I’m going to cut right to the chase here: Patrick Mahomes led the offense to a touchdown in a two-minute drill, and we need to talk about it.
(Of course, before we do so, I should clarify by saying we don’t REALLY need to talk about it. Look, guys, this is a practice without full pads. It’s not even really a glorified scrimmage, because the way guys play when not in pads is even LESS extreme than how they play in play in a scrimmage with pads. Also, there’s no tackling. Also, there’s absolutely no hitting the quarterback. In the grand scheme of things [or even the small scheme of things], this drive means no more than if Mahomes had thrown a pick-six on the first snap. It really doesn’t. So this is at once one of the most ridiculous articles I’ve ever written. I just don’t care)
Sorry, I blacked out there for a second. You still with me? Great. Because again, Patrick Mahomes led the offense to a touchdown in a two-minute drill, and we need to talk about it because football is back!
While there’s no all-22 to review of camp film (isn’t that just a dang shame, guys?), I thought that we’d sift through every snap of this march down the field and see if there’s ANYTHING we can glean from them. I’ll embed the tweet with the video, and then we’ll talk about each snap. Seriously, folks, football is back and it’s amazing that we’re doing this.
Let’s do this. Seriously, I love training camp.
Snap 1 (0:04 second mark)
We’ve got shotgun formation with three WRs (two left, one right), a RB in the backfield and Ross Travis at TE on the left side. Prior to the snap, Mahomes motions Travis from the left side to the right. Through this motion it is revealed that the defense is showing man coverage with a single high safety over the top, who is shaded towards the two WRs on the left side side.
Because of all this, and knowing that Travis is going across the middle of the field and should have leverage on the safety in man coverage, Mahomes starts off the snap looking at the deep safety. This is, naturally, to keep him in place rather than immediately staring at the first read, Travis. In the meantime, Travis gets inside leverage (the route isn’t great there, but it’s basically just a seam route and not everyone is Travis Kelce) and the RB draws the attention of the underneath ‘backer (Terrance Smith) and prevents him from dropping deep enough to prevent a window.
Mahomes sees the window and doesn’t hesitate, making the throw from a relatively clean pocket (though pressure would’ve forced him to step up had he held the ball, by not hesitating he negated the pressure. The footwork purists must be thrilled by how fairly ho-hum and boring Mahomes’s footwork is here, and he (unsurprisingly) gets good velocity on a ball that appears to be 25 yards in the air or so. The velocity allows it to arrive before the deep safety can recover, causing said safety to overrun the play.
And since we’re talking about the throw, let’s talk about ball placement as well.
Yes, that’s a GIF made out of a video during training camp scrimmage without full pads. We’re already at PEAK OFFSEASON.
But anyways, ball placement. Notice how Travis slowed in his route when he turned to look for the ball? That’s natural for a lot of players. Also, notice that Travis doesn’t have much separation here, just inside leverage.
Mahomes CREATES separation for Travis by leading him inside, which he’s able to do with no danger due to the velocity on the pass. The result of that placement and velocity were Travis looking wide open by the time the ball got to him and a huge run after the catch.
That’s a LOT of analysis, but a lot went into that play and again, we’re at peak training camp already guys. Let’s keep going, this is fun.
Snap 2 (0:36 second mark)
Because this is a two-minute drill, the offense ran down the field without huddling, Mahomes looking to the sideline for the next play. Receiving it, he signals to the offense and the ball is snapped quickly.
Mahomes starts off looking right, but you can see that Travis is jammed HARD at the line of scrimmage by a pair of defenders, removing him as an option. Mahomes immediately moves left and seems to lock onto his RB (Spiller). Unfortunately, the left tackle loses quickly and an edge defender is about to come screaming at Mahomes. That’s bad news.
The good news is Mahomes gets rid of the ball, throwing it low and away from the defender covering Spiller. I’m not crazy about the throw, as I would like to see it higher, but the overall placement doesn’t bug me too much (I actually don’t mind Alex Smith’s habit of throwing the ball well away from defenders) and it’s a very catchable ball. Spiller hauls it in and turns on jets I didn’t know he still had to get out of bounds. Good, quick decision with pressure coming and the first (apparent) read gone.
Snap 3 (1:17 second mark)
Because the last play went out of bounds, the offense gets to huddle up. Yay for huddle experience!
Here, Mahomes again doesn’t have much time before pressure comes around the edge, this time from the right. Mahomes appears to start to the right with his progressions but doesn’t like what he sees. Here we see Mahomes’s oft-discussed careless footwork come into play, as he definitely doesn’t keep in throwing stance and dances a bit. However, he also demonstrates a working knowledge of where to go (forward, into a clean pocket) and as he climbs the pocket he fires the ball to Spiller, who did a great job getting separation out of the backfield.
This throw is nothing to write home about, coming in too high. Spiller makes a nice grab, though, and the ball keeps moving.
What I like about this snap is the presence to climb the pocket while keeping eyes up and finding the open receiver after initial reads were covered. The accuracy needs to improve here, though, as that’s a tough grab across the middle and could risk a pick had it bounced off Spiller’s hands.
Play 4 (1:43 second mark)
No-huddle again. At the snap Mahomes is definitely looking for Ross Travis over the middle but doesn’t like the throw.
At first, I couldn’t figure out why Mahomes pulled the ball down after looking like he was going to fire it to Travis, but when you re-watch you can see why at the 1:45 second mark. There’s a linebacker drifting across that zone just WAITING for Mahomes to make that throw and either knock the ball down or get a pick. So good choice there.
The problem is that, once again, the pocket isn’t holding up (there was a real disparity between the edge rushers and the tackles in this drill) and pressure is screaming in from the left and (a tick slower) from the right. Mahomes correctly bails forward and to the left (forward to get away from the ROLB, to the left to get away from the ROLB), demonstrating more speed than I thought he had.
It’s once he’s running towards the flat Mahomes does something I LOVE. He keeps his eyes on his receiver (who is well-covered in his initial route) and gestures for him to go schoolyard and head outside. His receiver puts on the brakes and heads outside, taking his defender with him and actually getting a little separation. Mahomes COULD have made a throw over the top to go for the passing TD.
However, why do that when the only defender who could stop you vacated your spot after seeing you gesture to the receiver to get outside and into the end zone? Mahomes perfectly manipulated the defender away from him and scampers into the end zone for a touchdown.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN????
In reality? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
But it’s training camp and it’s what we’ve got, so if I were to take away the things I liked about these snaps, it’s that they demonstrated pocket presence, the ability to go through at least a few progressions post-snap, the ability to throw a receiver open, good velocity on a deep route, and some savvy in making a play when things break down. In short, the things that stood out in his college tape.
Good times, guys. Let’s do this again soon.