There is a new sheriff in the AFC West and his name is Patrick Mahomes. The 23-year old gunslinger from Texas Tech came into Denver Monday night, and like a group of bandits, the Chiefs stole a victory from the Broncos.
For three quarters Monday night, Denver was able to contain the explosive young quarterback. When the game was on the line though, Mahomes proved that under the guidance of Andy Reid, the Chiefs’ offense possesses everything the Broncos’ offense lacks.
Mahomes was smooth under pressure and constantly found ways to get the ball to his playmakers in open space. And when the Chiefs were down double-digit points in an intense road atmosphere, Mahomes willed his way to a victory.
Unfortunately for the home fans, Monday night’s loss to the Chiefs showed the Broncos faithful two things. It proved that Mahomes is the real deal, and that the Chiefs will be the front-runner for the AFC West in the years to come. The fourth-quarter collapse also clarified that the Broncos lack leadership where it matters most.
With an opportunity to secure a signature win over a division rival, the Broncos imploded on national TV, leaving fans shaking their heads and pondering what had happened as they walked out out of the stadium.
However, that answer is simple: Case Keenum was outplayed by a second-year quarterback and Vance Joseph was outcoached by Reid in the fourth quarter.
There are no acceptable excuses for what occurred Monday night. Not even the poor officiating would have been enough to allow the Chiefs to complete the comeback. The officials missing the delay of game on Kansas City’s game-winning drive was a key moment, but it never should have come down to that series.
With 6:27 remaining in the fourth quarter and a three-point lead, the Broncos elected to pass twice, despite averaging 7.2 yards per carry as a team Monday night. All the Broncos had to do to put this game out of reach was keep the clock moving and record a couple of first downs. Instead, they gave the ball back to a red-hot Mahomes with over four minutes on the clock. That falls on the coaching staff.
That being said, even after allowing the Chiefs to take the lead, Keenum still had a chance to lead the Broncos to victory. With the ball at Kansas City’s 28-yard line and only 22 seconds to go, Keenum failed to hit a wide-open Demaryius Thomas, who beat his defender with a sideline route. Thomas had a clear path to the end zone.
Simply put, Keenum has to be able to hit this throw against Cover-Two defense. If Keenum makes that completion, the Broncos are able to erase all of their second half mistakes with one swift play.
Keenum is what he is at this point — a career backup that is able to do some things when put in the perfect situation. It’s honestly it is tough to fault him for being the same player he has been for his entire career.
If someones buys a Honda Civic, they can’t be upset when it’s not able to keep up with a Ferrari on the freeway — they got what they paid for. And it is clear that the Broncos are getting what they paid for with Joseph and Keenum. The Broncos should not expect to crash and burn anytime soon, but if the goal is winning the race, this franchise is ill-equipped at the moment.