No change for Mahomes despite Chiefs' struggles

·4-min read
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes isn't planning on any changes when it comes to trying big plays as his club tries to overcome early season offensive struggles (AFP/JAMIE SQUIRE)

Patrick Mahomes will stay with the high-power passing strategy that has put the Kansas City Chiefs into three consecutive NFL conference finals despite offensive struggles this season.

The 26-year-old quarterback, who last year led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title in 50 years, has Kansas City at 5-4 this year entering a home game Sunday against AFC West division leader Las Vegas (5-3).

The Chiefs, who have won three of their past four starts, are reigning champions in what is the tightest division in the NFL this season and Mahomes will stick with a style that got them there.

"I'm going to take shots," Mahomes said of throwing deep down field rather than accept more modest gains.

"The last few years I've taken those shots and they've worked. I've taken those shots (this season) and they haven't worked and we've still been able to find ways to score points.

"Whenever I've got a guy with a chance to make a play downfield, I'm going to give him a chance to make a play."

Mahomes sees the deep pass threat as a way to keep defenders on the back foot and make them mindful of the long-play threat even when the Chiefs aren't able to march downfield well.

"Just in general, even when we're not connecting on them, it still tells that defense they have to back up and it opens up stuff underneath," Mahomes said.

"Taking those shots during the game, even if they're not connecting, it kind of puts a little bit of a fear into the defense to know they can't start coming up, they can't start jumping some of our routes."

Explosive offensive plays have been a trademark since Mahomes took over as a starter in the 2018 season, when he took the NFL Most Valuable Player award.

In the 2019 campaign, he was the Super Bowl MVP as the Chiefs beat San Francisco for the title and he lifted Kansas City back to the championship spectacle in February when the Chiefs lost to Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay.

But after a 27-3 loss at Tennessee, the Chiefs have needed defensive stands to edge the New York Giants 20-17 and Green Bay 13-7.

The Chiefs rank seventh in the NFL in total offense and sixth in passing, but the Chiefs are second-worst in the NFL in turnovers, only 14th in yards per play and 17th in big plays.

"It's going to be nice when we complete one of these," Mahomes said of big-play touchdown tosses. "But either way, taking those shots and having those opportunities at the right time and the right place will continue to open up the offense more and more."

- Rodgers eyes return -

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is set to return from the Covid-19 inactive list for the Packers (7-2) on Saturday, a day before they host Seattle (3-5).

Arizona Cardinals receiver A.J. Green was activated Thursday from the Covid-19 list and will be back Sunday when the 8-1 NFL overall leaders play host to Carolina (4-5), which signed former NFL MVP Cam Newton Thursday.

The Panthers brought back Newton after Sam Darnold suffered a shoulder injury sidelining him from four to six weeks.

The Cardinals could be without receiver DeAndre Hopkins, out with an ankle injury, and quarterback Kyler Murray, who has an ankle injury.

Cleveland running back Nick Chubb, put on the Covid-19 list this week, could return in time for the Browns (5-4) to play Sunday at New England (5-4).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown was out of a walking boot as the reigning Super Bowl champions (6-2) prepare to play at Washington (2-6) but Bucs coach Bruce Arians says tight end Rob Gronkowski will not return for another two or three weeks.

Other NFL games find New Orleans at Tennessee, Atlanta at Dallas, Buffalo at the New York Jets, Jacksonville at Indianapolis, Philadelphia at Denver and winless Detroit at Pittsburgh with the Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco on Monday night.

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