Patrick Mahomes has been a starting quarterback for 22 games in his career, just over one regular season, and we as Chiefs fans have already become numb to his absurd talent. He is on pace to throw for over 6,000 yards and over 50 touchdowns and it doesn’t even seem like a big deal. No quarterback has ever thrown for 6,000 yards, this is thinking a little ahead, but if he were to do that I don’t think people or analysts would make nearly as big of a deal of it as they should. What we are seeing is more than a generational talent, Mahomes is the most talented quarterback ever at this point in his career and if this season is any indication of what we can expect every year, it’s that he is going to get even better as the years go by.
He is so good that a Hall of Fame quarterback in Troy Aikman threw shade at the Athletic for pointing out some facts about Mahomes career to this point comparing it to what Aikman had done to this point in his won career and this was his response:
Mahomes has played one full season and was an offsides penalty away from going to, and probably winning, a Super Bowl in his first season as a starting NFL quarterback. The most anyone can say now is “where are the rings, and then we’ll talk”, that’s where the NFL is with Mahomes and it’s awe-inspiring. One of the best examples of his impact and true greatness is the throw he made to Demarcus Robinson against the Ravens in the corner of the end zone.
Mahomes knows he’s going to have a free rusher in his face, all he has left to do is be 100% sure that Robinson is going to be open when he throws this ball. Robinson manipulates Carr with a slant fake, using his eyes to look for the ball for a split second, make contact with Carr and then break to the corner wide open. Mahomes has such trust in Robinson that he throws this bomb to a spot near the sideline of the end zone before Robinson was even moving to the ball, while he was still in contact with Carr. Then, of course, Robinson makes a spectacular one-handed catch for the touchdown. Mahomes knows he very well could take a bit hit, but his anticipation, accuracy, and trust in his players paid off in an incredible touchdown that opened the flood gates for the Chiefs on offense.
Robinson gets the credit for the grab — as he should, it was a phenomenal play — but overlooked a bit is what Mahomes did to get him the ball. Everyone just expects it from him, so when he does amazing things like this everyone just shrugs and says “yeah that seems about right”. We are all witnessing one of the greatest marriages in NFL history in Andy Reid and Mahomes, they make each other better, the receivers better, and great defenses look pedestrian.
Mahomes is starting to prove that you cannot play coverage against him and hope to beat him. The only way to beat him is to not let him throw it, blitzing him and getting him on his back is the only thing you can do to prevent him from beating you and even then, he’s likely to still beat you. The Ravens tried a few different times to play coverage and Mahomes made them pay with chunk play after chunk play. That started early with Kelce finding holes that Mahomes opened up.
The Ravens play coverage on this play, rushing three linemen and forcing Mahomes to beat them. They tried to be more physical with Kelce at the line of scrimmage, but he fights through that contact and finds a vacated area on the left side of the field. The Chiefs use play-action to the left and Mahomes rolls out to his right, bringing linebackers, linemen, and defensive backs alike in coverage with him as they try to get in his throwing lanes. Kelce leaks out to the left and Mahomes finds him easily for a 21 yard gain.
There is no way that two receivers running routes past the line of scrimmage should beat six to seven defenders but three of the defenders in coverage were shadowing Mahomes and waiting for something to happen. That is why Mahomes is able to beat defenses, they are focused on him and the way he manipulates defenses with his eyes, another thing he does with the best of them, forces defenses to respect where he is looking.
Mahomes makes a ton of throws to wide-open receivers in large part due to the way plays are drawn up and executed, which is how you want it to work. But then there are the throws that he makes that not many other quarterbacks can make and he does it with accuracy.
Once again, the Ravens chose to play coverage and rush four instead of coming after Mahomes. The Chiefs go five-wide and that stretches out the defense; at the bottom of the formation, there are receivers running a go-route and out-route combinations, that clears out corners from the intermediate part of the field and forces those corners to turn their back to Mahomes. Kelce has a linebacker to beat and he is able to find the seam on the right hash where there is room behind him but two linebackers in the throwing lane. This is where Mahomes shows defenses that he doesn’t need receivers to be wide open. This throw drops in over both linebackers and, more importantly, over the one that is in Kelce’s hip pocket and the play goes for another big gain.
