Chiefs Play Calling Cost KC a Super Bowl

Max Staley
Kansas City Chiefs' play calling cost the team a Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Kansas City Chiefs' play calling cost the team a Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. / Patrick Smith/Getty Images

For the first time since he took over as the full-time starter, Patrick Mahomes looked human. The Kansas City Chiefs scored just 9 points in Super Bowl LV, their worst single-game mark in Mahomes' career, ultimately losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-9.

Mahomes' 56.8 passer rating was the worst such mark of his career, and while he eventually threw for 270 yards, most of those came when the game was out of reach. He had just 67 passing yards entering halftime.

It's unfair to place the brunt of the blame on the Chiefs' superstar QB, though. That distinction should go to the Chiefs' coaching staff, as the numbers show KC's play-calling set Mahomes up to fail.

Entering the game, Kansas City had to know it was going to struggle to properly protect Mahomes. The Chiefs' O-Line was ravaged by injuries, forcing the team to put backups against a pass-rushing unit that generated pressure at the third-highest rate in the league and recorded the fourth-most sacks.

But this offensive staff didn't seem to account for that whatsoever. Kansas City used 5-man protection on a whopping 92% of Mahomes' drop backs, leaving backup tackles Mike Remmer and Andrew Wylie on an island against Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett – two of the NFL's best pass-rushers.

We're not even mentioning the interior of the O-Line, which was always the weakest part of this group, and was forced to contend with the likes of Ndamukong Suh and a now-healthy Vita Vea.

Not only did Kansas City elect not to bring in more blockers, but the Chiefs inexplicably seemed to call a ton of longer-developing routes. With an O-Line that bad against a pass-rush that good, that's essentially coaching malpractice.

There was simply nothing Mahomes could do. He was forced to run for an NFL season-high 497 yards before either getting sacked or attempting a pass. At some point, KC needed to make an adjustment.

There's no way to know if the outcome would've been different had KC used a different game plan. But the one the Chiefs did have sure didn't work.

Even so, all is not lost in Kansas City, as the Chiefs are currently favored to win Super Bowl LVI, per FanDuel Sportsbook.

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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.