This is part three of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes.
It’s the day before the Chiefs host the Bengals in the divisional round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs. The Chiefs have a chance to win their first home playoff game in more than 20 years. It won’t be easy though. The Chiefs are 4.5 point underdogs. Chad Henne is the starter. Mahomes took an unnecessary shot that resulted in a shoulder tear. He’ll miss whatever games the Chiefs might play in January.
That wouldn’t be fun.
If the Chiefs are going to avoid a situation like that, we need to continue to see this:
#SomethingImproved Up 14, 3rd and 15. Mahomes didn't try to play hero ball. He protected himself. I think he's starting to understand the Chiefs chances are dependent on his health. pic.twitter.com/KCcQSTUdvG— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 20, 2018
The Chiefs are up 21-7 in the second quarter against the Steelers. It’s third-and-15. Mahomes scrambles out of the pocket and runs for a gain of 10. With players nearing him in pursuit, he slides, leading to an eventual punt. He could have pushed the limits to try and get that first down. He could have tried to make a statement that he had arrived, taken on a defender and played a little hero ball to try and get the first down.
I think Mahomes is starting to understand the ramifications of him getting hurt. He put himself in harm’s way a little too much in LA. Last week, I talked about his need to protect himself. He was much improved in Pittsburgh.
The season is effectively over if Mahomes ever gets hurt. Draft season will start much sooner. He needs to continue to be thoughtful about protecting himself at all times.
I have a feeling this is going to be a talking point for a while.
Mahomes wants to take a shot to Tyreek Hill off of play action. At the top of his drop, he hitches to deliver the throw but elects not to and hitches again. The second hitch led him into the back of Mitch Morse and the nose tackle he was blocking.
Had Mahomes stopped on the first hitch, he had multiple options at his disposal that could’ve been positive plays. He could’ve hit the wide open Demetrius Harris in the middle of the field. He could’ve initiated scramble rules with his receivers by escaping to the immense amount of space he could have found to his right. He ran out of space to give one of those a chance.
Mahomes was committed to the shot and used up his space to do it. He had viable options elsewhere, but wasn’t space efficient enough to realize them. He ate up his free space. This will understandably continue to be a theme throughout the season. He’s young and new at this. He hasn’t totally settled into his new home.
Mahomes sometimes loses track of his confinement when he is forced to hang in the pocket. He can’t waste what room he has to work. He’s got the ball out so quick and on time in most instances that it hasn’t mattered. He’s been throwing a lot in rhythm and on time, which has been a lot of fun to watch. When he’s got to hang in there a little longer, the results have been more inconsistent.
We’ll be monitoring this all season. He’s been very good in a lot of areas, but there remains a lot of room to grow with moments like these. He’s been fantastic and will continue to impress us. There’s more there to develop, and that should scare the league.
The realization of Mahomes’ high ceiling will be found in the pocket. If he can become an assassin there, giving the structure of plays a chance as long as he can, he’ll be one of the best quarterbacks in football for a long time.