We are heading into week eight against the Packers without the best quarterback in the NFL, and I know that isn’t an easy thing to wrap our heads around. He is an exceptional player and gives life to this team the way true leaders do, each and every day. But he is back at practice six days removed from dislocating his kneecap and is showing the true grit and determination we know that he plays with. The Chiefs came out and said that through the process of getting a second and third opinion that the MRIs were “better than they could have expected” and that gives us all hope that he will be back sooner rather than later.
There are those that are using phrases like “why rush him back” and “do the Chiefs remember what happened to RGIII?” But let’s look at this from the teams’ viewpoint. Why would they “rush” him back while they currently have a two-game lead on the Raiders in the division with the tie-breaker against the same team? They have no reason to rush him; so if the team is encouraged by his progress, he feels good, and there are no true risks then they aren’t doing anything wrong in letting him get some practice reps in. This isn’t the same thing as RGIII because he ran a TON in his first season in the NFL and couldn’t threaten defenses the same way after his injury.
Mahomes threatens defenses from wherever he is because of his football IQ and accuracy, not to mention his incredible arm talent. I don’t believe he will play or even be active for the game against the Packers but I don’t think it’s out of the question for him to play against the Vikings, 17 days removed from his initial injury. Just over two weeks and if everything remains the same until that game, I believe that he will in fact play.
But having a week without him does leave a little less to be desired for most Chiefs fans, and rightly so. He is the best show in the NFL and does things that 99% of quarterbacks in the league can’t replicate. He’s a huge reason the Chiefs are in many primetime games and the league makes money off of his likeness. We all lose in a scenario with Mahomes sidelined. Although I still believe the Chiefs stand a good chance of winning on Sunday, I couldn’t help myself from going back and finding some of the best plays from this season. Mahomes is just a special breed of player, and here’s why.
We were told all last season and still told by some “experts” that if you keep Mahomes in the pocket you stand a good chance to limit him, but his pocket accuracy is a vastly underrated part of his game. I know it hasn’t been as good as it was last year, particularly on the deep throws, but the ability is there. It seems like a weekly occurrence that we witnessed Mahomes drop a deep throw into the breadbasket of an offensive player just in front of the trailing defender.
We get used to this type of elite play from the league’s best and he keeps performing. One of the best parts of his game is the chemistry with the players on offense. It allows him to make throws with anticipation, trusting that they’ll be in the right spot and make the catches.
This was one of my favorite angles from the broadcast of the Ravens game. It’s like being right behind Mahomes and watching the play unfold from his viewpoint. Two defenders to beat to get the ball to Kelce…and he makes this throw before Kelce is even looking for the ball, and drops it in over two guys, trusting Travis to get his head around, find the ball, and make the play.
Mahomes has more trust in his players than tons of second-year quarterbacks have through the years, and that definitely has a lot to do with the fact that there are two all-pro options in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on this offense. But even with the guys that didn’t play last year, like Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle, his trust in the guys on the field is amazing to witness. And when he pairs it with the awesome talent he exudes, it creates something the NFL has rarely seen. He’s learned to be more deceiving with the ball on play-action fakes which makes him unfair in situations like this.
This one is just plain old fun. Play-action has been part of the game for so long, as has trying to make the defense believe you’ve handed the ball off. Mahomes uses the play design to make the defense think the ball could be in two places, hides the ball behind his thigh and then delivers the ball to Kelce in the middle of the field. He is wide open because the movement of both Hardman and McCoy across the formation opens up the middle of the field. I personally love the ability to hide the ball behind his leg.
Now we get to the pure poetry that is Mahomes throwing the ball while on the move, something he does better than any quarterback in the NFL. Each play has varying points of difficulty, but all of them are special.
Mahomes is the most incredible improvisor in the NFL, and although Aaron Rodgers has been known to do some things like this earlier in his career, Mahomes is on a separate level. In the first clip, he’s still in his drop back, shuffling his feet directly backward and then flicks his wrist with anticipation to the corner of the end zone. I know technically he isn’t “on the move” but the fact that he’s moving back and can get this ball exactly where he wants to without stepping into the throw is just absurd.
The play everyone remembers from this season is the scramble play against the Colts. It is very similar to the play against the 49ers from last season, except it’s a bit of a longer throw to the endzone. He surveys where the pressure is coming from when he turns around and sees none on his left, knowing he forced the edge coming from the right to adjust his angle, he turns back around and gets out of danger. Then he locates Pringle, who has settled down in a pocket of openness in the endzone. Then Mahomes unleashes the rocket to Pringle for a touchdown.
The last throw is a combination of everything. Hardman has turned around a little bit before Mahomes throws this ball but then gets back on track down the sideline. Mahomes moves around the pocket, a bit unwarranted at first, then has to fall back a little to unload this teardrop throw into Hardman’s arms. Just over the trailing defender and just before the safety gets there to make the play. Unreal.
It is a privilege to watch Mahomes on Sundays, and on a week where we might not see him on the field, I thought it was a good idea to relive his best moments to this point. If you think I may have missed some, feel free to comment below and I’ll get those posted as well. What are you going to miss most about him on Sunday?