“I thought he ruined some great plays.” - Andy Reid after Sunday’s win against the Broncos.
Reid, in jest, mentioned rookie Patrick Mahomes working out of the structure of some play calls in his first taste of real game action. In my review of the All-22, I would have to agree. It wasn’t always as it was drawn up, there were a few plays that didn’t get a chance.
But not the one I’m writing about today.
45 seconds is a deep dive into one play a week, or the roughly 45 seconds from the start of the play clock to the play being blown dead.
It wasn’t all an episode of Who’s Line is it Anyway? on Sunday. There are plenty of instances of Mahomes working within the construct of the design. One stood out to me as a perfect encapsulation of Andy Reid’s ability to design plays for a young quarterback and Mahomes’ growth this season to be able to work in chaos to see it through.
Here’s this week’s play:
Great design, easy read. Mahomes has the backer in underneath coverage at the top of the screen so lost. pic.twitter.com/UOOJbeuhgW— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) January 2, 2018
This is a well designed play and an easy read for Mahomes. Everything he is reading is from the right hash to the left. Chesson widens with his route stem to keep the defense honest, but runs a dig. He’s the last piece of this read. Wilson as the point man of the bunch look runs a crossing route. Demarcus Robinson on the post is an alert for certain coverages. He’s not in play with the middle field safety. He does take the top off the defense, leaving space for Wilson and Chesson in the intermediate behind underneath coverage.
The end zone view shows the effect of the action:
Zaire Anderson (#50) is thinking naked for a second, but the play is all about to be opposite the direction he opened. Brandon Marshall (#54) thinks the throw is crossing his face. Nope. pic.twitter.com/uH3MKk0KP0— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) January 2, 2018
This play action has similar effects to the play I wrote about from the Jets game. Linebacker Zaire Anderson (No. 50) appears to be thinking some kind of boot for a second to keep him out of the play. He opens to the field, and then gets depth.
Brandon Marshall (No. 54) gets to his landmark initially. He might have been in position to make the play if it weren’t for what Mahomes did when the play started breaking down.
A blitzing Dymonte Thomas is able to get around Anthony Sherman in protection. Shaquille Barrett crosses the face of Cameron Erving and loops around him to disrupt the protection.
Mahomes is able to feel the pressure, and moves up into the pocket to avoid a sack. What’s so impressive is that he doesn’t initiate scramble rules. When a play breaks down and a quarterback escapes the pocket and scrambles, the receivers move with the quarterback based on the original play design. Scrambles are chaos, but they’re more organized then you think. Deep receivers come back towards the QB, receivers on short routes, go deep, etc.
Mahomes was able to complete the play, as constructed, from a messy pocket without having to scramble. He worked through a mess in front of him to execute a well designed play. On top of that, he flashed his immense talent doing it.
I’ll stop short of saying this was one of those no-look passes that has been mentioned as in his arsenal. It’s looks like it could have been. As bad as Marshall was fooled, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Regardless, his eyes and shoulders lied to the underneath coverage. Everything about his movements is selling up field, not to the sidelines. Wilson gets lost behind Marshall. Even up to the point Mahomes cocks the ball back to throw, Marshall believes the ball will cross his face. He has no idea that Wilson is behind is back and the ball is heading there. All of Mahomes momentum is heading away from where he puts this football:
This looks like Rodgers. Shoulders (and I think eyes) aren't selling sideline throw. Look where his momentum takes him. pic.twitter.com/mkPQAILIl3— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) January 2, 2018
Even when things didn’t hold up, Mahomes was able to manipulate defenders and complete the play as the route structure was designed. He gave this play every chance to work. It was an incredibly promising play that showed a lot of growth. Even his play fake looked worlds better than what it did in August. There’s a lot of indicators in the tape that Mahomes can live up to his potential.
Instincts are hard to fight. Mahomes has been able to do things out of structure that are special. I wrote this summer that I believe he wants to win from the pocket and not just improvise. This play, and others this week, showed that could be the case. Reid creating easy reads and Mahomes showing he’s willing to work within structure is a great start. As he grows, we should see it more consistently.
Reid should get those play call ruiner jokes out of the way now, because the material might just age quicker than we think.