Either the Chiefs offense is back, or the Bears are just that bad.
OK, it could be both.
But for one week, it doesn’t really matter. The Chiefs needed to string together a few offensive successes, and, well, they got more than a few.
They scored the game’s initial 41 points in a 41-10 win Sunday against visiting Chicago to improve to 2-1.
The Chiefs ran the ball well. They threw it successfully. Hey, they even converted on short yardage.
It all totaled the result we figured against the Bears, who might secure the No. 1 pick for a second straight season.
Here are five observations from immediately after the game:
1. Travis Kelce’s world
Travis Kelce had a pretty good day.
Ahem, on the field.
Kelce might’ve played a week ago in Jacksonville, but a re-watch made it clear he was still dealing with the lingering effects of the hyperextended knee he suffered days before the season.
The Chiefs made a point to get him involved from the jump against Chicago. He had five catches for 61 yards in the first half, when the Chiefs built a 31-point lead.
The touchdown came after halftime, a pass you or I could’ve caught, but it prompted quite the reaction from his suite. The most famous person in the building wasn’t any of the players on the field, but rather pop star Taylor Swift as Kelce’s guest, who seemed to enjoy the afternoon.
Anyway, and I can’t stress that word enough, the Chiefs offense tends to look a little different when that guy is feeling right, huh?
2. The defense. Again.
It might be a compliment to call the Bears offense one-dimensional.
Having said that, it’s three weeks in a row that the Chiefs defense has dominated a game. The Bears might’ve broken the shutout with a chip-shot field goal — which was greeted with boos — 86 seconds into the fourth quarter, but that came on the heels of a turnover and after the Chiefs had removed some of their starters, including Chris Jones.
The secondary has shut down the back end for three weeks. Bears quarterback Justin Field finished 11 of 22 for 99 yards, a touchdown and an interception. And believe it or not, those stats were inflated by a garbage-time drive. It looked worse for most of the day.
The Bears are terrible, but the Lions and Jaguars offenses are not, and the Chiefs have had good days against them all.
In the Patrick Mahomes Era, we’ve never really considered what this operation would look like if the defense was good enough to carry the load — because they’ve never given us a reason to consider it.
That might be changing.
3. Patrick Mahomes
Oh, yeah, the second most famous guy in the building Sunday.
The final line says plenty — 24 of 33 for 272 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters of work — but I’m going to highlight one play, because it’s the best we’ve seen from Mahomes this season.
After dropping back in the pocket, Mahomes lurched forward to find an opening and flicked a 37-yard completion to Justin Watson, who appeared to break off his intended route before hauling in a catch over his opposite shoulder.
That’s the kind of the connection that the Chiefs have missed. It could be a good sign.
4. That 2022 class? Still productive
Last year’s rookie class got a lot of attention for its immediate production.
They’ve been moved out of the spotlight, but the production remains. And then some.
George Karlaftis has taken a noticeable step forward as a pass rusher. He’s had two sacks over the past two weeks. But one of his better plays Sunday actually set up a sack for a teammate. With Fields looking to escape from the pocket, he rolled outside to force Fields back inside, allowing Chris Jones to get him for a sack.
Karlaftis is one.
Trent McDuffie is another.
It’s become more and more evident that McDuffie has the makings of a Pro Bowl cornerback. There was one thing missing from his game last season — forcing turnovers. He played a part in only one turnover as a rookie. He’s already played a part in two in just three weeks this year.
Second-year running back Isiah Pacheco also scored a touchdown.
I’ve said it before, but the Chiefs will be hard-pressed to replicate the value of the 2022 class.
5. The self-inflicted stuff
The Chiefs offense had been more of the problem than the solution through the first two weeks, but there was one element that made the result look even worse than the process.
And even in a 31-point first half, wouldn’t you know it, they still played their part. Any guess at the culprit?
Right tackle Jawaan Taylor was twice whistled for lining up too far behind the line of scrimmage, and one of them wiped a 50-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling off the board.
And then the Chiefs took Taylor off the field — for a second straight week. Prince Tega Wanogho played right tackle for the opening drive of the second half, which concluded in a Kelce touchdown, by the way. Taylor stood idle on the sideline.
Former Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz believes Taylor is being targeted by the referees. He would know those logistics better than me.
But I’ll say this: It’s something the Chiefs have stressed since training camp, only amplifying the concern that the problem persists today.