Chiefs spread the wealth among multiple offensive options
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There was a play midway through the Kansas City Chiefs‘ 38-27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in which Patrick Mahomes eluded the pass rush, rolled out to his right and flipped a short, simple pass to running back Kareem Hunt in the flat.
He had at least two other wide receivers wide open, too.
Such is the nature of the Kansas City offense through the first three weeks of the season, and the challenge it has presented to a trio of defenses.
Even if they manage to contain one target, or even two or three, Mahomes always seems to have somebody else wide open downfield.
“It’s hard for teams to play every single one of them,” Mahomes said Sunday night. “I know if I get through my reads there will be someone open. With the offensive line blocking so well, I can sit in the pocket and get through my whole entire read and find the open guy.”
That again was evident against the 49ers, when Mahomes targeted 11 different receivers and connected with nine.
Even little-used wide receiver Marcus Kemp managed a reception.
“I’ve never played with an offense that good before,” said Tyreek Hill, who had two catches for 51 yards. “Like I was telling Sammy, man, I’m excited to have all these weapons on the team. It’s amazing, man, because a defense has got to worry about so many options.”
It’s not just the quantity, though. The Chiefs have quality players at every position, and in most cases they have multiple guys capable of stepping onto the field without missing a beat.
“Guys everywhere,” Mahomes said. “Knowing that I have those weapons, whenever someone has to get a break — we say if you’re tired, get a break, because I know I can trust the next guy coming in.”
That’s hardly a luxury most teams experience.
Then there’s the variety of talent.
Kelce is one of the league’s best tight ends, a capable blocker whose soft hands allowed him to spear a high throw Sunday that few others could catch. And when he gets into the open field, just ask 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster how difficult it is to bring him down.
On the outside are Watkins and Hill, giving the Chiefs not only two of the fastest playmakers in the league, but also two of the most sure-handed.
Yes, Hill had only two catches against San Francisco, but one was a leaping grab deep downfield between two defenders in tight coverage, while Watkins made his mark by catching slant routes in traffic and making guys miss.
Indeed, his touchdown grab Sunday looked as if someone was running a gauntlet.
When defenses finally try nickel and dime packages to cover the downfield threats, the Chiefs merely have the reigning NFL rushing champion in Hunt ready to handle the ball.
He finally got into the end zone Sunday for his first two rushing touchdowns this season.
“Coach (Andy) Reid has done an unbelievable job of creating these plays,” Kelce said. “Right now we’re just dialing them up and going out there and executing what’s called. It’s as simple as that. Not every single play is going to have one certain guy, and that’s the fun of it.”
It hasn’t been much fun for opposing defenses.
“We have to do a little better in the second half,” offensive lineman Mitch Schwartz said Sunday, “but we had nine possessions. Five touchdowns and a field goal. That’s pretty good.”
NOTES: Reid said Monday that he’s comfortable with the Chiefs’ pass rush heading into their Week 4 matchup at Denver, even though outside linebacker Dee Ford hurt his groin against the 49ers. “I think we’ll be fine there if (Ford is unavailable),” Reid said. “I know he was sore yesterday. For him to come out of a game is never a good thing. We’ll see how he does here, but I’m glad we’ve had an opportunity to play those guys and give them a little experience here.”