This is part one of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes.
The tape is never as bad as you think it is, and it’s never as good as you think it is.
If you’ve played any level of football, you might have heard that old coaching line at some point. I heard it just minutes after every game, win or lose, that I had in college. That was a staple of my coaches’ speech to the team. Whether you felt like a world-beater after a big win or completely dejected after a crushing loss, immediate perception of what just happened is rarely reality.
It was not a terrible performance from Patrick Mahomes last week against the divisional rival Chargers. It just wasn’t quite enough. There were plenty of plays that Mahomes assuredly wishes he had back. That’s not to say it was all bad though. There were several positive takeaways that we’ll discuss in the next few days as well as clear opportunities lost. The most important piece of this is that the Chiefs actually learn from the mistakes and carry that into a giant game on the road in Seattle.
Every week, the game slows down a little more for Mahomes. This moment showed that.
#SomethingGood Mahomes displayed excellent poise and patience on this throw. Didn't get sped up, found a play late for a touchdown. Great work from the young QB to get this ball off while getting dragged down. pic.twitter.com/ZDOpzxGszH— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 17, 2018
The Chiefs call a sprint-out concept, initially covered well be the Chargers. Mahomes doesn’t really face any initial pressure as he rolls, so he stays patient. Demarcus Robinson works from the backside of the play all the way into a viable option for Mahomes, as he’s running out of space on the sideline. Kelce stays in the bottom right corner of the end zone, Hill starts working the back line as Robinson crosses.
With Derwin James closing, Mahomes is still able to get a ball off as the safety drags him to the ground. Mahomes very easily could’ve been trying to find Hill on this play which would not have ended in the result it did. However, Robinson is the one who found paydirt for the first touchdown of the game. Mahomes didn’t panic as no one was initially open. He stayed calm and poised throughout and was rewarded with a touchdown.
We saw Mahomes utilize back shoulder throws a couple times this week.
#SomethingGood Mahomes threw a couple nice back shoulder throws this week. First one was dropped by Kelce, but he connected with Kelvin Benjamin on the second one. Might see a little more of this moving forward. pic.twitter.com/qlluXMe3ph— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 17, 2018
If the Chiefs start sprinkling these in a little, I wouldn’t mind. With Chris Conley and Robinson not consistently separating, back-shoulder fades to guys like Travis Kelce and Kelvin Benjamin could be a nice addition to keep the chains moving.
Kelce dropped his opportunity, but Mahomes did a great job delivering this ball with anticipation. The process was better than the result, but I wouldn’t be opposed to getting Kelce on these every now and then. Benjamin’s first catch as a Chief came on his back shoulder to move the chains into the deep red zone. You can expect to see more opportunities for Benjamin like this one.
Another game, another week Mahomes bails his team out of a long line to gain.
#SomethingGood Mahomes has to be one of the best in the league at giving his team a chance when they get derailed by penalties. This 2nd and 20 turned into a 3rd and manageable with a great ball to Conley. pic.twitter.com/jegBOOTuys— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 17, 2018
It’s a reality now: “and long” plays aren’t insurmountable with Mahomes. He may be the best in the league at giving distances of 15-plus a chance. This second-and-20 turned into a third-and-manageable because of this one-sided read that ends in a gain of 16 to Conley. He’s just running a deep curl and Mahomes throws with anticipation for an easy completion to make the third down a little more feasible. Nice work from the young quarterback.
When you press the wrong button on Madden...
#SomethingBad Almost looks like Mahomes changed his mind mid-throw. Maybe wanted Hill initially but saw he was covered so decided to throw to Robinson but it was too late. Weird rep. pic.twitter.com/fKc90hZXhv— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 18, 2018
This was a play you rarely see. It appears mid-throw that Mahomes changes his mind. I think he wanted Hill initially but decided late to go to Robinson. That indecisiveness caught him in between decisions as he delivered the ball. The broadcast view shows him tensing up his hand in the middle of his throwing motion as if he didn’t want to release the ball. The result is a throw that ends up to in the middle of nowhere. It’s not very common but it happens. This started a stretch of plays for Mahomes that weren’t very good, and we’ll talk about them all on Thursday.
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.
Sometimes quarterbacks will change the cadence at the line of scrimmage. It could be for a variety of reasons, like the play clock is running down. There are buzz words that they’ll call at the line of scrimmage that if the offensive line hears it will adjust to that cadence. So if the play clock is running down, they’ll yell for a new quick cadence.