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Spadaro: Defense looks to disrupt Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs offense

Sean Desai 1920

There are so many ways to discuss the brilliance of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes – the off-schedule throws, the pinpoint accuracy, the way he wins – that sometimes it's easy to overlook a remarkable facet of his game: He avoids sacks better than any quarterback in the game.

Mahomes has been sacked only 12 times in the Chiefs' nine games, seven of them wins. It just doesn't happen.

"The big emphasis for us is just understanding kind of the entirety of what we're going up against with this opponent – and that's a big element, obviously 15 (Mahomes) and 87 (tight end Travis Kelce) over there are really big elements of that," Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai said on Friday at his weekly press conference at the NovaCare Complex. "It's really about trying to disrupt his time to throw and really changing that because he's elite at avoiding sacks.

"He really does a good job holding the ball and creating and extending plays that way and waiting for his guys to get open. That's where they're really artful. Our big emphasis is trying to understand that fact and get after them in different ways from a rush and coverage standpoint to impact his time to throw."

What that means, exactly, is something we will see manifest on Monday night. The Eagles have played against Mahomes twice and he has been on top of his game – 5 touchdown passes and 278 passing yards in a 2021 game and, of course, Super Bowl LVII when Mahomes had 3 touchdown passes and 44 big rushing yards.

In those two games, the Eagles managed a single quarterback sack. So, clearly, they have to be better on Monday night and that has been the point of emphasis during this week-plus of preparation.

The Eagles are certainly not in awe of Mahomes, but they respect him to the fullest.

"I think obviously he's such a special player, generational player, but our process is the process, what we do," Desai said. "We try not to overvalue one over another. Every week you look at your matchups and the people you've got to stop, and he's a big one this week because he's such a great player.

"We take our process the same way. It's not like, 'Oh my gosh, you're playing these guys.' This is the NFL, and it's a battle every week, and we've seen that in the first half of our season. You've got to find ways to win in this league."

The Eagles hope to have cornerback Bradley Roby back and his experience could be a plus for the defense. Safety Kevin Byard has had success against Kelce – who was 1-4 against Tennessee when Byard was a Titan before the Eagles acquired him in a trade a few weeks ago.

They also know they're playing the defending Super Bowl Champions and last season's MVP who has the accomplishments of Head Coach Andy Reid overseeing the offense.

It's a tall task and everyone understands that.

"I think we're still trying to get better," Desai said. "There are some places we're doing really well at that we want to continue to improve on, and some of the spots we feel good coming out of the bye of really evaluating ourselves as coaches and teachers, and then trying to get our guys in good positions to make some plays a little bit more consistently.

"They've been doing such a good job, the players I'm talking about, of executing on the field and helping us win some of these games in critical situations. We want to build on a lot of those things they have been doing well."

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