KANSAS CITY, Missouri – As a two-time defending AFC champion with dynamic talent Patrick Mahomes As a quarterback, it is natural for the Kansas City Chiefs to take the best shot from each opponent.
Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu suggested the Chiefs are wearing thin under that load.
“We just have to find a way to dig deeper,” Mathieu said Sunday night after a 38-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills. “All the teams we play want to beat us. They want to beat us badly … We’re going to Washington [this] week and they will want to beat us.
“Boys stay up late [in preparation to play against the Chiefs], the coaches stay up late. These guys come into our stadium and all they want to do is win. I say that to say that there is a certain urgency that you must have when playing for the Kansas City Chiefs. Everyone in this league wants what we have – the Mahomes and the Hills and all the success we’ve had, the teams are chasing that, that glory. “
The Chiefs, who started each of the previous four seasons winning at least four games, are 2-3 and find themselves in an unusual place: last place in the AFC West. They’ve played a tough schedule – it looks like four of their five opponents are going to make the playoffs – but, unusually, they haven’t handled it well.
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Much of the problem lies with a defense that is last in the league, allowing nearly 33 points per game. That can be attributed to many factors, but there seems to be little doubt that one of them is that opponents, as Mathieu said, are spending extra time preparing for them.
Washington coach Ron Rivera will be the last to try to beat the Chiefs on Sunday (1 pm ET, CBS). He is familiar with being a particular focus of an opponent’s preparation, having once played for a Super Bowl championship team with the Chicago Bears in 1985 and then coached the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 regular season and a placed in the Super Bowl in 2015.
“It’s very difficult,” Rivera said. “[Chiefs coach Andy Reid] won his [Super Bowl] and the next season everyone shot him and now everyone shoots him at another time.
“Having lost [the Super Bowl last season] And just the trauma of trying to start over, that’s hard Really is. It takes a lot from you. [Reid] He’s been through it two years in a row, I can only imagine the stress it puts on an individual. It is a lot of work. You are always in people’s sights. Nothing is easy at that time. … You are in a situation where you are the yardstick for a while. “
Rivera said the players felt a burden similar to that of the coach.
“When I was a Bears player, I always felt that way from that moment, from 1985 onwards, that we were going to get the best shot ever,” he said.
Nobody feels sorry for the Chiefs. Carrying the target is a problem any team would like to have, and Reid suggested that doing so is a privilege and not a burden.
“I wouldn’t want to be in a different position than that, like the guys who have been here before are,” Reid said. “And now you have an influx of new guys, so they weren’t here for the last year or two.
“We all, we just all need to improve our game and have the same urgency to get things done.”
Mahomes said: “I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want to be as prepared as possible to play in the playoffs and try to get to the Super Bowl. If that means we’re going to get the best shot out of each team, then I’m up for the challenge. “.
The problem for the Chiefs is that they haven’t been ready this season. Opponents have consistently tried a defensive strategy – two safes and no blitzing – that has at times frustrated Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense and forced them to fumble.
In defense, little has worked. They’re allowing a staggering 7.1 yards per play, the latest in the NFL and well above the league average of 5.7. The NFL record for a full season is 6.6.
That may explain why the Chiefs, on defense at least, are feeling the strain.
“We have to find a way to stop the bleeding,” Mathieu said.