In the lead-up to Super Bowl LV, there was a lot of talk about why Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy didn't get a head coaching job and whether Chiefs head coach Andy Reid would put himself on a similar level of Bill Belichick and Vince Lombardi if the Chiefs won another Super Bowl.
After their embarrassing 31-9 beatdown at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it's fair to place as much blame on Reid and Bieniemy for their fruitless offensive game plan and unwillingness to adjust as we did praise them in the days prior to The Big Game.
Beyond not scoring a touchdown in 60 minutes of football, the Chiefs' plan to disrupt the Bucs' tenacious pass rush was flawed from the beginning. With both of their starting tackles, Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, out of the game with injuries, and with their star quarterback Patrick Mahomes dealing with a foot injury that is reportedly going to require offseason surgery, the Chiefs still decided to protect Mahomes with a five-man front the majority of the game. The Bucs tore through that protection with ease on seemingly every play and was ultimately the reason the Chiefs offense collapsed on the grandest stage of football.
Mahomes was only sacked three times, but the Bucs hit him eight times according to Next Gen Stats and pressured him 38 times according to ProFootballFocus. Mahomes still made a few unreal throws under pressure and gave his receivers a chance to make plays, but they dropped balls that hit them on the hands (Travis Kelce) and facemask (Tyreek Hill and Darrel Williams).
It's not like the Bucs pass rush was a surprise either. They had the most sacks in the postseason (10) and were fifth in the NFL in sacks during the regular season. The fact that the Chiefs thought they could protect their hobbling quarterback with two backups at the most important positions on the offensive line is either wishful thinking or poor planning. That they didn't adjust early when that plan clearly wasn't working is just as egregious. Either way, the oversight falls on Reid and Bieniemy.
It's also not like using a five-man front is normal in the NFL. According to Next Gen Stats, this was the third-highest percentage of five-man protection since they started recording it in 2016. Not a massive sample size, but enough to know Reid and Bieniemy made a mistake with this gameplan.
Of course, Reid and Bieniemy are also the reason the Chiefs won the 2020 Super Bowl and made it back there the following season. This is not a condemnation on their coaching ability. It's simply pointing out the facts: they didn't have a good game plan to protect Mahomes and didn't adjust and that ultimately made the biggest difference in the Chiefs getting blown out.
Reid and Bieniemy will regroup and be back next year in search of another Super Bowl. Bieniemy will hopefully get a chance to be a head coach because he's worthy of an opportunity. But this game came down to poor planning from the beginning and, for whatever reason, an unwillingness to adjust in the game. That blame falls on Reid and Bieniemy and deserves just as much attention as the praise we showered them with in the lead-up to the Super Bowl.