This is part two of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Part one here.
I’ve been very quiet about the Patrick Mahomes MVP discussion for the longest time.
It wasn’t something that bothered me all that much, as I was more focused on the chances of the Super Bowl run than the Escalades (that’s a deep Chiefs fan joke there).
I have to say though: I’m starting to get annoyed. This seems like blatant homerism, and watching every snap of Patrick Mahomes’ season certainly skews my perception, but I don’t see how you can argue anyone other than the 23-year-old quarterback in Kansas City.
Drew Brees is having a great year, but it’s not in the same stratosphere as the kid. When I watch the Saints dialing up screens on third-and-15 because they’re just trying to get a few yards back, then watch Mahomes thrive on those same plays that few teams have success converting, I wonder how we got to this point. There will be more on this in the future from me, don’t worry.
There were three third-down plays that impressed me this week that we’ll talk about, but first a smart play that I appreciated from the kid.
The short throw is sometimes the smart one.
#SomethingSmart 2nd and 13. Chargers underneath coverage gets depth with the verticals, Mahomes quickly works down to the running back as pressure closes to create a manageable third down. pic.twitter.com/EOMUgJEnZj— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 19, 2018
Second-and-13, and the Chiefs are running four verticals off play action with the running back leaking on a swing route. The Chargers are playing Cover 3 and the underneath defenders get depth with the verticals. Mahomes, facing front-side pressure, sees the depth they’re getting and quickly dumps the ball off to Damien Williams with an athletic flip for a gain of seven.
It’s not the sexiest throw, but being so quick to work down to the back with pressure closing is a good move on a second down. He saw the depth of the defense and found a positive play to make third down more manageable. Just avoiding a sack was a huge help. Quick decisions making and identification allowed this positive play to happen.
We’ve seen similar plays to this in the same end zone this season.
#SomethingSpecial Shades of the touchdown against San Francisco. Same side of the field even. Mahomes wasn't even able to get as much behind his throw as he's used to but still is able to get this ball there. pic.twitter.com/Zl9d2jJ0qc— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 17, 2018
This might remind you of the touchdown pass against San Francisco in the right corner of the end zone the Chiefs are heading toward in this play. This is a third-and-5 with the Chiefs driving. What’s so impressive on this play out of structure is that Mahomes isn’t really able to generate the same amount of torque he normally does when he’s rolling out of the pocket. Mahomes is leaning more on sheer arm talent than he is getting to fully utilize his hips and shoulders to deliver this throw. Despite that, he’s still able to get enough on the ball to Damien and convert this third down.
Mahomes added another play to his third and long reel.
#SomethingSpecial Really nice pressure from the Chargers. Andrew Wylie is late to the linebacker and Mahomes faces pressure, but is able to throw a ball of his back foot with accuracy to Kelce who gets some YAC and a first down. pic.twitter.com/YwDjgHwj2N— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 19, 2018
Really nice pressure design from the Chargers. DL Isaac Rochell crosses the face of both Andrew Wylie and Mitch Morse into the weak-side A-gap. Safety Rayshawn Jenkins follows him and Jeff Allen knocks him over. Wylie is late to pick up linebacker Jatavis Brown in the strong side B-gap and Mahomes is facing that pressure.
He calmly delivers a throw off his back foot to Kelce running an under route into the boundary. Kelce is able to pick up the first down with a run after the catch. Because the ball was out in front of Kelce he was able to take a throw in front of the line to gain into a new set of downs. Throwing short of the first-down marker isn’t a bad thing if you can give the receiver a ball to do something with it after. This was an athletic throw against pressure.
Yet another third down opportunity that Mahomes did some great work in.
#SomethingSpecial Chargers are sugaring the A gaps showing pressure, but bail out of it. Four man rush still generates pressure and Mahomes does a good job working away from it and making an athletic throw to lead Kelce. pic.twitter.com/CAcSeBIgMa— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 19, 2018
This time a third-and-6 and the Chargers give Mahomes a double A-gap pressure look trying to give the young quarterback a look on a critical down. They bail out of it, but the four-man pressure does affect the pocket. Mahomes does a good job working through a messy pocket. Kelce is running a crosser from the field and works to get under safety Derwin James as he continues to get depth.
Mahomes steps up against the pressure and again has to deliver an athletic throw moving up into the pocket. The management of the space he works in has become so much better as time goes on (we’ll talk more about this Thursday). I continue to be impressed with his space efficiency. Mahomes calmly managed pressure and found an outlet. Yet another impressive play to extend a drive.