The Baltimore Ravens faced a dilemma on Monday night all too familiar to teams having to defend the Kansas City Chiefs: How do you slow down an offense that seems to evolve and add wrinkles on a regular basis? Baltimore found the task a challenging one in Week 3, giving up 34 points as well as 517 yards of offense and a 77 percent success rate on third down.
Not all of the team’s big plays were a result of this evolving process, but they certainly made life hard on the defense. The two most prominent were a pair of touchdown throws from quarterback Patrick Mahomes: one was a shovel pass to fullback Anthony Sherman in the second quarter, the other a pass to tackle eligible Eric Fisher in the fourth. Both plays were perfectly executed by head coach Andy Reid’s offense and seemingly caught the Ravens by surprise.
Unconventional plays like these, however, are not the reason why the Chiefs’ attack is one of the most dynamic in all of football — at least according to Bill Belichick.
The New England Patriots’ head coach, who will have to prepare for Kansas City this week, spoke about the team’s offense during a media conference call on Tuesday. He noted that the unit’s ever-evolving scheme is not as potent as it is because of the new wrinkles it regularly seems to add but rather due to the fact that Mahomes and company are executing at a consistently high level no matter the call.
“I think Andy continually comes up with little wrinkles here and there. You expect that a couple plays a game, but that’s not really the core of what they do,” said Belichick. “Those gadget plays and those formations that are a little out of the ordinary, that will pop up from time to time. But they really win with good fundamentals, good execution and the core things that they do.
“They obviously put things in there to mix it up and give the defense a little bit of a different look. So, those are definitely coming in every game — a different one, ones that we haven’t practiced — but we’ll have to follow our rules and handle those situations when they come up.”
The Patriots are certainly no strangers to doing that. Not only is the team continuously among the most fundamentally sound in football, it also has plenty of experience going up against Andy-Reid-designed offenses. New England and Kansas City have met three times since Mahomes took over as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback in 2018, with the Patriots coming away victoriously on two occasions.
That said, all three of the games came down to the wire. This was in part because Mahomes and company have a firepower that might be unmatched in the current NFL, and allowed them to go toe-for-toe with the Patriots’ Tom Brady-led attack of the last two years.
So why are they able to do all that, Coach Belichick?
“Really their core stuff and their core execution and their good execution doing those things, and their ability to do quite a few of them and hit the defense in a number of different ways,” he said. “I think the way that they spread the ball around is obviously a problem. Those are the things that are, I’d say, the biggest things we have to contend with.”