He’s really starting to come into his own in Kansas City. So much so that I had to write about Mahomes’ developing chemistry with him.
We talked yesterday about the amount of trust built up between Mahomes and Travis Kelce being critical to this team’s success. There’s a budding relationship developing between Mahomes and the fourth player in the pecking order that should scare the 31 other teams in the National Football League.
#SomethingImproved The Mahomes-to-Watkins connection is really taking off. They're hitting from a variety of alignments and depth of routes over the last few weeks. Fun to watch. Hopefully we see this it again this week. pic.twitter.com/ciWliIrewS— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 8, 2018
- Play one: A well-timed step up into the pocket, run to space and throw into the middle of the field that finds Watkins in a soft spot in the zone.
- Play two (two views of play): Mahomes drives a great, accurate ball off of play action to Watkins on a deep curl. Mahomes worked through his progression to find him working back to the ball. Great job by Watkins to make the first guy miss and second guy miss initially.
- Play three: Mahomes throws a hitch on time to Watkins with a corner playing a bail technique in Cover 3.
- Play four: Mahomes hits Watkins on a wheel route down the sideline against Cover 3. Great placement.
The chemistry is really growing between these two young players. Watkins was lined up in a bunch, in a reduced split, as an X receiver and inside, ran a variety of routes and Mahomes connected with him left and right short and intermediate.
The Mahomes-to-Watkins connection was at a disadvantage compared to more developed comfort levels of Kelce and Hill both in the system and the young quarterback. We’re starting to see Watkins come along.
A few interesting stats among wide receivers I checked on:
- From Weeks 7-9, Watkins was third in the NFL in receiving yards and 15th in receiving yards per game.
- From Weeks 5-9, Watkins was 12th in the NFL in receiving yards and 20th in receiving yards per game.
The preseason and early slate weren’t overwhelming (although there were plenty of glimpses of what was coming), but now we’re starting to see a jump in productivity between Mahomes and the receiver from Clemson. Hopefully, his recent foot issue doesn’t get too in the way of the continued cultivation of yet another weapon in the Chiefs’ offense.
Every unnecessary hit on Mahomes is a bad one.
#NeedsImprovement Mahomes takes an unnecessary shot into a crowd of chains, refs and sideline personnel. I love the desire to create, but get rid of the ball and not get thrown into a place where fluky injuries have happened to this franchise before. pic.twitter.com/Gv6qcgpvJs— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 8, 2018
The Chiefs have the runaway favorite for the NFL MVP. He is the reason that the Super Bowl is attainable and is further cementing his place as an elite quarterback week over week.
On this play, Mahomes leaves the pocket early (also needs improvement) and rolls right to try and create in the red zone. He doesn’t have any real options and holds the ball all the way to the sidelines. That’s where a late(ish) hit pushes him into the area of the chains, referee, cameraman.
This chance for something fluky to happen is so easily avoidable. I love that Mahomes tries to give every play a chance, but this was clearly a time to throw the ball away and avoid additional contact. He’s the franchise now, and this is an opportunity to eat the play and minimize the risk of injury.
It may seem unimportant, but it is. Hits add up, and flukes happen in that area of the sidelines.
Miss this week’s episode of the AP Laboratory? We talked more Mahomes, Travis Kelce and more. If you can’t see the player below, click here.
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