The Kansas City Chiefs did nothing to silence their critics on Monday but at the very least, they came away with a win. The Chiefs found a way to overcome multiple mistakes and a frustrating night for Patrick Mahomes to send the New York Giants home with another loss on their already miserable record in a final 20-17 victory at Arrowhead.
There’s a lot to discuss, some good and mostly bad, even with a victory, but we thought we’d develop a few quick takeaways from a late-night primetime win that was much, much closer than it should have been.
Lucas Niang is back with the starters
The Chiefs began the season with three rookie starters upfront in a completely remade offensive line. While celebrated veterans manned the left side to protect Patrick Mahomes in Orlando Brown Jr. and Joe Thuney, Andy Reid decided to go with second-round pick Creed Humphrey at the center, sixth-round pick Trey Smith at right guard, and 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang at right tackle.
Niang had the biggest learning curve of anyone given that he’d been out of football for nearly two full years. He also plays the much tougher position outside against dominant edge rushers than interior linemen. Niang had shown some struggles, to be certain, but he also looked like a quick learner and capable long-term starter outside until an injury knocked him out of the starting lineup a couple of weeks ago. That’s when Mike Remmers stepped in.
Andy Reid seemed to like having a veteran outside again in Week 7, but Remmers came into this game banged up and limited in previous practices this week. That put Niang back in the starting lineup in a game where it was the others who struggled most with penalties. It’s impossible to say if Niang will hold this position, but it’s in the best long-term interests for the club to keep him there. He looked solid in Week 8 so perhaps we’ll see three rookies again next week.
Patrick Mahomes still isn’t sharp
Mahomes earned a win on Monday and put together a few more plays that make our collective jaws drop. But if we’re setting aside the rose-colored glasses for a minute, we have to admit that Mahomes is not as sharp as he’s been in previous seasons.
While the early interception that ended the opening drive after marching down the entire field wasn’t at all his fault (tipped into the air and caught by Giants corner Jordan Love), the reality is that multiple other passes could have been picked off (or were intercepted only to be called back due to penalty). Even more, there were other errant throws that either could have been solid gains but were just out of reach or were catches but only because the receiver deserves credit for making an extraordinary effort (think Tyreek Hill‘s catch behind his body in the second quarter).
Every quarterback is going to miss some throws in a game, but there’s a rhythm with which we’re used to seeing Mahomes play and it’s not there. That’s not to say that he won’t get there, but it seems as he’s still building chemistry with a new offensive line (or some other reason). Hopefully, he’ll continue to settle in this season and further hone his craft.