I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. This was the first year my kid was really aware of Christmas. He had as much fun as I’ve seen him. His great-grandparents got him a trampoline that will torture him until the weather gets a little warmer.
It’s been a year and some change, and I still can’t believe I get to write for Arrowhead Pride. It’s an honor and a privilege I’ll never take lightly. We got a good thing going here, with some talented writers who are committed to doing great work. Thank you all for listening, reading and watching what we’re putting out. We’ve got big things planned in the future.
Patrick Mahomes is what pulled me into writing in the FanPosts for Arrowhead Pride. Once he was selected, I started putting more content up. I’m glad I did. He’s blessing us with us some of the rarest performances and moments you’ll ever see. I say this a lot, but he’s normalized the spectacular. This week wasn’t perfect, but he still gave us some MVP moments.
He’s going to get another chance to solidify the one seed and his candidacy for the league’s top award here in a few days against the Raiders.
We’re doing one review this week with my schedule being crazy with Christmas. I want to highlight some excellent plays and then discuss a few plays I’m sure Mahomes wishes he had back.
This play would be the best play of some quarterback’s season.
This had shades of Mahomes first career completion to Demetrius Harris. The moment was bigger this time around. Small window to throw to and got hit on the delivery. He's a rare dude. pic.twitter.com/IUuFhEigGi— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 25, 2018
It was less than a year ago that Mahomes got a chance to play in Mile High for his first taste of real football. What would’ve happened if he hadn’t? Would we have been deprived of all of this?
There’s not much of a window to throw this. Travis Kelce has linebacker Bobby Wagner carrying with him on the seam route. The Seahawks are in Cover 2 and Mahomes has to deliver an up-and-down ball in between the linebacker and safety. There’s minimal margin for error. What’s more, Mahomes is getting hit as he delivers the ball. Just a spectacular play.
To close the drive out, Mahomes somehow outdoes himself.
I kind of wish the excellent #MVPat video the Chiefs made had a chance to include this throw on the resume. The vision to see it, the guts to throw it, the athleticism to get the throw off and hit West in stride is special. Another highlight out of structure. pic.twitter.com/Do0oXculbQ— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 25, 2018
The Seahawks are playing man-free coverage (also called Cover 1: man coverage with a middle field safety deep). Mahomes gets the man ID with the motion. He works Kelce and Conley initially on the slant-under but starts feeling pressure and escapes to his left. Running back Charcandrick West does an excellent job working with Mahomes once the play breaks down. He was initially on a spot route out of the backfield but starts flowing in synchronization with Mahomes.
The young quarterback gets his eyes up out of the escape and sees West and a lot of open space. Wagner is in pursuit, flowing to the sideline with Mahomes. Somehow, Mahomes is able to throw a ball on the run behind Wagner, from a side-arm angle that’s bred from his experience playing as a middle infielder. The ball finds West in stride. Unbelievable. That he saw the opportunity, was decisive enough to give it a chance and then have the talent to execute isn’t normal.
Late in the game, Mahomes put a ball the only place his receiver could catch it...out of bounds.
If Mahomes throws this ball in bounds, it's deflected. Excellent placement again out of the structure of the play to give only his receiver a chance at pay dirt. Robinson executes. pic.twitter.com/qsMx50MDEk— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 25, 2018
The Chiefs have short in routes to the field and a sluggo-flat (sluggo is a slant and go) into the boundary. I think Mahomes initially wants Conley, but when he gets off balance, decides to try and make a play. Mahomes rolls right and sees Robinson on the sideline, in the end zone. With a defender in his face, he throws a ball out of bounds, away from Robinson’s defender but with space to drag the feet and come down with a touchdown. Had the ball been in bounds it would’ve been a pass breakup or worse. The only person that has a chance to come down with this throw is the target. Robinson finishes the play for an excellent touchdown from both quarterback and receiver.
Things that were big obstacles for Mahomes and his development are improving rapidly.
The growth from the pocket from Mahomes reflects the amount of work he puts in from Monday-Saturday. The rip through against front side pressure wasn't something you saw a lot of early. He's more comfortable, efficient and controlled in the pocket. Eyes up, delivers a great ball. pic.twitter.com/QknAn25NSc— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 25, 2018
You’ll never believe this, but Mahomes did some excellent work on a third-and-long. That’s the situation they faced on the last play of the first quarter with a big third-and-13. If this were earlier in the season, I’m not sure this rep would look as clean as it did.
Mahomes is working Hill on a post and Kelce underneath it on a deep out. Seattle stays on top of Hill and underneath coverage carries with Kelce. Front-side pressure is closing and Mahomes instinctually rips through and slides up in the pocket to find Chris Conley working back to him off of his initial dig route.
These kind of pocket movements are becoming instinctive. He’s not thinking about ripping through the pressure with both hands on the ball and then sliding; he’s reacting. His eyes remain downfield the entire time. It’s truly impressive. There’s more confidence than he’s ever had in there. It’s just getting better.
The first drive of the game ended prematurely.
Mahomes could have extended the first drive of the game on a 3rd and 2 by running to get the line to gain. He got a little greedy here. pic.twitter.com/euXXYO6k8F— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 25, 2018
It’s third-and-2 on the first offensive drive of the game.
This is a concept Mahomes is well familiar with in his time at Texas Tech. It’s a mesh concept with Hill working behind the crossers on a middle curl route, Damien Williams running a wheel and Demarcus Robinson on a post. Mahomes probably was going to give Hill a chance here, but front-side pressure was too quick and he had to improvise. He steps up and runs to his right. He has a lot of space to work with and very easily could’ve got the first down with his legs. Instead, Mahomes gets greedy and tries to throw the ball to Robinson who turned upfield and toward the sideline on the scramble. You take the good with the bad, and this could’ve been an excellent way to start the game off, but the drive stalled and so did the defense for most of the first quarter. Need to take the opportunities as they present themselves.
Mahomes certainly wishes he had this one back.
Mahomes missed a golden opportunity in the first quarter. Kelce was wide open. Just overthrew him. Can't have those in January. pic.twitter.com/B83o83AJts— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 25, 2018
The Chiefs are in a 3x1 formation and are trying to work Kelce, isolated on the backside, on a pump 7 route (inside stem corner route into a turn up field). Hill is working from the No. 2 spot on the three-receiver side on a deep crossing route underneath it. Kelce is wide open. Mahomes simply overthrows him. He threw the ball with anticipation, but just threw the ball out of reach. As the moments get bigger, you can’t miss out on opportunities like this. They become more and more magnified from here on out.
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.
You can’t put the whole call sheet onto the quarterback’s wristband. You have to be selective. The play calls with longer verbiage or plays that may be in-week installs are the ones that you’ll typically see on the wristband. You won’t see staple plays the team runs every week on there. If it’s less familiar or wordy, the wristband is the cheat sheet.