Welcome Kent to the front page of AP! -Joel
The Royals won a World Series in my lifetime before the Chiefs drafted a quarterback in the first round. The most remarkably sad streak in Kansas City sports finally ended this year, and the Chiefs finally made a significant investment in the most important position in sports. It just so happened to be someone I was extremely high on.
*Phillip Phillips melody*— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) April 22, 2017
The Chiefs should trade up for Mahomes.
When Patrick Mahomes’ name was called, I was irrationally excited.
I’m honestly just as excited to be writing for Arrowhead Pride. This is the best place on the web to talk Chiefs, and I’m ecstatic to get this opportunity to be part of the team.
So, of course, my first article as a contributor for Arrowhead Pride will focus on the negatives of Mahomes’ Texas Tech tape.
Being a quarterback-obsessed football nerd, I spent a great deal of time this summer writing about Mahomes, the quarterback of the future and the name on the first shirsey I am buying my 14 month old son. I’ve discussed the play execution process, the development opportunities he’ll have the next 12 months, his pocket presence and what his first start might look like. Hopefully some of these articles provide more context into my belief in him as a prospect.
I’ve gushed about his rare abilities and traits ad nauseam, but it’s time to talk about what he’ll have to overcome if he wants to reach his incredibly high ceiling. I love the prospect and I believe in his makeup and potential. I’m even higher on him knowing that Andy Reid will be the one overseeing his development.
But no one knows if he’ll pan out and there are plenty of things to be concerned with. You’ve heard buzzwords like feet, decision making and recklessness when people talk about the negatives of Mahomes’ game. What does that actually mean though? Here are some physical and mental adjustments he needs to make if he wants to be the quarterback we all hope he is.
I don’t believe Mahomes needs a complete overhaul of his footwork. You will never confuse his mechanics for Andrew Luck and he doesn’t have to in order to be successful. There are examples of great quarterbacks who have unconventional footwork. Aaron Rodgers has an unconventional drop, but his feet work for him. But to say there aren’t any adjustments that Mahomes needs to make with his footwork isn’t true either.
Footwork in the pocket is about timing your feet up with the route concepts you’re trying to throw and setting them into a stable base to deliver the ball accurately. It doesn’t have to look textbook as long as the timing is right and you are delivering the ball with accuracy.
The two most important adjustments he has to make are making his feet more efficient and creating a solid base more consistently.
Mahomes' feet have to arrive at a more consistent base, especially in a clean pocket. Locked up hip leads to errant throw high and outside. pic.twitter.com/MN37TMe5v6— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) August 1, 2017
Mahomes will have less time and more congested pockets to deal with than he did in college. He’ll have less space and time to set his feet to deliver throws. If he doesn’t tighten his feet up his accuracy will suffer.
He might have been intending to throw to a different receiver. Regardless he set himself up for failure to reset with his lack of balance. pic.twitter.com/f1Lg2MphFu— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) August 1, 2017
Base problems can be constant issues that inhibit your ability to be accurate, or they can be infrequent issues that cause inconsistencies only occasionally. Luckily, I think the end result for Mahomes will be more of the latter. He is still able to get his hips square to his receiver more often than not.
Trusting His Arm
Being blessed with the insane arm talent he has can be both a blessing and potentially a curse if he isn’t careful. We’ve seen him throw from different platforms and have high levels of success and we don’t want that to change. But there’s a balance. Sometimes Mahomes writes checks with his arm that his platform can’t cash. Rather than setting his feet properly, at times he aborts his base to try and make a play.
This clip has about everything that Mahomes needs to clean up. Arm writes a check his base can't cash in a densely covered space, up 20. pic.twitter.com/6PzUzla1J9— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) August 1, 2017
Doing Too Much
Mahomes, the Chiefs and Texas Tech Head Coach Cliff Kingsbury have said all the right things about the style in which he had to play with. Mahomes had to make things happen offensively to keep his team in games with a porous Red Raider defense. Watching his play through that lens actually makes it look better.
However, that’s still a habit that has to be broken. There are times you have to just live to play another down. Once live bullets start flying is when we’ll find out if the mentality really has been adjusted.
Process is more important than this result. 2nd and 1, up 12. Live to play another down. Don't take this risk. pic.twitter.com/oQfVGL8xSw— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) August 1, 2017
Throwing Across His Body
No one wants to take away the ability Mahomes has to improvise and find completions and big plays on the field. It’s a trait that will serve him well if he finds success in the NFL. One of the most dangerous throws you can make in the NFL however, is across your body.
This play is awesome. It's also not going to fly in the NFL. High throw across his body. Usually ends poorly. pic.twitter.com/DgO0t5q8wo— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) August 1, 2017
Players are faster and windows are tighter in the NFL. Rare is the successful play that involves a quarterback throwing across his body back into middle of the field. High risk, rare reward plays aren’t something you want being a staple of your game.
The Good News
Well, besides this:
Mahomes Good: There are maybe three people on this planet that can do what he does. Rolls left and generates enough torque to throw a TD. pic.twitter.com/HMSuUgWcjN— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) February 23, 2017
I do think the concerns from Mahomes at Texas Tech can be eased some by the team’s need for him to carry them at an unsustainable rate. He’s far from perfect, but I do believe there is validity to the sentiment that he had to try and pull things out of thin air.
By all indications, Mahomes appears to be well aware of the things he needs to work on. Watch his Gruden Camp episode, interviews on NFL Network and other media outlets and you’ll see a guy who has identified the barriers in his way to being what he wants to be. He’s mentioned tightening up mechanics, wanting to be deadly accurate in the pocket and admitting his over-aggressive tendencies. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
It can’t be said enough how perfect Reid is for Mahomes either. He is excellent at tying player strengths to play calls while minimizing the weaknesses a player has. I’m confident those two will work together to get the future of the franchise heading in the right direction.
The few clips I’ve seen of him from training camp show someone who is well on his way to breaking bad habits and retraining both body and mind. I’ll be out there this weekend and I’ll report back on what I see. We’ll all get a better view of the improvements in the months to come. These habits and adjustments are what stand in the way of Mahomes being an NFL starter.