Of course, the Kansas City Chiefs could have played better. Maybe the offense misses the big plays that JuJu Smith-Schuster made to help them pass the Philadelphia Eagles in last season’s Super Bowl. The referees could also have been better at their job.
Who was at their game on Monday night though? The Eagles. Down by 10 at halftime, they shut out the Chiefs in the second half while scoring 11 points of their own. The Eagles ended up winning the game 21-17. This defeat was only the third that the Chiefs suffered at home in the last two seasons. The Eagles’ wins may not be pretty, but they have more of them than any team in the league in 2023.
Those who watch the NFL will always find reason to be critical of the Chiefs. The weeks in which Patrick Mahomes doesn’t throw three touchdown passes in a 30-plus point performance will prompt questions about what’s wrong with his offense. Watching him for five seasons and changing, I’m sure we’ll be spoiled by his greatness.
These new-look Chiefs turned defensive juggernauts will be put through the meat grinder all day Tuesday for all the mistakes made by the pass-catchers. Mahomes even deserves some blame for an ill-advised red-zone interception in the first half.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson and even Travis Kelce deserve the blame, but that was made clear on Monday night football in Week 11, was that the Eagles have a better football team than the Chiefs. Howie Roseman, you very much deserved a celebratory drink after the final whistle.
To be clear, I do not subscribe to the “organizations win championships” ethos that torpedoed the late Jerry Krause’s reputation in Chicago, along with the current second-city sports villain Jerry Reinsdorf. Regardless of how the message was intended to come across all those years ago, the fact that my ears heat up thinking about it 25 years later is a problem. Negotiations and signings don’t win championships. Only great players can achieve this.
While the players are the most important part of the equation, front office employees of professional sports franchises receive salaries for a reason. They have a role within the organization that they are expected to perform well.
In any business, too many wrong hires will produce bad results. Personnel mistakes are much easier to make when evaluating footballers than a pool of junior accountants.
The Eagles front office seems to be getting a rate higher than maybe even Jalen Hurts’ completion percentage. If Roseman and his staff are excellent at their jobs, the players can do the heavy lifting of playing NFL football with confidence that the man next to them is a capable professional.
During the offseason, the Eagles lost Javon Hargrave, TJ Edwards, Marcus Epps and Kyzir White in free agency. Each of those defensive players received a multi-year, seven-figure contract. They also lost their leading quarterback from the previous four seasons, Miles Sanders.
D’Andre Swift is a much more talented quarterback than Sanders. The Eagles inked him to a four-year deal worth less than half the guaranteed money Sanders was getting from the Carolina Panthers. To be fair, if the Eagles are the gold standard in roster construction, then the Panthers are a last-place seed in the preliminary round. Still, with Week 11 completed, both quarterbacks have played in nine games, and Swift has more than doubled Sanders’ total rushing yards and caught nine more passes as well.
Losing a ton of defensive talent, along with injuries, has led to a vulnerable Eagles defensive backfield. Even with secondary issues, they’ve only lost one game because their front seven is still a monster. No Hargrave, no Edwards, no problem. Heading into Week 11, the Eagles had the third-most pressures in the entire league. Josh Sweat, their top pass rusher, made his presence felt against the Chiefs when he forced Mahomes into that intentional grounding penalty on that final drive.
On the interior of their defensive line, the Eagles replaced Hargrave with 2023 top-15 draft pick Jalen Carter, and 2022 top-15 draft pick Jordan Davis — both Georgia Bulldogs. At the trade deadline, the Eagles knew they needed help in the secondary, so they traded Terrell Edmunds, and two late draft picks to the Tennessee Titans for two-time first-team All-Pro safety Kevin Byard. He spent most of Monday night in Travis Kelce’s chest.
The Chiefs made plenty of mistakes against the Eagles, but their biggest one came long before kickoff. On offense, they didn’t properly surround arguably the best player in NFL history with enough support on that side of the ball.
AJ Brown is one of the best wide receivers in the league, and certainly the Eagles’ best pass-catching option, but he was held to one reception in Week 11. Even with the drops and the fumble, Kelce fared better, but when the Eagles needed a big play late in the fourth quarter, they had DeVonta Smith to turn to, as opposed to Valdes-Scantling.
This loss against the Eagles is an indictment on the Chiefs’ roster, but is also no reason to count out the defending champions’ chances of a repeat. Okay, they lost to the Indianapolis Colts last season and still won a Super Bowl. After defeating Kansas City, the Colts went on to hire a coach with no collegiate or professional experience directly from ESPN later that season. Stand up set.
With Mahomes and a decent team around him, the Chiefs will always be championship contenders. In defeat, they still played like a championship contender, even if they made a lot of mistakes. What the Eagles did make clear is that they did a better job of accumulating talent on both sides of the ball while also having an expensive starting quarterback.
If these two teams were to meet again in the Super Bowl, it would be a rubber match of Patrick Mahomes and his very good team, against the Philadelphia Eagles who are great on both sides of the ball.