I have seen all over social media people claiming that Mahomes is just a product of the weapons around him and the play-calling from Reid. Those same people ignore plays like this that show Mahomes’ understanding of coverages and where his players are on the field, as well as where the defenders are. You don’t make this throw without knowing no one can come over the top and force an incompletion or without being incredibly accurate. Mahomes is just different.
I’m going to a play next that may get a little bit of pushback and that’s okay, but I think it’s important to show you what I think is happening and you can agree or disagree but the fact of the matter is that the Ravens chose, once again, to not come after Mahomes and he makes them pay.
Even though the Ravens brought four defenders, they did it in a different way, dropping the right edge rusher into coverage and bringing an inside linebacker instead. LeSean McCoy had to take on a blitz essentially and he didn’t disappoint. He does a great job giving Mahomes an extra three to four seconds of time as he rolls to his left looking for another big play. It just so happens that Sammy Watkins would make that happen.
He finds himself open behind a linebacker in intermediate zone coverage and Mahomes gives this throw across the field just enough touch to fool the linebacker into thinking he can make this interception. He does everything he can just to get his fingertips on the ball and it goes right into the waiting hands of Watkins, who had to be ready for any deflection that could have happened. Then Watkins makes a man miss and yet another big play occurs.
Whether you agree or not is fine, I welcome any and all opinions about the throw, but big plays come from that cannon on his right side and the weapons around him are made even better by him. I did notice that Earl Thomas was unable to prevent all of the big plays and that’s how it’s going to be for defenses playing the Chiefs, they’ll discover that they will always be able to find big plays.
Yes, Mahomes is great, but he’s not perfect (oh no I just said the best QB in the league, how dare you suggest he isn’t perfect). I’m sorry, I know he’s the best but even he makes mistakes and in order to evaluate him properly, we need to look at the mistakes, unlike some places. But that’s beside the point, Mahomes threw an interception in this game that was called back because of pass interference. Let’s take a look at what happened.
There appears to be a bit of confusion on this play with Hardman and Williams being near the same part of the field, not sure if Hardman flattened out his route too much but he ends up in the same area as Williams when Mahomes throws this ball. He can see the amount of traffic coming into that area and shouldn’t have thrown the ball with as much air under it as he did. Or better yet, he should have found his safety net on third downs in Kelce who is wide open for a first down and more. Not a great decision.
Regardless of the miscommunication or the wrong route being ran, this ball shouldn’t be thrown. Mahomes was lucky the Ravens defender laid out Williams going down the sideline so that interception could be taken off the board. It’s going to happen eventually, but luckily for the Chiefs, his mistakes have been few and far between to this point in the season. I’m sure they will watch the film and talk about who should be where in the future and have it all figured out. When Hardman fully understands where he’s supposed to be at all times, look out.
This doesn’t take away from how brilliant he is and how he’s gotten better from year one to year two when everyone said he was going to regress. His current trajectory seems even more sustainable because of how much he learned in his first season, and he and his team on a mission: To get to a Super Bowl this year. They have as good a chance as any team in the NFL, probably better because of how historically good this offense is and will continue to be.
I heard something from Colin Cowherd the other day and it made total sense, which is shocking. Normally what comes out of his mouth is just garbage, but this resonated with me. He said that the Patriots went out and took a chance on Antonio Brown because of Patrick Mahomes. I’ve thought about it and he is 100% correct. Think about it; this Patriots dynasty has never needed to add a player of Brown’s caliber and the one time they had one, they had the most explosive offense in the NFL and nearly had a perfect season. They have always been able to scheme for every quarterback they’ve played against in big games and the only time they didn’t feel the need to, Eli Manning beat them with great defenses and a couple of great throws.
Mahomes put up 24 points in the fourth quarter against Bill Belichick in the AFC Championship game. That’s never happened to the Patriots, but Mahomes did it in his first year as a starter. That caused the Patriots to take a chance on a player they never would have brought in otherwise, given the circumstances. Josh Gordon is a different case, one that I won’t get into it now, but Mahomes is changing the way one of, if not the, greatest coaches of all time is going about his offense. That is incredible to think about. I leave you with the greatest breakdown of the week from Brian Baldinger because it encapsulates just how we should all be acting every time Mahomes does anything.