Monday Night Football is going to be a lot of fun. Some of the rarest talents in football will be playing in the Los Angeles Coliseum to try and get their team to 10-1. The lights will be the brightest they’ve been all season. I think the kid is ready for it.
We’ve seen Patrick Mahomes get exposed to big moments on big stages several times this season already.
He’s had to try hard to manage the juice at times, but we’ve gradually seen him develop more comfort and respond relatively quickly when he doesn’t. I feel like those experiences will help immensely. I expect to see the best Mahomes we’ve seen him all year. Hopefully, he continues to build off the growth and eliminate the mistakes we talk about in part three of this week’s review.
One of the fun parts of this gig is getting to recall moments from past games to help provide context. Mahomes wasn’t perfect two months ago and he isn’t perfect now. There’s still a long way to go, but finding moments like these are encouraging.
#SomethingImproved— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 15, 2018
Week 3: Unnecessary bounce out of the back of the pocket with a clear running lane if Mahomes steps up.
Week 10: Same situation. This time Mahomes steps up and runs for a first down. pic.twitter.com/9M6nLsQqlj
Week over week, there are small indicators like this one that get you excited. In Week 3, I wrote about some of Mahomes’ inconsistencies in how he navigates the pocket. In the clip above from San Francisco, he had a clear lane to step up, but his instincts and desire to extend plays by scrambling won and he bounced out of the pocket.
Last week, Mahomes was presented a similar situation and instead of trying to bounce, Mahomes does the correct thing and steps up and escapes the pocket for a first-down conversion with his legs. Seven weeks later, Mahomes has shown improvement in the decision-making and navigation of the pocket in a similar situation. He’s rewarded with a new set of downs.
Little moments like this add up. Doing the right thing from an efficiency and decision making standpoint go a long way in winning football games. The spectacular plays are still going to be part of Mahomes’ game but incremental growth on things like this will make him one of, if not the best quarterback in the NFL.
This play would go on to set up our next discussion point.
I’m...I’m...I’m asking Patrick Mahomes to channel a little of his inner Alex Smith.
#NeedsImprovement This is one of a few instances this week where Mahomes should've hit his open outlet underneath and not taken a sack. This one might've gone for a first down. pic.twitter.com/gjwSvD0d26— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 15, 2018
I’m about to use a Kansas City curse worse word. Checkdowns aren’t always a bad thing. The frequency at which you use your c**** d***s can become a major problem and we saw that some with Smith’s tenure with the Chiefs. Appropriately used, they are just fine.
Interestingly enough, Mahomes mentioned his need to check down at times in his presser:
“I have to work on getting the ball out of my hands, too. There’s a lot of check-downs that I could have hit that could have gotten first downs that I kind of got a little greedy and tried to go for the big shot on a couple too many plays.” - Patrick Mahomes on getting the ball out of his hands
Mahomes’ innately wants to create. It’s not in his nature to dump the ball off and hope someone else can make the play. Sometimes it’s the right decision. On this third-and-13, the Chiefs dial up a play with everything working to the field. Running back Spencer Ware free releases to the flat. Tyreek Hill is coming from the boundary on a drag route into his line of sight. Mahomes has an easy completion available to him. A guy like Hill could convert this and extend the drive. Instead, Mahomes takes a sack. He felt the backside pressure but was too late to work down to the open receiver in his line of sight.
Mahomes committed a cardinal sin in the red zone: taking a sack.
The pressure might’ve got there a little quicker than normal on a few plays, but Mahomes need to be more decisive, work down and give his team a chance to get a first down or make the field goal easier. There were a few instances like this play this week that led to sacks. On instances like this, Mahomes just needs a little more Alex Smith to his game.
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