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Patrick Mahomes Week 11 Film Review

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We combined our three usual reviews into one this week.

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

A day plus removed from what we saw, and I’m still struggling to process it.

The Monday Night Football game between the Rams and Chiefs should not be legal. It should’ve come with a warning label. You might be remembering moments from this that you forgot all the way through the bye week.

Heading into the fourth quarter, I was comfortable with the result, win or lose. That feeling started to dissipate as the game closed. This one stung more than I expected. The way the game was lost, with so many fixable mistakes, made it hard to deal with initially. The reality that so many of the things that kept this game close were fixable brought me confidence. Especially about the kid.

There seem to be mixed emotions about Mahomes’ performance. Is it cause for concern that they couldn’t close it out? The overall body of work should make you believe this isn’t a step back. The body of work shouldn’t make you think he won’t learn from this. He’s outpacing wild expectations. You can’t do that without having a good head on your shoulders and good process to develop. He’ll use these experiences for his and the Chiefs’ betterment.

With Thanksgiving looming, we’re doing one big review instead of the separate conversations I like to have with this. It’ll be longer than normal, so bear with me. We have a lot to discuss.


Something good

The Chiefs exploited the Rams with a common idea early in the game.

Be it Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs were having Mahomes’ weapons cross the field on deep over routes from the slot. They generated three explosive plays alone from these concepts. Mahomes deserves some credit for them.

On the first play, the Rams are in Cover 1 (man coverage with a deep middle field safety and hole player undeneath). Mahomes uses a little eye and body manipulation to hold both the middle field safety and hole player before coming back to Hill in the end zone. Well executed for six.

On the second play, the Rams play Cover 1 again, this time with a five-man pressure. Mahomes does a great job getting this ball out on time against the blitz. He again uses good eyes to not tip off the safety too early and places the ball well for Hill to finish. Really nice play against a pressure look.

On the final play, it’s Kelce’s turn to get involved. The Rams again show Cover 1 and Mahomes again exploits it on four verticals play with timing and accuracy to the best tight end in football.

Mahomes saw the middle-field closed coverage well and did a great job of getting the ball out of his hand and to his playmakers for big gains of 20-plus yards.

Something bad

This was one of the more confusing plays of Mahomes’ young career.

This play had a lot of teachable moments. This is a flat-hitch run-pass option. Mahomes has hit several of these this season. He’s often delivered it from a similar base as the one he has here in which he doesn’t step into the throw. I think it caught up to him this time. There was indecisiveness in the middle of the throw. Whether he was debating how to get the throw through Samson Ebukam or was just trying to put the right amount of touch on it, there was indecisiveness in the manner in which the ball was delivered. You can see noticeable hitch in his throwing motion as if his thinking changed in the middle of it.

This is a situation where not having a more athletic base made the indecisiveness futile. He had less control of the throw than he could have, and might’ve been able to salvage the release or angle of the ball had he been in a more athletic position. Instead, the ball somehow ended in the hands of Ebukam and he finished it for six. Even on these nothing throws, I would like to see Mahomes have a more intentional, athletic base to deliver this ball from. I think this could’ve been avoided.

Something smart

Nice check into a screen from the kid here.

The Chiefs motion into an empty set. Mahomes sees off and soft coverage and space to the field to work with. He has a quick release that can get a ball on a guy quicker than anyone in the league so checks into a screen to the middle receiver to the three-receiver side, Chris Conley.

The Rams disguise their cover 2 look well. I don’t think Mahomes actually anticipated they would end up in that coverage, but I think he liked the space to the field and leverage of the defenders. Mahomes gets the ball on the receiver quick enough, and the Chiefs catch the Rams in a bad look for this play. Even if this was cover 1 (which it looks like it might’ve been), I think the space was more than plenty for the Chiefs to get yards out of this play.

Something special

I can’t say for certainty, but I think this might be the most air yards Mahomes has racked up on a throw this season.

The Chiefs run a play-action shot out of a condensed formation they line up in frequently (typically out of shotgun). The formation forces the Rams to expand for width while getting depth in coverage. The Chiefs run a switch release deep down the field, with Conley running a post and Hill coming underneath on the vertical.

Mahomes, out of the play action and quick sell of a boot, sets up to deliver a ball from outside the right hash, (roughly) 60 yards down the field to the opposite hash. Mercy. The ball hits Hill in stride and he throws up the deuces on the way to a taunting penalty that hasn’t been called all season.

Something improved

I’m here to remind people that Mahomes isn’t far removed from the shaky mechanics and inexperience that scared several teams away from drafting him.

The comfort and confidence Mahomes shows executing this play shouldn’t be taken for granted. He started with limited understanding and experience working with some of the mechanics required for plays like this. You can’t tell.

Mahomes has confidence pre-snap with what clues he’s acquired and it’s reflected in the rest of the play. Mahomes comes out of the action with quick eyes to confirm Cover 3 coverage. He wastes no time and is able to drive a ball at the top of his drop to Hill, running what Peyton Manning described last week as a squirrel route — an out-and-up into a comeback. The ball was thrown with anticipation, with good mechanics and a well executed play action. These small nuances look night and day to what we saw in his first training camp and preseason games.

Mahomes is just scratching the surface but his development is rapid.

Needs improvement

Mahomes isn’t entirely to blame for this sequence, but he had his struggles with this opportunity to execute situational football.

The Chiefs get the ball back after Mahomes’ second interception of the game (Matt Lane will have more on that this week), now with only one timeout and :50 remaining. With the way the game had gone to this point and the explosiveness of the offensive unit on the field, I was fully expecting the second crack at closing out the game was going to be fruitful. I was wrong.

Play one: I take issue with the play call, not just the execution. Even in situations like this, teams like drive-starters. There were options that were working toward the sideline, like Kareem Hunt, but Mahomes instead takes Kelce on a hitch route, short of the sticks, for eight yards, in the middle of the field. The clock keeps running and precious seconds are wasted on a small gain. Had Mahomes hit Hunt early, where his eyes are initially, he gets a first down and maybe more before getting out of bounds and stopping the clock.

Play two: The Chiefs are in no-huddle after the completion, and Mahomes hits yet another middle-field throw for a small gain on a hitch to Conley. The Chiefs are forced to get a first down. Had the clock been stopped on the Hunt completion, the Chiefs could’ve huddled and called a different play, possibly one more vertically minded. Instead, they had to burn their final timeout.

Play three: There are only 25 seconds remaining in the game. The Chiefs, down three, need to at minimum get into field goal position. Mahomes appears to look to Kelce leaking late to the flat with a lot of space to run after the catch and then get out of bounds. Instead, he looks to create, rolling to his right and heaving up a prayer. It’s intercepted.

Small decision in this stretch led to bad situational football. This could’ve been managed better on all counts. I don’t like the initial play call to stop the drive. I would’ve liked to see a more aggressive to start to the possession. Regardless, the decisions within the structure could’ve been better.

Mahomes will absolutely learn from these mistakes. It’s one thing to practice situational football; it’s another to be able to execute with the live bullets. He’ll build off this experience and be better for it. The improvement may even manifest itself later this season.


Quarterback anecdote

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.

Situational moments like what the Chiefs faced at the end of the game this week are drilled all the time in practice. They’re critical to the outcome of games and are treated as such. You can’t replicate every single scenario exactly. The Chiefs may have never drilled with exactly one timeout with :50 seconds, down three. However, they’ve certainly been in the ball park.

Coaches and quarterback develop their hurry-up calls for situational football before the game ever happens. They are thought through on the field and in the meeting rooms. Mahomes likely had some framework for what he needed to call and probably got some help from Reid through the headset.