn into a freight train flying down the tracks. As good as the Chiefs look when their first 15 goes great, they look equally as bad when it fails. It can fail for two reasons: either the opposition does something unexpected or the execution is bad. We’ve seen both of these reasons happen in person.

The execution was poor against the Raiders as the offensive line was getting destroyed early. Then the Chiefs’ third kicker of the season Matthew Wright missed a chip shot field goal. This offensive ineptness allowed the Raiders’ offense to stick to their game plan and use it to get a 17-0 lead.

The issue with the script is that it doesn’t allow for a change of plans until the 15 plays are over. If the defense gets rolled down the field, the Chiefs stick to bad offense and then the defense is right back on the field. It is a bad situation all around and why when the script goes bad, it looks ugly.

Unfortunately, Andy is not going to stop his scripting. He will continue to script the first 15 plays and when it works it will look great and when it doesn’t it will look ugly. It is frustrating, but when Reid is your coach you sign up for all the greatness and understanding you have to live with the ugliness.

There is no cure for the Chiefs getting behind sometimes, but there is medicine. That medicine is Mahomes. There is no lead that he cannot overcome. That isn’t to say we’ll win every game, but he has proven enough times that no lead is safe and that fans should stop freaking out in the first quarter. Rather than getting mad at a poor first quarter and blaming this or that, just lay back, have a cold drink, and tell everyone listening to just wait and watch. Mahomes and this team have earned that kind of faith from the Chiefs Kingdom. I’m looking at you Chiefs’ Twitter, put the panic button down and relax!