Since Patrick Mahomes II was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017, defense has rarely been their strong suit. Don’t get me wrong, KC has had opportunistic and clutch defensive units under veteran coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, but that side of the football has never really been the backbone of the team.
In 2023, it might be, and the NFL community is starting to recognize that firsthand — as is Mahomes himself.
“I would hate playing our defense,” the Chiefs QB admitted candidly on September 27. “Obviously, the players [stand out] — they’re deep at every single position right now — but the scheme and how they execute it… that’s why I always say after training camp, I’m like alright, now I can get back to regular season where I can focus on just a couple coverages that I’m going to see or the little changeup here and there.”
Mahomes added that “every single play you never know what to expect” when going up against this 2023 KC defense. “I think that’s hard for offenses to go against,” he noted. “A lot of these guys have [come] back for the second year now or multiple years, and they have [an] understanding of what Spags [wants] and why he’s calling stuff.”
“I think that’s what makes it so special,” Mahomes concluded, “and I think they’re going to continue to grow and continue to get better with more and more reps.”
Chiefs Defense Is More Well-Rounded Than Ever Before Under DC Steve Spagnuolo
When you look at the numbers, the Chiefs defense has not struggled in any one area this season.
They are ranked sixth in yards allowed, fourth in points allowed and tied for 12th in turnover percentage. They are also pretty even against the run (11th fewest yards allowed) and pass (sixth fewest yards allowed) so far.
And they did this without their best asset, Chris Jones, for exactly one third of the initial three-game stretch.
A lot of that is a credit to Spagnuolo’s coaching and general manager Brett Veach’s drafting. The two have hand-crafted this unit from top to bottom, then developed them in the case of the former.
One more key statistic on this 2023 defense: they have committed the third fewest penalties in the NFL heading into Week 4 — meaning they’re a very disciplined group.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes II Has a Ton of Respect for Jets Defense & Cornerback D.J. Reed Jr.
Mahomes also praised his next opponent’s defense during Wednesday’s press conference, talking up the New York Jets unit that he’ll be going toe to toe with on Sunday Night Football.
“Yeah, they’re really good. Like, they’re really good,” Mahomes began regarding the Jets defense. “They’re deep on the D-line but they’re deep everywhere really. They have DBs, they have linebackers. We have a lot of respect for them, and we know that I’m going to have to try and prevent myself from negatives plays. Just take those easy positive plays and if you get the opportunity to take a shot, take it, but if it’s not there you gotta continue to just drive and grind out points in this game.”
The Chiefs signal-caller referred to the Jets as a “great challenge” for this offense.
Later, he also recalled a moment where NYJ cornerback D.J. Reed Jr. got the better of him. “Yeah, I think Reed got me in college for like a pick six,” Mahomes stated immediately on the Jets cornerback room.
“I know [Reed’s] good at reading and recognizing routes, and then Sauce [Gardner] obviously had a great year this last year and he’s going to continue to get even better and better,” he went on. “So, they have a good group.”
During a follow-up question, Mahomes joked that “I don’t throw a lot of pick sixes” and “you remember” moments like that when they occur. “[Reed’s] a great player,” he continued. “But that’s stuff that you realize because that’s route recognition, that’s jumping the ball, making a play. So, that’s stuff that you really have to be aware of whenever you’re going out there and playing quarterback.”