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The most interesting thing from Patrick Mahomes’ Sports Illustrated article

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Jenny Vrentas from Sports Illustrated posted a piece with comments from Patrick Mahomes on his rookie year learning in the NFL. He covered a wide variety of topics, and you should definitely read it, but here was the most interesting quote to me:

Alex showed me how to make the reads easier so I can process faster and play faster. You look at coverages, and you learn how to eliminate things. Alex had seen and studied so much, and he was very helpful about showing me what he saw, so when I got out there I could put the ball in the right place and make the play work. In the Denver game he was helping me every single time I went to the sideline. We’d get on that tablet and we’d look at the plays, and he would help me identify how they were blitzing by how they were lining up with their fronts, and who was coming, and if this guy came, where I was supposed to put the ball.

This is the difference between a young quarterback and a seasoned veteran. Quarterbacking is not easy. I tried to explain how complicated the process for one play is with a fanpost last year.

The ability to quickly process and recall information is critical to a quarterback. The more you see, the easier it gets. The problem is, Patrick Mahomes hasn’t seen that much. This is where Smith, and now new Chiefs backup quarterback Chad Henne will be critical to Mahomes’ success.

When Mahomes mentions that Smith helped him figure out how to eliminate things, he’s speaking to the progressions of a play.

Quarterbacks aren’t married to what they see pre-snap. It’s not a defined decision before the snap all too frequently. Your preparation will give you strong ideas, but good defenses can disguise things well. The movement before the play can help a defense keep their plans known, especially well-timed late movement.

Quarterbacks process what they see pre-snap, confirm it at the snap and then either go through a progression or commit to a match up they like. Sometimes the decision can be very quick. If they think they are getting man coverage with no help behind it (cover 0) and on the snap confirm it, they’re likely going to take their favorite match up. But plenty of other coverage looks will require that the quarterback recall an if/then process that has been drilled into their heads through reps and preparation. That would be the progression of the routes they need to use. If this coverage is this, I have an order for what receivers I look to first.

Being able to speed up that process is helpful. Some routes can be immediately dismissed based on the look of the defense and the personnel. You can really only develop this ability to dismiss certain things over time and reps. You will constantly improve if you’re smart.

That’s why older quarterbacks are able to hang around long after their body is in peak physical form. The gigabytes keep getting added. Alex has the time and reps under his belt. His helping Mahomes process quickly is speeding up the timeline for Mahomes. Henne will be responsible for helping Mahomes develop further.

Mahomes owes Alex a debt of gratitude, which he mentions in the article. His impact will be felt long after he’s gone.

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