This is part one of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes.
Patrick Mahomes (10) passed Brodie Croyle (8) today on the career touchdown passes list.— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 16, 2018
It was a truly monumental Sunday in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Patrick Mahomes surpassed
great 2006 third-round pick quarterback Brodie Croyle on the all-time touchdown pass list.
If Croyle’s career had gone the way he’d wanted it to, it’s very realistic that he would’ve started under center against the Steelers on Sunday. But it didn’t, and he wasn’t. Instead, he was just another guy that wasn’t “our guy.” A 34-year gap separated Chiefs first-round quarterbacks Todd Blackledge and Mahomes. So far, the wait has been well worth it.
Mahomes has played unconscious to start his reign as the quarterback of the organization that desperately craved the moments they are experiencing right now. The six-touchdown pass performance felt like an exorcism of demons like Blackledge, Steve Bono, Croyle and Tyler Palko. No one in their wildest dreams thought this fan base would be richly rewarded in the first two weeks of the season.
This is unprecedented.
The second-year quarterback has thrown the most touchdown passes (10) in the first two games of a season ever. Mahomes has done nothing in this small sample size to indicate that his remarkably high ceiling should be lowered at all. In fact...no, I won’t say it.
Let’s just leave it at this: Chiefs fans have more than plenty to be excited about.
It wasn’t all perfect. There are still a few things to work on, but it was mostly just amazing.
Here’s part one of the weekly Mahomes review.
I’m doing everything I can to keep this play from getting lost in all the things we saw in Pittsburgh.
#SomethingGood This is exceptional and I hope people appreciate it. Great call by Reid with the Steelers in man-free. Corner bites on PA, Mahomes places it back shoulder, off his back foot away from trailing defender. pic.twitter.com/TAkkzTL8u8— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 18, 2018
This play is not remotely easy. For another quarterback, this would probably be his best play of the day. The Chiefs have two tight ends lined up attached to the offensive line and into the boundary. Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins are lined up to the field. Watkins motions into the boundary with the tight ends. The Chiefs run play action with one tight end staying in for a six-man protection.
The Steelers are Cover 1, or man-free coverage. The action gets cornerback Artie Burns to bite. He’s late to get to Watkins, who is running a vertical route, so he sprints to catch up. Mahomes’ eyes get out of the fake and he sees Burns trailing and not looking at him.
Mahomes wisely elects to throw a ball on Watkins’ back shoulder. He was early and decisive in delivering it. He delivered the ball with excellent anticipation because he knew the corner had no chance to make a play on the ball. The ball is placed well, as Watkins is able to just adjust to the throw without having to slow down enough for Burns to contest it. He pulled him away from the defender.
There was enough zip on the ball that no one came close to catching it but Watkins. It was a little low but didn’t affect the play at all. Watkins was able to get the yards that were there on the play. This isn’t even mentioning the fact that Mahomes threw it off his back foot. His ability to throw off platform allowed this kind of play to happen. It was such a quick-hitting play that he needed to throw it athletically. An all-around great play by the young signal caller.
There really wasn’t that much to be disappointed in from the game two performance. This is about it.
#SomethingBad One of the few negatives from this week. The Steelers got Mahomes on this one. There were multiple issues to discuss on this play. We'll unpack it all tomorrow in the article. pic.twitter.com/yQ0xvxf9uF— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 18, 2018
The Steelers are playing cover 0, straight man-to-man coverage with no safety. With Burns chasing Hill across the formation, Mahomes knows they’re in man coverage. They will send six rushers on this play.
After the (copyright pending) joystick motion by Hill, the Chiefs have him, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt lined up into the boundary. Mahomes wants to work that side of the play. The Chiefs are in a five-man protection.
I think he should have slid the protection to the field (he should’ve had the offensive line account for No. 51 Jon Bostic, who will blitz and force Mitchell Schwartz to take, leaving an unaccounted for T.J. Watt).
If the Steelers send one unaccounted defender to his left, then he is hot (he has to beat the blitz with a throw). If he had been hot to the boundary, then he has Hill, Kelce and Hunt one on one. Had he slid the protection to the field, Mahomes would’ve seen Kelce uncovered for a touchdown.
Mahomes keeps the protection lined up into the boundary. On the snap, Mahomes looks like he peeks over there to the field, but I’m not sure he saw the free rushing EDGE player, who eventually brings him to the ground. He would’ve benefited from sliding the protection and possibly didn’t feel the pressure to his front side. Those two things aren’t great, but, in addition, the throw wasn’t where you would like it either.
Quarterbacks have aiming points in the end zone. If you’re throwing to the front line of the end zone, you want the ball to be low so that nothing gets tipped and intercepted. If you’re throwing to the back line, you want the ball to be high so that it falls out the back of the end zone if it gets tipped.
Mahomes delivers a ball high on the front line of the end zone. Luckily there wasn’t someone there to catch his overthrow.
To be fair to Mahomes, I think this was a broken play by Kelce. I don't think that was the route he was supposed to run. He ran to space and when he realized he was unguarded, he went for the end zone. He could have been anticipating Kelce continuing towards the back of the end zone, but regardless, the play shouldn't have happened even if we give Mahomes the benefit of the doubt on that piece of it.
Every week I’m going to add a quick note about something I’ve picked up about the quarterback position through my time learning and playing the game.
Things won’t always go right when you’re up against a 40-second clock. Let’s say there’s a play where the call gets in late and it has pre-snap shifts and motions. If time is running out, quarterbacks will yell for skill players to line up where they’re supposed to be after the shifts and motions, aborting any pre-snap movement to get the play off in time.