This is part one of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes.
That was the worst game of Patrick Mahomes’ debut season as the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. Mahomes fought some first-quarter jitters and second-half stagnancy to finish with a 24 of 38 for 314 yards and three-touchdown performance. THAT....was the worst?
It was an up-and-down performance for the second-year player from Whitehouse, Texas, and somehow, he still dazzled. He still did remarkable things that I don’t have enough space to write about, and he had his best play of his young career. THAT...was the worst?
In a game that the 2018 Chiefs offense showed a few cracks in its armor and gave a few clues as to how defenses can slow this explosive unit, they still managed to score 35 points in the first half and 38 in total. They’re scoring average dropped from 40 points per game to 39.3 points per game.
As Kansas Citians, we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. It wasn’t dropping this week. There’s going to be a performance unbecoming of the expectations we currently have for this unit. Someone will get them. The 49ers helped solve some of the puzzle, but it still isn’t enough.
The kid has not been perfect, but he’s been phenomenal. The best part is, there’s still plenty of room for growth.
Is there anything scarier than giving this offense a free play?
#SomethingGood I love to see this play from Mahomes. Gets the offside penalty, bad snap, doesn't panic and works through the chaos of a messy free play to find Kelce for 21 yards. pic.twitter.com/gknGQ868we— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 24, 2018
I like the development of this group of talent getting an opportunity to try and make a big play without any negative consequence. That scenario just seems unfair.
You saw Mahomes’ disappointment in Week 1 of the season when an offside penalty was blown prematurely before they had a chance to take a shot. That’s the mentality you want to see. On the play above, Mahomes didn’t take a shot at the end zone but still found an explosive play from the defensive mishap.
Mahomes can’t catch the wide snap, but he picks the ball up in enough time to get his eyes up the field and read the defense. He hangs in the pocket long enough to find tight end Travis Kelce working behind underneath zone defenders. The calmness to deliver this throw after the chaos of the offside and the ball being on the ground is impressive. He worked through the play even though factors around him were disorganized.
The mentality to attack the game is prevalent in this play is just what you want to see. We haven’t had a quarterback take advantage of opportunities like this enough in Kansas City. Mahomes is gifted a chance to get the ball in the hands of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins or, in this case, Kelce. Hopefully, this a trend that continues.
BONUS SOMETHING GOOD:
Mahomes protected Kelce again like he did in the red zone against the Steelers. He threw this corner to throttle Kelce down and keep him away from higher impact. pic.twitter.com/aktnqYtcfP— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 25, 2018
Mahomes did an excellent job in slowing down and throwing Kelce inside on this corner route to protect him. Like we saw last week on the touchdown pass to Kelce last week, he’s reducing the amount of impact Kelce could feel by splitting the space in half. Great work.
Sometimes, you forget Sunday was Mahomes’ fourth career start.
#SomethingBad As much as Kareem Hunt has been free releasing out of this look in preseason and regular season, I think this sack is on Mahomes. He didn't see the safety blitz and paid for it. pic.twitter.com/DgSSFE3Bik— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 24, 2018
Second-and-10 in the first quarter. The Chiefs motion Chris Conley across the formation and cornerback Richard Sherman bounces out with him. The 49ers are showing a single-high safety look, and safety Antone Exum walks up to the line of scrimmage.
The Chiefs have used this particular look in the boundary throughout the preseason and regular season. Kareem Hunt has always free released with no protection responsibilities. Hunt free releases on the play and the offensive line blocks the four down linemen. Mahomes never sees Exum on a blitz until he finishes the play on the ground.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this play to try and be fair to Mahomes on assignment. I’ve come to the conclusion that there wasn’t a protection failure and he just didn’t identify the blitzing safety. Had Mahomes seen Exum, he could’ve dumped it off to Kareem Hunt for positive yards, as Sherman bailed into a deep zone on the snap of the ball.
Every week I add a quick note about something I’ve picked up about the quarterback position through my time learning and playing the game.
There are changes to a quarterback’s assignment when it comes to running the clock out. If a team is in a situation where they just have to run the ball and not turn it over to win, the priority for the quarterback isn’t the play fake; it’s watching the ball.
#QBNote When you're trying to run the clock out with the run game, quarterbacks are less concerned with the ball fake and more concerned keeping eyes on the football. You see here Mahomes is quick to track, less concerned with carrying out a ball fake. pic.twitter.com/hsRg2ShhTU— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 25, 2018
As you can see on this play late in the fourth quarter, Mahomes is quick to track the ball, making sure that there isn’t a fumble. In a special situation like this, the play-fake is secondary to keeping track of where the football is. It’s a little thing, but it’s important. Details like this matter.