This is part two of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Part one here.
We’re 75 percent through the regular season. The absurdity of Patrick Mahomes’ first season as QB1 is starting to come into focus. There’s enough of a sample size to represent the insanity, with four games to spare.
The list of quarterbacks who have thrown more touchdowns in a single season than Patrick Mahomes:— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 3, 2018
That's it. That's the list.
If he throws nine more touchdowns in the next four games the list is:
If the season stopped today, Mahomes’ season would be historic. To think there are still four games left for him to climb up the all-time single-season touchdown pass records is remarkable. I think this stat provides the perspective that’s hard to grasp while living in the moment. We’ll look back on this season one day and fully comprehend the performance we’re seeing.
Some may say this is a different NFL that Mahomes is doing this in. This is the most passer-friendly season in the history of league. That’s true. However, Mahomes is NINE touchdown passes ahead of second place, 11 ahead of third-place Drew Brees. He has as many touchdown passes as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady combined.
Mahomes made some excellent decisions on the final scoring drive of the game—especially with his legs.
Both if these plays were excellent decisions by Mahomes to extend the drive. The first play is a front-side double-out concept to the field but it is well covered. Mahomes smartly escapes to the boundary with less defenders and space to run for a first down. He didn’t try to force the throw and found space to extend the play.
The very next play, Mahomes makes the right decision on a zone read. He’s reading the end man on the line of scrimmage on this play. If the end pursues the running back, a linebacker is either looping off the edge (called a scrape exchange) to account for Mahomes, or they don’t have anyone to account for him. The Raiders aren’t scraping, and Mahomes make a timely decision to pull the ball and run for a nice gain.
Later in the drive, Mahomes was smart to take a chance on a free play.
#SomethingSmart Mahomes tried to take advantage of a free play on that final drive to close the game out. He gave Hill a chance and delivered a good ball out of structure with no risk since the Raiders were offside. pic.twitter.com/4sZ5DUdQEH— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 4, 2018
The Raiders are offside and Mahomes knows he has a free opportunity to generate a game-ending score. He doesn’t waste his chance to end the drive and all but seal a victory. The ball was slightly tipped but he gave Hill a chance on the downfield throw. Hill had to come back to it slightly, so the defender was able to contest it enough that he couldn’t bring it down. I do like that Mahomes smartly took the chance.
Continuing to talk about plays from that final drive, this throw on a critical third down was great.
#SomethingSpecial Mahomes delivered on a critical third down on the last drive out of structure. The guts and poise to make this play and close the game out was a big moment for the young quarterback. pic.twitter.com/XHJpfOSITr— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 4, 2018
Make no mistake about it: the Chiefs needed six points at this moment in the game. They can’t afford to give the ball back after a mere field goal and allow the Raiders a chance to get a touchdown and spoil the Chiefs chances at a one seed. This play was huge.
Mahomes showed some of the most poise he has all season in this moment. He tries to hang in the pocket to deliver a throw but elects to escape the pocket finds space to roll to his right with Kelce working with him. In similar situations to this, you’ve seen Mahomes have to manage the energy and excitement. He sometimes plays a little too juiced. Not here. Mahomes has enough calm and poise to him to deliver a ball with touch over the top of a linebacker and safely into the hands of Kelce for a huge third-down conversion.
This, to me, was a moment of growth. The Chiefs needed this third down. The small experiences gained over the course of the season allowed Mahomes to manage this situation and come up big for his team. Although not the highest degree of difficulty throw, it was a major moment.
Speaking of degree of difficulty, this throw would be high on that scale.
#SomethingSpecial I have no clue how Mahomes fit this ball in there. Even though he threw across his body slightly he had enough velocity to get the ball there. The placement at the front line of the end zone is perfect. Fantastic play. pic.twitter.com/YUpKooXYcY— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 4, 2018
This play has a rarity for Mahomes this season: a true drop back from under center. Mahomes gets to the top of his drop and quickly has to escape to his right with pressure coming from outside in. The Chiefs appear to be working a levels concept and where Mahomes chooses to scramble works with the moves of his receivers. Demetrius Harris is on the front line of the end zone and Mahomes delivers a spectacular throw.
The ball placement is extremely important. When throwing to the front of the end zone you want the ball to be placed low so that the ball can’t be tipped up in the air. If it were the back of the end zone, Mahomes would want to throw high so that a tip would end up out of bounds. What’s more is he throws slightly across his body. Any time you throw the ball on the run and back into the field, the ball has to travel farther. The more extreme the angle, the longer the ball is in the air. Also, it is more difficult to generate enough velocity with your momentum falling away from the throw. In these situations, the arm talent shines. Mahomes delivers a well-placed ball with enough velocity into a very tight window. This is one of the better throws of his career.