It’s our Monday morning column, The Re-Up. In this column, I’ll write about some deeper thought I had about the last game and finish with some fun stuff to ponder at the article’s end. Check out last week’s column here.
When I arrived in Kansas City in 2014 (yes, I’ve been told many times how lucky I am to have only had to write about the 2013-now version of Chiefs football), running back Jamaal Charles still meant everything to this team and city.
At the start of 2014, Charles had four 1,000-yard seasons to his name, and he had just completed the best year of his career when it came to total touchdowns, finishing 2013 with an astounding 19 (including this gem of a ball game).
Sports Illustrated released its fantasy rankings ahead of the 2014 season, and sitting at No. 1? Yup, you guessed it.
Jamaal Freakin’ Charles.
In real life as opposed to fantasy, what it created was somewhat of a headache for head coach Andy Reid, who has loved to throw the football more than anything in his long and successful coaching career.
Every, single game (especially after losses), the conversation centered around Charles’ touch count.
When Charles suffered his season-ending ACL injury in Week 5 of 2015, it actually felt to me like a release of that pressure on Reid. Names like Charcandrick West? Spencer Ware?
Throw the football, Andy.
And don’t get me wrong. Ware had a fantastic season in 2016, but there never was that Charles-like pressure to get him the football. Reid had a year free of any fan or media hassle to get the absolute most he could out of Smith. And he did.
But that pressure started to regain steam again in 2017 with the arrival of running back Kareem Hunt.
We all remember Week 1 against the New England Patriots, then the reigning world champs. After fumbling on the first carry of his career, Hunt went on to have a 246-yard night with three total touchdowns.
Was Reid’s blessing and curse back?
I didn’t realize he didn’t have any touches after that. My first thought was the Chiefs were passing more and they might like Charcandrick West more as a pass blocker and the Chiefs were passing more in the second half of this game. Chiefs assistant head coach Brad Childress was asked about that and here’s what he said.
Alex Smith was outstanding in 2018, when, thanks to Reid, he had the best season of his career, eventually being paid handsomely by Washington because of it. But it was never to the point that fans, analysts and media pushed for a pass-first offense, throwing that balance NFL teams often seek out the window.
I think that might of changed a bit on Sunday.
With Mahomes moving forward, every single down the Chiefs are not throwing the football is going to feel like a missed opportunity.
Just look at the line:
23 of 28, 326 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions
Nope. That’s not a mistake—six touchdowns, five incompletions.
Just like Reid did for Smith last season, he is tapping into the things that worked best for Mahomes as a college football player. I can’t remember a time when the Chiefs used empty sets as much as they did in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers, usually with a defensive answer for everything, were powerless.
Mahomes might be the best pure empty QB in awhile. Tom Brady is unbelievable at it because he controls the protections and often routes at the line, but if you watched Mahomes at TxTech he lived in empty - subtle mobility, arm movement, quick release and mind, tough/resilient— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) September 17, 2018
“We went a little bit empty today which wasn’t a secret,” Reid said. “That helped. We have some good players. Brett [Veach] did a nice job of getting guys in here, and spreading them out. [Pittsburgh] tried blitzing, they tried a couple of different things to try and stop it.
“Pat saw it, was able to move it, and I thought the offensive line did a heck of a job. Both lines were really good today. They endured, particularly on defense. They were going a little bit muddle-huddle on us. So, coming off of that 90-play game, or high-80 game last week, and putting on what they did, I thought it was great. Yes, I think we can still spread them out.”
Seven different Chiefs had at least one reception and five different Chiefs had a touchdown on Sunday. After a Tyreek Hill-dominated Week 1, Mahomes got Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins involved. Each had at least 100 yards.
“It just speaks to the weapons that we have on offense,” Mahomes said after the game. “They can’t stop everybody, so for me, it’s just about getting it to the guy that has the man-to-man coverage or has the open area. Those guys were getting open today. The offensive line was blocking great, so it was making my job a lot easier.”
Even with this post, I do want to make it clear I’m not suggesting the Chiefs completely abandon the run. That would be irresponsible.
