The 2022 NFL season began as a shrill reality for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Leading with a 21-3 lead early in the January AFC Championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals, KC looked set to appear in the Super Bowl for the third time in a row. But an 18-point comeback in the second half, spurred by rising star Cincinnati linebacker Joe Borough, thrust the Bengals into the big game and Kansas City into the unknown.
“When you get to 21 to 3 at some point in the game, you can’t lose it,” Quarterback Patrick Mahomes said postgame. The second-half quarterback rated 1.4 the worst in his short stint as a rookie.
Patrick Mahomes QBR Half Day Sunday:
First Half – 98.0
Second half / overtime – 1.4
It’s the biggest gap in a player’s QBR by half in the playoffs since QBR tracking began in 2006 (minimum 10 attempts per half). pic.twitter.com/f6ZmzWQ4tv
– ESPN Statistics and Information (ESPNStatsInfo) Jan 31 2022
“I put that on myself,” Mahomes said. KC’s offense erupted in the last two quarters, managing only 83 total offense yards after the break, compared to 292 before the break.
“Obviously the second half wasn’t good enough,” coach Andy Reed told reporters on Monday after his team lost 27-24 in overtime. “Whether it’s blueprints or menus, we’re going to spend our downtime here getting things done,” Reid continued.
It looks like the first major dominoes to get things done in Kansas City fell in March. With contract negotiations between the front office and star Tyreek Hill deadlocked, the team has reportedly agreed to let “Cheetah” find a new home.
Hours later, Hill became the Miami Dolphin.
“Myself and [Chiefs general manager Brett Veach] There’s a very good chance there will be a change in your career,” Reed said of the deal in mid-April. “It’s part of playing this situation,” he concluded.
The change did not stop at the cheetah. Longtime Front Office CEO Ryan Pauls has pulled out of a GM job in Chicago, taking with him a handful of KC shareholders. Veteran safety Teran Mathew was sidelined in favor of Texas safety Justin Reed. Key defensive contributors to Cornerback Charvarious Ward and line defense Garan Reed and Melvin Ingram also found new homes.
With gaps to fill in the team and staff, Kavkaz Center welcomed old friend in former Bears coach Matt Nagy (as first assistant and quarterback coach), restructured snoopy Frank Clark’s contract, and signed tandem with skinny racers Joe Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling for team deals friendly.
We signed up for WR JuJu Smith-Schuster ✍️
– Kansas City Chiefs March 20 2022
“Anytime you can add guns to Mahomes is something we’ll consider,” General Manager Brett Fitch said in his February Status of Franchise letter with reporters. “We have some venture capital to work with,” he continued. “It’s just a matter of filling in the gaps… and blending that with what we think is available in the draft.”
The entry for the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas with 12 total picks, which Kansas City used to fatten up its top spots. Youngsters Trent McDuffy and George Karlvatis will be in the first round of the first week of the AFC Western Championship title holder. Meanwhile, valuable late-round picks Joshua Williams and Isaiah Pacheco got crucial shots with solid play in training camp.
The discount season that opened with a heartbreaking loss is coming to an end with the promise of brighter days ahead.
“When you have a talented player like Pat [Mahomes]”I think your window is always open,” Fitch said.