This is part one of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes.
I caught myself this week almost annoyed that the Chiefs have to sludge through a game with a truly awful football team next week in the Arizona Cardinals.
It’s merely nine weeks into the Patrick Mahomes era and I caught myself almost taking it for granted. I harped several times in the last few weeks how it’s not supposed to be this easy, how we should make sure to appreciate every moment of what we’re experiencing. After all, Mahomes is the manifestation of what this city craved since Len Dawson, a franchise quarterback to call their own. Yet, there I was nearly being a hypocrite.
Mahomes is making it that difficult to not expect greatness every week. His absurd performances are starting to feel routine. The kid is speeding through his developmental plan faster than the ball gets out of his hand. Don’t be like me for that brief moment. Mahomes is going to break the Chiefs’ single-season touchdown pass mark in Week 10. Sunday will be an exorcism—a cleansing of any remaining angst of not having your guy. How early it’s going to happen should be a reminder of your fortune. Celebrate appropriately.
If Baker Mayfield threw for three touchdowns and 300-plus yards on Sunday, it would’ve lead sports radio shows in Cleveland, been a major feather in the cap of his development and a reference for hope in the offseason.
Your quarterback has done that in four straight games and six times on the season. And he’s younger than Mayfield.
The Browns tried to tighten the windows for Mahomes in the red zone with man coverage. It didn’t matter.
#SomethingGood Mahomes gets cover 1/man ID, holds middle field safety with hard eyes to the field, then stares at him for a beat to maintain window and then works to Kelce for six. Well done. pic.twitter.com/WPaMHzq0A7— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 6, 2018
Cleveland is playing Cover 1 or man-free coverage here (man coverage with a middle field safety) and Mahomes gets a man ID with Hill motioning across the formation and a defender following him. Travis Kelce (as Matt Lane plans to show you in his breakdown of him this week) is a matchup nightmare for just about anyone and linebacker Christian Kirksey falls in that category.
Mahomes does a nice job holding the middle-field safety with eyes before coming to Kelce late. The safety didn’t really bite or move too much on the initial stare into the field. To maintain the window, Mahomes stares down the safety for a beat to keep him from driving on the throw before getting to Kelce late and helping him avoid a bigger hit. The ball placement was excellent. Mahomes is actually hit on the followthrough, so it’s also a nice play under a little bit of pressure.
That wasn’t the only time Mahomes would beat man-free on the day.
#SomethingGood Mahomes gets another Cover 1/Man ID with Hunt being followed out the backfield on a motion to empty. Another good job of holding the middle field safety and to pull Hill further away from contact with the throw. Great ball. pic.twitter.com/S6UwHq6EkR— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 6, 2018
With Kareem Hunt motioning out of the backfield and getting chased out by a linebacker, Mahomes gets another man ID. He wants (as he should) to hit Tyreek Hill on a fade route down the sidelines. He holds the middle field safety again with his eyes long enough to create a window down the sidelines. Hill elects an inside release and Mahomes does a nice job of pulling him away from more contact and farther into the boundary for a 40-yard connection.
As time was winding down in the first half, Mahomes put his team in Browns territory to potentially have a chance for a field goal.
With 15 seconds remaining on the clock, Mahomes delivers an absolute strike to Chris Conley.
#SomethingGood This is a strike against Tampa-2 in an end-of-half situation. Mahomes was able to get a nice gain that might've ended in points if not for a strange intentional grounding call the next play. pic.twitter.com/eZ4WAKGAbB— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 6, 2018
The Browns are running a deep Tampa-2 in this situational play. Mahomes delivers a strike to Conley, who is running a dig route, behind and between the corner and the hook defender. He showed excellent anticipation and velocity to get the ball in there and put his team in a position to potentially end the half with additional points.
The Browns jumped offsides on this play and the Chiefs declined the penalty. With the clock stopped, one of the most bizarre end of half moments I’ve seen took away a chance at a field goal and added an unnecessary tally to Mahomes’ interception totals.
This was a head-scratching and bummer of a sequence.
#SomethingBad After a rare intentional grounding call after Mahomes thought he needed to stop the clock with a spike, he unfortunately adds an interception to his season tally. pic.twitter.com/4VqfUWt3xX— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 6, 2018
Even though the Chiefs declined the penalty, the clock stopped. Because the clock was stopped, any attempt to spike is an intentional grounding call. Bizarre rule, but a rule nonetheless.
Mahomes took ownership after the game:
“Yeah, we’ve been over that situation. That was on me. The penalty no matter if we except or decline it, the clock stops. So technically, me spiking the ball like that is almost an intentional grounding penalty. At the same time, the refs said they hadn’t seen that happen in 40 years. I just thought, decline the penalty, the clock was going to roll, so tried to spike it and save the time out. (Chiefs T Mitchell) Schwartz actually told me you can’t do that, but I just thought we could get away with it, and we didn’t. It made a difference for sure at that half.”
The Chiefs then had to burn their final timeout of the game and after being forced out of the pocket early on a Hail Mary attempt, Mahomes threw his seventh interception of the season. For a guy that has been largely protective of the football, it’s a bummer to see him have to wear another interception for an end-of-half play like that.
Here comes the "Patrick Mahomes has thrown an interception in five straight games. Cause for concern?" narrative.— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 4, 2018
I hope this topic doesn’t get broached this week.
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.
Quarterbacks prepare for two-minute situations in advance of them happening. They have calls ready for no-huddle situations based on what they’re seeing and the tendencies the defense may have for that scenario. They aren’t done on a whim. They’re drilled in practice, talked through with the coaching staff and are planned in the film room, practice field before the situation arises.