But for argument’s sake, at this point, would you notice?
Probably not. And that’s just how Reid likes it.
STAT OF THE GAME
In case you missed it, no quarterback in NFL history has as many touchdowns in the first two weeks of a season as Patrick Mahomes in 2018.
QB Patrick Mahomes sets an NFL record with 10 TD passes in first two games of a season. His 6th TD pass of the game ties a franchise record for most TD passes in a game (Len Dawson vs. Denver, Nov. 1, 1964).— Chiefs Communications (@ChiefsPR) September 16, 2018
GIF OF THE GAME
Mahomes with 6 TD passes against the Steelers... pic.twitter.com/QwjHzdUtJI— Benstonium (@Benstonium) September 16, 2018
TWEET(s) OF THE GAME
We have a well-deserved tie this week.
I’ve been seeing all your Patrick Mahomes tweets.— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) September 16, 2018
My apologies for not responding.
I’ve been busy at my local tattoo artist getting some minor ink done. @KyleBrandt @ArrowheadPride @gmfb @dynastyfeed @ChiefsReporter pic.twitter.com/MoZmYLv4cF
Len Dawson set the Chiefs franchise record for passing TDs in a season with 30 in 1964.— Conrad McGorkin (@ConradMcGorkin) September 16, 2018
The record still stands today.
It's mid-game of week two in 2018 and Patrick Mahomes II has 10 pic.twitter.com/kAe2Q62YTr
- 1. Chris Jones on starting the season 2-0 and heading back to Kansas City for the home opener: “I’m like, ‘Damn, we finally get to go home.’ You know we’ve been on the road forever. It’s great to go back and play in front of our crowd at Arrowhead. We feel comfortable. We know the fans are going to be excited. [We’re] coming off of 2-0 on the road, so, it’s very huge for us to continue to pound the ball on the ground and continue to score points, and then continue to make fronts on defense.”
- 2. Travis Kelce on whether he expected that game from Patrick Mahomes: “Without a doubt. Without a doubt. I see Pat doing this all season long. He’s got the confidence, and as long as we give him time and get open as wideouts, tight ends, and running backs, he’s going to get the best of everyone.”
- 3. Patrick Mahomes on missing Tyreek Hill on what would have been a 99-yard touchdown: “I did. I overthrew Tyreek Hill which I didn’t know was possible. He took off and he was gone. If I hit him in stride it was a 99-yarder.”
- 4. Chris Conley on Patrick Mahomes’ game: “I don’t think that you could expect more from anyone. Pat’s come here and handled himself extremely well. The level of confidence and poise that this kid has is…I haven’t seen it anywhere. He’s continued to go in, learn and get better every day, and then come out on the field and execute. You can’t ask him to do anything else. He’s handled the times where he’s made the plays really well. He’s handled the times where he hasn’t. That speaks volumes.”
- 5. Andy Reid on Patrick Mahomes’ game: “He had a couple good plays, you know.”
THE BIG THOUGHT
Joel asked me this morning whether I thought Mahomes could be this good, even in my wildest dreams. And my answer is actually yes, but for sure not this soon. Mahomes turns 23 years old on Monday, and with three games to his name, he is playing and acting like a longtime veteran.
One of the frequent comparisons Mahomes gets is Brett Favre. Favre, in first season starting, had 18 touchdowns on the year (13 starts, 1992). In two games, Mahomes has 10. In Favre’s second season starting (1993), he had 19 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. Mahomes’ 10 touchdowns through two games have come with no picks.
The two quarterbacks Mahomes passed on Sunday were Drew Brees in 2009 and Peyton Manning in 2013—they each had nine touchdowns in the first two games those seasons. For Brees, it was his ninth season; For Manning, it was his 16th.
I think with all the hype surrounding him, Mahomes being this good isn’t a surprise. The surprise is in how good he has been out of the gate.
POLL OF THE WEEK
What is your biggest concern for the Chiefs (2-0) right now?
This poll is closed
Eric Berry’s health
The cornerback position
The pass rush