The 3-0 Chiefs face the 2-1 Broncos on Monday night, in a showdown that will showcase for a national audience the new-look Kansas City offense. And even though the offense is fundamentally the same, the coordinator has changed, with Matt Nagy leaving for the Bears and Eric Bieniemy taking over.
So what’s the biggest different in an offense that ultimately isn’t?
“I think the biggest difference is the mentality,” tight end Travis Kelce recently told the #PFTPM podcast. “Coach Bieniemy brings a fierce aggressive mentality to the offense. Kind of a gritty, punch-you-in-the-mouth-type of mindset, and I think that has rubbed off on everybody, from Pat [Mahomes] throwing the ball aggressively down field. The play calling is a little bit more aggressive and, sure enough, everybody getting the ball has been a north runner. There’s not too much running sideways. Everybody’s getting downhill trying to finish the plays in the end zone.”
It’s worked so far, with three straight wins. But last year the Chiefs started with five straight wins, and then their record ended up being 6-6 through 12 games. How do they avoid that this year?
“I think the biggest thing is keeping the mentality,” Kelce said. “The aggressive mentality, the mentality of ‘we can’t be stopped.’ We’re out here to kind of smell blood. Put our feet in guy’s necks when we can and go out there and just will our way into victories. I think last year it got a little shaky towards the end of games. Finishing games, finishing drives with seven on the offensive side and defensively stopping guys from getting seven points maybe getting them to only have three points once it gets down in the red zone. It’s an overall mentality of finishing games, finishing drives, finishing plays for the guys next to you.”
There’s one specific challenge that may arise if/when the Chiefs have a chance to finish the Broncos in Colorado. Mahomes will have to be able to finish the play call in a way that can be heard above the din of Denver.
“In the huddle his voice gets a little raspy especially in a loud stadium it gets tough to kind of understand what he’s saying,” Kelce said as to whether there’s anything Mahomes can improve. “But outside of calling the plays I mean the guy’s gonna keep developing into one of the best quarterbacks this league’s seen.”
Mahomes definitely is among the best young quarterbacks to ever play the game. Tonight, he gets a chance to build to his burgeoning legend, with a game that ESPN surely will be happy to have.