At some point for the Kansas City Chiefs, the balancing was inevitable. Head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach were devoting too much time, too much effort and too many assets to fail. And on Sunday, they saw a flag-planting moment, witnessed on an international stage, that showed everyone else what they’ve known for awhile.
The Chiefs’ defense has caught up to its offensive counterpart. And when the generational quarterback needs to be carried for a few Sundays — or maybe even through February — Kansas City has finally put together the unit to make it happen.
That much was on full display in Sunday’s 21-14 win over the Miami Dolphins in Frankfurt, Germany, when the audience was gifted one of the most exciting defensive plays of the season — with three Chiefs defenders combining on a 59-yard fumble return for a touchdown that was 18 months in the making.
We’ll get to that, but first it’s worth absorbing what Patrick Mahomes told the television audience after the win: that this is the best defensive unit that he’s played with … and maybe more.“I think they’ve got a chance to be the best defense in the NFL,” Mahomes said.
The group is certainly on the doorstep considering the Chiefs have held seven of nine opponents to 20 points or less this season and were fifth in the league in defensive DVOA as of Sunday. Without looking at any other stats, most staffs will tell you that combination is a Super Bowl-level defense, and offers the recipe for a lot of wins (so long as the offense isn’t putrid). And Kansas City fits that mold, even if Mahomes and Reid are overseeing an offensive unit that is still not hitting on all cylinders this seaso
In that framing, Sunday’s game against Miami was a perfect example of how this current iteration of the Chiefs is built to win. Facing a Dolphins scheme geared toward walling off Mahomes from tight end Travis Kelce, Kansas City was confronted with solving a playoff-level defense and a championship-level offense — in an overseas game that has a travel burden and distraction level unrivaled outside of a Super Bowl trip. And how they responded says a lot about where Kansas City’s defensive build is going.
In a few words? It’s ascending. Quickly.