Injuries have caught up with the Kansas City Chiefs, and it could not have come at a worse time. The Chiefs have several injuries to look out for:
Eric Fisher? Out. Sammy Watkins? Questionable. Can Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid still run it back?
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) February 1, 2021
Kansas City Chiefs’ Offence Injury Report
Eric Fisher: Out
Le’Veon Bell: Questionable
Sammy Watkins: Questionable
Chiefs’ Offensive Line
The biggest blows to the Chiefs’ offence, especially in the context of the Super Bowl and their opponent team, were the injuries to Pro-Bowler Eric Fisher, veteran Duvernay-Tardif and Mitchell Shwartz.
One strength that the Chiefs always had was their offensive line. It was through the time that they bought for Mahomes was he able to complete the 30-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Travis Kelce in Week 11 against the Las Vegas Raiders. It was only through his offensive line that Tyreek Hill able to run 60 to 70 yards for a long play.
With injuries, despite Reid’s confidence in his new players, Mahomes may face a tough time against elite pass rushers like Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquille Barrett
How will the Chiefs respond?
There’s no denying Mahomes’ immense skill in the pocket. He’s a generational quarterback, with an elite ability to extend plays by moving out of the pocket and completing cross-body throws on the run.
We don’t need to look any further than Week 12, when Mahomes played the Buccaneers. Fisher’s presence on the O-line definitely had an impact on the outcome of the game, but a lot of crucial plays came from Mahomes’ ability as a quarterback.
Mahomes has the highest passer rating against a blitz in the league at 134.2, and can definitely make big plays even with JPP and Shaq Barrett rushing towards him with a vengeance.
Read More: How the Super Bowl Location is Decided: Why Was Tampa Bay Selected to Host Super Bowl LV?
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Offensive Playbook Against Tampa
One thing to notice with the Kansas City Chiefs is that against skilled pass rush defences, Andy Reid calls for incredibly short 5-6 yard plays. Their entire strategy going into games against opponents like Tampa Bay is to keep the sticks moving.
In the Week 12 game, Reid calls a lot of screen passes and short curl routes, just to gain yardage and not let Tampa Bay’s pass rush get to Mahomes. He also calls quite a few play actions to buy time for receivers like Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman to make a 10+ yard play.
Speaking of Hill and Hardman, there’s no doubt that their speed will help the Chiefs move across the field. Their speed is unrivalled in the NFL, and they don’t need much time to run across 20-30 yards, allowing Mahomes to let go of the ball before any of Tampa’s defensive line gets to him.
Whom to look out for?
If it hasn’t been made clear enough, Mahomes is the one to watch this game. Tampa’s pass rush is going to come in hot, and it’ll be interesting to see how Mahomes manoeuvres around them to make the plays he usually makes.
Travis Kelce has made his mark as a star tight-end already, and is a crucial part to Kansas City’s offence. His slant and curl routes dominate the NFL, and are always a reliable way for Kansas City to get their first downs.
Although Watkins’ “Questionable” is slightly worrisome, the ability of Hill and Hardman to streak down the field will be another thing to watch out for – especially when the time comes to make big plays.
Although Kansas City’s injury report isn’t too favourable, they definitely have an arsenal to beat Tampa Bay’s defence. With Patrick Mahomes as quarterback and Andy Reid as head coach, they’ve done some spectacular things and beat some spectacular odds. Perhaps, this Super Bowl just might be one of those things, with one of those odds.