Chiefs-Bears Film Review: What to Take From Kansas City’s Starting Offense

The Kansas City Chiefs lost Saturday’s exhibition opening 19-14 to Chicago Bears – but the top half of the depth chart entered half-time with a 14-0 lead.

The full starting offense started the game well, rushing for 72 yards on 11 plays to score a touchdown. They moved the sticks five times on the drive, including two third conversions.

It was their only action of the match, but there was still plenty to learn from it. After reviewing the possession, this is what I noticed:

Alchemy between quarterback and receiver

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed six of the seven passes on the drive, hitting six different pass catchers.

The first completion from a wide receiver was a nine-yard gain for Mecole Hardman who set up second and the short – but the reception alone should moved the sticks.

The depth of this route is designed to adjust based on the position of the first down marker. Thus, the receiver must do what it takes to position themselves to win a first down with the hold. Hardman runs the road at the sticks and comes back for the ball, but the depth of his road causes the catch to go past the sticks.

You’d want to see a receiver in his fourth year with the offense have a better feel on this route — but rather than making the first down (as it should), the catch creates a pressure situation to convert a third and runs.

Later in the ride, Mahomes’ connection to tight end Travis Kelce was on display – it looked as natural and easy as ever.

Off the fake action play, Kelce beats his defender (who is playing men’s coverage) to the inside – but not until he’s out of sight of the coverage linebacker in the middle. This gives him the window needed for Mahomes to complete a 19-yard pass.

On the only third pass attempt of the series, Mahomes’ chemistry with one of the new receivers turned into an impressive conversion.

The Chiefs execute their Hank pass concept, which calls two receivers in midfield to execute curl routes past the sticks. The Bears initially cover possible launch windows, so Mahomes scrambles to open up an opportunity. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling recognizes this, making a subtle move to get back inside, sealing his defender to allow Mahomes to throw.

In his post-match press conference, Mahomes mentioned the history of Valdes-Scantling with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as something that helped their chemistry in those situations get off to a solid start.

Pass Protection

There’s a simple way to explain why the offensive line didn’t have its best performance to start the preseason: On two different plays (more than seven pass attempts), Mahomes was hit while throwing .

On the lone first-team incompleteness, right guard Trey Smith and left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. both allow quick penetration — which forces Mahomes to make an uncomfortable throw when tagged. Brown looks overwhelmed, allowing a very big inside lane for the rusher to attack the front of the pocket and get into Mahomes’ face. Smith just isn’t as aggressive attacking snap defensive linemen, which allows the rusher to get into the backfield – and at least makes Mahomes worry about penetration for a split second .

Had the quarterback been able to throw the pass cleanly, it would have been a touchdown to Valdes-Scantling.

On Mahomes’ first hit, that didn’t stop a completion — but it was a much bigger hit than you’d ever want to see a quarterback take in the preseason.

On the play-action pass, the defensive end who is lined up with right tackle Andrew Wylie shoots inside as a blitzer comes from his outside. Not expecting the inside rush, Wylie rushes the snap, allowing the rusher enough corner to win and get a free kick on Mahomes.

Running backs

Starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire had the first seven snaps of the game – carrying the ball twice for a total of six yards. Run two was six yards, cutting through traffic to gain ground.

On the play above – where Mahomes is hit – Edwards-Helaire actually has impressive rep in pass protection, preventing the blitzer from going into the pocket by crippling him at the point of contact.

In the eighth game of practice, Edwards-Helaire was spelled out by seventh-round rookie pick Isiah Pacheco — who won his first NFL carry at the middle over two yards. I noticed that Pacheco patiently took the transfer – then once he got to the line of scrimmage, put his head down and just pushed forward. Although sometimes it’s the only way to go, I’d like to see him keep his eyes up while he waits – just in case he finds a last-second seam to squeeze through.

On his catch, he shows strong hands and good contact balance, bouncing back quickly from the defensive back’s shot and continuing down the field.

It was good to see Pacheco being used in both the running and passing game. His ability to make plays in both offensive phases is probably why he should be on the team over veteran running back Ronald Jones.

The bottom line

The Chiefs offense has played a lot of games with very basic formations. Yet they barely broke a sweat as they stepped onto the pitch to score. And even though his pass protection didn’t allow him to operate from a clean pocket with every snap, Mahomes looked very comfortable.

All in all, it was a good start for the Chiefs’ offense — while giving a few players some teaching points they can learn from.

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