At one point, the Kansas City Chiefs looked like they wouldn’t make the NFL playoffs in 2021. Patrick Mahomes and company looked out of sync, and questions emerged about whether their run at the top was over.
Kansas City has since turned it around and looks good heading into the postseason. Mahomes shed light on some of the early struggles he wants to continue fixing moving forward.
Patrick Mahomes is practicing patience
Patrick Mahomes is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. He hasn’t had the season he wanted, though. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback acknowledges that he’s not perfect and has some things to work on.
Mahomes recently joined NBC Sports’ Maria Taylor on Football Night in America to discuss the 2021 season and look ahead to the playoffs.
The fifth-year quarterback assessed his performance throughout the regular season and noticed some flaws that he wanted to improve upon heading into the postseason and beyond.
“You’re the hardest critic on yourself,” said Mahomes. “What I learned is I have to be patient. I wanted to be this high-flying quarterback, throwing all these long touchdowns like I’ve done in the early part of my career. Defenses weren’t letting me do that, and I learned to be patient. Just take what’s there and try to find success in other ways.”
The Texas Tech product said that being patient is easier said than done. He sometimes struggles to find a balance between patience and “Mahomes Magic.”
“It’s still hard,” he said. “I still battle with the coaches about it. I try to find the best way to help our team out. There are times where I still get a little too aggressive, a little too freelance, a little too scramble outside the pocket. There are times where I don’t take what’s there. It’s about finding the fine line.”
Patrick Mahomes has made many amazing plays in his career going off-script, but he admitted he has to learn how to reel it in sometimes.
The Chiefs struggled early in the 2021 NFL season
The Kansas City Chiefs finished the 2021 regular season with a 12-5 record, good for the AFC West crown and the No. 2 seed in the conference. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Andy Reid’s squad.
The Chiefs posted a 3-4 record through the first seven weeks of the season.
Steve Spagnuolo’s defense looked awful, giving up 27 points or more to opposing offenses in six of the first seven games. The expectation wasn’t for the unit to be elite, but it wasn’t to be one of the worst defenses in the league, either.
The offense could still put points on the board but wasn’t nearly as efficient as it had been in years past. Patrick Mahomes struggled early and seemed to be trying to put the entire team on his back at times. The former MVP threw 10 interceptions from Weeks 1 through 8.
While Mahomes wasn’t the biggest reason Kansas City was losing games, he also didn’t help the cause. It looked like he was playing hero ball, trying to force the big play. Mahomes’ poor decision-making hurt the team early on.
Around the season’s halfway point, a switch flipped for the Chiefs. The defense played lights out in the second half of the year, led by Chris Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, and Nick Bolton. The offense still struggled a bit, but Kansas City found ways to win games.
Mahomes opened up on how the Chiefs turned things around as the season progressed.
“It was a trying time,” he said. “We dealt with a lot of adversity, just having to figure things out on the fly. The previous few years have built us for this moment. We learned our mistakes and found a way to win those games we were losing early.”
How Mahomes can lead Kansas City back to the Super Bowl
It was easy to write the Kansas City Chiefs off early in the season. They didn’t look the same. Now, they’re making all the doubters pay for counting them out.
Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes together have helped transform this franchise into a perennial championship contender. They’ve made back-to-back Super Bowl appearances and won Super Bowl LIV to cap the 2019 NFL season.
The AFC is wide open, and the Chiefs have as good a chance as any team to make it to the Super Bowl again.
Kansas City boasts a top-five offense, putting up 28.2 points and 396.8 yards per game. Not many teams will want to get into a shootout with Mahomes and company. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are matchup nightmares for opposing defenses, making this offense nearly impossible to stop.
As Mahomes acknowledged, he needs to display patience. Mental mistakes can be the difference between a deep playoff run and an early exit.
If Mahomes leads this team to the Super Bowl, he’ll erase all doubt that crept into people’s minds early in the season.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.