This is part one of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes.
Three of Patrick Mahomes’ eight career victories of have come against the Denver Broncos. Sunday’s game was unique because the book was out on the kid with a familiar opponent. Despite a piecemeal interior offense line, Mahomes was able to rise to the occasion and lead his team to yet another 30-point game.
It was not a perfect performance. There were still issues that need to be looked at, but the tests keep coming and the kid keeps responding. This week, the Broncos did a respectable enough job of keeping Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill from going off. Enter Sammy Watkins. Mahomes found the talented receiver several times this week to the tune of eight receptions, 107 yards and two touchdowns.
This week was the perfect representation of why Watkins was signed to a big contract. He is not the highest on the pecking order for targets, but he demands attention. Don’t give him appropriate respect and he’ll make you pay. The Mahomes-Watkins connection will continue to grow over time, but his value will serve immense over the length of his contract.
We’re seeing superstar statistics from Hill and Kelce. Hunt has since joined them. Now Sammy Watkins is coming on strong. All of this with an offensive line held together by duct tape. The Chiefs are overcoming adversity on the backs of a rare compilation of skill players. Once the offensive line and defense is closer to whole, a Super Bowl appearance seems very much in the cards.
Somehow this won’t even be the best throw we talk about this week (tomorrow’s article is going to be so much fun).
The Chiefs motion into an empty formation and Denver shows a middle field closed look. They’ll play Cover 3 here. Sammy Watkins is going to run a deep in route with Chris Conley working underneath it. Mahomes identifies early enough that he’s going to have Watkins that he looks off the middle linebacker with subtle shoulders and eyes to keep the window clean. You can see from the end zone view that it works and linebacker Todd Davis goes with his acting job, allowing Mahomes to drive a ball.
The anticipation, velocity and manipulation are fantastic representations of all the great things we’re seeing from the young quarterback. He hits Watkins in stride for a gain of 24. Excellent work, and it’s not even the best play of the day.
#SomethingGood One of my favorite parts of this offense: RPO slants to Hill with space to run. Excellent design by Andy Reid, excellent execution by Mahomes and Hill. The concepts are always tied beautifully to the talent with Reid. pic.twitter.com/arVbKOl4zT— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) October 30, 2018
The RPOs were flowing like La Croix in my household. Andy Reid was dialing up a bevy of slant-flat route concepts attached to his run plays this week. They were deadly. Here’s the biggest play stemming from the concept.
Hill starts lined up in a common condensed formation the Chiefs employ. He motions out wide and runs a slant with Watkins running a slant. The Broncos have nine men near or in the box in this look, so with Hill motioning wide, there’s space for the passing concept to work. With the Broncos forced to be gap sound against the run and the nearest underneath defender widening with Watkins on the flat route, there’s space for Hill to run after the catch.
It was a quick, accurate delivery by Mahomes and a great design to allow Hill room to run after the catch.
Chalk this up as a wasted opportunity for more points.
Early in the game, second-and-goal. Kelce motions into the boundary and lines up with Demetrius Harris and Watkins in the boundary. The Broncos are still trying to get lined up on the snap of the ball. The Chiefs roll toward the play-action, as they have several times this year. Mahomes has Hunt early because of the confusion by Denver on the snap. He hangs on the deep concepts for too long and throws to Hunt late, who runs out of room near the sideline and falls out of bounds for a mere gain of four.
The Chiefs will go on to settle for a field goal after a failed third-and-goal conversion. They might have had six if Mahomes had got off the deep concepts and dumped down to the wide-open Hunt. This play didn’t matter today, but these are the kinds of plays you need to hit in critical situations down the road.
Every week, I add a quick note about something I’ve picked up about the quarterback position through my time learning and playing the game.
We’ve talked about how pass play progressions (the order in which the quarterback reads a play) are dictated by the coverage the defense ultimately ends up in. When it comes to progressions, the reads aren’t always 1, 2, 3, 4. Sometimes they are 1/1a, 2, 3. In some instances, you’re able to read more than one route at a time. Take a smash concept for instance (hitch by outside receiver, corner over the top of it). You can read the leverage of the corner to determine where you’ll deliver the ball. If he’s committed to the hitch, there’s space for the corner over the top of him vs. Cover 3. Sometimes you can read in concepts rather than just routes.