This is part two of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Part one here.
It’s amazing that 10 games into Patrick Mahomes’ career, we’re here:
Updated odds to win NFL MVP (@betonline_ag):— OddsShark (@OddsShark) November 6, 2018
Even the most optimistic Mahomes believers certainly didn’t see him running away with the NFL MVP award. Consideration would even be exciting in most years. If you told me in May that Mahomes would have 20/1 odds in November, I’d be giddy. The actual odds are a representation of how ridiculous this season has been so far. He has no rival in Vegas right now.
Those odds were earned in part by yet another great performance for the kid in Cleveland. There were some great moments this week to represent the mental and physical abilities we now are coming to expect on a weekly basis.
Sometimes, subtleties on a run play from a quarterback go a long way in success.
#SomethingSmart On a 3rd and 4, Mahomes holds the ball an extra beat to influence Genard Avery to respect him as a run threat before pitching it. Hunt converts the first down, then converts the TD one play later. pic.twitter.com/O0zZCppLlR— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 7, 2018
The Chiefs are facing a critical third-and-4 in the red zone and elect to dial up an option play into the boundary. Being on the short side of the field, any space that can be maintained or created is essential on an option play like this. It’s actually an often bemoaned play call, but Mahomes helps make it work.
Genard Avery is unblocked on this play and he widens with Hunt on the snap of the ball. Mahomes needs to help spring Hunt here by getting Avery to honor him keeping the ball. He does just that. Mahomes holds the ball as long as he can, getting Avery to attack Mahomes. At the last second, Mahomes pitches to Hunt who finishes the play and creates a first-and-goal at the 1. A smart, well-executed play to extend a drive that resulted in a score.
A three-play sequence in the third quarter should have fans outright giddy over what’s happening with the young quarterback and this offense.
Timing and mechanics mean a lot on screen plays like this. Mahomes wants to deliver this ball over the top of 2017 first overall pick Myles Garrett with a high elbow delivery. His eyes stay to the right before coming back late to the screen to see Garrett well positioned to contest the throw.
Look at this screenshot.
Somehow, Mahomes is able to stop the release of the ball and throw it sidearm around Garrett to give Harris a chance to drop the pass. And he does. Regardless, the ability to adjust so quickly and find a way around what he thinks is about to be a doomed play is wildly impressive. Where some quarterbacks may be robotic on a screen play like this, Mahomes found a way to let his creativity shine still.
Who knows? If Mahomes had stuck to the plan, maybe that pass would’ve got tipped and not allowed for the next two plays to happen.
Mahomes identified 2-man coverage and at the top of his drop elects to run up and maintains himself as a threat to run or pass. With Kelce running an out route, Mahomes elects to give Kelce a chance. On the release of the ball, there was limited to no point of contact with the ground as he’s throwing the ball. What’s more, Mahomes is falling forward.
The athleticism to deliver this ball isn’t normal. This is one of those rarities we talk about where few on the planet can be athletic enough to throw the ball. Pure arm talent to get this ball off. And it’s accurate! Kelce converts the third down and the pair connects one play later.
This is something special, but for different reasons than what you may think.
#SomethingSpecial The throw is getting a lot of attention, and it's a very good ball. The trust level between Mahomes and Kelce is what is special about this play. More on that in the article. pic.twitter.com/ueLXthH2Ss— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 7, 2018
Cleveland is running Tampa-2 coverage. Mahomes is holding the deep middle zone linebacker dropping and opening up to the field before he comes back to Kelce on the vertical. The throw was great. The only person that can catch this ball is the Cleveland-raised tight end. The trust on this, however, is everything.
When Andy Reid was asked about this play after the game, he was given a chance to elaborate on the trust between both sides of this connection.
“It was great trust right there. That’s phenomenal trust. There’s a lot of hours that go into that and then for Travis (Kelce) to go up and pluck it and set it the way he did. There’s a lot of trust between those two right there.” - Andy Reid on Kelce’s second touchdown
Mahomes elaborated on the trust as well.
“We knew if we got that wide Cover 2, red zone-two coverage that I was going to give (Chiefs TE) Travis (Kelce) that check. He ran a great route and I knew that if I just put it up there and give him a chance, he can go get it. I threw it up top and he made a great play on the ball. He made me look a lot better that he caught it.” - Mahomes on his throw to Kelce
The trust and exceptional effort from Kelce, as Matt Lane wrote this week in his fantastic review, should not be diminished on this play. The throw is only as successful as the effort put forth by the guy on the receiving end. We might have been talking about an interception if it was anyone else.
Mahomes added more on the Rich Eisen Show yesterday about how he needed Kelce to make the magic happen.
“I told Kelc, he catches that for a touchdown and it looks good, but if he doesn’t make that play on it, that DB makes the play, it’s an interception, so it just shows you the small line that you have of being touchdowns or interceptions in this league.” - Patrick Mahomes on the throw touchdown pass to Travis Kelce
Giving Kelce a chance and throwing it where only his great tight end can catch it is certainly a welcome sign. Great placement, great trust.
Seeing what’s growing between two unique talents is something that should terrify the rest of the National Football League. Mahomes and Kelce are maximizing their powers to connect on plays like these. Great ball placement, great finish.
There’s another connection brewing in Kansas City, and we’ll talk about it Thursday in part three of the weekly Mahomes review.