In case you haven’t noticed, Kansas City is on fire today.
Not in the literal sense, of course — there aren’t TV news helicopters circling overhead as heroic firefighters attack the conflagration — but it’s nonetheless ablaze.
Patrick Mahomes long touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill in Friday night’s game against the Falcons is on everyone’s mind. While I was out on Saturday morning, people who know nothing about pro football were discussing NextGen stats, Aaron Rodgers and Sammy Baugh with the authority of experts.
In a way, it’s maddening. But in another way, it’s really cool. It’s been a very long time since our city has been this excited about our Chiefs — and there’s not a thing wrong with that.
But what does it all really mean? After all, it was a pointless preseason game. The fact that since 2009, only Aaron Rodgers has completed a pass thrown that far during the regular season isn’t going to go down in history, because preseason stats don’t go into the the records.
But Andy Reid — who is... you know... an actual expert — can tell you what it means to have a quarterback with that kind of arm strength. The Chiefs head coach explained after the game that the team’s ability to use Mahomes’ arm to go deep is beneficial across the offense.
“I think it helps,” Reid said. “It helps in a lot of ways. Potentially, it could help you in the run game with a little bit looser defense and in your short-to-intermediate pass game.”
And Reid was quick to remind his listeners that Mahomes’ arm strength isn’t his only attribute.
“I know he can sling the heck out of it down the field,” he continued. “[But] he had a couple nice touch throws that are probably going to get overlooked [that] I thought he really did a nice job with, and showed his accuracy and ability to make the ones that people might consider a little tougher — just sideline throws. He did pretty good with that.”
Reid said that on the play before the big pass, Mahomes had another opportunity that didn’t work out.
“He kind of had the same thing the play before — a chance to Kelce on the play before — but he got flushed a little bit and had to check it down.”
Our own Matt Lane has already noted the same thing on that same play — an example of the kind of verticals concept that he had been expecting to see in the Falcons game.
Before the Patomic Bomb, the Chiefs actually ran a Verticals concept and it worked then too. The CF S has to chose between Kelce and Conley, looks to be more to Conley, which will leave one very open. Mahomes has to check underneath because Erving couldn't get his hands on the DT pic.twitter.com/IBZGD1KSFv— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) August 18, 2018
While many fans may look no further than Mahomes’ arm strength — which brings with it the possibility of dramatic come-from-behind victories as the clock ticks away — his coaches often speak of his ability to absorb information and recall it when it is needed. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by analysts, either — even on the very play we’re all excited about today.
Remember how Andy Reid said Patrick Mahomes doesn't make the same mistake twice? Last week he took a sack he shouldn't have because he took several huge steps forward in the pocket rather than small controlled ones.— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) August 18, 2018
Watch Mahomes' feet here. Mahomes learns, Exhibit A. pic.twitter.com/ZBKYNnQxec
Reid emphasized the same thing when he spoke of the third-down pass to Kelce in Friday’s game.
“Similar to the one he had last week, right? You want to see where’s the improvement made? You can take that play and say, ‘Last week, he overshot it. This week it was right on the money.’”
But Mahomes can’t do it all himself. He also needs receivers that can do their jobs, too. And Reid was more than happy to acknowledge Tyreek Hill’s part in the long bomb.
“Tyreek tracked the ball very well on that,” he said. “Sometimes those catches when you’re wide open, [you’ve] got to put a little bit more focus on it. You’ve seen a lot of those dropped. He did that. He focused on it and caught it and got himself in the end zone.”
The Chiefs have had smart quarterbacks. The Chiefs have had quarterbacks who knew how to learn and make the smart play when the chips are down. But have they ever had one who could do those things, and complete a pass 70 yards downfield? And have a receiving corps anything like the one currently on the Chiefs roster?
You know the answer to that.
Today, many Chiefs fans are excited just because of that amazing throw — and they should be. We knew from Mahomes’ games at Texas Tech that Mahomes had the ability to do it. The question was whether he could do it against NFL competition in a game setting. So that’s a very good reason to be excited.
But what is potentially even more exciting is the possibility that Mahomes will be able to exhibit that skill while also becoming a real pro quarterback — one who can not only engineer a comeback but one who can also keep his team from having to do so.
It’s going to be something to see.