Five words: Andy Reid off a bye.
For a 2023 Kansas City Chiefs team that built a pre-bye identity of having an elite defense and a flawed offense, the magical week off was supposed to be a turning point. After all, the other side of the ball had experienced second-half surges in the past. How could a group with Reid, Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce leading the way not get the benefit of the doubt? Reid's track record when given extra time to reset and prepare speaks for itself.
The Chiefs got that benefit but in a Week 11 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, they didn't show progression or prove that things are different. They showed that they're the same team they've been since Week 1 against the Detroit Lions.
Don't get it twisted: Kansas City can still play a championship brand of football with things the way they are. Going into playoff games with the aforementioned trio and defense is sometimes enough to beat good teams. All it takes is a trip back in time to *checks notes* Week 9 to see an example of it happening. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots had a ton of postseason success while playing sloppy or merely solid offense and great defense. The problem with what the Chiefs are doing is that it makes their margin for error thinner and places a huge burden on everything else — including timely luck — to be near-perfect.
There's no greater instance of that being true than the game on the Monday Night Football stage. Sure, the home team was oh-so-close to tasting victory against a premier opponent. They didn't finish the job, however, and made multiple mistakes that would be deemed uncharacteristic in the past. Ugly turnovers and game-altering drops are quite characteristic of the Chiefs right now, though. This is who they are, full stop.
A lot of the Chiefs' struggles on offense stem from a lackluster corps of wide receivers. General manager Brett Veach trusted his foundation of pass catchers to be enough in 2023, although that foundation has crumbled from September to November. Kansas City will head into Thanksgiving telling the world that there's enough in the room to thrive, but there isn't. The franchise had only itself to blame during the offseason, and it has only itself to blame now.
Following Monday's game, the Chiefs are the worst second-half offense in the NFL from a scoring perspective. No team is averaging fewer points than their 5.3 over the final 30 minutes of games. Not the 3-8 New York Giants, not the 4-6 New York Jets, not the 2-8 New England Patriots and not the 1-9 Carolina Panthers. It's the 7-3, division-leading, still-a-contender Kansas City Chiefs that are falling completely flat after coming out of the locker room. It would be a different story if the splits were reversed and this was a slow-starting club that eventually woke up. It isn't. This team should be thanking its lucky stars for a defense that allows most games to still be in hand late.
Not to pick on a single player or play, but Marquez Valdes-Scantling's fourth-quarter drop encapsulated where the Chiefs are at entering Week 12. A 34-year-old, overworked, slightly broken down Travis Kelce was triple-teamed and someone else finally took advantage of it. Mahomes, who's struggled to consistently trust his pass catchers in 2023, chucked a beautiful deep ball that hit his receiver in the hands. Valdes-Scantling had a chance to be the hero and change the narrative but instead dropped the pass. Two plays later, the home team was set to watch the visitors kneel out the rest of the game.
That's the reality of this year's bunch. There's no more reason to dance around it or leave the door wide open for improvement. Embrace that the Chiefs were dared to show progression and instead displayed their true colors to the world. When someone repeatedly tries to show you who they are through actions, you're supposed to believe them. Barring the proverbial light bulb flickering and staying on, Kansas City will have to work around a combination of untimely turnovers, drops, penalties and more as games get more important come January.