Chiefs struggle in pass protection against Texans’ front seven

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' first-team offense failed to muster much of a challenge in a 17-10 loss to the Houston Texans in the club's preseason opener with little mistakes sabotaging any chance of success.

“We were in long yardage situations and you've got to keep yourself out of that in a couple of cases there,” head coach Andy Reid said following the game. “And then we had a breakdown on the one where he had the two guys open, one down the middle and (Travis) Kelce on the corner on the same play. You protect it, those are the little things, you project it, it's a touchdown.”

That play occurred late in the opening quarter with the first-team offense facing a first down on their own 31-yard line. The play called for tight end Demetrius Harris to chip his man. That error allowed defensive end Angelo Blackson to corral Mahomes for a 5-yard sack.

Reid felt the miscue prevent a touchdown for the Chiefs.

“We goofed, we goofed up the protection,” Reid said. “He had Sammy down the middle of the field on a post route and he had Kelce wide open on a corner route. He saw it, he was trying to get to it but he couldn't get there. But that's a touchdown.”

“You put it out there and let those guys get it but you've got to protect. It doesn't matter if you're on your back there.”

Mahomes said he looked down field at Watkins and and then Kelce but didn't have time to pull the trigger with pressure bearing down.

“I looked to the check down, he was covered, and I didn't want to make a bad play worse so I took the sack,” Mahomes said. “Hopefully I can find a way to get out that, scramble out and maybe get a completion to somebody else.”

The offense started the game with some promise. Mahomes connected with Kelce for a 14-yard gain. But the momentum quickly fizzled after that.

“We got the first down on the first drive and you kind of felt like you were going,” Mahomes said, “but you you've got to kind of just maintain those. That's stuff you have to learn and keep doing as the process goes on.”

Center Mitch Morse returned to the lineup for the first time since his 2017 campaign ended after seven games with a foot injury. For him, the preseason is opportunity to test his foot and shake off the rust following a shortened season last year.

“It felt good to be back out there,” Morse said. “It's feeling good and and it's just getting back out there and getting game experience.”

The Chiefs first-team offense tallied just 29 yards and two first downs one two drives lasting just nine plays. The Texans picked up a sack and six quarterback hits in the game, including several big shots on Mahomes.

Morse felt the offensive line could have contributed more to the effort.

“I'm not going to put a grade on it but I think there's definite room for improvement. I think we came out and we know what we need to do to keep Pat off the ground. We'll just come back Saturday and work on our craft.”

The Chiefs have an off day on Friday before returning to St. Joseph, Mo., for a training camp practice starting at 8:15 a.m. on the campus of Missouri Western State University. That's when Reid and the team work on correcting the mistakes from the preseason opener.

“Too many mistakes in this game, but that's what the preseason is for,” Reid said. “We will go back and work on those things and clean up some things. Small things matter and it's good for these guys to learn that.”

The Chiefs close training camp with their final public practice on Tuesday, then head to Atlanta for their second preseason game against the Falcons. Morse wants to see a more focused offensive performance next week.

“For us the big thing is setting the tone,” Morse said. “We had a ample opportunity to set the tone. Nine plays is what we got. But we'll be able to learn from our mistakes and go out next week in Atlanta and put together a little bit more football.”