This is part two of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Part one here.
Patrick Mahomes continues to make up for Kansas City’s lost time. If you took half of the moments that the young quarterback has given Chiefs fans, the outlook and optimism would continue would not have been altered from the expectations from the summer. He’s busting doors down and exceeding even the highest expectations. We’re witnessing an unprecedented arrival.
I’ve been slow to say that Patrick Mahomes is an NFL Most Valuable Player candidate. There has been enough buzz around the kid to not approach the subject. Leading up to Week 4, the kid had been spectacular. Monday night was even different from that.
Mahomes went on the road in a crazy environment, in prime time, target on his back, off historic early season success, largely with talented receiver Sammy Watkins to come from behind in the fourth quarter and will a team through immense adversity. He needed to be rare and he saved some of his best for the biggest moments. All these plays took place in the second half, two of them in the final drive.
Mahomes has rare ability to create with his arm talent and out of structure but combining that with the mental game is what is going to allow him to sustain success.
#SomethingSmart This a great check to the slip screen by Mahomes. The Chiefs have numbers and leverage to the left. He might've anticipated front side pressure too. First down, 15 yard play. pic.twitter.com/CjDTlItuvb— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) October 3, 2018
The Chiefs are driving early in the third quarter. It’s second-and-6 and Kansas City is lined up in a look Mahomes has comfort in: an empty formation.
The Chiefs have three receivers to Mahomes left in Travis Kelce, Demarcus Robinson and De’Anthony Thomas. The Broncos have a corner playing off and soft on Thomas, a safety playing 11 yards off and splitting the difference between Robinson and Kelce and stand up EDGE Shane Ray off left tackle Eric Fisher. The Chiefs have numbers and leverage outside of Ray. If Mahomes so chooses, they have the ability to block all three on a slip screen between Fisher, Kelce and Robinson.
Mahomes identifies the look and checks to the screen. The quick release he possesses allows him to get the ball on Thomas quick enough to give him time to race pursuing defenders down the field. He runs clean for a gain of 15 yards.
The first four weeks of the season built up to an exceptional drive you only see from guys named Tom or Aaron.
#SomethingSpecial Act One: 3rd and 5 trailing late. Mahomes wants to hit Ware on the free release, but someone peels with him. Denver sends six with pressure closing front side. Has to bail into the boundary. Hill working toward him on a crosser. You know the rest. pic.twitter.com/RU0OnG8NCz— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) October 3, 2018
A little over three minutes remain in the game. The Chiefs are down three. It’s a critical third-and-5 that would force Andy Reid to face a fourth down decision late.
The Chiefs are running a staple of the last two years—a mesh concept with crossing routes from Kelce and Hill, Conley getting over the ball behind the mesh and a free releasing Spencer Ware. The play can make it difficult on man coverage to work through the crossing routes at the mesh point.
Denver is showing pressure, and Mahomes sets the protection into the boundary. The Broncos send six on a zero blitz and have a free rusher to Mahomes’ front side. He wants to hit Spencer Ware free-releasing out of the backfield, but a defender goes with him. With pressure closing, he bails into the boundary. Mahomes knew he had a crosser working to him. As Von Miller closes on Mahomes, he uses his left hand to throw a ball to Hill for a first down.
I can’t drink out of a can with my left hand.
How about another? A few plays after Mahomes extends the drive with a special play, the Chiefs have shot themselves in the foot and are facing a second-and-30, now with under three minutes remaining.
#SomethingSpecial Act Two: A few plays after going Palko and multiple offensive penalties the Chiefs are facing a 2nd and 30. Front side pressure and Mahomes executes a well timed step up, escaping free to his right. The arm talent to deliver this ball is rare. pic.twitter.com/gI7VFqFvld— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) October 3, 2018
The Chiefs run a verticals concept, trying to get the majority or all of the yards they need to get a fresh set of downs. No one has time to get open, as Miller beat right tackle Mitchell Schwartz around the edge.
Mahomes, in other weeks, might have tried to bounce out the pocket around Miller, but he showed improvement (check back tomorrow) by stepping up to avoid the rush and then escaping to his right. Out of the pocket, Robinson works back towards the sideline and to the quarterback on the scramble. Mahomes is able to outrun defenders and create enough space to throw falling away, on the run and deliver a strike over 30 yards on a rope to turn third down into a much more manageable situation.
Mahomes is forcing his way into conversations of the best quarterbacks in the league quicker than I could have ever anticipated. In his fifth game, Mahomes came back to win a game few could.
There’s one other person that can make that athletic of a throw from that angle, on the run, with that velocity, in that moment.
Hopefully, Mahomes doesn’t do any State Farm commercials.